rig·​ma·​role | \ ˈri-gə-mə-ˌrōl How to pronounce rigmarole (audio) , ˈrig-mə-\
variants: or less commonly

Definition of rigmarole

1 : confused or meaningless talk
2 : a complex and sometimes ritualistic procedure

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Did You Know?

In the Middle Ages, the term Rageman or Ragman referred to a game in which a player randomly selected a string attached to a roll of verses and read the selected verse. The roll was called a Ragman roll after a fictional king purported to be the author of the verses. By the 16th century, ragman and ragman roll were being used figuratively to mean "a list or catalog." Both terms fell out of written use, but ragman roll persisted in speech, and in the 18th century it resurfaced in writing as rigmarole, with the meaning "a succession of confused, meaningless, or foolish statements." In the mid-19th century rigmarole (also spelled rigamarole, reflecting its common pronunciation) acquired its most recent sense, "a complex and ritualistic procedure."

Examples of rigmarole in a Sentence

We had to go through the rigmarole of installing, registering, and activating the software before we found out it wouldn't work. He just told us what to do without all the usual rigamarole.

Recent Examples on the Web

These types of vehicles give private shareholders like Apollo a way to access to public investors without going through the IPO rigmarole. Lauren Silva Laughlin, WSJ, "Chuck E. Cheese’s Deal May Have Short Shelf Life," 11 Apr. 2019 Newsletter Sign-up What unites this rigmarole is the notion that a great work of art serves as a conduit between the conscious and the unconscious mind. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction Books: Grace Abounding to the Outsider Artist," 5 Oct. 2018 Aside from such rigmarole, the Surface Laptop 2 seems worth it. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Hands on with the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2: Still a great laptop, now without Windows 10 S," 3 Oct. 2018 Amazon will gain a pharmacy license in 49 states and avoid regulatory rigmarole. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Amazon the Rx Disrupter," 29 June 2018 But even Express holders, who can walk right into the Fallon attraction without a reservation, have to wade through the pre-ride rigmarole. Arthur Levine, USA TODAY, "Universal's Virtual Line revamps queues for attractions," 13 June 2018 Certain direct-to-consumer brands such as Away and Barracuda—both of whose bags are equipped with all-important ejectable batteries—have taken care to make the airport rigmarole less, not more, stressful. Haley Velasco, WSJ, "Does Smart Luggage Really Make Travel Easier?," 23 May 2018 If Superman can just fly backwards and turn back the clock, why bother going through the rigmarole of fighting bad guys? Frank Pallotta And Brian Lowry, CNN, "A spoiler-y discussion about Marvel's 'Avengers' mashup," 30 Apr. 2018 This has been going on -- this rigmarole, as my mother used to say, has been going on for a long time. Fox News, "'Roseanne' reboot premieres to strong ratings," 29 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rigmarole.' 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 rigmarole

circa 1736, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for rigmarole

alteration of obsolete ragman roll long list, catalog

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Statistics for rigmarole

Last Updated

29 May 2019

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Time Traveler for rigmarole

The first known use of rigmarole was circa 1736

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More Definitions for rigmarole



English Language Learners Definition of rigmarole

: a long, complicated, and annoying process, description, etc.


rig·​ma·​role | \ ˈrig-mə-ˌrōl\

Kids Definition of rigmarole

1 : a long and usually meaningless or uninteresting story
2 : a complicated and often unnecessary procedure

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More from Merriam-Webster on rigmarole

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rigmarole

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rigmarole

Spanish Central: Translation of rigmarole

Nglish: Translation of rigmarole for Spanish Speakers

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