Definition of circumlocution in English:



mass noun
  • The use of many words where fewer would do, especially in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive.

    ‘his admission came after years of circumlocution’
    count noun ‘he used a number of poetic circumlocutions’
    • ‘Her style can only be described as hectoring, irritating and occasionally maddening in its circumlocution.’
    • ‘He has wisely retained many Marathi words in the text, thus avoiding plodding English circumlocutions such as ‘flat millet bread’ for bhakri.’
    • ‘The replies I got were pure circumlocution and double talk, nowadays referred to as spin.’
    • ‘He produced yet another quite captivating display of loquacious circumlocution as he tackled questions from the press about the way he has run the team recently.’
    • ‘Everyday language uses a number of euphemisms, including polite formulas, circumlocutions, allusions, and stock phrases.’
    • ‘No more circumlocution - just tell us, straight out: what are we supposed to do?’
    • ‘The Navajo language is complex, and through circumlocution the Code Talkers made it even more so.’
    • ‘He is witty, he puns, and sometimes he employs the polysyllabic circumlocution of the nineteenth-century humorists.’
    • ‘In order to refer to that activity, it is necessary to engage in circumlocution or periphrasis.’
    • ‘Pidgins may compensate for lack of vocabulary through circumlocution.’
    • ‘Despite the circumlocution used, the parties all appeared to understand one another.’
    • ‘There was a good deal of rhetoric, circumlocution and imprecision in language.’
    • ‘Alas, for every valuable insight which emerges, we find a greater proportion of heady rhetoric and circumlocution.’
    • ‘Americans, in particular the US military-industrial complex, are masters of jargon and circumlocution, but they can't be blamed for everything.’
    • ‘Large bureaucracies seem to inherently foster a culture that favours circumlocution, jargon and euphemism.’
    • ‘O'Neill, despite his apparent affability and a tendency to circumlocution, is a tough little nut.’
    • ‘In Wales, the leadership of Plaid Cymru was always a bit bashful about independence, resorting to circumlocutions like ‘full national status’.’
    • ‘The company has dispensed with traditional legal circumlocution with its latest court filings against its rival.’
    • ‘A certain kind of Briton prefers circumlocution and euphemism for even everyday speech: ‘I wonder if I could trouble you for a glass of water?’’
    • ‘Other common strategies used to save face for others include the use of circumlocution and equivocation when criticism of another's performance is unavoidable.’
    periphrasis, circuitousness, indirectness
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Late Middle English: from Latin circumlocutio(n-) (translating Greek periphrasis), from circum ‘around’ + locutio(n-) from loqui ‘speak’.