periphrasis

noun
pe·​riph·​ra·​sis | \ pə-ˈri-frə-səs How to pronounce periphrasis (audio) \
plural periphrases\ pə-​ˈri-​frə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce periphrases (audio) \

Definition of periphrasis

1 : use of a longer phrasing in place of a possible shorter form of expression
2 : an instance of periphrasis

Keep scrolling for more

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.")

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

First Known Use of periphrasis

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for periphrasis

Latin, from Greek, from periphrazein to express periphrastically, from peri- + phrazein to point out

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about periphrasis

Listen to Our Podcast about periphrasis

Statistics for periphrasis

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for periphrasis

The first known use of periphrasis was in 1533

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on periphrasis

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for periphrasis

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about periphrasis

Comments on periphrasis

What made you want to look up periphrasis? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!