• It means talking around a subject without actually making the point.
  • First, the “official” definition: according to my Dictionary widget, circumlocution is “the use of many words where fewer would do, esp. in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive.” Now for my take: circumlocution is an *extremely* helpful technique when learning a new language. Often when speaking a new language, you will come to a point where you know what you want to say but just don’t have the vocabulary for it. Example: you go into a store in a foreign country, needing to buy a backpack. You don’t know the word for backpack, so you tell the employee: “I’m looking for… I’m sorry, I don’t know the word, but it’s a kind of bag that children use to put their books in when they’re going to school…?” The employee, who does know the language, responds, “Oh, a backpack? Sure. They’re on aisle three” (or whatever). The two years I lived in Spain, circumlocution served me very well. :-)
  • Circumlocution (also called periphrasis, circumduction, circumvolution, periphrase, or ambage) is an ambiguous or roundabout figure of speech. In its most basic form, circumlocution is using many words (such as "a tool used for cutting things such as paper and hair") to describe something simple ("scissors").
  • The practice of talking around a subject as a means of topic avoidance. The compound word is nearly a direct latin derivative... really, it is just a fancy way of saying "B.S'ing" :)

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