Circumlocution Definition, Examples, and Best Practice

30 June 2023 / Team Fun English Course

Circumlocution definition is actually quite simple, and so does the application. However, you can think of it as a double-edged sword. It means, applying circumlocution correctly will surely be a great practice, and vice versa.

What is the meaning of circumlocution and how to use it correctly? This article explains all of it.

Circumlocution Definition and Examples

Circumlocution Definition and Examples

First thing first, how to pronounce circumlocution?

Circumlocution is pronounced as sirkuhmlowkyooshen. It derives from the Latin word circum and locutio, which means ‘around’ and ‘speech’. Together, they are literally translated as ’roundabout speech’.

That phrase portrays the descriptive definition of circumlocution; a way to say something indirectly, or without saying the actual words. Moreover, you can also think of it as the use of too many words to describe something. 

Though similar, circumlocution is slightly different than pleonasm, which means the use of redundant words. It also differs from tautology, which is an attempt to use the same word within a sentence.

Circumlocution Examples and Purposes

There are various purposes lies behind the practice of circumlocution, and it can be both a good and bad thing. Here is a detailed explanation of each of them;

Purpose #1. Circumlocution to Portray Remarkable Images or Ideas

In this case, you can use circumlocution as a way to better describe a certain image, object, or idea. That way, you will be able to lead the attention of your partner to the details of the image, instead of the image itself. Here is an example;

  • This wedding dress is perfection. A beautiful and intricately crafted garment, made with delicate fabrics and magnificent embellishment, is all but a way to keep up the task to accompany me to begin my lifelong journey. This will surely be the symbol of the union of two people on a path of love and companionship.

Purpose #2. Circumlocution to Generate Ambiguity

Sometimes, some people think the best way to describe something is by being fuzzy. There are various reasons as why people do it, such as protecting the feeling of others or simply just wanting to blur the truth. Take a look at this example;

  • I am not saying I am hiding pocket money. It is simply an attempt to reserve a small penny of my own, a modest stash that provides flexibility in unforeseen situations which also gives me financial autonomy, ensuring I can readily address needs without relying solely on external resources.

Purpose #3. Circumlocution to Avoid The Topic

This type of circumlocution is used to steer clear of the subjects entirely and redirect them to a different one. Here is a person losing his/her mother’s heirloom as an example;

  • In this conversation, I think it is best to focus on the precious memories we shared with our beloved mother, rather than dwelling on the details of specific belongings. Her spirit will surely reside within our hearts, and it is there that we find solace and strength amidst the ups and downs of life.

Should You Practice Circumlocution?

Circumlocution definition and examples

As stated said above, circumlocution can either be a positive or negative thing to learn. If you use it in the correct way and time, it will boost the quality of your speaking and writing. Moreover, it can also make communication more effective and more detailed.

Meanwhile, the improper use of circumlocution in a sentence will lead to various kinds of logical fallacies. If it is not used properly, you will also likely to seem unprofessional.

When it comes to mastering circumlocution, it is better to do it with friends, or even better, with tutors. That way, you will receive objective feedbacks that will not affect your professionalism or relationship.

Eager to know more than the circumlocution definition? Then come join us to learn English at Fun English Course. We house various programs for you to enroll in, and we will assist you until you achieve the desired goal. So, call us ASAP and see how practicing English can be more enjoyable than you think.

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