a roundabout or indirect way of speaking; the use of more words than necessary to express an idea.
a roundabout expression.

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin circumlocūtiōn- (stem of circumlocūtiō). See circum-, locution

circumlocutory [sur-kuhm-lok-yuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] , circumlocutional, circumlocutionary, adjective
uncircumlocutory, adjective

1. rambling, meandering, verbosity, prolixity. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
circumlocution (ˌsɜːkəmləˈkjuːʃən)
1.  an indirect way of expressing something
2.  an indirect expression

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1510, from L. circumlocutionem (a loan-translation of Gk. periphrasis) "speaking around" (the topic), from circum- "around" + locutionem (nom. locutio) "a speaking," from stem of loqui "to speak."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
circumlocution [(sur-kuhm-loh-kyooh-shuhn)]

Roundabout speech or writing: “The driveway was not unlike that military training device known as an obstacle course” is a circumlocution for “The driveway resembled an obstacle course.” Circumlocution comes from Latin words meaning “speaking around.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


the use of a longer phrasing in place of a possible shorter form of expression; a roundabout or indirect manner of writing or speaking. In literature periphrasis is sometimes used for comic effect, as illustrated by Charles Dickens in the speech of the character Wilkins Micawber, who appears in David Copperfield:"Under the impression," said Mr. Micawber, "that your peregrinations in this metropolis have not as yet been extensive, and that you might have some difficulty in penetrating the arcana of the Modern Babylon in the direction of the City Road-in short," said Mr. Micawber, in another burst of confidence, "that you might lose yourself-I shall be happy to call this evening, and instal you in the knowledge of the nearest way."

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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