Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

All Hail Our Grand Panjandrum! (WordOfTheDay)

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by the oed


[Apparently < PAN- comb. form + an arbitrary second element. (Any deliberate echo of PANGERAN n. seems unlikely.)
The word is supposed to have been coined in 1754 or 1755 as part of a farrago of nonsense composed by Samuel Foote (1720-77), actor and dramatist, to test the memory of his fellow actor Charles Macklin, who had asserted that he could repeat anything after hearing it once. In the first published version the relevant passage (attributed to Foote) reads as follows:
1825 M. EDGEWORTH Harry & Lucy Concl. II. 153 And there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the Grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top.

1. (A mock title for) a mysterious (freq. imaginary) personage of great power or authority; a pompous or pretentious official; a self-important person in authority. Also Grand PanjandrumGreat Panjandrum.

1825 M. EDGEWORTH Harry & Lucy Concl. II. 153 Lucy said, that if it had not been for the grand Panjandrum, she was almost sure she should have been able to say it; but she was so much surprised by meeting the grand Panjandrum himself again, and so diverted by his little round button at top, that she could think of nothing else.


Written by (wotty)

March 23, 2010 at 16:29

Posted in OED, WOTD

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