(The word “pageant” might be related to “page,” which would sort of make sense, because a pageant was originally a kind of play. We’re not sure about that link, though.)
Today, a pageant, strictly speaking, is one of those showy, flashy shows or parades, especially the kind on a stage that involves lots of costumes. It might be a play or a contest, but either way, it’s a show that’s overdone and over-the-top, and it’s all show–there’s no serious substance or meaning to it.
Figuratively speaking, a pageant can be any empty, meaningless display.
Take “pageant,” add the suffix “-ry,” which in this case means “things like that, collectively,” and you get “pageantry.”
So, pageantry is anything that seems fancy, showy, and meaningless.
PADGE un tree
Part of speech:
Noun, usually the uncountable kind: “last night’s pageantry,” “it was nothing but pageantry.”
How to use it:
This word often has a sharp, judgmental tone: “the debates are nothing but pageantry,” “they don’t want to make real changes; they just bask in the pageantry.”
But the word can take on a positive tone, especially if you’re talking about how beautiful something is: “the pageantry of the cherry blossoms,” “we go to the ballet for the pageantry, not the storyline.”
You might talk about something that’s full of pageantry, nothing but pageantry, heavy or light on pageantry, etc.
Or, talk about the pageantry of something: “the pageantry of graduation ceremonies.”
“To some, those mission bells conjure the romance of California’s Spanish past — a paternal Mission pastoral punctuated by elegant archways, vine-covered ruins and ornate pageantry.”
— Julia Wick, The Los Angeles Times, 21 June 2019
“The pageantry of the British state visit was impressive, complete with an opulent dinner at Buckingham Palace.”
— Jonathan Lemire and Kevin Freking, Associated Press, 7 June 2019