Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was a great English satirist. His most celebrated work, and the one for which he is best known, is Gulliver's Travels. It includes an account of the travels of one Captain Lemuel Gulliver to Lilliput, a country whose inhabitants were no more than six inches tall. Ultimately, Gulliver traveled to the country of Brobdingnag, inhabited by giants. They were "like steeple spires, and they covered ten yards with every step." To those people, Gulliver looked lilliputian, "not so big as a round little worm plucked from the lazy finger of a maid." Although lilliputian for "tiny" and brobdingnagian for "gigantic" have been admitted into the English language, the latter word has had little acceptance, perhaps because it's so difficult to pronounce. Today lilliputian, from Swift's fiercely brilliant political satire, is an adjective applied to any diminutive person or object.
   Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of wealthy English parents. His father died before he was born, and he was raised by a miserly uncle. Swift was so bright that at the age of five he could read almost any chapter in the Bible. After attending Trinity College in Dublin, Swift left for England and obtained a position as secretary to Sir William Temple, which enabled him to study and write. It was at Temple's home that he met Esther Johnson, whom he called Hester and whom he encouraged to live nearby. Swift immortalized Hester in his famous Journal to Stella, one of the greatest diaries in the records of English literature. Swift was involved with another woman, Ester Vanhomrigh, whom he called Vanessa. Vanessa followed Swift to Ireland, learned about Hester, and sent her a biting, denunciatory letter. Shortly thereafter Vanessa died. In 1742, Swift became mentally ill and died three years later.

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  • Lilliputian — Lil li*pu tian (l[i^]l l[i^]*p[=u] shan), n. 1. One belonging to a very diminutive race described in Swift s Voyage to Lilliput or Gulliver s Travels . [1913 Webster] 2. Hence: A person or thing of very small size. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Lilliputian — Lil li*pu tian, a. 1. Of or pertaining to the imaginary island of Lilliput described by Swift, or to its inhabitants. [1913 Webster] 2. Hence: Of very small size; diminutive; insignificant; dwarfed. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Lilliputian — index minimal Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Lilliputian — (adj.) diminutive, tiny, lit. pertaining to Lilliput, the fabulous island whose inhabitants were six inches high, a name coined by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver s Travels (1726). Swift left no explanation of the origin of the word …   Etymology dictionary

  • Lilliputian — [lil΄ə pyo͞o′shən] adj. 1. of Lilliput or its people 2. very small; tiny 3. narrow minded; petty n. 1. an inhabitant of Lilliput 2. a very small person 3. a narrow minded person …   English World dictionary

  • Lilliputian — UK [ˌlɪlɪˈpjuːʃ(ə)n] / US [ˌlɪləˈpjuʃ(ə)n] adjective extremely small • Etymology: From the Lilliputians, a race of very small people in the book Gulliver s Travels. Derived word: Lilliputian UK / US noun countable Word forms Lilliputian :… …   English dictionary

  • Lilliputian — I. adjective Date: 1726 1. of, relating to, or characteristic of the Lilliputians or the island of Lilliput 2. ofen not capitalized a. small, miniature < a Lilliputian camera > b. petty II …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Lilliputian — /lil i pyooh sheuhn/, adj. 1. extremely small; tiny; diminutive. 2. petty; trivial: Our worries are Lilliputian when compared with those of people whose nations are at war. n. 3. an inhabitant of Lilliput. 4. a very small person. 5. a person who… …   Universalium

  • Lilliputian — I (Roget s IV) modif. Syn. diminutive, dwarfed, small; see little 1 . II (Roget s Thesaurus II) also lilliputian adjective Extremely small: diminutive, dwarf, midget, miniature, minuscule, minute2, pygmy, wee. Informal: peewee, pintsize,… …   English dictionary for students

  • Lilliputian — [ˌlɪlɪ pju:ʃ(ə)n] adjective trivial or very small. noun a Lilliputian person or thing. Origin C18: from the imaginary country of Lilliput in Jonathan Swift s Gulliver s Travels (1726), inhabited by 6 inch high people, + ian …   English new terms dictionary

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