Definition: To speak aloud in an oratorical manner. 


Pronunciation: Dee-claym


The verb declaim comes from the Middle French verb declamer, which comes from the Latin declamare, meaning to practice public speaking or bluster.  Declamare comes from the words de-(about or from), and clamare (to cry or shout).  It dates back to the late 14th century.

Why this word?

The high school I attended (Boston Latin School) had mandatory declamation several times a year.  It was an entire separate grade on your report card and so carried considerable weight.  For teens in general and for the awkward, shy teen that I was, this was tantamount to torture as permitted and endorsed by the school board.  Therefore my memories of the word declamation are entirely negative; but at the same time I do understand the importance of it as a skill and why the school emphasized learning it as part of a classical education.  The ability to be well spoken and to clearly express one’s beliefs even in the face of opposition is a skill that oftentimes goes overlooked but should in fact be an essential part of schooling.  Keeping the word “declaim” a part of our vocabulary will hopefully help preserve it as a skill as well.

How to use the word declaim in a sentece?

“He stood upon the steps and declaimed his vision for the country, all the while ignoring the question of his innocence.”

“The simple thought of declamation was enough to put in her in cold sweat, filled with dread for the oncoming nightmare.”



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Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.


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