In a word: prolix

March 05, 2012|By John E. McIntyre | The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:


Prolixity, unless you are Robert Burton exploring the exquisite ramifications of melancholy, is not much prized in pose. To be prolix is to be florid or wordy, to use a superfluity of words, to grow tediously lengthy. In speech, the equivalent term is garrulous.

The word is late Middle English, from the French prolixe (natch), and ultimately from the Latin prolixus, "poured forth," "extended." The roots are pro, "onward," and liquere, "be liquid."

EXAMPLE: One that Presbyterians should recognize, from Calderwood's History of the Kirk of Scotland (1843): "Prolixe prayers, hindering the preaching of the Word."

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