Dec 26, 2007

Rapid Rhetoric: RAMAGE

Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

ramage (RAM-edge, RAHM-edge) n. the branches or boughs of a tree or large bush; the warbling of birds gathered in foliage; adj. the state of being wild or untamed.

Ramage comes to the English language from the Latin word ramus ("branch"), and, though somewhat obsolete, is most typically used to describe landscape and scenery. The following passage from the 1921 novel Scaramouche, by Italian writer Rafael Sabatini, illustrates the word "ramage" in rhetorical use:
And so, within a few minutes, all arrangements were concluded, and you behold that sinisterly intentioned little group of four assembled in the afternoon sunshine on the bowling-green behind the inn. They were entirely private, screened more or less from the windows of the house by a ramage of trees, which, if leafless now, was at least dense enough to provide an effective lattice.
Ramage is also a fairly common family surname, leading one to suspect that there is some relationship between ramage and the concept of a family tree.

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