Definition of megillah
: a long involved story or account the whole megillah
megillah was our Word of the Day on 10/12/2014. Hear the podcast!
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 mid-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)
First Known Use: 1911
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