Okay, I am confused. How do you use "verbiage"?
It can mean: "An excess of words for the purpose; wordiness." or "The manner in which something is expressed in words."
I was planning to use it to mean the latter, by saying, "I was happy to see that they used many of the IOM recommendations in their verbiage." However, I thought people might construe it to mean "wordiness". So, I changed the whole sentence after I looked up the word.
This quote really threw me, if in fact "verbiage" means an excess of words:
"Use concise military verbiage"- G.S.Patton
Personally, I would only use verbiage to mean verbosity, or wordiness. However, the second meaning you mention - used by Patton - is given in AHD, so perhaps it does have that meaning in America as well. Certainly I have not seen that definition in a British English dictionary.
You could avoid your self-imposed controversy by eliminating the last three words of the sentence, or by replacing "verbiage" with "writing" or "speaking."
I agree. Verbiage has negative connotations akin to pomposity, flummery, and bombast.
Why not avoid any problems and use a neutral word such as "submission" or "report" - depending on what the document is.
I was going to comment (somewhat disparagingly) on the word "verbage" as another alternative but, checking the dictionary before doing so, I discover it's not even a word!
You wouldn't know this to hear many people in this area use "verbage" as a synonym for another less-than-melodious term "wordage" which, now that I look that up, has as its second definition "verbiage."
Forget I said anything...
"Verbiage" meant wordiness when I was in high school. Somewhere along the way someone decided to use it to mean wording. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Verbiage is hot air, BS, verbal diarrhea. A verbose person talks a lot and says little. He (or she) is guilty of using verbiage. To add insult to injury (a fine cliche), they (whoever "they" are) decided to drop the "i" sound and essentially change a three-syllable word into a two-syllable one.
"Verbiage" was Word of the Day for Friday August 6, 1999.
Well, I remind you all that the second (albeit, second) definition of "verbiage" is "the manner in which something is expressed in words." Now this definition was quite appropriate to the point I had wished to express. The IOM (Institute of Medicine) report had called for a consistent vocabulary of competencies across the health care professions. I wanted to express that many of the recommendations made by this nursing group used this global vocabulary recommended by the IOM. So, if that second definition is accepted, I believe my sentence used the word accurately. However, I wasn't completely sure or I wouldn't have asked the question here.
So, I guess that begs the question: Do we only consider first definitions from dictionaries, when the definitions are so variant?
Kalleh, one primary consideration should be "How will my audience interpret my writing (or speaking)???
One outstanding example is "niggardly," which we all know has Nothing to do with the so-called "N-word," but its avoidance is highly recommended due to the ignorance of many readers or listeners.
[This message was edited by jerry thomas on Wed Jun 18th, 2003 at 9:11.]
To reiterate what has been said, you should consider how your readers are going to interpret the word. I would think that most would use verbiage in a negative way, and assume that is your meaning. Since that is not your intention, you would be better off using a different word, one that is not open to misunderstanding.
So, in other words, your answer is that the first definition should only be used when there is variance?
quote:Is there a suggestion, given the context?
Under the heading of knowing your audience, when I was in the Air Force it was impressed opon me that I not use "military time" when my audience was largely non-military. (And, yes, I know, the 24-hour clock style of recording time is eminently superior to the a.m./p.m. method but, hey, we still haven't even gone metric yet!)
The saying used to go:
When speaking to an Air Force audience, say "1400 hours." When addressing civilians, say "2 o'clock p.m." When talking to Marines, say "The little hand is on the two..."
"Mickey's little hand is on the two ..."
...and the Branch of Service is easily modified to suit your own. Army tells it about Navy, and vice versa.
Many people use "verbiage" to mean "wording", as in the second definition. Many others, including me, reject that definition despite what the AHD says, and insist its only "proper" meaning is "wordiness" or "verbosity". I, and others, also insist the only "correct" pronunciation is "vur-bi-ij", though the AHD does list "vur-bij" as a second pronunciation. All dictionaries, as far as I know, give the first definition, but not all give the second. Check it out on OneLook and you'll find that to be true. For example, AskOxford only gives the first definition, though it appears to (incorrectly) give the second pronunciation. Indeed, the Word of the Day for August 6, 1999 gives only the first definition for "verbiage". Perhaps the second meaning wasn't common enough at that time to make the cut.
I would not use "verbiage" in your sentence for four reasons: 1)There are too many people like me who object to that meaning; 2) Since there are two meanings (if you accept the second one), there is a possibility of confusion; 3) It sounds pretentious; and 4) There are other unambiguous words you could use.
[This message was edited by tinman on Wed Jun 18th, 2003 at 23:38.]
Going back to the first post on this thread, I wonder whether the use of verbiage was in any way Freudian. Was there an abundance of words?
It was my use of the word, and, no, the manuscript was in fact well-written. From the responses here, I am glad I changed the word. I do get confused, though, when our word authority, the dictionary, gives a definition that others say shouldn't be used.
The problem here, of course, is that you are using the dictionary as your word authority and not going directly to... well, modesty prohibits.
To update a previous piece:
Allow me to state in my wry way,
Please don't disagree with what I say.
Who's wrong and who's right
Shouldn't cause us to fight.
Whenever in doubt, do it my way!
CJ's response to Kalleh is rather different from mine. Years ago I received sage advice for a husband.
Not to say I always follow that advice.