verbiage

noun
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

The team doctors do not give the verbiage to reporters; the team makes that call. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Three big questions the day after Kevin Durant’s Achilles injury," 11 June 2019 As the torrent of verbiage washed over the hearing room, fellow Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy could only glower at Biden in impotent frustration. Andrew Cockburn, Harper's magazine, "No Joe!," 10 June 2019 The plans devote a lot of verbiage to talking about the magical properties of government procurement — that is, using the deep pockets of the government to purchase more energy-efficient products. Catherine Rampell, The Denver Post, "Rampell: Everyone’s got a climate plan, but where’s the carbon tax?," 9 June 2019 Great thickets of verbiage tumble forth as Virgil Abloh thinks out loud in long, run-on sentences—often doubling back to critique himself or to add further thoughts or rephrase. Jonathan Van Meter, Vogue, "“My Job Is To Be a Spirit Leader”: Behind the Scenes with Virgil Abloh," 14 May 2019 Zab Johnson, a professor of visual marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school, told me she was similarly confused by the campaign’s verbiage. Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "From Dove to Bumble, more companies are enlisting “real people” to market their products.," 18 Oct. 2018 Chamoiseau’s descriptions of the forest — beautifully translated from French and Creole by Linda Coverdale — are exhilarating, but the old man never quite comes into focus against the background of foliage and verbiage. New York Times, "Fleeing a Caribbean Plantation Into a Mythic Wilderness," 27 June 2018 Their ceremonies were vastly different, while the verbiage of their vows stayed almost identical. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan and Harry's First Photos as Newlyweds Compared to Kate and William's," 20 May 2018 The ensuing three messages, each of which used similar verbiage to the May 5 message, came from the same number. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "He got busted for bomb threats to a mosque, prosecutors say, partially by caller ID | Miami Herald," 16 May 2018

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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Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for verbiage

The first known use of verbiage was circa 1721

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More Definitions for verbiage

verbiage

noun

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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