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See more synonyms for periphrasis on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural pe·riph·ra·ses [puh-rif-ruh-seez] /pəˈrɪf rəˌsiz/.
  1. the use of an unnecessarily long or roundabout form of expression; circumlocution.
  2. an expression phrased in such fashion.
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Also per·i·phrase [per-uh-freyz] /ˈpɛr əˌfreɪz/.

Origin of periphrasis

1525–35; < Latin < Greek períphrasis. See peri-, phrase, -sis
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for periphrasis

Historical Examples

  • By this periphrasis Waverley readily apprehended his portmanteau was intended.


    Sir Walter Scott

  • As a periphrasis, the combination in other words is subdisjunctive.

  • The periphrasis is a metaphor, and thus has the same life-span as a metaphor.

  • As a periphrasis the combination in other words is subdisjunctive.

    The English Language

    Robert Gordon Latham

  • "Prop of sea-waves' fire," a periphrasis for a woman that bears gold on her arm.

British Dictionary definitions for periphrasis


noun plural -rases (-rəˌsiːz)
  1. a roundabout way of expressing something; circumlocution
  2. an expression of this kind
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Word Origin

C16: via Latin from Greek, from peri- + phrazein to declare
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 periphrasis


1530s, from Latin periphrasis "circumlocution," from Greek periphrasis, from periphrazein "speak in a roundabout way," from peri- "round about" (see peri-) + phrazein "to express" (see phrase (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper