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circumlocution (noun) a roundabout way of saying things.

When you say something in a roundabout way without being direct, you use circumlocution. For example, 'The inhabitants of vitreous residence should not use the petrified missile,' is the circumlocution for, 'Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.' When you indulge in circumlocution, you avoid referring to things directly, use scholarly expressions and long-winded sentences. Circumlocution makes things difficult to understand and can cause confusion too. 'The guardians of law' for the police, 'pillars of justice' for judges, 'temples of learning' for schools and colleges, etc., are some more examples of circumlocution. Used occasionally, and in the proper context, circumlocution lends variety to the style of writing and speaking, but frequent use of it can turn away the readers or the listeners. Circumlocution may be taken as one's desire to show off their scholarship.

  • With the professor, it is just the case of things being made difficult. His weakness for circumlocution makes him use roundabout expressions and lengthy sentences, which make things difficult and more complex.
  • Circumlocution is a very bad feature of the style of writing or speech. Where simple words and short sentences can deliver the meaning with telling effect, indulging in circumlocution can cause a communication gap.
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Last Modified : 11-May 2009
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