Verbosity

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Origin

Latin verbosus, from verbum (see Verb)

Definitions

  • 1: containing more words than necessary : wordy <a verbose reply>; also : impaired by wordiness <a verbose style>
  • 2: given to wordiness <a verbose orator>

Description

Verbosity (also called wordiness, prolixity, grandiloquence, garrulousness and logorrhea, informally verbal diarrhea) refers to speech or writing which is deemed to use an excess of words. Adjectival forms are verbose, wordy, prolix and garrulous. Examples are the expressions "in the vicinity of" (which can be replaced with "near") and "in order to" (which can be replaced with "to"). The opposites of verbosity are plain language (or plain English) and laconism.

William Strunk wrote about the balance between being clear and being concise in 1918. He advised "Use the active voice: Put statements in positive form; Omit needless words."

Mark Twain (1835–1910) wrote "generally, the fewer the words that fully communicate or evoke the intended ideas and feelings, the more effective the communication."

Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961), the 1954 Nobel prizewinner for literature, defended his concise style against a charge by William Faulkner that he "had never been known to use a word that might send the reader to the dictionary." Hemingway responded by saying, "Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use."[5]

Blaise Pascal wrote in 1657, "I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter."[6]

Julius Caesar, Roman general (100 BC – 44 BC) spoke concisely of one of his military successes: Veni, Vidi, Vici, that is, "I came, I saw, I conquered].[1]