I'm looking for an uncommon term for an excellent orator that doesn’t include adjectives such as “good” or “excellent,” or the noun “orator.” I've googled this request but haven't encountered anything compelling.

  • 6
    D'y'know the phrase "gob full of pebbles outshouting seas" from Tony Harrison's Them and [uz]?
    – anemone
    Mar 30, 2015 at 20:19
  • @anemone - no, but I dig the phrase. What does it mean?
    – user98990
    Mar 30, 2015 at 20:22
  • 2
    well, I'd hate to push my own interpretation of the poem, but I'd say it refers to an orator. And you asked for uncommon :)
    – anemone
    Mar 30, 2015 at 20:24
  • @anemone - your interpretation is as valid as anyone else's, save the poet's.
    – user98990
    Mar 30, 2015 at 21:04
  • 7
    @LittleEva - the 'gob full of pebbles outshouting seas' is a reference to the Greek orator Demosthenes, who trained himself out of a speech impediment by orating alone on the shore with rocks in his mouth to force him to concentrate.
    – Oldcat
    Mar 30, 2015 at 21:41

18 Answers 18


If you want something very unusual and yet historically resonant, you might try chrysostomic (that is, "golden-mouthed"). Here's the OED definition of that word:

Chrysostomic a. rare. {f. Gr χρυσοστομος golden-mouthed, an epithet applied to favourite orators which became a kind of surname of Dio and John Chrysostom.} Golden-mouthed.

[Example:] 1816 Month[ly] Rev[iew] LXXXI 245 By the majesty of his Chrysostomic eloquence.

The quotation from The Monthy Review (November 1816) runs at greater length as follows:

Dean Williams, also, with the plasticity of a Roman cardinal, after having subdued by his arguments the puritan chieftain Dr. Reynolds, stalked into the see of Lincoln, which he disdained to illustrate, but, changing his career, took up the seals which Bacon had laid down, and attracted the admiration of the House of Lords by a probity more unfaultering, by a profounder knowlege of the civil law, and by the majesty of his Chrysostomic eloquence.

Wikipedia has fairly detailed articles on both Dio Chrysostom and (Saint) John Chrysostom.

The OED also has an entry for chrysostomatical, which has essentially the same meaning as chrysostomic but (to me) doesn't sound as good.

  • There he is, finally checking in! Good answer, +1, Sven.
    – user98990
    Mar 30, 2015 at 23:37
  • Also interesting is the, previously unencountered, usage of "illiustrate."
    – user98990
    Mar 30, 2015 at 23:42
  • 1
    I think that the intended sense of illustrate is OED's fourth definition (listed as "Now rare or Obs.") of the word: "To shed lustre upon; to render illustrious, renowned, or famous; to confer honour or distinction upon." I gather that Williams declined a position in the see of Lincoln, and thus left it, by the absence of his effulgent person, unillustrated.
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 30, 2015 at 23:53
  • That's how I took it.
    – user98990
    Mar 31, 2015 at 0:48
  • Second-place in votes but officially selected! Loved "chrysostomic." Ever encounter the term “stemwinder”, Sven? Checkout my own answer.
    – user98990
    Apr 28, 2015 at 21:54


A tendency to be eloquent and persuasive in speaking.
- Google

  • 1
    I answered an OP just the other day with "silver-tongued." I loved it, but it has only garnered 1 upvote. Oh well ... +1
    – user98990
    Mar 30, 2015 at 20:12
  • I don't know why it's working for you!
    – user98990
    Mar 30, 2015 at 20:25
  • 1
    @LittleEva I looked up the question you answered --I think maybe it was the emphasis on "care" in the title of the question that steered people away from your answer... Otherwise I would have considered it a good fit. Mar 30, 2015 at 20:32
  • 5
    Not exactly an uncommon term...
    – talrnu
    Mar 31, 2015 at 13:04
  • 1
    @LittleEva Well, why settle for silver when you can go for the gold? Apr 29, 2015 at 0:20

Ciceronian :

  • in the style of Cicero: characterized by melodious language, clarity, and forcefulness of presentation: Ciceronian invective.

a Cicero:

  • Roman statesman, orator, and philosopher. A major figure in the last years of the Republic, he is best known for his orations against Catiline and for his mastery of Latin prose. His later writings introduced Greek philosophy to Rome. (TFD)
  • ... Adam Smith were particular admirers, but perhaps there was no more devoted Ciceronian, as to both literary style and ideas, than Edmund Burke, whose thought has been called "a Cicero filtered through the Christian scholastic tradition.
  • Well, you asked for an uncommon term, and yes, as in the example shown it is used to refer to a great orator!!!
    – user66974
    Mar 30, 2015 at 20:02
  • 3
    Perhaps softened as a veritable Cicero
    – Jim Mack
    Mar 30, 2015 at 20:14
  • 2
    Old chick-pea was such a lying lawyer that calling him veritable is all kinds of Ironic.
    – Oldcat
    Mar 30, 2015 at 21:42
  • 2
    Cicero (means Chickpea) was a advocate who would defend any side of an issue - he offered to defend Catiline just a year before calling him history's greatest monster in his orations. After his consulship, he flipped political sides several times due to expediency.
    – Oldcat
    Mar 30, 2015 at 23:57
  • 2
    @Oldcat - some things never change, eh?
    – user98990
    Mar 31, 2015 at 0:50

The one and only correct answer to this question is, quite obviously, slick whistle-stopper.

I will now use my prodigious rhetorical skills to prove this point.

Firstly, I did a Google search for that term, which produced the following:

No results found for "slick whistle-stopper".

And here is the Google Ngram:

No valid ngrams to plot! Ngrams not found: slick whistle-stopper

Clearly my answer fulfills the OP's desire for an uncommon term. No one has ever used this term before. You don't get more uncommon than that.

A whistle-stop, according to Merriam-Webster, is "a brief personal appearance especially by a political candidate usually on the rear platform of a train during the course of a tour." A whistle-stopper, according to thesaurus.com, is a synonym for "candidate" or "politician," but also for "grandstander."

Throughout history, going back to antiquity, the finest orators have always been politicians. Nothing calls to mind the idea of a great orator more than the image of a politician giving a speech from the back of a train. I'm pretty sure even the ancient Greeks did it.

The fact that I can't find "whistle-stopper" in any other online dictionary, again, speaks to the uncommon nature of the word. The word is a gem! A diamond in the rough! Or some other jewel metaphor!

But wait, there's more.

By adding "slick" to "whistle-stopper" -- "slick whistle-stopper" -- we add a top-notch poetical effect, that being the alliteration of S and L. This is guaranteed to call the attention of the literary Illuminati to your prose. Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize, PEN/Faulkner, Bram Stoker -- anything is possible.

I'll leave it up to the OP whether she wants to be the first person, ever, to use this beautiful term, or to fall back on something more prosaic, hackneyed, and unimaginative.

  • 2
    Bravo! LoL, you got my vote, Senator. But I'm easy (not to say, cheap). Let's see how you fare with the cognoscenti, they can be demanding.
    – user98990
    Mar 30, 2015 at 23:17
  • 6
    I'm relatively (though admittedly not fully) certain that the Ancient Greeks did not have whistles on their trains. And it's almost ironic that in stating that no one has ever used this term, you become the first person to do so, thus removing Eva's opportunity, as per your last paragraph, of doing so. Mar 31, 2015 at 9:19
  • 1
    That's right! @Janus, I've been hoodwinked by another snake oil salesman, drat!
    – user98990
    Mar 31, 2015 at 10:02
  • If you want to play this game, "slick whistle-stopper" is not a term, it is a phrase. Mar 31, 2015 at 19:31
  • 1
    You, sir, are quite the slick whistle-stopper. Apr 1, 2015 at 19:42

An excellent orator is a


Since you are asking for an uncommon term, you might enjoy referring to them as a

grandiloquent rhetorician.



One who tells stories and anecdotes with skill and wit.
- The Free Dictionary


A reference to someone who talks about a subject which he or she has studied and knows a great deal about

Being capable of talking about any and all subjects.

[Latin. suaviloquens; suavis sweet + loquens, p. pr. of loqui to speak.]
Sweetly speaking; using agreeable speech.

Speaking characterized by fluency or glibness of utterance; rapid and ready of speech; fluency
From Latin tolutim, "trotting along"; "on a (full) trot".


melliloquent (literally honey-tongued)
Speaking sweetly or harmoniously.
Latin mel, mellis honey + loquens speaking, present participle of loqui to speak.

  • 1
    +1, though for accuracy, it is literally honey-speaking, rather than honey-tongued. Mar 31, 2015 at 9:29
  • 1
    Thanks, Mari-Lou, for the great offerings. "Melliloquent" was my second most favoritest! But Sven beat you out with "chrysostomic". :-)
    – user98990
    Apr 28, 2015 at 22:05

Rhetorical magician:



1 Relating to or concerned with the art of rhetoric:



1.0 A person with magical powers.

1.1 A conjuror.

1.2 informal A person with exceptional skill in a particular area.

The art of rhetoric tends to be a black box to the masses, who experience the impact of great oratory as magic. From page 222 of Gary A. Olson's Rhetoric and Composition as Intellectual Work:

All rhetoric can be understood, then, to have a magical component, and all magic--dependent as it is on spells--is rhetorical. Thus, we can posit the term magic-rhetoric as an indicator of their inseparability.

  • This was phantastic and poetic. Thank you for playing. :-)
    – user98990
    Apr 28, 2015 at 22:07

It's hard to believe no one's mentioned this term yet. You could also refer to such a person as you've described as a cunning linguist.

  • 2
    @LittleEva One of these days I'm going to change my name back to its "normal" one. Just as soon as I stop getting a laugh out of the question that inspired this current name.
    – pyobum
    Mar 31, 2015 at 8:26

You can consider the adjective Demosthenic, derived from the famous historical figure Demosthenes who is considered the greatest orator of antiquity. (and perhaps all time; even Cicero presents Demosthenes as the greatest orator of all time in De Optimo.)

Of or relating to Demosthenes or his oratory; typical of or resembling Demosthenes or his speeches, esp. in being lucid, persuasive, or single-minded of purpose.

  • 2007    P. Parsons City Sharp-nosed Fish ix. 146    The well-educated man could write Homeric verses, or a Demosthenic speech, in near-perfect imitation of the original language.


Demosthenian and Demosthenical are mentioned as the earlier synonyms.

I believe it won't get any better than this; otherwise Demosthenes would turn over in his grave and might even come back for one last speech! Here is an excerpt about Demosthenes:

Demosthenes was a Greek orator, speech-writer, and politician. He was known as a great champion of democracy and an advocate of the right of Greece to exist as a separate nation from Macedonia.

Other orators who were contemporaries of Demosthenes regarded him as a great orator. According to Longinus, Demosthenes "perfected to the utmost the tone of lofty speech, living passions, copiousness, readiness, speed”, Cicero acclaimed him as "the perfect orator" who lacked nothing, and Quintilian described him as setting a standard for all orators.


  • 2
    Excellent suggestion, ermanen. I must read his speeches, alas, in translation. +1
    – user98990
    Mar 31, 2015 at 1:22
  • 2
    @LittleEva: You are welcome. You can consider this book that contains translations of all the surviving speeches of Demosthenes.
    – ermanen
    Mar 31, 2015 at 1:32

Rather colloquial, but Speech maven would do the job: Webster's Maven:

Synonyms: ace, adept, artist, authority, cognoscente, connoisseur, crackerjack (also crackajack), dab [chiefly British], dab hand [chiefly British], fiend, geek, guru, hand, hotshot, maestro, master, expert (also mavin), meister, past master, proficient, scholar, shark, sharp, virtuoso, whiz, wizard

  • +1, yes, I'm known in certain (confused) quarters as a :speech-maven," myself.
    – user98990
    Mar 31, 2015 at 15:07

You can consider elocutionist also. OED defines as: one who practices the art of elocution; a proficient in the art of elocution. But, it is also defined as:

a public speaker trained in voice production and gesture and delivery - TFD

Elocutionists combine elocutionary and oratory skills; and they emerged out of the elocution movement in 19th century in US.

Elocutionist was the name given to both those who performed orations themselves and those who taught others how to perform. These US specialists in oral presentation called themselves elocutionists, following the already established elocution movement in the United Kingdom.


The following excerpt describes a great orator and explains the difference between an elocutionist and an orator by comparing Lincoln's and Everett's speech.

enter image description here enter image description here

Lincoln in His Own Time: A Biographical Chronicle of His Life, Drawn from Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates (Writers in Their Own Time) by Harold K. Bush Jr. (2011)


A Demosthene

This antonomasia is quite rare in french. It is certainly uncommon in english.

  • @LittleEva - Are you asking for the negative proof? Mar 31, 2015 at 21:04
  • 1
    No, I was just teasing. What I was requesting was for you to convince me of your offering's validity, with linked references to established authorities, etymological arcana, examples of usage, etc. I'm asking you to grow your answer. I'm asking a lot, I know. :-)
    – user98990
    Apr 1, 2015 at 1:14

If something informal works for you, I really like gift of the gab, as in "she has the gift of the gab".

Link: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/the-gift-of-the-gab


I suppose orator is not the first word that springs to mind when talking about a . . . public speaker. But if I wanted something a bit harder I might go with rhetor. It certainly brings to mind classical figures like Cicero without mentioning them directly.


Anyone ever encounter the term “stemwinder”?

The term dates back to the middle of the 19th century, when the stem-winding watch came into vogue. The newfangled timepiece was a vast improvement over its predecessor, the key-wound watch, because the mechanism for setting it was a stem actually attached to the watch, rather than a key that was easily and frequently misplaced. This technological advance was so widely appreciated that, by the end of the 1800s, the term stemwinder had taken on the figurative meaning of "excellent" or "outstanding," or, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, "a person or thing that is first rate. …"

Even early on, the phrase was used to describe great orators. Michael Quinion of World Wide Words found a reference dating to 1880, in the Daily Gazette of Colorado Springs: "Dr. Reynolds will have some big stories to tell when he returns from Europe. He will then be, more than ever, the great 'stem-winder' of the west." But the word had myriad other applications. Jack London, in his 1909 novel Martin Eden, used the term to describe a knockout headache: "Gee, but it's a stem-winder," one character says. "Can hardly see." And in the novel Bunch Grass, published in 1913, author Horace Annesley Vachell's characters toast the man who convinced them it was better to drink whisky than water:

"The Perfessor's a stem-winder, an' no mistake," said Pete. "Let's drink his health — onst." They did so — twice.

These days, of course, "stemwinder" is no longer used to describe headaches or professors; although it's not clear why the wider usage fell out of favor, the term is used exclusively to describe an excellent speech. see Slate stemwinder

  • Actually, I think common usage (including the examples you give) implies a sort of speaking style that stirs up the crowd -- not merely eloquent and mellifluous, but exciting and rousing.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 28, 2015 at 22:29
  • Yes, @Hot Licks, except I don't think there is anymore common usage of the term, having personally never encountered outside of my search results.
    – user98990
    Apr 28, 2015 at 22:38
  • 1
    I've heard "stemwinder" many times. And a convenient attribute of the word is that the most common context ("That was a real stemwinder!") is understandable even if someone has never heard the word before.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 28, 2015 at 22:42

"oratissimo" (since ScotM likes it)

  • @LittleEva, are you asking me whether "oratissimo" is a real word? Yes, it is, as of now.
    – Greg Lee
    Mar 30, 2015 at 21:05
  • @LittleEva, I refer you to your original question. The meaning is the meaning you asked for.
    – Greg Lee
    Mar 30, 2015 at 21:11
  • That's a neat trick. Are you, by any chance, the Wizard of ELU? +1 for your panache, or should I say, pennacchio?
    – user98990
    Mar 30, 2015 at 21:16
  • 2
    Paid in full. The etymology should start here with a short explanation of how this neologism gathered its parts.
    – ScotM
    Mar 31, 2015 at 0:28
  • Thanks for playing, Greg. I just want you to know that I've "test-driven" your creation. The police keep pulling me over and asking for my documents. I keep pointing to you.
    – user98990
    Apr 28, 2015 at 22:14

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