noun (plural periphrases /-ˌsēz/)
1The use of indirect and circumlocutory speech or writing.
- In order to refer to the activity denoted by the F-word, it is necessary to engage in circumlocution or periphrasis.
- When Johnson refers to his mind as ‘Summus… celsa dominator [in] arce ’, the elaborate periphrasis mockingly dramatizes the blustery ‘empty force’ of his mind's pretensions.
- The parodic cupid's dart is described with the maximum of periphrasis compatible with not actually disguising what the organ is, ‘a piece of flesh, the characteristic part of a barrow-pig’.
1.1An indirect and circumlocutory phrase.
- Her dread is so great that at the end of her progress she does not even allow his name to pass her lips and uses periphrases to talk of him.
- His deliberate translationese, his consciously awkward periphrases, and yes, his fart jokes suggest that all language, or all poetry, might be as artificial and arbitrary as his own: why not redo ‘Where are the snows of yesteryear?’
- Homeric glosses, along with scholarly neologisms and obscure periphrases, are prominent in his poetry.
Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek, from periphrazein, from peri- 'around' + phrazein 'declare'.
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