Verbiage descends from Middle French verbier ("to chatter"), itself an offspring of "werbler," an Old French word meaning "to trill." The usual sense of the word implies an overabundance of possibly unnecessary words. It is similar to "wordiness," except that it stresses the superfluous words themselves more than the quality that produces them. 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. In the early 19th century, "verbiage" developed 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. 2006Fashionable 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. 1999To 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. 1997Sure, 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 1995Is 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
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.
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
The meaning of French verbiage clearly shows the associative influence of verbe "word, verb" and its derivatives.