Word of the Day : September 18, 2015

circumlocution

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noun ser-kum-loh-KYOO-shun

Definition

1 : the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea

2 : evasion in speech

Did You Know?

In The King's English, grammarian H.W. Fowler advised, "Prefer the single word to the circumlocution." Alas, that good advice was not followed by the framers of "circumlocution." They actually used two terms in forming that word for unnecessarily verbose prose or speech. But their choices were apt; "circumlocution" derives from the Latin "circum-," meaning "around," and "locutio," meaning "speech" -- so it literally means "roundabout speech." Since the 15th century, English writers have used "circumlocution" with disdain, naming a thing to stop, or better yet, to avoid altogether. Charles Dickens even used it to satirize political runarounds when he created the fictional Circumlocution Office, a government department that delayed the dissemination of information and just about everything else.


Examples

Mr. Harvey was notorious for his tendency to engage in endless circumlocution when a simple, brief explanation would suffice.



Word Family Quiz

What word stems from Latin circum- and is synonymous with prudent _and _cautious? The answer is …


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