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[puh-rif-ruh-sis] /pəˈrɪf rə sɪs/
noun, plural periphrases
[puh-rif-ruh-seez] /pəˈrɪf rəˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
the use of an unnecessarily long or roundabout form of expression; circumlocution.
an expression phrased in such fashion.
Also, periphrase
[per-uh-freyz] /ˈpɛr əˌfreɪz/ (Show IPA)
1525-35; < Latin < Greek períphrasis. See peri-, phrase, -sis Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for periphrasis


noun (pl) -rases (-rəˌsiːz)
a roundabout way of expressing something; circumlocution
an expression of this kind
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek, from peri- + phrazein to declare
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for periphrasis

1530s, from Latin periphrasis "circumlocution," from Greek periphrasis, from periphrazein "speak in a roundabout way," from peri- "round about" (see peri-) + phrazein "to express" (see phrase (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for periphrasis


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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