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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.

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rigmarole

September 1st, 2015

Episode 306 of 713 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 01, 2015 is: rigmarole \RIG-uh-muh-rol\ noun 1 : confused or meaningless talk 2 : a complex and sometimes ritualistic procedure Examples: Rather than go through the annual rigmarole of filling out tax forms, Maureen would rather pay an accountant to do her taxes for her. "After years of procrastinating, I logged on to my retirement account. Just working my way through the rigmarole of retrieving lost passwords and locating my investments was bad enough." Sendhil Mullainathan, The New York Times, 11 July 2015 Did you know? In the Middle Ages, the term Rageman or Ragman referred to a game in which a player randomly selected a string attached to a roll of verses and read the selected verse. The roll was called a Ragman roll after a fictional king purported to be the author of the verses. By the 16th century, ragman and ragman roll were being used figuratively to mean "a list or catalog." Both terms fell out of written use, but ragman roll persisted in speech, and in the 18th century it resurfaced in writing as rigmarole, with the meaning "a succession of confused, meaningless, or foolish statements." In the mid-19th century rigmarole (also spelled rigamarole, reflecting its common pronunciation) acquired its most recent sense, "a complex and ritualistic procedure."

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