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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Even the verbiage around the trees is debated: Scientists call stands of juniper and pinyon forest, but the BLM refers to them as woodlands. Jennifer Oldham, National Geographic, "Forests on Utah’s public lands may soon be torn out. Here’s why.," 3 Sep. 2019 However, Arthur Smith, the new OC, has pledged to maintain the same offensive philosophy and verbiage that came from Smith’s predecessor, Matt LaFleur, who is now the head coach in Green Bay. oregonlive, "Fantasy Football 2019: Marcus Mariota among 10 sleepers at quarterback," 1 Sep. 2019 Last week, a technical glitch resulted in The Seattle Times sending out email alerts that contained filler text rather than the intended verbiage describing a news story. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "After Seattle Times alert flub inspires jokes on Reddit, Seattle musician creates hipster parody of ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’," 21 Aug. 2019 Curiously, this one was lacking any verbiage about women, discrimination, and harassment. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Inside the AIA’s efforts to address #MeToo," 5 Aug. 2019 The Trojans’ entire system, once cumbersome and complex, would be streamlined and stripped of any unnecessary verbiage or concepts. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "A new, simpler offense gives USC hope it can rebound from 2018," 1 Aug. 2019 Helter Skelter,’ in Manson’s verbiage, was the pending race war that would see thousands dieand force the Family disappear to underground caves. Angela Serratore, Smithsonian, "What You Need to Know About the Manson Family Murders," 25 July 2019 And if nothing else, Mr. Lithgow has created a memorable Donald Trump: sputtering, indignant, blasting out rivers of verbiage in the hope of sailing away on them to safety. James Poniewozik, New York Times, "Review: ‘The Investigation’ Makes the Mueller Report a Dark-Comic Indictment," 25 June 2019 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

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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about verbiage

Listen to Our Podcast about verbiage

Statistics for verbiage

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for verbiage

The first known use of verbiage was circa 1721

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on verbiage

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for verbiage

Comments on verbiage

What made you want to look up verbiage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

concealment of treason or felony

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!