Word of the Day : April 4, 2011

Ruritanian

play
adjective rur-uh-TAY-nee-un

Definition

: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an imaginary place of high romance

Did You Know?

In 1894, British author Anthony Hope published The Prisoner of Zenda, a novel set in the mythical kingdom of Ruritania. The book relates the adventures of Rudolf Rassendyll, a British gentleman who impersonates the king of Ruritania to save him from a treasonous plot. An improbable but high-spirited tale filled with heroes, villains, courtly intrigue, romance, and sword play, Hope's narrative (and its fictional locale) quickly captured the imagination of the public. Within two years of the novel's publication, George Bernard Shaw had seen fit to use "Ruritanian" as a generic adjective: "Our common sense ... must immediately put a summary stop to the somewhat silly Ruritanian gambols of our imagination." Romantic or fanciful places or things have been "Ruritanian" ever since.


Examples

"The dancers are dressed in vaguely Ruritanian costumes, the men in military, the women in stiff tutus." -- From an article by John Rockwell in The New York Times, September 9, 2006

"ABC's Good Morning America opened with a trumpeted fanfare over pictures of the couple, proof that in the US Britain remains more period drama than real country, a Ruritanian theme park that is forever charming and quaint." -- From an article by Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian (London), November 17, 2010



Test Your Vocabulary

What word meaning "a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything" comes from a 1913 novel by Eleanor Porter? The answer is ...


Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!