Definition of panjandrum
: a powerful personage or pretentious official
Did You Know?
Panjandrum looks like it might be a combination of Latin and Greek roots, but in fact it is a nonsense word coined by British actor and playwright Samuel Foote around 1755. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Foote made up a line of gibberish to "test the memory of his fellow actor Charles Macklin, who had asserted that he could repeat anything after hearing it once." Foote's made-up line was, "And there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies and the Grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at the top." Some 75 years after this, Foote's passage appeared in a book of stories for children by the Anglo-Irish writer Maria Edgeworth. It took another quarter century before English speakers actually incorporated panjandrum into their general vocabulary.
Origin and Etymology of panjandrum
Grand Panjandrum, burlesque title of an imaginary personage in some nonsense lines by Samuel Foote
First Known Use: 1856
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