Definition & Examples of Periphrasis
Periphrasis is an expansive form of expression which consists when we use unnecessary words than what are necessary, and sometimes less plain words, either to avoid some inconvenience or to give a variety and elegance to our arguments and multiply the graces of our compositionOpens in new window.
Some instances of which we have in Mr. Pope’s Art of Sinking in PoetryOpens in new window:
For as in musicOpens in new window, an important word is rendered sweeter by the divisions which are run harmoniously upon it; so a periphrasis sweetens a discourse, carried on in propriety of language, and contributes very much to the ornamentOpens in new window of it, especially if there be no jarring or discord in it, but every part be judiciously and musically tempered. PlatoOpens in new window is sufficient to attest this observation, from a passage in the beginning of the Funeral OrationOpens in new window.
According to LonginusOpens in new window, “there is more danger in a Periphrasis than in any other Figure, unless it be used with moderation. An injudicious Periphrasis is spiritless, and is at no great deviate from emptiness and stupidity. Hence, it must be used judiciously, and in regards to sensitivity of the occasion.