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
declamation \ ˌde-​klə-​ˈmā-​shən How to pronounce declamation (audio) \ 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 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 At the opening ceremony of this year’s conference, the ballroom at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown was buzzing with fresh-faced capitalist devotees sipping wine and beer and declaiming their love of Rand’s work. Alexander Sammon, The New Republic, "The Last of the Ayn Rand Acolytes," 14 Aug. 2019 Introduced while smugly declaiming his masturbatory fantasies to his high school English class, Sidney is barely bearable. Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, "Review: A Young Writer Implodes in ‘The Vanishing of Sidney Hall’," 1 Mar. 2018 North America, Gilpin grandly declaimed, had a national, unified personality. Johnforristerross, Longreads, "Taming the Great American Desert," 2 July 2018 One soprano declaims these words while another sings settings of poems by Rebecca Elson, who tells of a similar struggle, in more oblique terms. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Sonic Fury of the Ojai Music Festival," 24 June 2018 In this sense, all fiction — and this has been roughly true since the early nineteenth century, when the burgeoningly popular, still somewhat novel novel form, was declaimed as a woman’s art — is chick lit. Constance Grady, Vox, "Jane Austen, authority on relationship intricacies, has been cited in 27 legal decisions," 28 Apr. 2018 These were then declaimed by a speech synthesizer, with the androidal American accent that has thereafter become his trademark. Martin Rees, Newsweek, "A Brief History of My Friend Stephen Hawking, the Man Who Changed Our Times," 14 Mar. 2018

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

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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

18 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Declaim.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on declaim

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for declaim

Spanish Central: Translation of declaim

Nglish: Translation of declaim for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of declaim for Arabic Speakers

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