circumlocution

play
noun cir·cum·lo·cu·tion \ˌsər-kəm-lō-ˈkyü-shən\

Definition of circumlocution

  1. 1 :  the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea had no patience with diplomatic circumlocutions

  2. 2 :  evasion in speech circumlocutions concerning what constitutes torture

circumlocutory

play \-ˈlä-kyə-ˌtȯr-ē\ adjective

circumlocution was our Word of the Day on 09/18/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of circumlocution in a Sentence

  1. He was criticized for his use of circumlocution.

  2. I'm trying to avoid circumlocutions in my writing.

Recent Examples of circumlocution from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circumlocution.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

In The King's English, grammarian H.W. Fowler advised, "Prefer the single word to the circumlocution." Alas, that good advice was not followed by the framers of "circumlocution." They actually used two terms in forming that word for unnecessarily verbose prose or speech. But their choices were apt; circumlocution derives from the Latin circum-, meaning "around," and locutio, meaning "speech - so it literally means "roundabout speech." Since the 15th century, English writers have used "circumlocution" with disdain, naming a thing to stop, or better yet, to avoid altogether. Charles Dickens even used it to satirize political runarounds when he created the fictional Circumlocution Office, a government department that delayed the dissemination of information and just about everything else.

Origin and Etymology of circumlocution

Middle English circumlocucyon, from Latin circumlocution-, circumlocutio, from circum- + locutio speech, from loqui to speak

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms


CIRCUMLOCUTION Defined for English Language Learners

circumlocution

play
noun

Definition of circumlocution for English Language Learners

  • : the use of many words to say something that could be said more clearly and directly by using fewer words



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