"roundabout way of speaking; an instance of this," 1530s, from Latin periphrasis "circumlocution," from Greek periphrasis, from periphrazein "speak in a roundabout way," from peri "around, about" (see peri-) + phrazein "to express" (see phrase (n.)).
Periphrasis is also known as circumlocution; but the term periphrasis generally refers to those cases where the figure is used with effect, while "circumlocution" refers to its faulty use. Periphrasis may be defined as naming a thing indirectly by means of some well-known attribute, or characteristic, or attendant circumstance. [James De Mille, "The Elements of Rhetoric," 1878]
updated on July 10, 2020