embiggen

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From em- +‎ biggen or em- +‎ big +‎ -en, possibly analogous to belittle. The literal meaning is to make something larger,[1] with the morphology (em- + big + -en) being parallel to that of enlarge (en- + large).

The verb's first recorded use is in an 1884 edition of the British journal Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc. by C. A. Ward, in the sentence "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."[2]

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.

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

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

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Linn, Virginia (2008-10-22), “TV shows have had defining moments on English language”, in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, page C–5
  2. ^ Ward, C. A. (1884) Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc[1], Oxford University Press, page 135