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Definition: A rich, full, resonant speaking voice. It can also cross over into meaning a pompous speaking voice – but usually means the former.

Pronunciation: OR-i-tund


Late18th century, from the Latin ore, referring to ‘mouth (think of Orator, for example) and ‘Rotund’ meaning round. The direct translation is ‘of rounded mouth’.

Why this word?

US Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, recently spoke from the bench for the first time in seven years, revealing a particularly deep, melodic, baritone voice. Yes, one could say that this Barry-White-of-the-Bench has a most orotund voice.

Last year, the world watched with interest as Barack Obama battled with Mitt Romney to win the hearts of the American people (note: for ‘hearts’, read ‘votes’). While the speeches and debates were mildly interesting and even more mildly amusing, one could certainly not accuse either men of having particularly orotund voices. Indeed, it is interesting how few orotund voices we hear in politics – the one profession that calls more often for words instead of actions.

… then again, maybe that’s by design! The voting public might be more likely to remember a campaign promise if it was dripped like honey into our ears from an orotund voice.

How and when to use this word in a sentence:

There are numerous applications of the word orotund. In movies, you can amaze your friends by commenting on the orotundity of the actors. In Star Trek, you can impress your fellow nerds with your argument on Piquard being a superior captain to Kirk because of the orotundity of his voice. Or you can save this one for politics. The next time someone knocks on your door and asks you to vote for their candidate, ask them about the orotundity of their candidate’s speaking voice. See how far you get with that one …


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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