Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The use of circumlocution.
  • n. A circumlocution.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The use of a longer expression instead of a shorter one with a similar meaning, for example "I am going to" instead of "I will".
  • n. Expressing a grammatical meaning (such as a tense) using a syntactic construction rather than morphological marking.
  • n. The substitution of a descriptive word or phrase for a proper name (a species of circumlocution)
  • n. The use of a proper name as a shorthand to stand for qualities associated with it.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See periphrase.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A roundabout way of speaking; a roundabout phrase or expression; the use of more words than are necessary to express the idea; a phrase employed to avoid a common and trite manner of expression; circumlocution.
  • n. Synonyms Circumlocution, etc. See pleonasm.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a style that involves indirect ways of expressing things

Etymologies

Latin, from Greek, from periphrazein, to express periphrastically : peri-, peri- + phrazein, to say; see gwhren- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The distinction had to be explained with much periphrasis, because the Arabic word 'Câtil' means a slayer, and is given indiscriminately to all who kill.

    Oriental Encounters Palestine and Syria, 1894-6

  • Now this manner of speaking is called a periphrasis, viz., when one embraces two things in one statement [2202].

    NPNF2-09. Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus

  • From this paragraph I conclude, though not without some perplexity, that by 'the body and blood verily and indeed taken,' we are not to understand body and blood in their limited sense, as contradistinguished from the soul or Godhead of Christ, but as a 'periphrasis' for Christ himself, or at least Christ's humanity.

    The Literary Remains of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  • I have often heard it repeated as an observation of sagacity and experience, that when one friend has a piece of disagreeable intelligence to disclose to another, it is better to describe it directly, and in simple terms, than to introduce it with that kind of periphrasis and circumlocution, which oftener tends to excite a vague and impatient horror in the reader, than to prepare him to bear his misfortune with decency and fortitude.

    Italian Letters, Vols. I and II The History of the Count de St. Julian

  • P.S. Don't forget to send by Milton my old clothes and linen that once was clean -- a pretty "periphrasis" that! [

    Biographia Epistolaris, Volume 1.

  • I would point here specifically to Longinus's later comments on periphrasis, "with its odour of empty talk and its swelling amplitude."

    On the Sublime

  • Which is not the same, although a close periphrasis.

    Well, at least Helen Thomas…

  • Para-puh-lease, but this periphrasis was most beneficial to my lexicon.

    ParaMonday « Fairegarden

  • Horace's Epicuri de grege, but let none add to it the sad spondee which ends the hemistich, "is more unsettling, since it mainly seems devoted to playing, through negation and elaborate periphrasis, with the possibility of referring to its subject as" an

    Economies of Excess in Brillat-Savarin, Balzac, and Baudelaire

  • What a number of different ideas are by this means wrapped up in one short sound, and how much of our time and breath is thereby saved, any one will see, who will but take the pains to enumerate all the ideas that either reprieve or appeal stand for; and instead of either of those names, use a periphrasis, to make any one understand their meaning.

    An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Comments

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  • "as the animals grow tired of our zen mistakes—
    sitting Indian-style in airliner seats
    that have washed up on the shore,
    calling the snake a rope and the rope a belt—
    initiates of a time periphrasis so elaborate
    that even Virgil gets a little cross"
    from Postpoem by Rick Snyder, in Escape from Combray, p 9

    October 7, 2010

  • the Greek cousin of circumlocution

    December 13, 2006