The Meaning of Rampant: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of rampant? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word rampant, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word rampant mean?

According to Cambridge English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary, the word rampant (pronounced ræmpənt) is an adjective with two different definitions. First, the word rampant can describe something that is rearing up on its hind legs with its forelegs extended, like a heraldic animal that one might see on a crest. It is common to see a lion rampant on a heraldry. This term is also used figuratively to describe something that has an absence of restraint, like a wild animal. This can also describe something that is profusely widespread, such as rampant corruption in a government system, or a rampant growth of weeds in a garden. Try using this word of the day or other new words in a sentence today!

There are many different languages that also contain words meaning rampant. You may notice that many of these words look and sound similarly to one another. These are called cognates, which are words that look, sound, and mean something similar across languages. Often, these are formed when either the languages or the words themselves share a common origin or ancestral language such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word rampant is provided by Word Sense

  • Finnish: rehottava‎
  • Swedish: otyglad‎, hejdlös‎, ohejdad‎, vild‎
  • Mandarin: 猖獗‎ (chāngjué), 繁茂‎ (fánmào) (of plants)
  • Italian: sfrenato‎ (masc.), sfrenata‎ (fem.)
  • French: effréné‎
  • Dutch: ongebreideld‎, ongecontroleerd‎, woekerend‎
  • Spanish: desenfrenado‎
  • Japanese: (phrase) 手がつけられない‎ (te ga tsukerarenai)
  • Greek: ασυγκράτητος‎ (masc.)
  • Russian: неи́стовый‎, безу́держный‎, я́рый‎, бу́йный‎
  • German: zügellos‎
  • Portuguese: galopante‎, desenfreado‎

How can the word rampant be used in a sentence?

There are many different situations in which rampant can be used, both literally and figuratively to describe some sort of rampant aggression or something that is widespread with no control. In this first example, Luca brings her daughter home from school. They are greeted by her spouse Kai.

Kai: Hey Luca, hey sweetie, how was school?

Daughter: Good! We don’t have to go to school for a week!

Kai: … And why is that?

Luca: Lice is running rampant in her grade. They want them to all do virtual learning for a week to prevent the spread.

Kai: Yikes.

Here, lice is rampant at the school, so they are taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread. Next, Luca and Kai are watching the news that night.

Broadcaster: Rampant inflation continues to occur in the healthcare sector. Some people say their insulin has gone up in cost by 400% over the last year.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word rampant?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word rampant. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a useful English language tool to have in your arsenal, because they can help you avoid repeating yourself as well as expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word rampant is provided by Thesaurus.

  • violent
  • uncontrollable
  • growing
  • excessive
  • ungovernable
  • unruly
  • outrageous
  • flagrant
  • vehement
  • luxuriant
  • riotous
  • unbridled
  • prevalent
  • unchecked
  • impulsive
  • blustering
  • rife
  • unrestrained
  • rampaging
  • out of control
  • dominant
  • tumultous/tumultuous
  • rank
  • pandemic
  • uncontrolled
  • aggressive
  • extravagant
  • spreading
  • wanton
  • turbulent
  • wild
  • furious
  • out of hand
  • predominant
  • exceeding bounds
  • widespread
  • raging
  • on the rampage
  • fanatical
  • exuberant
  • profuse
  • epidemic
  • clamorous
  • boisterous
  • impetuous
  • violent
  • uncontrollable
  • growing
  • excessive
  • ungovernable
  • unruly
  • outrageous
  • flagrant
  • vehement
  • luxuriant
  • riotous
  • unbridled
  • prevalent
  • unchecked
  • impulsive
  • blustering
  • rife
  • unrestrained
  • rampaging
  • out of control
  • dominant
  • tumultous/tumultuous
  • rank
  • pandemic
  • uncontrolled
  • aggressive
  • extravagant
  • spreading
  • wanton
  • turbulent
  • wild
  • furious
  • out of hand
  • predominant
  • exceeding bounds
  • widespread
  • raging
  • on the rampage
  • fanatical
  • exuberant
  • profuse
  • epidemic
  • clamorous
  • boisterous
  • impetuous

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of the word rampant. These are called antonyms. Antonyms are another useful English grammatical device to know because they can help to expand a person’s vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word rampant is also provided by Thesaurus

  • unobtrusive
  • under control
  • cool
  • supervised
  • moderate
  • structured
  • in charge
  • inhibited
  • uptight
  • guarded
  • organized
  • conservative
  • disciplined
  • unaffable
  • steady
  • in check
  • inobtrusive
  • reasonable
  • contained
  • calm
  • self-restrained
  • calm and collected
  • self-controlled
  • chilled
  • restrained
  • unextreme
  • governed
  • under wraps
  • unexpansive
  • shrinking
  • retiring
  • laid-back
  • skillful
  • subdued
  • soft
  • undemonstrative
  • plain
  • withdrawn
  • unflappable
  • controlled
  • mild
  • precise
  • unexcessive
  • orderly
  • on a leash
  • muted
  • corked up
  • ordered
  • reticent
  • exact
  • quiet
  • tasteful
  • measured
  • composed
  • temperate
  • discreet
  • bottled up

What is the origin of the word rampant?

According to Etymonline, the word rampant has been used since circa the year 1300. This comes from the word raumpaunt meaning standing on hind legs, like a heraldic lion, thus figuratively meaning fierce or ravenous. The word raumpaunt was used in the late 14th century. The word raumpaunt comes from the Old French rampant and Old French rampans, which is the present participle of ramper, meaning to climb or scale. This is also where we get the related word ramp. The word rampant was used in a sense of growing uncontrollably, such as running rampant, by the 1610s, and is formed via the notion of the Old French sense. Related words include rampantly (adverb), rampancy (noun), rampage (noun), and ramp (noun.)

Overall, the word rampant is used to describe something that is marked by unchecked growth. It can also describe an animal that is up on its hind legs ferociously, like one might see on a family crest or Medieval illustration. This word can be used both literally and figuratively and is French in origin. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.wordsense.eu/rampant/
  2. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/rampant
  3. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/restrained
  4. https://www.etymonline.com/word/rampant
  5. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/rampant
  6. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rampant