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A Word A Day — verbiage

Good morning, Netizens...

April 16, 2013

Word of the Day

  • verbiage
  • audio pronunciation
  • \VER-bee-ij\


: a profusion of words usually of little or obscure content
: manner of expressing oneself in words : diction

The newspaper editor said that he would have to reduce the verbiage of Earl's letter before he could publish it.

"With legislation being so protracted and containing so much confusing verbiage, is it any wonder that Congress's approval rating is currently around 15 percent?" — From an article by Richard F. (Buz) Williams in The Daily Courier (Prescott, Arizona), March 20, 2013


"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.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.