Wednesday Word – Jumbo


Today my students had a jumbo writing workshop.  This sentence has vast implications as the word JUMBO has four definitions: three noun and one adjective.  The writing workshop is jumbo–that is, very big.  In twelve days they take the most important state assessment for matriculation.  The STAAR is a jumbo–that is, a very big thing.

Another Jumbo — Commercial Center in a mall in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina:

Jumbo - MBT

Jumbo was most likely coined in reference to Barnum and Bailey’s iconic elephant, Jumbo.  I was hoping to find more exotic etymology than a show-stopping pachyderm, so I readily embrace the idea that the word derived from the Kongo language (West Africa language:  nzamba).

In addition to the obvious meaning of “big,” the word has been adopted by two transportation industries.  Concerning airliners, it is a wide-bodied jet.  In the nautical arena, a jumbo boom sail [hyperlink with diagram pending] refers to the largest headsail on a boat.  Immediately, I see a connection in the shape and function of tail fins and headsails: both are for balance and guidance.  The tail fin is a scalene triangle with a truncated apex pointing up and slightly back.  The jumbo boom sail is an isosceles triangle (or scalene) with the apex pointed downward. The first navigates the sky, the latter water.

Writing today’s word post has been a jumbo jumbo of fun for me.  I hope you enjoy the reading as much as I enjoyed the learning.


2 thoughts on “Wednesday Word – Jumbo

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