purple prose

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Derived from a reference by the Roman poet Horace.[1]


  • (file)



“It was a dark and stormy night, the rain fell in torrents– [] [2]

purple prose (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) Extravagant or flowery writing, especially in a literary work.
    • 1932, Harry T. Baker, "Hazlitt as a Shakespearean Critic," PMLA, vol. 47, no. 1, p. 198:
      Swinburne is often a very discerning critic in spite of his penchant for purple prose.
    • 1960 Oct. 24, "Book of Lamentations" (Review of The Last of the Just by André Schwarz-Bart), Time:
      His persecuted characters bleed purple prose, and he persistently confuses an assault on the nerves with a cry from the heart.
    • 1991, “Unbelievable”, in Schubert Dip, performed by EMF:
      The things, you say / Your purple prose just gives you away / The things, you say / You're unbelievable
    • 2004, Joan Huber, "Lenski Effects on Sex Stratification Theory," Sociological Theory, vol. 22, no. 2, p. 261:
      An antibiological bias . . . was stimulated by a flood of popular and scholarly books in the 1960s and 1970s (some awash in deep purple prose) saying that male domination was natural and inevitable.


Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Quintus Horatius Flaccus (c. 10–8 B.C.E.)A. S. Kline, transl., Ars poetica[1] (in Latin): “Onceptis grauibus plerumque et magna professis purpureus, late qui splendeat, unus et alter adsuitur pannus, [] [Weighty openings and grand declarations often have one or two purple patches tacked on, that gleam far and wide, [] ]”
  2. ^ Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1830) Paul Clifford, volume 1, page 1