• rampageous •
ræm-pay-jês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: On a rampage, violently uncontrollable, in some way like a rampage.
Notes: Today's word is, of course, the seldom encountered adjective for the noun rampage. If this word isn't rare enough for you, you might try its synonym, rampacious—so long as you do not confuse it with rapacious. We have only the suffix -ness to form the noun of either of these adjectives, rampageousness and rampaciousness.
In Play: This word implies boisterous and destructive behavior: "A rampageous pack of dogs destroyed Phil O'Dendren's flower garden." We find such behavior all around us: "Mildred's 50th class reunion was not nearly as rampageous as her 10th."
Word History: Rampageous is an adjective derived from rampage, which has nothing to do with rams or pages. Rather, it derives from the verb ramp "to bound or rush wildly", as in 'Ramp up the music a bit.' This verb has been used historically to refer to animals rearing on their hind legs. It is the origin of romp and the underlying form of rampant. (It bears no relation to rampart.) Old French borrowed this verb for its ramper "to climb, scale (as wall)". It then added the suffix -age to form rampage, which it lent back to English. The suffix, by the way, comes from the Latin -aticus, a combination of -at + -ic(us). Only French could convert -aticus to -age, pronounced [azh]. (Let's now thank Sue Gold of Westtown School in West Chester, Pannsylvania, who has recently been on a rampageous run of excellent suggestions for Good Words such as today's.)