Definition of periphrasis
1 : use of a longer phrasing in place of a possible shorter form of expression
2 : an instance of periphrasis
periphrasis was our Word of the Day on 07/01/2009. Hear the podcast!
Examples of periphrasis in a sentence
congressional hearings into the Watergate scandal were marked by an orgy of periphrasis, the expression “at this point in time” being a memorable example
Did You Know?
It's easy enough to point out the origins of "periphrasis": the word was borrowed into English in the early 16th century via Latin from Greek periphrazein, which in turn comes from the prefix peri-, meaning "all around," and the verb "phrazein," "to point out." Two common descendants of "phrazein" in English are "phrase" and "paraphrase," the latter of which combines "phrazein" with the prefix para-, meaning "closely resembling." Another "phrazein" descendant is the less familiar word holophrasis, meaning "the expression of a complex of ideas in a single word or in a fixed phrase." (The prefix holo- can mean "completely.")
Origin and Etymology of periphrasis
Latin, from Greek, from periphrazein to express periphrastically, from peri- + phrazein to point out
First Known Use: 1533
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