Pomp and circumstance

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Pomp and circumstance is a term that was most probably invented by William Shakespeare, though it is still in use today. We will examine the meaning of the phrase pomp and circumstance, how its use differs between countries, where the term came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Generically, the term pomp and circumstance describes a ceremony of grandeur, a very formal celebration. However, in the United States the term pomp and circumstance almost exclusively refers to graduation ceremonies from high school or university. This is derived from the fact that the musical work Edward Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory from his Pomp and Circumstance March Number 1 is played at most graduation ceremonies in the United States. Land of Hope and Glory is a popular patriotic British song, usually sung at the first night of The Proms. Written in 1902, the work was first played at a graduation ceremony in the United States at Yale in 1905. The phrase pomp and circumstance was first used by Shakespeare in his play Othello: “Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!”


Pomp and circumstance is clearly in the air, and area schools and their graduates are preparing for that ceremony where diplomas will be presented to those who have completed their college, high school and grade school graduation requirements. (The Bureau County Republican News)

Thursday’s hour-long graduation, set inside a large tent at the garden center, came with all the pomp and circumstance of a college graduation. (The Pueblo Chieftan)

Though the St. Mark’s ceremony didn’t involve the same pomp and circumstance as her sister Kate Middleton and Prince William’s royal wedding, it still demanded its own fairy-tale fashion moment: a bespoke Giles Deacon dress and custom Robinson Pelham tiara, which glimmered prettily as she walked down the aisle. (Vogue Magazine)