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May 20, 2011
This week's theme
Words derived from circus

This week's words
three-ring circus
desultory
dog-and-pony show
hey rube
jumbo

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Words to describe people
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

jumbo

PRONUNCIATION:
(JUHM-boh)

MEANING:
noun: Something very large.
adjective: Very large.

ETYMOLOGY:
The word was popularized after Jumbo, a very large elephant exhibited by circus showman P.T. Barnum. Jumbo was captured in Africa, sold to a zoo in Paris, traded to London Zoo, and again sold to Barnum who took him to New York. The elephant died in a collision with a locomotive in Canada. The origin of the name jumbo is not confirmed. It's probably from the second element of mumbo jumbo or from another word in an African language. Earliest documented use: 1823.

USAGE:
"The market for jumbo loans, which are safe but too large for Fannie or Freddie to guarantee, ground to a halt last week."
Paper Losses; The Economist (London, UK); Aug 23, 2007.

See more usage examples of jumbo in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It is well to know something of the manners of various peoples, in order more sanely to judge our own, and that we do not think that everything against our modes is ridiculous, and against reason, as those who have seen nothing are accustomed to think. -Rene Descartes, philosopher and mathematician (1596-1650)

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