• rambunctious •
Pronunciation: ræm-bêngk-shês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Noisily overactive, aggressive, outspoken, mildly rip-roarious.
Notes: Today's Good Word is a facetious concoction that managed to stick in the language. That it is currently an integral part of the English vocabulary today is evidenced by its paronyms: the adverb rambunctiously and the noun rambunctiousness.
In Play: Kids are most often accused of rambunctiousness: "Sorry about the goldfish bowl, Mrs. McGillicutty; the kids were a little rambunctious tonight." However, adults have problems with it, too: "Frank became a bit rambunctious on the way home from the party last night and I had to handcuff him to the car door."
Word History: The word we are looking for is robust and it comes from the same root that gave us red and ruby. It also emerged in Latin as robus "red oak" and it is from this word that we derived our robust. However, robust sounds a little weak for its definition, so someone kicked it up a notch or two to robustious (1540s). Then some ancient mariner, no doubt, decided that a drop of rum would strengthen it even more, so converted it to rumbustious (1780s). Now, rams are very robust animals, so the Temperance ladies (my guess) removed this rum along with all the rest and replaced it with ram, giving us today's word, rambunctious (1850s). I will let you figure why the first S became N. (Today's Good Word comes from the robust vocabulary of our long-time friend and occasionally rambunctious Agoran, Katy Brezger.)
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