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Twenty-Five Weird Phobias You Probably Didn't Know Existed

Find out what hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is a fear of.

Arachnophobia -- fear of spiders -- became a well-known term after the 1990 film. (Photo:

We've all heard of arachnophobia, claustrophobia and other well-known phobias, but there are hundreds fear of somethings out there that you probably haven't heard of. Fear not (get it), we're hear to bring you the wildest, whackiest, and most interesting phobias around.

According to the National Institute of Health, the medical definition of a phobia is a "a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger."

A list curated over the last couple decades by Fredd Culbertson, a man with an interest in the origins of words, shows more than 530 phobias. Culbertson claims no medical experience and writes etymology is merely a hobby of his.

Although the majority of them could be dubbed as unusual phobias, we've pulled out this small sampling -- one from each alphabetical category -- of ones we thought you may never have heard of before. According to Culbertson, there is a referenced fear of:

  • Air swallowing- Aerophobia
  • Bullets- Ballistophobia
  • Chins- Geniophobia
  • Dining or dinner conversations- Deipnophobia
  • Englishness- Anglophobia
  • Freedom- Eleutherophobia
  • Good news, hearing good news- Euphobia
  • Handwriting- Graphophobia
  • Insects that eat wood- Isopterophobia
  • Joint immobility- Ankylophobia
  • Knees- Genuphobia
  • Left-handed; objects at the left side of the body- Sinistrophobia
  • Mother-in-law- Pentheraphobia
  • Number 8- Octophobia
  • Otters- Lutraphobia
  • Phobias- Phobophobia
  • Rain- Ombrophobia
  • Sun or sunlight- Heliophobia
  • Trees- Dendrophobia
  • Ugliness- Cacophobia
  • Vegetables- Lachanophobia
  • Words, long- Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia
  • X-rays or radiation- Radiophobia.
  • Yellow color- Xanthophobia.
  • Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat.

Culbertson has a had to specially explain hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia -- fear of long words -- on his website. Culbertson writes he's received some questions regarding this one, but states that it can be found in The Word Lover's Dictionary by Josefa Heifetz and it is also in a medical paper. He explains that the ironically long word, given its phobia, sees its origins in the Greek word for horse - hippo. He writes that hippos, like a hippopotamus, are generally large. Monstro comes from the world monstrous also meaning big. He continues analyzing the word writing "sesquipedalian means given to using long words...comes from Latin meaning measuring a foot and a half."

The letter without a formal phobia that Culbertson has verified in medical writings and reference books is Q. He does not claim this list to be inclusive of all phobias and it doesn't include ones that aren't necessarily verified with a formal name. Some phobias received popularized names that aren't really technical terms. The Cooking Channel recently featured strange food phobias (via Gawker), like mayophobia (fear of mayonaise), which is one of these popularized phobias.

The NIH states that people with a serious phobia should avoid the trigger so as not to experience panic and other symptoms. It does state that treatment, which can include medicine and/or therapy "helps most people with phobias."

Check out Culbertson's list for more phobias here.

If you know of any other strange phobias, feel free to share in the comments section.

Featured image via

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