Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Ambiguity.
  • noun Winding ways or indirect proceedings.

from The Century Dictionary.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun especially in plural ambiguity; circumlocution

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

  • noun a style that involves indirect ways of expressing things

Etymologies

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

[Back-formation from Middle English ambages, equivocation, from Latin ambāges : amb-, ambi-, around; see ambi– + agere, to drive; see ag- in Indo-European roots.]

Examples

  • 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

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

    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

  • 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

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