One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Suggestive of Rocambole, a character in the novels of the French author Ponson du Terrail (1829–71), renowned for his improbable and fanciful adventures; incredible, fantastic, bizarre.
1930s. Either from French rocambolesque suggestive of Rocambole, (hence in extended use) fantastic, bizarre (1898; from Rocambole, the name of a character who is the subject of improbable and fantastic adventures in the novels of P.-A. Ponson du Terrail, French author (perhaps ultimately from rocambole) + -esque), or from the name of Rocambole + -esque, originally after Italian rocambolesco.
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