Word of the Week: Verbose

Welcome back, LMAS students!  A new semester means the return of the LPDC’s “Word of the Week,” so let’s begin with an adjective that will challenge you as you build your communication skills this semester:  verbose.

According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, verbose is an adjective that means “using more words than are needed” or “wordy.”  An antonym of verbose that we frequently use in the LPDC during writing consultations is concise, which means “expressing much in few words” or “brief.”  You may have been reading a document or listening to a presentation and found yourself wishing that the long-winded author or speaker would just get to the point.  If so, the document or presentation is most likely verbose and would benefit from some editing.

Have you ever heard the statement “make every word count”?  This statement is central to the meaning of verbose because the problem with verbose communication is not the number of words.  Rather, the problem is that many of words in verbose documents and presentations are simply unnecessary and do not add any value to the document or presentation.  For example, a lengthy document can have a large number of words and still be concise if all of those words truly “count” and are necessary for the author to develop his/her argument fully.  In contrast, a brief document with fewer words can be considered verbose if the document is filled with unnecessary “fluff” or “filler.”

Ultimately, unnecessary words can diminish the quality and clarity of your writing and speaking.  This semester, we challenge you to make all of your words “count” so that you compose clear, concise business documents and deliver effective, succinct presentations.  We’re always willing to help if you’d like some assistance.

Let’s look at some examples of verbose in action from recent news articles.

“Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. The email and phone info you provide will not be visible to the public. You may post comments using a pseudonym. Please keep comments succinct; 300 words or less is optimal. Excessively verbose or rambling comments may not be posted.” http://bit.ly/VhXEx5

“Connell’s choices of subjects were as enigmatic as some of his characters, but the writing–spare, polished, distilled, evidenced best in the Custer bio, Mr. Bridge, and The Connoisseur, is irresistible for those who prefer their writing to be free of the tendency to be verbose and overlong. He is well worth delving into.” http://bit.ly/14azSVg

“Let the bond selling begin, says the Ector County Independent School District board of trustees. A unanimous 5-0 vote of the board approved the issuance of $129.75 million in bonds approved by voters in November, though on Tuesday night it meant that the process can get going after a verbose legal contract was signed and swooped away with the necessary people on a plane back to Dallas.” http://bit.ly/SIygOZ

“‘I’m going to be at your high school graduation, even if I have to show up with a walker,’ my mother used to joke during my grade school years. She told me that she would be 60 when I would head off to college, and working backward, I figured out early how old she had been when she had me—42. Over time, she amended her joke to refer to my college graduation. But I never really took it seriously. She was strong, vital, and completely ambulatory, so I found it hard to worry about her… But then it happened before I was ready. It began with depression. Typically verbose on the phone, my then-70-year-old mother seemed to have less and less to say.” http://slate.me/10PlbqR

“The Legislature also should address not just the number of amendments, but their volume. The 11 amendments last year added up to more than 2,600 words. That’s because the lawmakers have exempted themselves from the 75-word limit on ballot summaries that applies to amendments proposed by interest groups. We know it’s asking a lot for politicians to be less verbose, but in this case there’s no excuse why they shouldn’t be held to the same standard on ballot language as outsiders.” http://bit.ly/WiWH5T

For more information on the word verbose, please visit the following Web sites:

Works Cited:
“Verbose.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 11th Ed., 2004. Print.
“Concise.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 11th Ed., 2004. Print.



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