Grammar 6 min read

Verbiage: What it is, how to Pronounce it, and how to Avoid it

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.
  • It refers to using a lot of words that are difficult to understand or phrasing that is unnecessarily complicated.
  • It also means expressive speech or technical jargon.
  • You can also use this word to refer to the way a person speaks.
  • 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.
She read the science quiz text but didn’t understand all the technical verbage.
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.
“I want to play soccer, not study verbage!” said Ralph to his English teacher.

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.

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.

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.

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 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
Expert!

Expert!

Not bad!

Not bad!

Almost got it! Review the article and try again.

Almost got it! Review the article and try again.

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Krista Grace Morris

Krista heads up Marketing and Content Creation here at INK. From Linguistics and History to puns and memes, she's interested in the systems we create to share our ideas with each other.

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