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rambunctious? or rumbustious?

May 5, 2020

I mark a lot of assignments online for the Open University; and today when marking a creative writing assignment, I complimented a student on the rambunctious style in which she had written a family memoir, which included lots of drinking, feuding, fighting and high jinks. But after I had returned it, I suddenly thought, hang on, maybe I meant rumbustious. Maybe there’s no such word as rambunctious. Or maybe there is and it means something completely different. A horror of having used the wrong word – and me a creative writing tutor! – seized me. So I looked them both up.

I discovered, to my relief, that rambunctious means ‘uncontrollably exuberant or boisterous’. And rumbustious means… exactly the same.

So that was all right. But what surprised me was that rambunctious is the form favoured by Americans while we Brits tend to say rumbustious.

Rambunctious, rumbustious… Let’s call the whole thing off.


From → Uncategorized

  1. Simon Carter permalink

    To further muddy the waters there is also robustious.

  2. Mark Brafield permalink

    A friend of mine at university always wanted to ‘kick up a rumpus’. We agreed that neither of us quite knew what a rumpus was, but it seemed like fun.

  3. Oh yes, a rumpus is surely fun, whatever it is. Max has a wild rumpus in Where the Wild Things Are, doesn’t he?

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