• panjandrum •
pæn-jæn-drêm • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A mock title for a high-ranking, super supercilious, self-centered person: a Pooh-bah (a character in The Mikado), a High Muck-a-muck (Chinook jargon hayo makamak "plenty to eat"), a mugwump (Algonquian for "great chief"). 2. The highest rank in the Alpha Agora
Notes: This is a word bereft of lexical kinsfolk other than a normal plural, panjandrums. Of course, since it ends on -um, like datum - data and paramecium - paramecia, we might play with "all the panjandra" to get a wider smile.
In Play: This light-hearted word also has quite a bit of beauty that should not be ignored: "Today I am the Grand Panjandrum of my demesne, overseeing the fall colors of my garden, feasting on olives, cheese, grapes, and fresh-baked bread in my royally favorite nightgown." A large dahlia could be the grand panjandrum of the garden itself. This word is a fine blade to use against self-importance. "Why should I have to lay down a bunt? You're just the coach; you're not the Grand Panjandrum of Poobabia", would be a sparkling note on which to end your baseball career.
Word History: The Irish actor Charles Macklin (1699-1797) loved to boast that he could memorize any paragraph on one reading. To test that boast, Samuel Foote composed a highly nonsensical paragraph to test Macklin in 1754. Macklin refused to perform with the words of Foote in his mouth. Still, one phrase in the test stuck in the language: "the grand Panjandrum himself". It probably took up residence because it is very remindful of the names of the lords of India and Pakistan, giving it the ring of authenticity with just a touch of mystery.
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