: unduly prolonged or drawn out : too long
: marked by or using an excess of words
prolixity noun
prolixly adverb

Did you know?

There's no way to talk about prolix without being redundant, verbose, and wordy. That's because the word is a synonym of all of those long-winded terms. Of those words, prolix is the one most likely to suggest unreasonable and tedious dwelling on details. It derives from prolixus, a Latin term meaning "extended" or "copious." Prolixus originated from a combination of the prefix pro- (which means "forward") and the past participle of liquēre, a verb meaning "to be fluid." True to that history, something that is prolix flows on and on.

Choose the Right Synonym for prolix

wordy, verbose, prolix, diffuse mean using more words than necessary to express thought.

wordy may also imply loquaciousness or garrulity.

a wordy speech

verbose suggests a resulting dullness, obscurity, or lack of incisiveness or precision.

the verbose position papers

prolix suggests unreasonable and tedious dwelling on details.

habitually transformed brief anecdotes into prolix sagas

diffuse stresses lack of compactness and pointedness of style.

diffuse memoirs that are so many shaggy-dog stories

Examples of prolix in a Sentence

The speech was unnecessarily prolix. a person known for habitually transforming brief anecdotes into prolix sagas that exhaust their listeners
Recent Examples on the Web A certain type of actor thrives in these prolix circumstances. Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2021 His answer is this book: a laudably sincere, exasperatingly prolix and occasionally affecting rumination on the state of Egypt—its society, culture, history and politics—pegged to the maddening bureaucracy of the archive. Kapil Komireddi, WSJ, 12 Mar. 2023 Most books and essays published these days are too long: gummed up with adjectives and pointless asides, laden with prolix displays of expertise. Barton Swaim, WSJ, 19 Sep. 2022 There’s a hypnotic quality to this freewheeling central section, a sustained charge that falters in some of the more prolix passages around it. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Sep. 2022 Ames’s ruminations on the soul are prolix, philosophical, and profoundly sad. Hermione Lee, The New York Review of Books, 22 Oct. 2020 Why would any presenter be prolix and wear out their welcome with any audience? Jerry Weissman, Forbes, 23 Oct. 2021 Yet readers today are often deterred by Conrad’s convoluted, prolix style. The Economist, 2 Nov. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prolix.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French prolix, from Latin prolixus extended, from pro- forward + liquēre to be fluid — more at liquid

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of prolix was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near prolix

Cite this Entry

“Prolix.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prolix. Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: too long-winded or wordy
prolixity noun
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