Are you or a loved one using big words too much? Fancy Synonym Syndrome is usually self-diagnosable. Symptoms include a strong need to use the word pestiferous in conversation. Those with FSS may have problems controlling their syllables or suffer withdrawals if they stop speaking in condescending tones.

Pete, 27, from Kansas City, said, “It started with Faulkner. I was in college, at a party, and I tried a little bit of Absalom, Absalom. I was hooked. Next thing I know, I’m using the word ‘somnambulant' with complete strangers. But it wasn’t enough—I needed more. Eventually, I moved to harder words like ‘hagiographic' and ‘oleaginous.'”

Nobody is saying big words are bad. Most functioning adults use big words. But if you need them to have fun, or are using five or six big words before breakfast, then you might have a problem.

If you suspect you might have FSS, fill out the brief assessment form below.

1. Were you ever let go from a job because you used the word “languorous” on company time?
2. Have you ever shouted at a loved one for questioning your use of the word “punctilious”?
3. Have you ever said the phrase “rapacious cupidity” while driving?

Fancy Synonym Syndrome can have disastrous effects on a person’s life and should not be taken lightly. Abby, 21, was only a sophomore at Boise State when she started expanding her vocabulary. “I was just so young,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes. “I got F's on all my papers because I couldn’t stop misusing big words.” With her grades slipping, her parents cut her off.

Abby’s not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, 9 out of every 10 American students will have used at least one word out of context before they reach high school.

Overcoming your denial is the first step towards a better future. Tabitha, 55, remembers the moment she realized she had a problem. “My husband locked the cabinet where we kept the dictionaries. When he found the pocket-sized Roget’s Thesaurus I taped behind the toilet, he freaked out. I told him his umbrage was discommodious and blacked out.”

But recovery is possible.

Roger, 31, from Burlington, VT, said counseling changed his life. “Growing up, my mom dated a lot of guys with poor vocabularies. My God, I hated when she brought them home. All night long, through the thin walls, I could hear them splitting their infinitives.”

Roger is adamant: unless a person confronts the root causes behind their behavior, they’ll never be able to stop using fancy words. “I started using them as a way of getting back at my mother. And that’s where I went wrong, because no word is big enough to fill that void. Not even the word ‘vertiginous,' which is pretty big.”

Chelsea, 33, from Omaha, said she began attending a mutual support group after her fiancé caught her using the word “plebiscite” with the mailman. Roberto, Chelsea’s mentor and sponsor, says the progress she’s made this past year is astounding. “When I met her, she was going through nearly a hundred adverbs a day.”

“It’s true,” Chelsea said laughing, seemingly for the first time in months. “I remember using the word ‘obstreperous' by a dumpster behind a seedy gas station, and I knew my life needed to change.”

After seeking treatment, Chelsea says life is slowly returning to normal. People aren't afraid to talk to her. Her friends are inviting her to Scrabble Night, something that was unimaginable a few months ago. “You just have to believe in yourself,” she said. “Once you realize a simple vocabulary is all you need, the hardest part's over.”