Printable Version
Pronunciation: brahb-ding-næg-i-yên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Relating to the imaginary land of giants, Brobdingnag, described in Jonathan Swift's satirical novel Gulliver's Travels (1726) or the people living there. 2. Humongous, enormous, gigantic; the antonym of Lilliputian.

Notes: Don't think you can pronounce this word? It isn't so difficult: it starts with brob, which isn't all that different from bob. This rings a bell that gives out a ding, awaking a nagian, which we can pretend is someone who nags. I think it is time we spelled this word without capitalization and allow an adverb, brobdingnagianly, but apparently 280 years are not enough to completely commonize this proper adjective. So, we must still capitalize it.

In Play: Humans love to exaggerate, especially if they speak English. When huge, enormous, gigantic, gargantuan–even humongous–do not capture the size you wish to express, it is time to unfurl today's Good Word: "They plan to level all the dunes for 10 miles up and down the coast, the forests for five miles inland, and build a Brobdingnagian seaside resort here." Oddly enough, the antonym of today's word, Lilliputian, is beginning to be spelled in lower case letters: "Tad Poole is known for his Brobdingnagian ideas and lilliputian resources to develop them." Take your pick.

Word History: The eponym of today's word is Brobdingnag, an imaginary continent-sized peninsula six thousand miles long and three thousand miles wide described in Gulliver's Travels. Lorbulgrud is its capital and its king enjoys a seaside palace at Flanflasnic. The people of Brobdingnag are disproportionately large, as tall as church steeples with strides ten yards long, according to Swift. Rats are the size of large dogs in this country and flies are the size of birds. (Our Good Word today comes to us from the Brobdingnagian vocabulary of Chuck Lee of Reno, Nevada.)

Dr. Goodword,

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