Central bank watchers were left scratching their heads and scrambling for their dictionaries and Google searches after one of the government-nominated members of monetary policy committee used a rare mid-18th century word to describe the economic forecasts.
In the minutes, published on Wednesday, Chetan Ghate said, “said “estimates of economic growth in India have unfortunately been subject to a fair degree of floccinaucinihilipilification. Notwithstanding this, growth is likely to pick up.”
Ghate is not the first to use ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ in recent times. The 29-letter word got widespread publicity in October 2018 when Congress leader Shashi Tharoor mentioned it in a tweet promoting his book on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Tharoor had tweeted: “My new book, THE PARADOXICAL PRIME MINISTER, is more than just a 400-page exercise in floccinaucinihilipilification”.
The word ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ has Latin roots — flocci, nauci, nihili, pili — all of which mean “at little value”. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ as “the action or habit of estimating something as worthless”.
It is evident that Ghate used the word to characterise the efforts of several economists who have raised doubts about the validity of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) estimates.