Printable Version
Pronunciation: mæg-nil-ê-kwent Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: (Of speech) 1. Flowery, high-flown, lofty, grandiose. 2. Pompous, bombastic.

Notes: Today's word is a rarity: an absolute synonym of grandiloquent. Perfect synonyms are hard to find because either one of a synonymous pair may occur in contexts where the other is not allowed. The noun for magniloquent, as with all adjectives ending on NT, is magniloquence. The adverb is formed by adding the usual suffix, -ly: magniloquently.

In Play: Funerals are where today's word in its positive sense most often applies: "Miriam Webster gave a magniloquent eulogy at the funeral of her erstwhile political nemesis." The negative sense of this word is most often associated with speeches: "Marshall Law gave a magniloquent description of his military service, knowing no one else in the room had participated in the war."

Word History: Today's word is historically a back formation from its current noun magniloquence. This word taken from Latin magniloquentia, made up of magnus "great" + loquen(t)s "speaking", the present participle of loqui "to speak" + -ia, a noun suffix. Magnus is the Latin realization of Proto-Indo-European meg- "large, great", which entered Greek unchanged as megas "large, great". English borrowed this word for all its words beginning with mega-, like megabyte and megastar. Old English inherited it from its Germanic ancestors as mycel, Middle English muchel, which ended up today as much. It also came to English by various routes as major, mayor, magnify. The PIE root for "speak" was tolkw-, which is obvious in Russian tolkat' "interpret". Latin lost the T and the OL traded places to give it the word that we see in myriad English borrowings from that language: locution, loquacious, eloquent, etc. (I shall resist the temptation to become magniloquent in my expression of gratitude to Eric Berntson, who recommended today's splendiferous Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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