Weekly Word – Rigmarole

Weekly Word is a weekly post intended to illustrate the meaning and use of a single word. The chosen word will begin with a different letter each week, as Louise (my daughter) and I work our way through the alphabet.

Louise posts on her website:

An Enchanted Place

This week’s word begins with the letter R:

Part of Speech:



1.  A confused rambling of pointless statements or incoherent discourse; nonsense; garbled nonsense.

2.  Any long, complicated, ritualistic or petty set of procedures; a particular course of action intended to achieve a result;  a foolishly involved, fussy or time-wasting procedure.



Audio Link:


Related Forms:

RIgmaroles (Plural noun)

Rigamarole (Noun) Based on pronunciation in some areas


meaningless   nonsense   bunk   bunkum   hokum   gibberish   gobbledegook/gobbledygook  yarn   blather   claptrap   balderdash   poppycock   spiel   piffle   twaddle   malarkey  tommyrot   baloney   drivel   tomfoolery   garbage   hooey   bull   crap   bafflegab    blabbityblab   song and dance   farce   jargon   rubbish   flummery   hot air   mumbo jumbo   palaver  carry on   kerfuffle


truth   sense   rationality   shrewdness

Word Origin:

Mid 18th century (1730-40) as the meaning defined in Sense 1. Apparently, it’s an alteration of the term, ragman roll, originally denoting a legal document recording a list of offences.

The story of this word originates in the 13th century with King Edward I of England’s dealings  with the Scots.  Follow the link to read a short article from Mental Floss (Arika Okrent) titled Where Does ‘Rigmarole’ Come From?  HERE.

In addition to the possible derivation(s) of the word Ragman suggested in the above article, it has also been suggested that the actual term, Ragman Rolls, is derived from the ribbons – or rags -attached to the seals on the parchment. But the name could also have come from an even earlier record compiled for the purposes of Papal taxation by a man called Ragimunde, whose name was corrupted to Ragman.

(So, nothing certain there, then…)

Use the Word in a Sentence (or a paragraph or short story). 

1.  It was said that all the rigmarole being bandied around about the old hotel being haunted was instigated by the local Council to stop anyone from buying it. They’d been eyeing the place up for another new supermarket – when the small town already had five and a sixth would be decidedly superfluous. Fortunately, as head of the biggest Property Agent in the county, with more than a sprinkling of ghost-hunting techniques to his credit, Martin was able to assure people that the Council was spouting a load of old twaddle. This house was no more haunted than Sainsbury’s on the High Street – and the resident ghosts in that establishment only came out to party after closing time.

2.  By the time we boarded the plane, we’d spent several wearisome hours at the airport. Not only did we have to stand for ages in the queue to have our passports checked, customs officials went through the whole malarkey of searching the contents of our luggage. To put the top hat on things, the metal inserted into my thigh at the hospital after a fall from a ladder set off the bleepers as we passed through the scanners, and I was called aside for a closer search and body scan. Just as if I’d be smuggling anything under my clothes! At my age… I ask you. I can tell you that forty winks during the flight is greatly needed after all this rigmarole – and next year, me and Vera will be driving no further than Blackpool for our holidays.

Image  from Shutterstock

17 thoughts on “Weekly Word – Rigmarole

  1. Another great word, Millie! Btw, I have finally posted again on my blog, although it ate one of the pictures I posted. The new editor is not working well for me. But you should be able to see at least one photo of my new granddaughter!

    1. Thanks, Timi. As for the new editor, I don’t like it one bit and still work on the classic editor. I suppose that will disappear before long and I’ll have to get my head around the new system. My daughter says she prefers the block editor.

  2. This is a rollicking word that trips across your lips and makes you smile. There’s something so attractive about nonsense. . .

  3. I love your description Hanne – a ‘rollicking’ word. I agree, it is one of those words that make you smile. I read a book years ago, and can’t remember the title now, but it was about Father Christmas (not a cartoon-type) and one of his reindeer was called Rigmarole. It was a strange book, one I got from the library, and the story was very Scandinavian. I always think of that book when I hear this word now.

    1. I can’t think of any books about Father Christmas, where one of his reindeers is called Rigmarole. I got intrigued and made a google search, but it wasn’t successful. Do you remember when it was written? Not that it’ll make a lot of difference. I’m just curious. . .

      1. I’m curious, too. I intend to pop into the library as soon as I can to ask if they still have it on their shelves. I had thought the title was just Rigmarole, but I couldn’t find anything about it online either. It’s really niggling me now! Unfortunately, I don’t remember who the author was, but it was no one familiar to me at that time. It must be seven or eight years ago when I read it and most books I’ve red since then have been on Kindle,

  4. Ooh, another great word! Challenging myself to define it before peeking, I realized that I knew how it was used, but had a hard time actually defining it. The best I could do was, “random associated crap” — which wasn’t *that* far off, I suppose. I’m glad I know more about the background and the real definitions now — what fun!

    1. Thank you, Joy, and many apologies for missing your comment until now. I seem to have overlooked a few on my last few posts, so I’m playing catch-up here. I think your definition suits the word perfectly. As you can see above, ‘crap’ is one of rigmarole’s synonyms, so your definition is perfect. I had no idea of this word’s background, either, so Ragman Roll and all the rest, was new to me too. My knowledge is considerably widening while I’m doing these posts. Words are such awesome little things.

      1. With any of these “word of the day” (etc.) vocabulary builders, I find that the most useful words are the ones that I *almost* know — that’s I’ve read or maybe heard, but never really thought about the definition. It helps take me to the next step of understanding and remembering.

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