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

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 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 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, 9 Mar. 2020 Here is Brooks, declaiming about what followed the failure of U.S. campaign finance reform. Richard Lipez, Washington Post, 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., 22 Oct. 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

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

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Last Updated

30 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Declaim.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for declaim



English Language Learners Definition of declaim

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

More from Merriam-Webster on declaim

Nglish: Translation of declaim for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of declaim for Arabic Speakers


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