September 14, 2016 by Stephen Bentley
Rigmarole: Word Wednesday
“Well that was a right old rigmarole,” must have been said by millions in all English speaking countries. It’s such a quaint word but so effective.
Merriam-Webster has this to say:
noun rig·ma·role \ˈri-gə-mə-ˌrōl, ˈrig-mə-\
Popularity: Bottom 50% of words
Simple Definition of rigmarole
: a long, complicated, and annoying process, description, etc.
Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary
Bottom 50 percent! Oh my! It deserves to be on the tip of everybody’s tongue 🙂
Full Definition of rigmarole
1: confused or meaningless talk
2: a complex and sometimes ritualistic procedure
Did You Know?
In the Middle Ages, the term Rageman or Ragman referred to a game in which a player randomly selected a string attached to a roll of verses and read the selected verse. The roll was called a Ragman roll after a fictional king purported to be the author of the verses. By the 16th century, ragman and ragman roll were being used figuratively to mean “a list or catalog.” Both terms fell out of written use, but ragman roll persisted in speech, and in the 18th century it resurfaced in writing as rigmarole, with the meaning “a succession of confused, meaningless, or foolish statements.” In the mid-19th century rigmarole (also spelled rigamarole, reflecting its common pronunciation) acquired its most recent sense, “a complex and ritualistic procedure.”
Well, no, I didn’t actually 🙂 A ragman in my young Liverpool days was a man with a horse and cart collecting waste shouting, “Rags! Bones!” Sometimes known as the rag and bone man. I have no idea why anyone would collect bones. Have you?
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