Sally M (sallymn) wrote in 1word1day,
Sally M

Sunday Word: Verbiage

verbiage [vur-bee-ij]
1 Excessively lengthy or technical speech or writing; a profusion of words usually of little or obscure content
2 (US) the manner of expressing oneself in words; wording or diction


Evil creators Michelle and Robert King played a witty game this season, scrambling archaic Catholic doctrine with small-print psychotherapeutic verbiage (Darren Franich, Evil, the best show on network TV, wraps season 1 with a bleak twist, Entertainment, Jan 2020)

And as the elevator stopped at the next floor down to take on a pair of maids, he strolled over to the shaft, and without frills or verbiage consigned me and my detail to perdition. (Jack London, Moonface and other stories)

Yet despite the strangled verbiage, this volume deserves attention if only for its respectful treatment of a hot painter from the '80s who suddenly looks as if he's only going to get better with age. (Jonathan Lasker, 'Telling the Tales of Painting, About Abstraction at the End of the Millennium', Artforum International 1993)

Not the least of the many trials inflicted upon the Boston Red Sox has been a torrent of verbiage. Surely no team in recent memory has been so scrutinized, complained about and then elegized. (Charles McGrath, The Boston Red Suits, The New York Times, 2006)


'abundance of words,' 1721, from French verbiage 'wordiness' (17c.), from Middle French verbier 'to chatter,' from Old French verbe 'word,' from Latin verbum 'word' (Online Eymology Dictionary)

Verbiage descends from Middle French verbier ('to chatter'), itself an offspring of 'werbler,' an Old French word meaning 'to trill.' The usual sense of the word implies an overabundance of possibly unnecessary words. It is similar to 'wordiness,' except that it stresses the superfluous words themselves more than the quality that produces them. In other words, a writer with a fondness for 'verbiage' might be accused of 'wordiness.' Some people think the phrase 'excess verbiage' is redundant, but that's not necessarily true. In the early 19th century, 'verbiage' developed a second sense meaning, simply, 'wording,' with no suggestion of excess. This second definition has sometimes been treated as an error by people who insist that 'verbiage' must always imply excessiveness, but that sense is well-established and can be considered standard. (Merriam-Webster)

Tags: latin, noun, old french, v, wordsmith: sallymn

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