ver·​biage ˈvər-bē-ij How to pronounce verbiage (audio)
-bij How to pronounce verbiage (audio)
: a profusion of words usually of little or obscure content
such a tangled maze of evasive verbiage as a typical party platformMarcia Davenport
: manner of expressing oneself in words : diction
sportswriters guarded their verbiage so jealouslyR. 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.

Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web That rethinking begins with Blake McCarty’s ‘70s-style DayGlo color projections, which open the show with onscreen translations of some of the show’s religious verbiage — Redeemer, Savior, Christ — as a nod to the non-Bible-reading secular audience. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 May 2023 That’s eye-rolling verbiage to the 99% of us looking for a fast, comforting pick-me-up. Sam Alden, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2023 He’s worked tirelessly to learn the offense, to learn the verbiage, to learn his teammates, to improve on the field. John Reid, USA TODAY, 17 June 2021 This bill didn’t have a whole lot of verbiage. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 18 Feb. 2023 Henderson is keeping the same system and verbiage. Kent Somers, The Arizona Republic, 3 Aug. 2022 Some nuances, but same terminology, verbiage. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, 18 Feb. 2022 Michael Gallup inspires his own verbiage. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, 10 Aug. 2021 The group developed their own verbiage. Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, 15 Feb. 2021 See More

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

Word History


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.

First Known Use

circa 1721, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of verbiage was circa 1721


Dictionary Entries Near verbiage

Cite this Entry

“Verbiage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


: many words and especially many hard words used to say very little
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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