[Lengthy] is a vicious, fugitive, scoundrel and True American word. It should be hooted by every elegant English scholar, and proscribed from every page.Port folio, though published in the US, was "remarkable chiefly for close adhesion to established English ideas" [Henry Adams]. The authors complained that if lengthy makes sense, then so must breadthy, but since no one's saying breadthy, that shows how ridiculous lengthy is.
They didn't like it in England either (from the OED):
1793 Brit. Critic Nov. 286 We shall, at all times, with pleasure, receive from our transatlantic brethren real improvements of our common mother-tongue: but we shall hardly be induced to admit such phrases as that at p. 93—‘more lengthy’, for longer, or more diffuse.At some point in the 19th century, the British (and everyone else) seem to have stopped minding it. While some still note it as an Americanism, some authors use it without comment:
|From the OED|
I was thinking about the 'we don't have breadthy' anti-lenghthy argument. We don't. But we do have weighty, which goes back to the 1500s. It doesn't just mean heavy (for "languages abhor absolute synonyms just as nature abhors a vacuum"--Cruse 1986:270) , it has additional implications, usually of importance or seriousness. One suspects that the authors of the Port folio complaint noticed weighty but decided to (orig. AmE) keep it under their hats.
And then there's hefty, which the OED considers to be 'originally dialectal and US'. I like the word hefty and the noun heft to mean 'weight', which the OED marks as 'dial. & U.S.'. They seem slightly onomatopoetic to me. I can imagine exhaling 'hft' as I lift something with heft.
Again, according to the web-English corpus GloWBE, the 'American' adjective hefty gets more hits in Britain (1,954) than in America (1,366) in corpora of about 387 million words each. The noun heft is a bit more common in the US (224 v 200). What's remarkable about all that is that the word hefty is first cited in 1867, more than 100 years after the first use of lengthy. By the turn of the 20th century, English writers are using hefty, and no one's commenting on it as being an Americanism as they did for lengthy. Did acceptance of lengthy make hefty non-controversial? I don't know, but I found it interesting.
Still, there's no heighty and no breadthy. Go on. Start using them. I dare you.