The peculiar history of “rigmarole”


Rigmarole is a most unusual word with a rather interesting origin. It is used to describe something disconnected, rambling and difficult to see a way through. It is now well over 700 years old and dates back to 1291 when the Scottish noblemen signed a deed of loyalty to King Edward I of England. Each of them fixed their seal to it and when all the attachments were joined together and presented to the King it was 40ft long.

The deeds were known as the Ragman Roll and it was a dishevelled mix and match of all the Scottish deeds, both confusing and complicated. Ragman Roll morphed into ‘Rigmarole’ and became used to describe anything of a troublesome, time-consuming and awkward nature.

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