There were over 80 million people who watched the first US presidential debate on September 26, so there’s a good chance you were one of them. If you were, you may have heard Trump say this: “I have a tremendous income and the reason I say that is not in a braggadocious way.” If you’re like most people, you may have thrown “braggadocious” into the growing pile (or mountain) of obscure and seemingly made-up words that Trump uses. After all, “braggadocious” doesn’t exactly sound like a real word. But is it possible that Trump didn’t actually make this word up? Is “braggadocious” a word?

You may be surprised to hear it, but the answer is “yes.” As ridiculous as it may sound, “braggadocious” is a real word.

How Do We Know Whether “Braggadocious” Is a Word?

When we say that “braggadocious” is a real word, we’re not saying that it’s just included as a word in the slang repository Urban Dictionary. Instead, “braggadocious” is included in established and reputable dictionaries like the Oxford Dictionaries, the Cambridge English Dictionary, and the Collins English Dictionary.

Although it’s listed as an “informal” word, it’s been in use since the middle of the 19th century. Yup, you read that correctly. You can check out the dictionary entries for yourself if you still can’t believe it.

So what does “braggadocous” mean? It means “boastful” or “arrogant.” You would use it in sentences like these:

  • “She talked about the success of her business in a braggadocious way.”
  • “He was braggadocious when talking about his son’s performance at the swim meet.”
  • “They came across as braggadocious when describing the home they’re building.”

Not only did Trump use a real word when he used “braggadocious,” but he also used it properly in a sentence. He really is full of surprises, isn’t he?

You’re Not the Only One Out of the Loop

Now, if you’re feeling a little embarrassed that you didn’t know a word that even Trump knows, don’t. You’re not the only one who’s late to the “braggadocious” game.

There were so many people thrown off by Trump’s use of the word during the debate that major media outlets like the New York Times have written articles about it, and according to Google Trends, searches for it far exceeded the number of searches for “Donald Trump” on debate night

In fact, “braggadocious” is so uncommon that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary doesn’t have an entry for it on the grounds that people don’t use it enough. The dictionary does have an entry for its root word (“braggadocio”), which, you guessed it, was also trending on the dictionary’s site when we wrote this. For a word that almost no one knew about a few weeks ago, it’s sure getting more than its 15 minutes of fame.

Wrapping Things Up

So although it may not always seem like it, a 2016 US presidential debate can be educational (imagine that!). The first one made us ask ourselves serious questions like, “Is ‘braggadocious’ a real word?” And we found out that contrary to popular belief, it actually is. We don’t know about you, but we’re pretty excited to see what wacky words Trump brings our way the next time he goes head to head with Clinton.


Want to read about other words that don’t seem real? Check out our post on whether “irregardless” is a real word.

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US presidential debate vocabulary lesson #1: Is “braggadocious” a word?
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