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I have forgotten a particular word. It's very rare, but not so rare that it doesn't appear in online dictionaries—for instance, it appeared in Google Search's dedicated dictionary widget with its definition when I searched it. It's not a nonce word.

I recall that it was remarkably long and was composed of lots of Latin affixes (e.g ex-), and so on (think polyphiloprogenitive). It meant "abstruse, erudite, (of a text) difficult, etc."; in short, it described the kind of text in which it might appear. It is not the word sesquipedalian.

I am at my wit's end looking for this evasive word, which has eluded me for about a month of on-and-off casual detective work. Any help would be appreciated! The main thing that struck me about the word was its length. It was an adjective. It might be used as:

The philosopher's essay was a ____ meditation on the concept of being.

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  • Possibly "obfuscated"?
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 15, 2022 at 23:42
  • What does it mean?
    – tchrist
    Aug 16, 2022 at 3:07
  • Much longer, much more specific, and much, much more obscure than obfuscated. I write an approximation of its meaning (to have an exact dictionary definition of the word ready to hand, I'd need to remember it) in the post: "It meant abstruse, erudite, (of a text) difficult, etc." Aug 16, 2022 at 7:46
  • Looks as if he has done some research so keep plugging.
    – Elliot
    Aug 17, 2022 at 2:24
  • 1
    How could any single term encompass "abstruse, erudite and (of anything) difficult"? Sep 1, 2022 at 22:00

3 Answers 3

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If it isn't sesquipedalian...

maybe it's hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian.

definition: pertaining to long words.

https://www.wordsense.eu/hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian/

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  • It was not this word, but thank you for the attempt. Aug 19, 2022 at 22:52
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A long, obscure adjective with a similar meaning; and modelled on a Latin lexical item is imperspicuous. OED provides the etymology and the definition as below:

Etymology: < im- prefix2 + perspicuous adj., after classical Latin imperspicuus not clear, obscure.

Not clearly expressed or easily understood; obscure, opaque; (of a speaker or writer) unclear in style, meaning, or expression.

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  • I don't believe it was this word, but thank you for the attempt! The definition you have quoted is remarkably close to the definition I recall my word had. Aug 19, 2022 at 22:50
  • No problem. This was the closest word I could think of that fits the criteria. Do you have more hints? Was it longer? Do you remember any affixes or how the word starts/ends, or any words that it sounds like etc.?
    – ermanen
    Aug 20, 2022 at 11:41
  • Unfortunately, the only thing I can remember is that it was very likely longer than the word imperspicuous. Aug 20, 2022 at 22:52
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Inenubilable could fit. There is a whole group of words etymologically related to shadow or clouds that mean obscurity and are themselves somewhat obscure. This one had the most syllables out of what I could find.

OED, inenubilable, adj.:

rare

That cannot be cleared of clouds or mist, or (figurative) of obscurity; indistinct; inexplicable

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    '... a whole group of words etymologically related to shadow or clouds that mean obscurity and are themselves somewhat obscure' ... happily autologous. Sep 16, 2022 at 15:55

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