from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The use of more words than are necessary to express the idea; a roundabout, or indirect, way of speaking; circumlocution.
  • v. To express by periphrase or circumlocution.
  • v. To use circumlocution.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The use of more words than are necessary to express the idea; a roundabout, or indirect, way of speaking; circumlocution.
  • intransitive v. To use circumlocution.
  • transitive v. To express by periphrase or circumlocution.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To express by periphrasis or circumlocution.
  • To use circumlocution.
  • n. Same as periphrasis.


From Latin periphrasis from Ancient Greek περίφρασις (periphrasis), from περιφράζομαι (periphrazomai, "I consider all sides of an issue"), from περί (peri, "around") + φράζω (phrazō, "I show, point out"). See phrase. (Wiktionary)


  • It is to be noted that the age of periphrase in verse was the age of crudities in prose.

    Les Miserables

  • Morris said: ‘My translation is a real one so far, not a mere periphrase of the original as _all_ the others are.’

    The Translations of Beowulf A Critical Bibliography

  • It was the beginning of March, and though Du Bartas, 1that classic ancestor of the periphrase, had not yet styled the sun “the Grand Duke of the Candles, ” his rays were none the less bright and cheerful.

    I. Showing the Danger of Confiding One’s Secret to a Goat. Book VII

  • In these matters a periphrase was demanded by the decorum of life, but, as he asked another question instead, it flashed through him that the doctor must be accustomed to the impatience of a sick man's relatives.

    Of Human Bondage

  • A writer who aims to be widely read to-day must perpetually halt, must perpetually hesitate at the words that arise in his mind; he must ask himself how many people will stick at this word altogether or miss the meaning it should carry; he must ransack his memory for a commonplace periphrase, an ingenious rearrangement of the familiar; he must omit or overaccentuate at every turn.

    Mankind in the Making

  • Then, mindful of the presence of the children, she proceeded by means of graceful periphrase and carefully studied generalizations to a presentation of Medora's mental and spiritual attributes.

    Under the Skylights

  • By some freak of fate she had for parents a plumber and a washerwoman -- "poor but very honest people," was Quentin's periphrase; their poverty of late considerably relieved by the thoughtful son-in-law, and their honesty perhaps fortified at the same time.

    Our Friend the Charlatan

  • Yes; it was the usual periphrase of these vulgar people.

    Charlotte's Inheritance

  • Leaving out the delicate and difficult periphrase by which her mother's shame would have to be explained to an innocent school-girl -- what right could he have assumed to tell it?

    A Ward of the Golden Gate

  • But her further questioning was met with a frank, amiable, and simple brevity that was as puzzling as the most artful periphrase of tact.

    By Shore and Sedge

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