A panjandrum is a person who is really important and powerful in a showy way.
Panjandrum can also be anything that's ceremonial and fussy. In other words, panjandrum is stuff that's full of pomp and formality but is just silly and unnecessary.
pan JAN drum
Part of speech:
It's a countable noun when you mean "an important, pompous person."
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one panjandrum or multiple panjandrums.)
It's an uncountable noun when you mean "ridiculous formality and ceremony." (Like “milk,” “rice,” and “education,” uncountable nouns are words for stuff that can’t be broken into exact units. You talk about “some milk,” “the rice,” and “a lot of education,” but you don’t say “a milk,” “three rices,” or “many educations.”
Likewise, talk about “the panjandrum,” “such panjandrum,” “a lot of panjandrum,” “no panjandrum,” and so on, but don’t say “panjandrums” unless you mean "people who believe they are super-important authorities.")
Just the plural, "panjandrums."
How to use it:
This is a fun, silly word, so use it to be funny (or use it to be critical, if you're making fun of something).
For the first meaning, refer to someone as a panjandrum or the Great Panjandrum, a grand panjandrum, and so on. (Capitalize the word if you like to think of it as a title.) You can talk about people as panjandrums in the plural: those panjandrums who insist on things being done a certain way at your company, the panjandrums in the local government throwing themselves a self-celebratory banquet, etc.
For the second meaning, talk about the panjandrum at an event, the panjandrum of a process, the whole panjandrum of doing something, and so on.
Thankfully, we arrived just in time to hear the gesticulating panjandrum finish booming a lengthy introduction to the main act.
Like the elegant welcome center that stood blocking a sea of bleak rectangular classroom buildings, the school's orientation ceremonies brimmed with panjandrum and energy that was never seen again by most students.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "panjandrum" means when you can explain it without saying "puffed-up official" or "foofaraw."
Think of an official rule or policy that you think is silly or unneeded, and fill in the blanks: "The great panjandrums of (some organization) have/had decreed that _____."
Example: "The great panjandrums of our school district had decreed that girls' shorts and skirts must be of a certain modest length, but cheerleaders' micro-minis were official school uniforms and were formally, maybe even heartily, endorsed."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're playing with some fascinating thematic word lists assembled by Stephen Chrisomalis, an English language expert over at The Phrontistery who kindly gave permission for me to use his work. (Check out his site; you will definitely enjoy it!)
Try a question each day, and see the right answers here the following day--or if you can't wait, follow the link to Stephen's list to dig out the answers yourself. Have fun!
Using your knowledge of word roots, match each adjective to its meaning:
Something alveolate is _____.
Something cosmotellurian is _____.
Something gnomic is _____.
- of, like or pertaining to both heaven and earth
- of or like a honeycomb
- signifying general truth; pertaining to aphorisms or proverbs
Something alveolate is of or like a honeycomb.
Something cosmotellurian is of, like or pertaining to both heaven and earth.
Something gnomic is signifying general truth; pertaining to aphorisms or proverbs.
Try this one today:
Using your knowledge of science words, come up with the correct terms for each scientific instrument below:
- A cy__meter is an instrument for counting cells.
- A d___meter is an instrument for measuring hardness of substances.
- A f____meter is an instrument for measuring underwater depth using sound.
Can't wait until tomorrow for the right answers? Check out Stephen's full list and discussion at the Phrontistery.
A Point Well Made:
Jane Wagner: "It's my belief we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain."
1. One opposite of PANJANDRUM is
2. The little Panjandrum at the birthday party _____
A. ate too much sugar and bounced off the walls.
B. stood shyly in the corner until the other children talked to him.
C. donned a crown and shouted "And now for the cutting of the cake!"
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.