In a Word: Rodomontade

December 27, 2010|By John McIntyre, The Baltimore Sun

Each week, The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. Use it in a sentence in a comment on his blog, You Don't Say, and the best sentence will be featured next week. This week's word:


As the deliberations of the Senate and House of Representatives of the 111th Congress begin to face, mercifully, from memory, you will probably retain some sense of having listened to rodomontade. This word, originally meaning braggadocio or arrogant boasting, has enlarged its sense to include inflated talk, blustering and ranting.

It comes to us from an eponym, Rodomonte, the boastful Saracen in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso of 1532. I prefer the pronunciation rohd-uh-mon-TAHD, which is closer to the Italian original, but the dictionaries tell me that rahd-uh-man-TADE is common. Pick one and stick with it.

Example: Whether the subject is the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Denise Whiting's trademarking of hon, or the best burger in Baltimore (anything other than the Hamilton Tavern's Crosstown Burger is idle talk), you can be assured of gusts of rodomontade, sometimes rising to gale force, on the blogs and discussion boards.

Last week's word: Otiose stimulated a characteristic comment from ddfairchild:

Some doggerel for the day:

A woman's tears, though lacrimose,

Are very rarely otiose.

(which brings up the question — is "otiose doggerel" redundant?)

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