What does Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious mean?

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“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” is a song from the 1964 Disney musical film Mary Poppins. The song was written by the Sherman Brothers, and sung by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. It also appears in the stage show version. Because Mary Poppins was a period piece set in 1910, songs that sounded similar to songs of the period were wanted.
 

Origin and meaning

According to Richard M. Sherman, co-writer of the song with his brother, Robert, the word was one that the two knew in their youth. In an episode of the Disney Family Album featuring the story of the brother’s careers, Richard Sherman stated, “we remembered this wonderful word from our childhood”.

In a 2007 interview, Sherman indicated that the final version of the word was produced by the two brothers over the course of two weeks during the songwriting process, indicating only that the origins of the word were in their memories of creating double-talkwords in their childhood.

The roots of the word have been defined as follows: super- “above”, cali- “beauty”, fragilistic- “delicate”, expiali- “to atone”, and -docious “educable”, with the sum of these parts signifying roughly “Atoning for educability through delicate beauty.” According to the film, it is defined as “something to say when you have nothing to say”.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was first added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1986 and, as of March 2014, does not appear in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

 

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