from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having each successive word longer by a letter or syllable.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Applied to a line or verse in which each successive word has one more syllable than the preceding.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In ancient prosody, noting a hexameter in which each succeeding word contains one syllable more than that preceding it. Also spelled ropalic.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Week 852, reverse rhopalic sentences: Fundraiser announced; Johnsons mistype invite, offer "cash bra."

    Report from Week 894

  • Week 848, rhopalic sentences, in which each successive word is one letter longer: So Joe, only you're having trouble spelling Murkowski.

    Report from Week 894

  • Merciful, too, are the Glossary (for words like rhopalic) and the appendix of solutions and answers.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol II No 3


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  • Love the Borgman examples!

    I've become addicted to rhopalic sentences recently and have created a page about them here, at my Quadrivial Quandary site.

    This is one of mine:

    I do not like these greedy phrases, rhopalic fashioned, tirelessly snowballing, accumulating incrementally sesquipedalian overindulgences, circumlocutional complexifications, pseudo-aristocratic self-aggrandizements, psychopathalogically over-intellectualizing incomprehensiblenesses; hyperpolysyllabicomania!

    December 10, 2009

  • Another of Borgmann's snowballs:

    I am not very happy acting pleased whenever prominent scientists overmagnify intellectual enlightenment, stoutheartedly outvociferating ultrareactionary retrogressionists, characteristically unsupernaturalizing transubstantiatively philosophicoreligious incomprehensiblenesses anthropomorphologically. Pathologicopsychological!

    May 17, 2009

  • World Wide Words says "The classic example of the latter form was created by Dmitri Borgmann: “I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting; nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality, counterbalancing in-decipherability, transcendentalises intercommunications’ incompre-hensibleness�?".

    April 13, 2009

  • OED: "Applied to verses in which each word contains one syllable more than the one immediately preceding it."

    April 13, 2009

  • See snowball word.

    May 23, 2008