Tag Archives: solstice

Rantipole

And are you celebrating the Summer Solstice today? Mordecai, of course, went about his pre-solstice preparations with a reckless abandon and ended up burning down my garden shed last night.

Thankfully, my flying machine was not in it. I was taking her out for a midnight flight last night (before today’s heat wave struck) and on my way back home I noticed a ball of orange flames. Was Mordecai contrite and apologetic? Of course not. He woke early today and took to the streets with his special Solstice Mead, declaring that the Solstice is the perfect day to find “inspirational women” to keep company with. He’s trouble. One might even say that he is a rantipole.

Rantipole is a noun that means a wild, rakish, roving, sometimes quarrelsome person; a rude romping young person. It can also be used as an adjective and as a verb. It’s a versatile insult, really. And it IS an insult.

Some believe that the word is derived from the Dutch word randten meaning to talk foolishly, rave, while others believe it is actually derived from the English dialect ranty, meaning riotous;wildly excited plus poll, meaning the head. A slang dictionary from the 1700s has rantipole defined as a rude wild Boy or Girl.

Rantipole is used liberally in literature, naturally, as it’s a marvelously descriptive insult. You can find it in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow:

“This rantipole hero had for some time singled out the blooming Katrina for the object of his uncouth gallantries, and though his amorous toyings were something like the gentle caresses and endearments of a bear, yet it was whispered that she did not altogether discourage his hopes.”

And you can find it in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations:

“Well!” cried my sister, with a mollified glance at Mr. Pumblechook. “She might have had the politeness to send that message at first, but it’s better late than never. And what did she give young Rantipole here?”

Mordecai is an embodiment of rantipole. He is wild, uncouth, and terribly quarrelsome. I have no doubt that his Summer Solstice will be spent in a mead-soaked giddiness. I, ever the more staid brother, will be sipping lemonade whilst the dragons play in the charcoal aftermath of the garden shed. Today is hot, and – if only for a fraction of a second – the longest we will have all year.

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