noun rig·ma·role \ˈri-gə-mə-ˌrōl, ˈrig-mə-\
variants: or less commonly

\ˈri-gə-mə-ˌrōl, ˈrig-mə-\

Definition of rigmarole

  1. 1 :  confused or meaningless talk

  2. 2 :  a complex and sometimes ritualistic procedure

Examples of rigmarole in a sentence

  1. We had to go through the rigmarole of installing, registering, and activating the software before we found out it wouldn't work.

  2. He just told us what to do without all the usual rigamarole.

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."

Origin and Etymology of rigmarole

alteration of obsolete ragman roll long list, catalog

First Known Use: circa 1736

RIGMAROLE Defined for English Language Learners


noun rig·ma·role \ˈri-gə-mə-ˌrōl, ˈrig-mə-\

Definition of rigmarole for English Language Learners

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

RIGMAROLE Defined for Kids


noun rig·ma·role \ˈrig-mə-ˌrōl\

Definition of rigmarole for Students

  1. 1 :  a long and usually meaningless or uninteresting story

  2. 2 :  a complicated and often unnecessary procedure

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up rigmarole? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


burden, obligation, or blame

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