Printable Version
Pronunciation: -zêl-dæ-zêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Showy, flashy, dazzling display designed to attract attention. 2. The quality of such a display. 3. A riotous noisy activity intended to impress people.

Notes: In the movie version of the musical comedy Chicago Richard Gere sings a song called "Razzle-Dazzle", explaining what catches the eye of the press and its public. The noun may be used as a verb meaning to create razzle-dazzle in any of its meanings.

In Play: Liberace was a past master of showbiz razzle-dazzle. Razzle-dazzle sometime can imply a distractive or even deceptive dazzling: "Singers of the past, like Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, could attract large audiences without the razzle-dazzle of modern rock-and-role and rap shows." An excellent example of political razzle-dazzle is former President Trump's promise to build an impenetrable fence along the US southern border and make Mexico pay for it.

Word History: Today's Good Word is a perfect example of an emphatic rhyming compound. The underlying meaning is that of dazzle, but the decorative rhyme is a lovely distraction that conveys emphasis. Razzle is a nonsense rhyme of dazzle, and dazzle was once an instrumental noun from daze, meaning "stupefaction, confusion". By Middle English it meant "to overpower with bright light". The Old English verb dasen meant "be stunned, bewildered", borrowed from Old Norse (Viking) dasa "to become weary, fatigued". compare with Swedish dasa "to lie idle, lay about" and Icelandic dasi "lay-about, laze fellow". The origin can be traced back to Proto-Germanic, but there the trail ends.

Dr. Goodword,

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