Can You Decipher These Sesquipedalian Sayings?


Sesquipedalian — how ’bout that for a $10 word? It means “characterized by the use of long words.” So, I suppose in order to use the word sesquipedalian, you have to be sesquipedalian.

But today’s post isn’t just a meditation on the word sesquipedalian. It’s a challenge to the loquacious among us. I was cleaning up my office the other day, in preparation for my overseas trip, and came across folder full of old worksheets from my public school teaching days. This was my “go to” folder. The one I pulled out in a pinch when I needed something vaguely English-related to keep students busy. Over the years, I gathered some fun and interesting stuff. This is one of my favorites.

I’d love to give credit to the creator of this worksheet, but there’s no name on it and it’s at least a couple decades old. So, I render my thanks to the great A. Nonymous, that most modest and prolific of authors.

Below are ten common sayings, maxims, adages, saws, aphorisms, apothegms, or, if you prefer, proverbs. They won’t look very common at first, however, because they have been transcribed by someone given to grandiloquent loquacity. Your job is to translate these obtuse and multisyllabic expressions into their better known renditions.

I’ll post the answers in a comment below. I gave you the first one so you get the idea. Tell me how many you got right in the comments below!

1. Precipitancy creates prodigality.  (Haste makes waste.)

2. Compute not your immature gallinaceans prior to the puncture of their brittle epidermic.

3. Pulchritude is merely epidermal.

4. Abstain from becoming lachrymose due to the scattering of lacteal fluid.

5. Tenants of vitreous abodes ought to propel no lithoidal fragments. 

6. Cleave gramineous matter for fodder during the period in which the orb of the day is refulgent.

7. Every substance which coruscates is not fashioned from aureate metal. 

8. It is not feasible for mendicants to be indicators of preferences. 

9. The individual of the class Aves arriving prior to the appointed time seizes the invertebrate animals of the phylum Vermes.

10. An individual attached to another by esteem or affection at the moment of exigency may be construed to be an individual attached to another by affection, indubitably. 


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About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. Prasad Kailaje
    Prasad Kailaje12-23-2016

    Excellent. I couldn’t figure out even one without the cheat sheet 😀

  2. Staci

    Just came across this in a most random manner and absolutely LOVE it! Surprisingly to me, I did quite well upon first glance.

    I think I am going to start using this as a gauge for all potential future dates… I am probably going to be one very lonely woman! Lol.

  3. Lauren

    I’m going to share these with a 5th grade student I work with. NOTE: gaminious should be gramineous, “pertaining to grasses.”

  4. Sally Olson
    Sally Olson04-23-2012

    Now that I know about your blog, I will stop by again. (If you visit mine, don’t resist the temptation to edit 🙁 ).

    • Brian Wasko
      Brian Wasko04-25-2012

      I’m no grammar stickler, Sally. Don’t worry. Thanks for the visit and the comment!

  5. Mary Brueggemann
    Mary Brueggemann04-11-2012

    These are hilarious! I wonder how many students today have even heard the real sayings?

  6. Brian Wasko
    Brian Wasko04-11-2012


    1. Haste makes waste.
    2. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.
    3. Beauty is only skin-deep.
    4. Don’t cry over spilt milk.
    5. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
    6. Make hay while the sun shines.
    7. All that glitters is not gold.
    8. Beggars can’t be choosers.
    9. The early bird gets the worm.
    10. A friend in need is a fried indeed.


  7. Cindi

    Very fun! Couldn’t get #10, though…

  8. jennifer

    Thanks Brian – this made my day! “Make hay while the sun shines” took me a minute, but I managed to translate the rest. I can’t wait to share with my kids!

  9. Paul Schwarz
    Paul Schwarz04-04-2012

    Can’t figure out 6, 8 and 10!

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