Definitions

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

  • adj. Having the nature of or characterized by periphrasis.
  • adj. Grammar Constructed by using an auxiliary word rather than an inflected form; for example, of father is the periphrastic possessive case of father but father's is the inflected possessive case, and did say is the periphrastic past tense of say but said is the inflected past tense.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Expressed in more words than are necessary.
  • adj. Indirect in naming an entity; circumlocutory.
  • adj. Characterized by periphrase or circumlocution.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Expressing, or expressed, in more words than are necessary; characterized by periphrase; circumlocutory.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having the character of or characterized by periphrasis; circumlocutory; expressing or expressed in more words than are necessary.

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

  • adj. roundabout and unnecessarily wordy

Etymologies

From Ancient Greek περίφρασις (periphrasis). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I almost said "periphrastic" -- ways of putting simple thoughts into words.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol III No 3

  • Lude, commemorated in the ingenious Mr. Gunn's Essay on the Caledonian Harp, and so proceed in my story with all the brevity that my natural style of composition, partaking of what scholars call the periphrastic and ambagitory, and the vulgar the circumbendibus, will permit me.

    The Waverley

  • But without further tyranny over my readers, or display of the extent of my own reading, I shall content myself with borrowing a single incident from the memorable hunting at Lude, commemorated in the ingenious Mr. Gunn's essay on the Caledonian Harp, and so proceed in my story with all the brevity that my natural style of composition, partaking of what scholars call the periphrastic and ambagitory, and the vulgar the circumbendibus, will permit me.

    Waverley — Volume 1

  • But without further tyranny over my readers, or display of the extent of my own reading, I shall content myself with borrowing a single incident from the memorable hunting at Lude, commemorated in the ingenious Mr. Gunn's Essay on the Caledonian Harp, and so proceed in my story with all the brevity that my natural style of composition, partaking of what scholars call the periphrastic and ambagitory, and the vulgar the circumbendibus, will permit me.

    Waverley: or, 'Tis sixty years since

  • Embedded in a clause, with regard to and its brethren are increasingly overworked, leading to a weak and periphrastic style.

    With regard to ‘regarding’

  • In the sentence “Where can I get scrod?”, the cabbie is apparently taking “get scrod” as the periphrastic passive voice of “screw”.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » More on Information About Prostitution

  • Yet, just as the periphrastic construction of de gustibus non disputandum est suggests both in Latin and Kant's

    Contention and Contestation: Aesthetic Culture in Kant and Bourdieu

  • Nevertheless, the language has adapted other periphrastic ways of expressing the idea that is put across in other languages by a subjunctive.

    2 posts from March 2008

  • If, as I guess, you're going for "I don't want you here, go away", I suggest using a passive periphrastic: "sed non hic manendus es."

    Making Light: Open thread 135

  • If this oration appear rather long for the occasion, the reader must recollect that Captain MacTurk had in all probability the trouble of translating it from the periphrastic language of Ossian, in which it was originally conceived in his own mind.

    Saint Ronan's Well

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Comments

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  • "Latin, which you had anticipated would be a breeze, had been especially difficult.... Why, you thought in your head, was the subjunctive so darn hard? Why hadn't you ever heard of the passive periphrastic?"
    —Brian David Mooney, "SPQR," The Cincinnati Review, 6.1 (Summer 2009)

    July 22, 2009

  • This word means overly wordy? It should be our new motto.

    BTW, I think this is like the 4th or 5th word I've suggested as our motto. If I could find them all, I would make a list.

    October 28, 2007

  • wordy!

    October 28, 2007