Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
January 15th, 2015
Episode 77 of 689 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 15, 2015 is: Brobdingnagian \brob-ding-NAG-ee-un\ adjective : marked by tremendous size Examples: Our little dog was frightened by the Brobdingnagian proportions of the statues in the park. "In a clever new show at the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Amy Toscani has mined thrift-store trinkets for inspiration and body parts for Brobdingnagian sculptures, whose huge scale dwarfs viewers." Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), April 26, 2014 Did you know? In Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels, Brobdingnag is the name of a land that is populated by a race of human giants "as tall as an ordinary spire steeple." In Gulliver's first close-up encounter with the giants, he is attempting to get past a stile of which every step is six feet high when a group of field-workers approach with strides ten yards long and reaping hooks as large as six scythes. Their voices he at first mistakes for thunder. Swift's book fired the imagination of the public and within two years of the 1726 publication of the story, people had begun using Brobdingnagian to refer to anything of unusually large size. (Swift himself had used Brobdingnagian as a noun to refer to the inhabitants of Brobdingnag.)