Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Grandiose

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is grandiose. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Grandiose is most often used disapprovingly to describe something that seems impressive or is intended to be impressive, but is either not possible or practical.

// The committee eventually scaled back the most outlandish parts of its plans for the festival, including a grandiose scheme to bring in live peacocks for the event.

GRANDIOSE in Context

“Dave says their engineer had ‘grandiose ideas about wanting to make songs sound like Phil Spector,’ but the group steered the sound in a more austere direction, inspired by the first two Strokes albums, along with grungier records by Sheer Mag and fellow Aussies Royal Headache.” — Evan Minsker, Pitchfork, 7 Apr. 2022

Did You Know?

When it comes to bigness, there’s grand and then there’s grandiose. Both words can be used to describe something impressive in size, scope, or effect, but while grand may lend its noun a bit of dignity (i.e., “we had a grand time”), grandiose often implies a whiff of pretension. The difference between a grand plan for the city park and a grandiose one, for example, might be the difference between a tasteful fountain and a garden full of topiaries cut in the shapes of 19th century literary figures. So if you’re choosing between the two, a helpful mnemonic might be that the extra letters in grandiose suggest that one’s ideas, claims, promises, schemes, dreams—you get the idea—are a bit extra.

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