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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Did You Know?

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. 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 a Facebook post later Thursday afternoon, Huffman apologized for his verbiage. cleveland, "Ohio GOP state senator fired from ER doctor job after using racist language," 11 June 2020 Republic Records recently announced that the label is eliminating the word urban from its verbiage—a start toward progress, but there's still a long way to go. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "The Pop World Kept Putting Nija Charles in a Box. Then She Wrote ‘Rain on Me’," 9 June 2020 The congressman blamed the verbiage on the political Left, saying its heightened use targets Trump supporters and conservatives. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Ohio Republican hits back at Steve King over committee seat restoration claims," 13 May 2020 Dak was spitting verbiage, and Dez was remembering it. Calvin Watkins, Dallas News, "Is ex-Cowboy Dez Bryant ready to make his NFL comeback? The trainer of star wide receivers thinks so," 15 Apr. 2020 The restaurant’s name, Sum Dang Good Chinese, and questionable verbiage on the menu left some restaurant industry professionals cringing and calling it culturally insensitive and tone deaf. Claire Ballor, Dallas News, "Controversial Chinese restaurant opens in Trinity Groves," 2 Apr. 2020 What verbiage lay deep inside sponsorship contracts … were teams or races obligated to pay back revenue already collected for services that may never be rendered? Nathan Brown, Indianapolis Star, "Few answers, 500 questions. How the IndyCar paddock is making sense of losing four races.," 14 Mar. 2020 The verbiage about an eight-week time frame apparently was removed in the early hours of March 17. al, "Hangout Fest still on, ‘planning for multiple scenarios’," 24 Mar. 2020 Evil creators Michelle and Robert King played a witty game this season, scrambling archaic Catholic doctrine with small-print psychotherapeutic verbiage. Darren Franich,, "Evil, the best show on network TV, wraps season 1 with a bleak twist: Finale review," 31 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for verbiage

Time Traveler

The first known use of verbiage was circa 1721

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Statistics for verbiage

Last Updated

20 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Verbiage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for verbiage


How to pronounce verbiage (audio) How to pronounce verbiage (audio)

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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