Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Borrowed from Ancient Greek περιφραστικός (periphrastikós), from περίφρασις (períphrasis, periphrasis).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌpɛ.ɹɪˈfɹæ.stik/
    • (file)
  • (Canada) IPA(key): /ˌpɛ.ɹəˈfɹæ.stɪk/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌpɛ.ɹəˈfɹæ.stɪk/
  • Rhymes: -æstɪk


periphrastic (comparative more periphrastic, superlative most periphrastic)

  1. Expressed in more words than are necessary.
    • 1916, Martin Brown Ruud, An Essay Toward a History of Shakespeare in Norway[1]:
      As poetry it does not measure up to Aasen; as translation it is periphrastic, arbitrary, not at all faithful.
    • 1940, T. S. Eliot, East Coker:
      That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory/ A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion/ Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle / With words and meanings.
  2. Indirect in naming an entity; circumlocutory.
    • 1870, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Vril: The Power of the Coming Race[2]:
      In writing, they deem it irreverent to express the Supreme Being [and] in conversation they generally use a periphrastic epithet, such as the All-Good.
  3. (grammar) Characterized by periphrasis.
    “The daughter of the man” may be used as a periphrastic synonym for “the man’s daughter”.

Related terms[edit]