elaborate, roundabout, or indirect speech or writing.
Also known as Periphrasis.
He was dispatched to his Final Reward somehow sounds nicer than The Feds shot him away. (this is also known as a euphemism)
The fact that we are taking a muscular stance does not require that we must ride that horse to the bitter end and go down with it. (I did a blog post on this one, uttered in a meeting, which had me so delighted, I had to write it down before I forgot it. It would have been better if he had said, "We have taken this stand, but we don't have to die for it.")
Damon Runyon's stories about the seamier side of New York City involved a lot of circumlocution:
If I have all the tears that are shed on Broadway by guys in love, I will have enough salt water to start an opposition ocean to the Atlantic and Pacific, with enough left over to run the Great Salt Lake out of business. But I wish to say I never shed any of these tears personally, because I am never in love, and furthermore, barring a bad break, I never expect to be in love, for the way I look at it love is strictly the old phedinkus, and I tell the little guy as much.
In Runyon's case, the circumlocution serves to illuminate a certain sort of character. And here, for a wonder, is a scene from the movie Guys and Dolls with Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, where their words are drawn out and ornate and the speech (Brando's, I mean) is one of my favorite in literature. He speaks of advice from his father:
"Son, you are now going out into the wide, wide, world to make your own way, and it is a very good thing to do, as there are no more opportunities for you in this burg. I am only sorry that I am not able to bankroll you to a very large start, but not having any potatoes to give you, I am now going to stake you to some very valuable advice, which I personally collect in my years of experience around and about, and I hope and trust you will always bear this advice in mind. Son, no matter how far you travel, or how smart you get always remember this: Some day, somewhere, a guy is going to come to you and show you a nice brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is never broken, and this guy is going to offer to bet you that the jack of spades will jump out of this deck and squirt cider in your ear. But son, do not bet him, for as sure as you do you are going to get an ear full of cider.
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