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


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.