Brob·​ding·​nag·​ian ˌbräb-diŋ-ˈna-gē-ən How to pronounce Brobdingnagian (audio)
: marked by tremendous size
Brobdingnagian noun

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Brobdingnagian Comes From Gulliver's Travels

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.)

Examples of Brobdingnagian in a Sentence

a Brobdingnagian billboard stood at the entrance to the theme park
Recent Examples on the Web Only a very few of these Brobdingnagian convertibles—featuring a 21-foot length, a 12.7-liter straight-eight engine, and 24-inch wheels—were produced in the 1920s and 1930s. Brett Berk, Robb Report, 5 Apr. 2024 But how can a film begin to convey these Brobdingnagian dimensions? Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 8 Dec. 2023 In fact, the ELT started out as an idea called OWL—the OverWhelmingly Large Telescope—that would have been a Brobdingnagian 100 meters wide; after much review a panel of astronomers decided a more modest 39 meters would be sufficient. Phil Plait, Scientific American, 23 Nov. 2023 Two decades ago, the Giant Magellan was one of three efforts hatched by competing groups of astronomers and institutions to create a new generation of Brobdingnagian telescopes unparalleled in the ability to gather starlight and pierce the voids of the night sky. Dennis Overbye Marcos Zegers, New York Times, 18 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Brobdingnagian.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Brobdingnag, imaginary land of giants in Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift

First Known Use

1728, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Brobdingnagian was in 1728


Dictionary Entries Near Brobdingnagian

Cite this Entry

“Brobdingnagian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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