Did I get your attention with that word? If you’re like I was a few minutes ago, you have no idea what that word means. Apparently if I had paid more attention to Gulliver’s Travels, I would know this work, as Brobdingnagian is from Brobdingnag, a country of giants in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Allow me add to your vocabulary…
Brobdingnagian brob-ding-NAG-ee-uhn, adjective:
Of extraordinary size; gigantic; enormous.
Synonyms: humongous, immense, mammoth, colossal.
And here it is used in context in a few sentences -
"The venture capital business has a size problem. A monstrous, staggering, stupefying one. Brobdingnagian even."
–Russ Mitchell, "Too Much Ventured Nothing Gained," Fortune, November 11, 2002
"Any savvy dealer . . . will try to talk you up to one of the latest behemoths, which have bloated to such Brobdingnagian dimensions as to have entered the realm of the absurd."
–Jack Hitt, "The Hidden Life of SUVs," Mother Jones, July/August 1999
"This campaign for Dove’s new line of firming products (lotions and creams and such) is everywhere you look. The ads made their debut in last month’s fashion magazines and they now grace every outdoor surface in sight. Buses, bus stops, billboards, buildings-I can’t walk three blocks in my D.C. neighborhood without encountering another of these Brobdingnagian babes."
–Seth Stevenson, When Tush Comes to Dove. Real women. Real curves. Really smart ad campaign. Posted Monday, Aug. 1, 2005, at 7:15 AM PT Slate.
I wish I could make you hear the sound in my head, the sound of a record needle being ripped across a record. Since when did women size 6 to 12 become "humongous, immense, mammoth, and colossal"? Has everyone become so used to viewing 97 pound Nicole Richie that she’s become the norm? Something is really out of whack in our culture. The average American woman is somewhere between a 12 and 14 according to a 2004 survey by SizeUSA (a project sponsored by Target and JCPenney stores among others). The writer that used the term "brobdingnagian" later gushes that he’s attracted to one of the girls, then goes on to say, "Eventually (though perhaps only subconsciously), they’ll come to think of Dove as the brand for fat girls. Talk about "real beauty" all you want-once you’re the brand for fat girls, you’re toast."
Meanwhile, over at Newsweek, it’s the "Summer of Dove" by Susanna Schrobsdorff Newsweek Updated: 8:17 p.m. ET Aug. 5, 2005, who asks the question in my brain in her subtitle (albeit in a more polite way than I would have), "Are the women in the company’s new ad campaign too big to sell beauty products, or have our minds gotten too small?" (I would have said, "have our minds gotten too warped").
I think the answer to that question is provided by Lucio Guerrero, a staff reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times who was apparently offended by the sight of the ads on his commute, wrote on July 19: "Really, the only time I want to see a thigh that big is in a bucket with bread crumbs on it." Apparently Mr Guerrero is less offended by the typical model, an emaciated 14-year-old dressed up in lingerie like a hooker showing her wares in Amsterdam.
Yup, "warped" is the only word for it.