me·​gil·​lah | \ mə-ˈgi-lə How to pronounce megillah (audio) \

Definition of megillah

1 slang : 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 slang
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

Did you know?

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.

Examples of megillah in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web All this yada yada—the whole megillah of loudmouth quasi-lies—just keep on streaming. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 10 Dec. 2019 The whole megillah depends on ludicrous growth projections and ridiculous faith in the essential patriotism of the American corporation. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, 20 Dec. 2017 While the other offers snacky highlights from the Public Kitchen menu, this one serves the whole megillah. Pete Wells, New York Times, 10 Oct. 2017 ArtScroll, founded by Rabbi Zlotowitz in the mid-1970s, worked to make the books accessible to both, starting with the megillah (scroll) of Esther and crowning the company’s output in 2005 with a 73-volume set of the Babylonian Talmud. Joseph Berger, New York Times, 27 June 2017

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.

First Known Use of megillah

1911, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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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The first known use of megillah was in 1911

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Cite this Entry

“Megillah.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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