Wacky Word Wednesday

Taradiddle: Wacky Word Wednesday

Does magic actually exist or is it just childhood nonsense? Today’s Wacky Word Wednesday will help answer this tricky question through the great works of authors and writers from ancient times all the way to the 21st century.

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A small lie; a pretentious nonsense.

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The origin of today’s wacky word is a myth to many people. It’s supposedly named after a town called Taradiddle in Ireland and is a perfect representation of its meaning since there has never been any such town, anywhere in the world. Other people believe that the word is actually derived from the word “diddle,” which means “cheat or swindle (someone) so as to deprive them of something.”

As ridiculous as this wacky word sounds, it should be familiar to many Harry Potter fans since the word appeared in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as a reference to one of the darkest characters in the book. Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, who refused to believe that ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,’ Voldemort was still alive, saying, “We haven’t got time to listen to more taradiddles, I’m afraid, Dumbledore.” As it turned out, such taradiddles were the sole evidence of the revival of black magic.

A similar reference to people who do not believe in magic is used in Victorian lyricist W.S. Gilbert’s opera Iolanthe. In this 1882 comic opera about Iolanthe the fairy and her mortal son, the crowd repeatedly yelled “taradiddle, taradiddle, tol lol lay! to express their disbelief at the seventeen-year-old appearance of the centuries-old Iolanthe. Offended by the crowd’s disrespect to magical powers, the fairies punished the people.

A few other writers who love using the word taradiddle are Honoré de Balzac, Anthony Trollope, and G.K. Chesterton. Here are two examples of how to use taradiddle in a sentence today.

  • His tales of adventure are peppered with tongue-in-cheek taradiddles and obvious fabrications. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Her taradiddle was of a nature that is usually considered excusable-at least with grown-up people; but, nevertheless, she would have been nearer to perfection could she have confined herself to the truth. (Oxford Dictionaries)

Whether you are a believer of magic or not, hopefully you can take one thing away from today’s wacky word Wednesday: be careful with assumptions because some taradiddles can turn out to be very important matters.


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