Grammar 6 min read

What is Verbiage? Definition and Sample Sentences

Main Verbiage Takeaways:

  • Verbiage is a noun with a negative connotation. It’s another word for excessive wordiness.
  • This word often appears with the word excessive (“excessive verbiage“).
  • Verbiage is the opposite of conciseness.
  • When someone uses overly complicated words and phrases but doesn’t actually say much, that person uses a lot of verbiage.
  • Verbiage is correct. Conversely, verbage is incorrect.
  • Synonyms include circumlocution, pleonasm, verbosity, and long-windedness.

Sometimes it can be hard to find the right words; sometimes, you find too many. In the second instance, you might be guilty of verbiage. In this guide, we’ll explore the word verbiage — and we’ll tackle a common misspelling of the term. By the time you reach the end of this article, you’ll be a bona fide prolixity buff.

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A curly-haired young man holding a long piece of paper. He looks confuse while reading its content.
Verbiage is the opposite of conciseness in writing. Verbiage occurs when a writer uses an excessive amount of technical words or overly complex phrases.

What is Verbiage in Writing?

Verbiage in writing means an excessive amount of technical words or overly complex phrasing. In this way, verbiage and conciseness are opposites. Verbiage can also mean expressive lingo or jargon. Or, refer to a person’s style of speaking. For example, purple prose is a type of verbiage. For logical arguments, there are four types of verbiage: Discount, Repetition, Assurances, and Hedge.

Cut all unnecessary verbiage out of your news editorial for the March edition, please.
Why do you insist on always using so much unnecessary verbiage! Speak plainly, for once!
Civil language swiftly descended into offensive verbiage.
Need an example of verbiage in action? Look no further than the filibuster.
We can trace the origins of the word verbiage back to werbler, which means “to trill” or “to twitter” in Old French. Werbler later morphed into the Middle French word verbier, which then became verbiage.

Is Verbiage Singular or Plural?

The plural form of the word “verbiage” should also be “verbiage” in the most commonly used context. That’s because native English speakers and writers use the word “verbiage” as a mass noun — or an uncountable noun. As such, it lacks a plural in ordinary usage and is not used with the indefinite article. 

Similar examples of uncountable nouns include music, information, power, and water. So, saying “news stories about technology are full of verbiage” makes as much sense as “news stories about technology are often full of informations.”

With that said, the plural form of “verbiage” can also be verbiages in a more specific context. For example, you can use the plural form in reference to “various types of verbiages” or “a collection of verbiages.”

How Do I Use Verbiage in a Sentence?

Here are examples of how to use verbiage in a sentence:

Carl decided to view the text event log, and he found its verbiage interesting.
Open up your thesaurus, and you’ll find a list of synonyms for verbiage.
He tried to remember the verbiage in the window installation instructions.
News stories about technology are often full of verbiage.

How to Pronounce Verbiage

In American English: VER-bee-edge

  1. VER – as in “vermin.” The emphasis goes on this first syllable.
  2. bee – as in the insect, or “honey bee“.
  3. edge – as in “the edge of a cliff

In British English: Vuh-BEE-uhj

  1. Vuh – as in “love.” The emphasis goes on this first syllable.
  2. bee- as in the insect, or “honey bee“.
  3. uhj – like a softer “edge” as in “message
A man's head. He appears to be talking nonsense.
Excessive verbiage may sound nice, but the information is unnecessary.

What is Excessive Verbiage?

Excessive verbiage is a word, phrase, or statement that adds nothing to your argument. It may sound nice or appropriate but the information is actually superfluous. Always aim to eliminate excess verbiage to be as concise as possible. This helps make your argument clear, and in turn, easier for your audience to follow and consider.

What is an Example of Verbiage?

Verbose writers use a lot of text to describe simple things. Some authors get away with verbiage: William Shakespeare, for example, wrote notoriously wordy plays. Take this quotation, for example, where Polonius tells his daughter Ophelia to stop seeing Hamlet:

“I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,

Have you so slander any moment leisure,

As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.”

Unless you’re The Bard of Avon, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Is Verbage a Word?

Verbage is a word, but it is not a standard word with clear origins. For example, verbage is probably a portmanteau, or a mashup, of verbiage and garbage. It may appear as a rare alternative spelling for verbiage. Or, some may mistakenly use verbiage and verbage interchangeably. Nevertheless, both words have similar meanings as well as negative connotations. However, verbiage is the most correct version.

She read the science quiz text but didn’t understand all the technical verbage.
“I want to play soccer, not study verbage!” said Ralph to his English teacher.

What is Correct: Verbage or Verbiage?

Verbiage is the correct word, not verbage. Both words refer to the excessive use of unnecessary words or complicated phrasing. Both words carry negative connotations. However, verbiage is the most correct spelling while verbage is a non-standard word that is probably a fusion of verbiage and garbage.

The word verbiage is a noun rather than a verb.
“Less verbage and more news this March, please,” said David.
The verbage on this form is confusing me.
In the right context, technical verbiage can enhance understanding.
Filled with irritating euphemisms, connotation and verbiage, the text annoyed him.
Verbiage refers to the excessive use of words or technical expressions. An image of a seemingly disappointed professor reading through his student's coursework assignment.
Eliminating verbiage can make your content clearer and easier to follow.

What is an Antonym for Verbiage?

Words that are opposite in meaning to verbiage are conciseness, directness, terseness, plainness, and straightforwardness. Other antonyms include: 

  • Brevity
  • Briefness
  • Compactness
  • Crispness
  • Pithiness
  • Succinctness
  • Terseness 
  • Compression

What is Another Word for Verbiage?

Another word for verbiage is verbosity. Other synonyms for the word verbiage include circumlocution, expansiveness, long-windedness, floridity, loquacity, periphrasis, pleonasm, and prolixity.

Here are examples that use verbiage synonyms:

“I think he might be practicing for the circumlocution championships,” said Dad, noting Charlie’s long-windedness.
She thought pleonasm made her writing sound more intelligent, but readers actually found her paper interminable.
When she didn’t return his call, he wondered what it meant. Had his wordiness put her off him?
“That’s not poetry — that’s just mindless verbosity!” she exclaimed.
The floridity of Hemingway’s language inspired both praise and criticism.

Now you know the definition of the word verbiage, and you’re familiar with all its most common synonyms. You know why it’s important to avoid excessive wordage and when to use appropriate technical jargon. Great! Go forth and conquer the writing world, verbiage whiz!

Take This Quiz to Know how Well you Know Verbiage

Verbiage Means Question #1

Which of these statements is TRUE about “verbiage”?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is D. “Verbiage” is a profusion of words. But it can also mean expressive lingo or jargon.

Verbiage Question #2

Which of these is NOT a synonym for “verbiage”?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. “Verbage” and “verbiage” don't have the same meaning. “Verbage” is most likely a fusion of verbiage and garbage.

Verbiage Definition Question #3

Which of the following is not a type of verbiage?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. For logical arguments, there are four types of verbiage: Discount, Repetition, Assurances, and Hedge.

Verbiage Question #4

Using excess verbiage in a writing can help make your argument clear.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is FALSE. Excessive verbiage consists of words, phrases, or statements that add nothing to your argument.

Define Verbiage Question #5

“Circumlocution” is another word for “verbiage.”
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is TRUE. Circumlocution means the use of many words when few would do.

Verbiage Quiz Result
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Pam Weber

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, Writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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