Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


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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.



May 25th, 2015

Episode 206 of 688 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 25, 2015 is: callithump \KAL-uh-thump\ noun : a noisy boisterous band or parade Examples: Anyone who wants to participate in the town's annual Memorial Day callithump should be at the elementary school by 10 a.m. "Almost wherever you are in the Los Angeles area Sunday, there's a parade coming your way. Yes, it's callithump time in and about the City of Angels, and whether you prefer the traditional, the eclectic or the absurd, you'll have your choice of pageants." Michael Welzenbach, Los Angeles Times, November 26, 1988 Did you know? Callithump and the related adjective callithumpian are Americanisms, but their roots stretch back to England. In the 19th century, the noun callithumpians was used in the U.S. of boisterous roisterers who had their own makeshift New Year's parade. Their band instruments consisted of crude noisemakers such as pots, tin horns, and cowbells. The antecedent of callithumpians is an 18th-century British dialect term for another noisy group, the "Gallithumpians," who made a rumpus on election days in southern England. Today, the words callithump and callithumpian see occasional use, especially in the names of specific bands and parades. The callithumpian bands and parades of today are more organized than those of the past, but they retain an association with noise and boisterous fun.

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