#FlocciWhatever. Shashi Tharoor used a mile-long 'f' word on #Twitter on Wednesday: floccinaucinihilipilification. Well, the word is of Latin origin and an Etonian slang that went out of fashion long ago: floccus (wisp) + naucum (trifle) + nihilum (nothing) + pilus (hair) + fication. It means a silly exercise in describing something or somebody as 'unimportant' and 'worthless'.
Shashi Tharoor never went to Eton. Between Campion School in Bombay and St Xavier's School in Calcutta, his knowledge of schoolyard slang would have been more earthy and free of Latin grammar, spun around the other 'f' word.
It would be apt to ask why did Shashi Tharoor dip into Eton's lexicon of schoolyard slang. Was he impressed by Eton because India's colonial tormentors like Curzon attended that private school for toffs?
A diary entry from 1858 by a young man who had been at Eton before serving in India where he helped put down the Great Mutiny, reads: "What fun it is to shoot mutineers. It's almost like shooting partridges."
Since he resorts to Etonian slang, are we to assume that Shashi Tharoor admires Etonians who would subscribe to the view that shooting 1857 mutineers was 'fun'? Doesn't the Congress describe the Great Mutiny as India's 'First War of Independence'?