Printable Version
Pronunciation: rænt-i-pol Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, adjective, verb

Meaning: A wild, disorderly, boisterous, irrational, uncontrollable person; a person disposed to ranting and raving.

Notes: Here is a word in print since the mid-17th century and yet still used in the June 8, 2006 issue (34) of The Guardian (Nexis). This word may be used as an adjective, 'a rantipole politician', or a verb, 'to rantipole about the house'. No need for prefixes, suffixes, or other morphological marking.

In Play: Pip, in Dickens's Great Expectations was called a "young rantipole" by his older sister, who thought him ill-behaved and disorderly. Washington Irving wrote in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: "This rantipole hero had for some time singled out the blooming Katrina for the object of his uncouth gallantries, and . . . yet it was whispered that she did not altogether discourage his hopes."

Word History: This word was originally spelled rantipol(l) leaving little doubt about its origin. It comes from the phrase ranty "given to ranting" + poll "head", as in poll tax "head tax". This construction has apparently been popular throughout the history of English, for we find the more modern sorehead, bonehead, egghead, just to cite a few of the mentionable ones. We also see this archaic use of poll in pollywog, the wiggling head and tadpole, the toad head. Poll seems to be restricted to Germanic languages. We find pol "tuft, top (of a hill)" in Dutch and puld "top of a hat" in Danish. The same applies to rant. This word was borrowed from Dutch ranten "rage, rave". However, ranty did convert itself into British randy, which corresponds to American horny. (Thank you, David Myer of Melbourne, Australia, not only for recommending today's Good Word but for providing both examples in the In play above.)

Dr. Goodword,

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