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From em- +‎ biggen or em- +‎ big +‎ -en. The word’s current popularity follows its deployment as an intentionally ungainly form by television writer David X. Cohen for The Simpsons episode “Lisa the Iconoclast” in 1996.



embiggen (third-person singular simple present embiggens, present participle embiggening, simple past and past participle embiggened)

  1. (nonstandard, nowadays jocular) To enlarge or grow; to make or become bigger.
    • 1884, C.A. Ward, "New Verbs", in Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc, volume 10, page 135:
      Are there not, however, barbarous verbs in all languages? ἀλλ’ ἐμεγάλυνεν αυτοὺς ὁ λαός, but the people magnified them, to make great or embiggen, if we may invent an English parallel as ugly. After all, use is nearly everything.
    • 1996, Dan Greaney, The Simpsons, episode 3F13: “Lisa the Iconoclast”, credits, beneath the statue of Jebediah Springfield:
      A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.
    • 2007, Riccardo Argurio, Matteo Bertolini, Sebastián Franco, and Shamit Kachru, “Gauge/gravity duality and meta-stable dynamical supersymmetry breaking”, in Journal of High Energy Physics, JHEP01 (2007) 083, January 23:
      [p 24] For large P, the three-form fluxes are dilute, and the gradient of the Myers potential encouraging an anti-D3 to embiggen is very mild.
      [p 26] While in both cases for P anti-D3-branes the probe approximation is clearly not good, in the set up of this paper we could argue that there is a competing effect which can overcome the desire of the anti-D3s to embiggen, namely their attraction towards the wrapped D5s.
    • 2012, Caitlin Moran, ‘Hair: a big issue’, The Times, 4 Feb 2012:
      As I joyfully embiggen myself into the vague silhouette of Chewbacca, I have time to reflect on just what it is about big hair that I find so elementally appealing.
    • 2013, The Guardian, “Every train station in Britain listed and mapped: find out how busy each one is”, picture caption:
      Train stations: how busy is yours? Victoria Station in 1927. Click image to embiggen.
    • 2017 Rory "Freakshow" DC's Legends of Tomorrow
      Haircut here embiggenned an extinct tiger.
    Synonyms: swell, aggrandize, bigger, enlarge
    Antonyms: ensmallen, debigulate, shrink, diminish, contract, belittle


See also[edit]