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circumlocution

[sur-kuh m-loh-kyoo-shuh n]
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noun
  1. a roundabout or indirect way of speaking; the use of more words than necessary to express an idea.
  2. a roundabout expression.
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Origin of circumlocution

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin circumlocūtiōn- (stem of circumlocūtiō). See circum-, locution
Related formscir·cum·loc·u·to·ry [sur-kuh m-lok-yuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˌsɜr kəmˈlɒk yəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, cir·cum·lo·cu·tion·al, cir·cum·lo·cu·tion·ar·y, adjectiveun·cir·cum·loc·u·to·ry, adjective

Synonyms

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1. rambling, meandering, verbosity, prolixity.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for circumlocution

Historical Examples

  • All this is true, but the Circumlocution Office went beyond it.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • Sometimes, angry spirits attacked the Circumlocution Office.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • The Barnacle family had for some time helped to administer the Circumlocution Office.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • I am glad to see you again, and in a healthier place than the Circumlocution Office.'

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • You are the levers of the Circumlocution Office, and the rulers of men.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens


British Dictionary definitions for circumlocution

circumlocution

noun
  1. an indirect way of expressing something
  2. an indirect expression
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Derived Formscircumlocutory (ˌsɜːkəmˈlɒkjʊtərɪ, -trɪ), adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for circumlocution

n.

c.1400, from Latin circumlocutionem (nominative circumlocutio) "a speaking around" (the topic), from circum- "around" (see circum-) + locutionem (nominative locutio) "a speaking," noun of action from past participle stem of loqui "to speak" (see locution). A loan-translation of Greek periphrasis (see periphrasis).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

circumlocution in Culture

circumlocution

[(sur-kuhm-loh-kyooh-shuhn)]

Roundabout speech or writing: “The driveway was not unlike that military training device known as an obstacle course” is a circumlocution for “The driveway resembled an obstacle course.” Circumlocution comes from Latin words meaning “speaking around.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.