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Latin profundus (profound) +‎ -icate. Apparently coined by American humorist James Boren (1925–2010) in When in Doubt, Mumble: A Bureaucrat's Handbook, New York, N.Y.: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1972, OCLC 561577.


  • IPA(key): /pɹəˈfʌndɪˌkeɪt/
  • Hyphenation: pro‧fund‧icate


profundicate (third-person singular simple present profundicates, present participle profundicating, simple past and past participle profundicated)

  1. (rare) To make profound; to make a concept unnecessarily complicated.
    • 1976, James H. Boren, The Bureaucratic Zoo: The Search for the Ultimate Mumble, McLean, Va.: EPM Publications, →ISBN, page 4:
      To profundify or to profundicate: A Borenverb used to denote the use of thesauric and other enrichment techniques to make a simple idea appear to be profound. [] Graduates of agricultural institutions tend to use "to profundicate" while graduates of ivy league schools tend to use "to profundify".
    • 1979, The Proceedings – Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Annual Convention, Philadelphia, Penn.: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, ISSN 0736-7201, page 69:
      You should learn to profundify and to profundicate. Those are Boren verbs; they're not in the dictionary yet, but we're working on it and we think we're going to make it. They're being used in Washington now and Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal; and a few others have picked it up.
    • 1995 September 15, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), page E1:
      Profundify or profundicate the speech. Use Roget's Thesaurus to make simple ideas seem profound.
    • 2012, Eileen Gambrill, Propaganda in the Helping Professions, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 305:
      Who has not suffered from “bureaucratese” – turgid unnecessarily complex descriptions that yield only to the most persistent. [] Examples include “mumblistic” (planned mumbling) and “profundicating” (translating simple concepts into obscure jargon) (Boren, 1972). The remedy is to simplify and clarify.