rig·​ma·​role ˈri-gə-mə-ˌrōl How to pronounce rigmarole (audio)
variants or less commonly rigamarole
plural rigmaroles also rigamaroles
: something (such as a procedure or an explanation) that is long, complicated, and tedious
I went to my insurers and started the usual rigmarole.Cliff Ballinger
The whole rigmarole of getting a visa didn't even exist until recent decades.Mary Sanchez
Why the hold-up? There's still a whole bunch of legal rigamarole to work out …Tristan Hopper
We went through the usual social rigmaroles, drinking something white and sharp.Tim Parks
Patients can report product problems to a helpline but if they have other questions, it can be a rigmarole just to find the right regulator.Laura Hancock
We know now … the real reason McDonald's ice cream machines always seem to be broken is because they're not—they just take four hours and an 11-step process to clean. This rigmarole is often what's actually preventing McDonald's employees from serving up your hot fudge sundae.Megan Scott
Mrs. Buttler isn't a constant visitor. She arrives irregularly, with some long rigmarole of complaint, some urgent awful news.Alice Munro
dated : confused or meaningless talk
It is as if they had been named by the child's rigmaroleHenry David Thoreau
… Fred ended his rigmarole, in which he had jumbled together pell-mell nautical phrases and facts out of one of his favorite books.Louisa May Alcott

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 the sense referring to 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 Last season’s nail-biting seven-game battle was famously known as the I-80 series because both teams opted for the approximately 90-minute (depending on traffic) bus ride rather than the rigmarole of a short flight. Joe Rubin, Sacramento Bee, 16 Apr. 2024 The comments follow a year in which the initial fanfare surrounding the IRA has been tempered by the administrative rigmarole of trying to channel billions into the real economy. Natasha White, Fortune, 14 Jan. 2024 Such a rigmarole — there’s the extra time needed, not to mention the dishes — seems unthinkable for the busiest/laziest of us. Emily Heil, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2023 Love the idea of falling asleep under the stars with a fresh breeze, but not so keen on the whole rigmarole of setting up a tent, digging a hole when nature calls, and sacrificing creature comforts like a luxury mattress or a coffee machine? Brittany Anas, House Beautiful, 2 Sep. 2023 See all Example Sentences for rigmarole 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rigmarole.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


alteration of obsolete ragman roll long list, catalog

First Known Use

circa 1736, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of rigmarole was circa 1736


Dictionary Entries Near rigmarole

Cite this Entry

“Rigmarole.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rigmarole. Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


variants also rigamarole
: confused or meaningless talk : nonsense
: a complicated and often unnecessary procedure

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