It is derived from a Greek word Periphrazein which means to express short expression of writing into many or very long words. It is known as circumlocution. It is very often the result of slack thinking but it may be used deliberately-usually for comic effect, especially in the depiction of character.
It was first used in 1533.
Example of Periphrases
When we choose a long description of something instead of concluding in short term, it is called periphrases.
- Her olfactory system was suffering from a temporary inconvenience.
The above sentence can be simply expressed as “her nose was blocked”.
- “More intelligent” instead of “smarter”
- “Sister of mother” instead of “aunt”
- “got 1st position” instead of “Topper”
- “Law graduate” instead of “Lawyer”
Use of Periphrases in Literature
“The King has bet that you will defeat Laertes in a fencing battle,” Osric goes on and on about how nice and great Laertes is throughout which Hamlet says things like “And what’s the point, sir? Why are we talking about him like this?” and “What is the significance of referring to this individual?”
“Hamlet” by Shakespeare Osric uses periphrasis while trying to avoid telling Hamlet about how the King bet that he could beat Laertes in a fencing match.
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