megillah

noun me·gil·lah \ mə-ˈgi-lə \
Updated on: 28 Feb 2018

Definition of megillah

slang
1 : a long involved story or account
  • Shaffer has Salieri declaring war on Heaven … and determined to ruin Mozart because God's voice is speaking through him. Shaffer turns Pushkin's metaphor into a whole megillah.
  • —Paulene Kael
2 a : an elaborate, complicated production or sequence of events
  • Today's affair is a luncheon … . In fact, the whole megillah has a furtive vibe to it, half shameful …
  • —Jeff MacGregor
  • … a simple matter of identifying the dead man … turns into a big political megillah.
  • —Marilyn Stasio
b : everything involved in what is under consideration : ball of wax
  • "The only thing that could interest me is if I could win. I'm not talking about the nomination, I'm talking about the whole megillah."
  • —Donald Trump
  • That's $18 million between the whole group. Throwing in Miller makes $22 million. Say they decided to donate the whole megillah last year.
  • —Jason Rhode

megillah was our Word of the Day on 10/12/2014. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of megillah from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Although megillah is a slang word in English, it has perfectly respectable Hebrew origins. Megillah derives from the Yiddish megile, which itself comes from the Hebrew word mĕgillāh, meaning "scroll" or "volume." (Mĕgillāh is especially likely to be used in reference to the Book of Esther, which is read aloud at Purim celebrations.) It makes sense, then, that when megillah first appeared in English in the early 20th century, it referred to a story that was so long (and often tedious or complicated) that it was reminiscent of the length of the mĕgillāh scrolls. The Hebrew word is serious, but the Yiddish megile can be somewhat playful, and our megillah has also inherited that lightheartedness.

Origin and Etymology of megillah

Yiddish megile, from Hebrew mĕgillāh scroll, volume (used especially of the Book of Esther, read aloud at the Purim celebration)

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