de·​claim | \ di-ˈklām How to pronounce declaim (audio) , dē- \
declaimed; declaiming; declaims

Definition of declaim

intransitive verb

1 : to speak rhetorically speakers declaimed on a variety of issues specifically : to recite something as an exercise in elocution
2 : to speak pompously or bombastically : harangue In presence of this historical fact it is foolish to declaim about natural rights …— V. L. Parrington

transitive verb

: to deliver rhetorically an actor declaiming his lines "I am a German citizen," she declaimed as if she had been practicing these lines …— André A. Aciman specifically : to recite in elocution … all these people declaiming selections from Shakespeare. — Ellen Glasgow

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Other Words from declaim

declaimer noun

When Should You Use declaim?

Declaiming suggests an unnatural style of speech best suited to a stage or podium. Listening to an actor declaim a passage in a Shakespeare play can be enjoyable. Listening to Aunt Ida at Sunday dinner declaiming on the virtues of roughage might not be. Most people don't appreciate being treated as an audience, and good advice is usually more welcome when it's not given in a declamatory style.

Examples of declaim in a Sentence

The actress declaimed her lines with passion. The speakers declaimed on a variety of issues.
Recent Examples on the Web Dumont also evokes classical theater oratory but transposes minimalist stagecraft to cinematic realism: His characters declaim on hilly exteriors, in windblown nature and literally beneath the heavens. Armond White, National Review, "A Second Joan of Arc Film Challenges Us All," 20 Nov. 2020 The contrast is striking with state television documentaries featuring bossy, relentless narrators declaiming upbeat slogans. The Economist, "Chaguan China stifles documentary-makers, but their art still shines," 8 Apr. 2020 The legendary politician was declaiming, a hand reaching out to snatch at the air. oregonlive, "On first Earth Day 50 years ago, an Oregon teen took a photo of Gov. Tom McCall that became a part of history," 22 Apr. 2020 The design team — especially Jason Sherwood (sets) and Linda Cho (costumes) — gives us haunting underwater vignettes involving a giant turtle and declaiming clams. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Endlings,’ the Pain of Swimming Between Worlds," 9 Mar. 2020 Here is Brooks, declaiming about what followed the failure of U.S. campaign finance reform. Richard Lipez, Washington Post, "Set during presidential primary season, ‘Oppo’ is about as timely as political thrillers come," 17 Dec. 2019 In the opening Chorale, a sinewy viola and then a keening clarinet declaimed as if from a pulpit, while spacious chords rang out from the other four players., "With Boston Symphony Chamber Players, the harpsichord definitely isn’t Baroque - The Boston Globe," 22 Oct. 2019 Both emperor and empress compose classical poems to be declaimed to the court several times a year. The Economist, "Japan’s emperor is a prisoner in his own palaces," 17 Oct. 2019 But only Stephen Adly Guirgis’s Broadway debut brought this debate to Broadway, with a Playbill that bleeped just two of those 12 letters — and a website that offered the sound of Elaine Stritch lustily declaiming every _____ing word in the title. Eric Grode, New York Times, "From ‘Sex’ to ‘Superstar,’ 10 Plays That Caused a Stir," 11 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'declaim.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of declaim

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for declaim

Middle English declamen, from Latin declamare, from de- + clamare to cry out; akin to Latin calare to call — more at low entry 3

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Time Traveler for declaim

Time Traveler

The first known use of declaim was in the 14th century

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Statistics for declaim

Last Updated

29 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Declaim.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for declaim


How to pronounce declaim (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of declaim

formal : to say (something) in usually a loud and formal way

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