Case in point:

In his opera Rigoletto, Giuseppe Verdi really goes to town showing off his prodigious melodic gift. Themes, lines, full-fledged melodies: he does not economize. He just throws them right and left, all original, all unique, never repeating. The brief intro to Act Two is a melodic jewel, and yet all it does is convey to the audience a bit of tension: Verdi just leaves it there, never developing it later.

I would call it melodic extravagance - if it weren't for the fact that the word extravagant always comes off as negative to some degree these days.

If I'm wrong, please say so. If I'm right, is there a better word for it?


What I'm trying to convey here is that Verdi was generous with his gift. As in, "Hey, you want more melodies? Here, take another dozen."

Melodic generosity comes to mind. The only problem is, it could easily be misinterpreted ... uh ... misconstrued.

  • 2
    I bet if you could identify all the noticeably "positive" or "negative" occurrences of with an extravagant flourish, they'd mostly be approving. Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 18:18
  • If your boyfriend displays extravagance in the restaurant he chooses when he takes you on a date, would you consider that to be "negative"? I think not.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 21:53
  • A peacock's tail is a biological extravagance, but that doesn't stop us (and peahens! :) from admiring it. Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 22:37
  • Extravagant is neutral, it's dependent entirely on the use. For example if someone was extravagantly generous, or extravagantly helpful, surely this could only be interpreted in a positive light. So yes you can use extravagance positively for sure.
    – Gary
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 23:26

2 Answers 2


I think you could probably wrangle extravagance to not be perceived as negative, but it will be hard. You're right that it does often carry at least mild overtones of negativity and judgment. However, extravaganza, a closely related word which could work here does not. So you could say:

A melodic extravaganza.

Extravaganza is defined by the online Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

Definition of extravaganza

1: a lavish or spectacular show or event

2: something extravagant

3: a literary or musical work marked by extreme freedom of style and structure and usually by elements of burlesque or parody

Note how the third definition given is very close to what you're after, albeit without the element of parody. Also note how the definition of extravaganza lacks the negative connotations implied in the same dictionary's definition of extravagant:

Definition of extravagant

  1. a: exceeding the limits of reason or necessity
    extravagant claims
    b: lacking in moderation, balance, and restraint
    extravagant praise
    c: extremely or excessively elaborate
    an extravagant display
  2. extremely or unreasonably high in price
    an extravagant purchase

  3. a: spending much more than necessary
    has always been extravagant with her money

  4. a archaic : WANDERING
    b obsolete : STRANGE, CURIOUS


I sometimes say, "I purchased something fancy, it was an extravagance, and I am excited." Thinking about it, the word does have some negative connotations. But I think they come from context rather than the word itself.

I'm not familiar enough with Latin to speak to the root of the word.


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