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

intransitive verb

: to speak rhetorically
speakers declaimed on a variety of issues
specifically : to recite something as an exercise in elocution
: 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
declaimer noun

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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 His campaign said in March that the policy would apply only to mandatory coronavirus vaccinations, but Trump has repeatedly declaimed against vaccine mandates without mentioning covid. Ramesh Ponnuru, Washington Post, 24 June 2024 Park made a stunning impression in both spirituals and symphony, singing in a resonant and warm bass voice — and declaiming clearly without clipping — in both German and English. Globe Staff,, 21 Aug. 2023 By contrast, Lloyd Webber had no ear for drama; his characters simply declaimed their emotions directly into the audience, as if by T-shirt cannon. Vulture, 28 Mar. 2023 Anyone can declaim the glories of waterfalls or snowy mountain peaks, but who dares speak for the swamp? Sam Sacks, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2021 For the next 80 minutes on this balmy Thursday evening in late May, the actors would sing and declaim while pacing across a green swath of lawn just outside their cafeteria. Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2021 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, 20 Nov. 2020 The contrast is striking with state television documentaries featuring bossy, relentless narrators declaiming upbeat slogans. The Economist, 8 Apr. 2020 The legendary politician was declaiming, a hand reaching out to snatch at the air. oregonlive, 22 Apr. 2020

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near declaim

Cite this Entry

“Declaim.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


de·​claim di-ˈklām How to pronounce declaim (audio)
: to speak or deliver in the manner of a formal speech
declaimer noun
declamation noun

More from Merriam-Webster on declaim

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