Fun With Silly Verbal Tumours: Rhopalic Sentences

by Rudi Seitz

What is a rhopalic sentence?

In a rhopalic sentence each word is one letter or one syllable longer than the previous word. Example: I am now very happy.

Can you write a rhopalic headline?

On Dec. 7, 2009,, announced a contest to write a rhopalic news headline. This was my submission:

Rhopalic Sentences Infiltrate Plainspoken Conversation: Contamination Uncontrollable!

Can you resolve a rhopalic quandary?

From wordsmith, rhopalic made its way into Quadrivial Quandary. Participants attempted to use rhopalic in a sentence along with nimrod, animadversion, and fatuous. Some participants took on the further challenge of making their sentence, or a part of it, rhopalic. See Bud Myte's entry and Sensil's entry. Can you resolve the quandary in another way? Mail entries to rudi at quadrivialquandary and I'll post them here.

Can you parse Borgmann's classic rhopalics?

In searching for examples of rhopalic sentences, I came across these two by the late Dmitri Borgmann, posted by commenters at the dictionary site Wordnik and elsewhere on the web:

I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting; nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality, counterbalancing indecipherability, transcendentalises intercommunications’ incomprehensibleness!

I am not very happy acting pleased whenever prominent scientists overmagnify intellectual enlightenment, stoutheartedly outvociferating ultrareactionary retrogressionists, characteristically unsupernaturalizing transubstantiatively philosophicoreligious incomprehensiblenesses anthropomorphologically. Pathologicopsychological!

Is this the first rhopalic duel ever written?

After I wrote my own Quandary resolution for 12/9/2009, I tried to see if I could make it part of a rhopalic duel, a flyting of sorts... between a caveman and a schoolteacher. Here's what I came up with:


I do not like these greedy phrases, rhopalic fashioned, tirelessly snowballing, accumulating incrementally sesquipedalian overindulgences, circumlocutional complexifications, pseudo-aristocratic self-aggrandizements, psychopathalogically over-intellectualizing incomprehensiblenesses; hyperpolysyllabicomania!


O sh, you stay quiet, nimrod; fatuous rhopalic sentences, enunciated, precipitate disapproving schoolmarmish animadversions, instantaneously counterattacking counterproductive pseudo-intellectual intercommunications anti-insurrectionally!

Non-rhopalic synopsis of the above:

A caveman and a schoolteacher are sparring verbally. The caveman complains about rhopalic sentences. He doesn't like them. He calls them overindulgent and confusing. But the schoolteacher is not amused: she thinks the caveman is a hypocrite, since in complaining about rhopalic sentences, he has uttered a long one of his own. The schoolteacher warns him that perpetuating the vice of rhopalic sentences will only precipitate her criticisms. In fact, she'll wage an immediate counterattack against his rhopalic insurrection. But it's too late, she's been infected by the virus of rhopalicism, and her warning is itself rhopalic!

How does a rhopalic duel look?
Can a rhopalic addiction be broken?

When I realized I needed to quit writing rhopalic sentences, I put down some parting thoughts:

I am mad, sick, livid, seeing certain rhopalic sentences everywhere promulgated, licentuously redistributed, earsplittingly tintinnabulated, conversationally intercommunicated -- undiscriminatingly, exhibitionistically, overenthusiastically, obsessive-compulsively! Pseudocomprehensiblity, hypersensationalization!

Finally, I typed the "E," in...

END. Over. Finis. Expiry. Closing. Terminus. Cessation. Conclusion. Adjournment. Consummation. Extinguishing. Relinquishment. Discontinuation. Hasta-la-vista-baby!


Can you write a rhopalic sentence, or better yet a rhopalic dialogue?

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I am the EXIT route. EGRESS! Another rhopalic? Logically impossible! Arrivederci!

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