Hampton Roads Writers


Write a rhopalic newspaper headline (can be of increasing or decreasing word lengths) for a real or imaginary event.

. rhopalic


MEANING: adjective: Having each successive word longer by a letter or syllable.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin rhopalicus, from Greek rhopalos (club, tapered cudgel).

NOTES: A rhopalic verse or sentence is one that balloons -- where each word is a letter or a syllable longer. The word is also used as a noun. Here's a terrific example of a rhopalic by Dmitri Borgmann: "I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting; nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality, counterbalancing indecipherability, transcendentalises intercommunications' incomprehensibleness."

USAGE: "Soapy fired off a rhopalic sentence, that is, one in which each word is one letter longer than the word that precedes it: 'I am the only dummy player, perhaps, planning maneuvers calculated brilliantly, nevertheless outstandingly pachydermatous, notwithstanding unconstitutional unprofessionalism.'" Alan Truscott; Talking About Behavior; The New York Times; Oct 26, 1986.


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