Definitions

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

  • n. Archaic Ambiguity. Often used in the plural.
  • n. Archaic Winding ways or indirect proceedings.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. ambiguity; circumlocution

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A winding or roundabout way; hence
  • n. Circumlocution; equivocation; obscurity or ambiguity of speech.
  • n. Circuitous or devious ways; secret acts.

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

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

Etymologies

Back-formation from Middle English ambages, equivocation, from Latin ambāges : amb-, ambi-, around; see ambi- + agere, to drive; see ag- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • [Sidenote: _Periphrasis_, or the Figure of ambage.]

    The Arte of English Poesie

  • And ye shall know that we may dissemble, I meane speake otherwise then we thinke, in earnest as well as in sport, vnder couert and darke termes, and in learned and apparant speaches, in short sentences, and by long ambage and circumstance of wordes, and finally aswell when we lye as when we tell truth.

    The Arte of English Poesie

  • Its origin is involved in obscurity: but may it not be a corruption of the Latin _ambages_, or the singular ablative _ambage_? which signifies _quibbling, subterfuge_, and that kind of conduct which is generally supposed to constitute _humbug_.

    Notes and Queries, Number 194, July 16, 1853 A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc

  • Ea ambage Chalcedonii monstrabantur quod priores illuc advecti, praevisa locorum utilitate pejora legissent

    History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire — Volume 2

  • Another cause is, for that it is briefer & more compendious, and easier to beare away and be retained in memorie, then that which is contained in multitude of words and full of tedious ambage and long periods.

    The Arte of English Poesie

  • And ye shall know that we may dissemble, I meane speake otherwise then we thinke, in earnest aswell as in sport, vnder couert and darke termes, and in learned and apparant speaches, in short sentences, and by long ambage and circumstance of wordes, and finally aswell when we lye as when we tell truth.

    The Arte of English Poesie

  • Ea ambage Chalcedonii monstrabantur quod priores illuc advecti, praevisa locorum utilitate pejora legissent Tacit.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • & more compendious, and easier to beare away and be retained in memorie, then that which is contained in multitude of words and full of tedious ambage and long periods.

    The Arte of English Poesie

  • Intending to describe the spring of the yeare, which euery man knoweth of himselfe, hearing the day of March named: the verses be very good the figure nought worth, if it were meant in Periphrase for the matter, that is the season of the yeare which should haue bene couertly disclosed by ambage, was by and by blabbed out by naming the day of the moneth, & so the purpose of the figure disapointed, peraduenture it had bin better to haue said thus:

    The Arte of English Poesie

  • ‘Obscurum verborum ambage novorum’ is rendered by Clarke, ‘Darkened with a long rabble of new words.’]

    The Metamorphoses of Ovid Literally Translated into English Prose, with Copious Notes and Explanations

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