Brobdingnagian

adjective

Brob·​ding·​nag·​ian ˌbräb-diŋ-ˈna-gē-ən How to pronounce Brobdingnagian (audio)
-dig-ˈna-
: 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.)

Example Sentences

a Brobdingnagian billboard stood at the entrance to the theme park

Word History

Etymology

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

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Dictionary Entries Near Brobdingnagian

Cite this Entry

“Brobdingnagian.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Brobdingnagian. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

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