What’s the origin of the word ‘galumphing’?

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Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: galumphing….

I’ve known since I was a teenager that the verb to galumph meant to move in a clumsy or noisy manner. When I was 13, my parents regularly accused me of walking that way! But I’d never know the origins of the term.

The word came to my attention again, when I read a very funny Anthony Lane review of the new Mama Mia sequel in the July 30/18 New Yorker. He dipped his pen in acid before writing:

What we have done to deserve a sequel to Mamma Mia! is not entirely clear. It’s been ten years since the release of that unusual film, and even now, on a restless night, the echo of Pierce Brosnan’s singing disturbs my dreams. Like it or not, however, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is upon us, the subtitle wavering wickedly between a promise and a threat.

Sarcasm aside, here is his use of the word galumph:

The second film, galumphing along in the footsteps of the first, divides its time between past and present, and between characters old and new.

Imagine my delight in discovering that galumph is a relatively recent word, made up in 1871 by Lewis Carroll in his poem Jabberwocky. A blend of gallop and triumph the word is sometimes defined as “to prance about in a self-satisfied manner.” (Perhaps that was what my parents were getting at?)

Often, however, the word is used to describe large dogs who may move in a somewhat ungainly fashion. (See photo, above.)

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Aug. 15/18.

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