ver·​biage | \ ˈvər-bē-ij How to pronounce verbiage (audio) also -bij How to pronounce verbiage (audio) \

Definition of verbiage

1 : a profusion of words usually of little or obscure content such a tangled maze of evasive verbiage as a typical party platform— Marcia Davenport
2 : manner of expressing oneself in words : diction sportswriters guarded their verbiage so jealously— R. A. Sokolov

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Verbiage descends from French verbier, meaning "to trill" or "to warble." The usual sense of the word implies an overabundance of possibly unnecessary words, much like the word wordiness. In other words, a writer with a fondness for verbiage might be accused of "wordiness." Some people think the phrase "excess verbiage" is redundant, but that's not necessarily true. Verbiage has a second sense meaning, simply, "wording," with no suggestion of excess. This second definition has sometimes been treated as an error by people who insist that verbiage must always imply excessiveness, but that sense is well-established and can be considered standard.

Examples of verbiage in a Sentence

NOT the least of the many trials inflicted upon the Boston Red Sox has been a torrent of verbiage. Surely no team in recent memory has been so scrutinized, complained about and then elegized. — Charles McGrath, New York Times Book Review, 13 Aug. 2006 Fashionable courtiers in the Renaissance adopted the doublet.  … The cotton padding of this jacket, called bombast (the source of the term for inflated verbiage), was gradually increased to give courtiers the pumped-up look. — John Tierney, New York Times, 21 Jan. 1999 To find the height of arcane verbiage look no farther than Rule 10 of the rules governing Major League Baseball, in what is known as the Blue Book. The corresponding entry explains the waivers system—the procedures that pertain to certain player transactions—in a way that makes the Magna Carta look like part of the Jackie Collins oeuvre. — Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, 25 Aug. 1997 Sure, some contract verbiage is so objectionable, it can be considered against public policy; in fact, the most arduous hold-harmless clauses would probably be thrown out of court. — Leon H. Ciesla, Plane & Pilot, March 1995 Is word processing truly the wonder it seems or will it turn out to be but a mere exercise in verbose verbiage? — Erik Sandberg-Diment, New York Times, 26 June 1984 The editor removed some of the excess verbiage from the article. teachers loathe the verbiage that students resort to in order to pad a paper
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Recent Examples on the Web In the cannabis industry and nonprofit management alike, the more open conversations and opportunities to develop proper verbiage and enthusiasm among organization representatives, the better. Scott Dolan, Forbes, 6 Dec. 2021 Hoyer touted the importance of using the same verbiage, teachings and training between the minors and majors to help hitters continue their development once they get called up. Meghan Montemurro,, 10 Nov. 2021 Great acting doesn't always require verbiage to deliver the impact of the scene. Stephanie Tharpe, Forbes, 12 Nov. 2021 Under first-year coordinator Joe Lombardi, the Chargers are running a new offense, one that can include elaborate verbiage and require the quarterback to be a quick processor. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, 6 Nov. 2021 Not only defensively but offensively to just trying to get up to speed with some of the play calls, some of the verbiage that’s different now with a different staff on both sides of the floor. oregonlive, 3 Oct. 2021 By now a lot of our pandemic verbiage has been misconstrued. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 8 Oct. 2021 All attendees seemed enthusiastic about learning more and contributing new knowledge, as well as offering input regarding verbiage for the historic marker. Susan Degrane,, 3 Oct. 2021 For students drowning in recondite texts about feminism, media and Marxism, Kruger’s work cut through the theoretical verbiage with razor-sharp epigrams. Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2021

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

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First Known Use of verbiage

circa 1721, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for verbiage

borrowed from French, from verbier "to trill, warble" (going back to Middle French verboier "to twitter," altered from Middle French dialect (Picard) verbloier, guerbloier, derivative of werbler "to sing expressively, trill") + -age -age — more at warble entry 1

Note: The meaning of French verbiage clearly shows the associative influence of verbe "word, verb" and its derivatives.

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The first known use of verbiage was circa 1721

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Verbiage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of verbiage

: speech or writing that contains too many words or that uses words that are more difficult than necessary


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