Imagine a big, loose drum being beaten: “Bo! Bo! Bo!” Or a big bull bellowing: “BO—! BO—!” How it echoes! How it resounds! How reboant it is!

Reboant? You may not know this word, but I am assured it is current. It’s just not, um, resounding through the language very much. Perhaps it needs a roborant. Well, this word tasting is one, such as it is.

We do have other words that mean about the same thing: echoing, resounding, reverberating. But they all have different feels to them. Echo is a crisp word. Resounding has the pound of ound in it, and you can see the sound although the s is /z/. Reverberating has the vibe of /v/ and verb (such an action word!) and fairly reverberates itself through its five syllables. It sounds as though you had dropped a lightsaber in a cavern.

But reboant!

I should first make sure you know that the stress is on the bo. That’s what really makes this word. If it were on the re it would be a rumbling bang petering off. But on the bo it has a wind-up and then a big bang followed by an echo. It gives you a sense of the sound it intends even as you’re saying it.

Where does this word come from? First from Latin – the re is the same one as in resound, meaning not so much ‘again’ as ‘back, in return’. The boant comes from Latin boare ‘bellow’, which traces to ancient Greek βοᾶν boan ‘shout, roar’. The origin of that is unknown, and I’m sure if etymological researchers had felt it traced to βοῦς bous ‘cow’ someone would have mentioned it. But it does at least seem a fitting coincidence, given that bellowing thing cows sometimes do, you know.

In Christmas music, there’s a lot of stuff about resounding and echoing and so on. Perhaps reboant is too boisterous a word for carols, or perhaps it really was always rather rare. But I recommend you use it on every occasion available this December, to describe bells and organs and baritones – and baritones’ bellowing organs – and choirs and whatever else you want. All those things that sent the Grinch snaky. Perhaps they send you snaky too. You can still use reboant. It’s a value-neutral word. For now.

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