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What Is Verbosity?

By Cynde Gregory
Updated May 23, 2024
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Some people are in love with words, while others are in love with hearing themselves talk. Nothing is more annoying to members of the first group than being forced to listen to or read something written by a member of the second group. Verbosity is the catch-all phrase for people who just don’t know when to stop talking and so never do.

Verbosity isn’t just annoying; it is counterproductive. If speaking and writing share as their primary goals to communicate a message or idea, an overly garrulous communicator more often than not succeeds in chasing the message recipient away. If escape isn’t possible, the only refuge for these poor individuals is to shut down and make mental grocery lists rather than listen to one more moment of babbling.

Worse, in an attempt to clarify information, an overly wordy communicator too often renders it obscure. This can be because the crafter of the message isn’t completely certain what he or she wants to say or because he or she isn’t certain the intended recipient will be able to absorb it. As a result, the communicator overloads the statement with excess verbage, repeats key words or phrases, and otherwise turns what could have been a clear communication into trash.

Here’s a perfect example: “When considering what career to make a career out of, it is equally important to consider careful consideration to the wardrobe or type of dress or clothing you prefer and want to be seen in.” The speaker is simply suggesting that job hunters should dress for success, but trying to pull that out of the babble is enough to make the message’s recipients want to take a lifetime vow of silence.

Darker, psychological urges can be the source for verbosity. Someone who is unwilling to share control or who desperately needs to remain the center of attention has likely learned the fine art of circular breathing so that no one can jump in. Grandiloquent speakers are so full of pomp and their own circumstances that they will use the loftiest words they can find, even if they aren’t using them correctly, in order to impress.

Darkest of all the types of verbosity is the speaker who resorts to demagoguery. This is someone who intentionally manipulates language in order to exploit beliefs, which are often misguided or prejudicial, or a group of people he or she wants to control. A demagogue coldly employs whatever rhetorical devices to create a speech that appears to be driven by passion, when the goal is to enflame the passions of the listeners to the point that they have lost control of logic.

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Discussion Comments

By anon948508 — On Apr 30, 2014

This article leaves no room for the possibility of individuals who are not conscious of their verbosity and cannot easily control it due to certain psychiatric conditions.

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