What 16 letter word did Poe invent in one of his poems.

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Edgar Allen Poe invented a word in one of his poems which was 16 letters long. What is this word? I don't know, myself. But, I know there is one.

- Cindy -

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2003


I think you are perhaps alluding to "Porphyrogene" (for "porphyrogenitus", i.e. a Byzantinian attribute meaning "borne in the purple"), as used in the poem "The Haunted Palace". But it is not 16 letters long. Poe was a master in words-coining. And you can find the entire list established some years ago by Burton R. Pollin on line at www.eapoe.org. You should find it there. A typical 16 letters long Poe coinage is the word "undefinitiveness", used on several occasions when disserting about suggesive poetry and music. Good luck. Yours sincerely, Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2003

I am sorry but I forget another possibility, viz. the word "tintinabulation", used by Poe in "The Bells", though, too, not a 16 letter long one, with Poe's own spelling at least. Could some misprinted editions of Poe's Poetical Works erroneously give "tintinnabulation"? Or from your own informations?

And, please, will you read "born in the purple" instead of "borne in the purple", to be more exact.

Yours, Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2003

Your question is in fact more difficult than it appears at first look! I am now sure that Poe's 16 letters long word you need is actually "TINTINNABULATION", with two "n"'s. I have checked for you (with a real pleasure, I assure you), some forty different copies of Poe's 1849-posthumous long version of his well-known poem "The Bells" (from the fac-simile MS as reproduced in Woodberry's (1909) "Life of Poe" and Griswold's transcript in his 1850-NY Redfield posthumous edition of the "Works of the Late E. A. Poe" to the most recent ones), and we may conclude that scholars currently overlook the rub. Firstly, Poe has not coined the word "tintinnabulation"; this appears indeed, WITH TWO "N"'s in Bulwer's "Pelham" (1828), a novel Poe knew very well and very early. Some lines by Frere ("Monks & Giants" - 1817) have the same word and spelling, with the same meaning, from the Latin word "tintinnabulum", viz. "tinkling or sounding like a bell". The word "tintinnabulary" (with TWO "n"'s again) occurs in many dictionaries of Poe's time. Secondly, the MS Poe sold to Sartain, in late 1849, in order to publish it in the Union Magazine shows the word with the WRONG spelling "TINTINABULAION", with only ONE "n"!!! Sartain (and all the following reprints from it) silently corrected Poe's misspelling, doubtless knowing well this uncommon word. On the other hand, Griswold, in 1850, and from the same MS, copied faithfully Poe's erroneous "one N" word, giving thus, for many generations of U.S. and British unattentive editors, perhaps the illusion of some new Poe's coinage... Note that at www.eapoe.org, (the best site for Poe's texts on line,indeed) the marvellous team of the Baltimore Society is, alas, wrong with their copies of the MS and the 1850-Griswold texts, giving them both "tintinnabulation" instead of the actual erroneous "tintinabulation"... Silent corrections? Unadvertancy? Stovall, in his wonderful scholarly variorum 1965 edition of Poe's Poems, totally overlooked it too, as well as K. Campbell in 1917. Thanks Heaven, Mabbott, in 1968 (1969, posthumously) did not fall in this editorial pit... All this is, in fact, I conceed, of very little interest. But your apparently anodine question drives really towards one of Poe's ill-fated destiny, even when dead.... Nevertheless, be sure

"Nos haec novimus esse nihil"

Yours, Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2003

AOWW! I fell too!!!

Please, read, evidently


instead of



Raven's Shade (just a little bit tired...).

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2003

Summer gives heat as well as either some oblivion or more leisure to refresh memory. I forgot indeed another (capital!)literary occurence of the precise and correct word "tintinnabulation" I myself pointed out some fifteen years ago, when digging into small-typed columns of pirated texts as printed on heavily foxed broad sheets of the NY "MIRROR" (1846-47), well known and read by Poe, because just at the dark time of his very bad affair with Th. D. English. And it was... in ch. XII of the serialized (with or without Dickens's permission, I cannot say) reprint of "Dombey & Sons" (entitled "Paul's Education")! You can easily check it from any common edition of this work. No more for the moment, but I am sure we could trace still more examples of this uncommon word (with two "n"'s!) before Poe's own usage of it. Yours, Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2003

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