Sunday, March 8, 2009


turgid [TUR-jid]
adj. inflated, overblown, or pompous; bombastic

[From Latin turgidus ("swollen")]

If there is any place you would expect turgid language, it would be in an official government document. This, for example, was part of the preamble to the recently passed United Nations Resolution 62/154 on "Combating defamation of religions:"
Underlining the importance of increasing contacts at all levels in order to deepen dialogue and reinforce understanding among different cultures, religions, beliefs and civilizations, and welcoming in this regard the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the Ministerial Meeting on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, held in Tehran on 3 and 4 September 2007.

In Slate, Christopher Hitchens blasted the resolution and its preamble:
The stipulations that follow this turgid preamble are even more tendentious and become more so as the resolution unfolds.

While turgid can mean "swollen, distended or tumid" to modify body parts, as in turgid lymph nodes or to describe landscape, as in a turgid putting green, it is mostly used to mean "overblown" as in language. It is an exact or near synonym for bombastic, grandiloquent, grandiose, ornate, over the top, pompous and pretentious.

Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday used turgid to describe the language in the new movie, Watchmen:
Everyone finds entertainment in different things. If you find turgid, violent, pretentious illustrations of illustrations entertaining, "Watchmen" is for you.

John Kass, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, is running a contest to pick a name for an upcoming book by disgraced Illinois ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich, whose rhetoric Kass feels is bombastic:
My poor assistant, Wings, has just read thousands upon thousands of amazing submissions (literally) to our contest to pick a catchy title for former Gov. Rod "Dead Meat" Blagojevich's steamy, turgid, tell-all book due out in the fall.

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