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May 27, 2011
This week's theme
Words to describe people

This week's words
tyro
reactionary
concupiscent
callow
panjandrum

panjandrum
The Great Panjandrum
Illustration: Randolph Caldecott
From the picture book
The Great Panjandrum Himself
based on Samuel Foote's text

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Words made with combining forms
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

panjandrum

PRONUNCIATION:
(pan-JAN-druhm)

MEANING:
noun: An important or self-important person.

ETYMOLOGY:
The word is said to have been coined by dramatist and actor Samuel Foote (1720-1777) as part of a nonsensical passage to test the memory of his fellow actor Charles Macklin who claimed to be able to repeat anything after hearing it once. Earliest documented use: 1825, in the novel "Harry and Lucy Concluded" in which the author Maria Edgeworth attributes the word to Foote.

USAGE:
"Another man coming to hear Fry was Graham Turner, the owner, chairman, former manager and grand panjandrum of Hereford United."
Brian Viner; Unexpected Frictions Follow Ferguson's Fall; The Independent (London, UK); Nov 14, 2009.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Why is it that one can look at a lion or a planet or an owl or at someone's finger as long as one pleases, but looking into the eyes of another person is, if prolonged past a second, a perilous affair? -Walker Percy, author (1916-1990)

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