Basic definition 
In its most basic form, circumlocution is using many words (such as "a tool used for cutting things such as paper and hair") to describe something for which a concise (and commonly known) expression exists ("scissors").[note 1] In this sense, the vast majority of definitions found in dictionaries are circumlocutory.
Circumlocution is often used by aphasics and people learning a new language, where in the absence of a word (such as "abuelo" [grandfather]) the subject can simply be described ("el padre de su padre" [the father of one's father]). It is also used frequently in Basic English, a constructed dialect of non-regional English.
Circumlocution has numerous other uses, referred to by other terms.[which?]
Amphilogism (also called amphilogy) or equivocation is a form of circumlocutory speech. It is used to deceive. For example, a man who for ulterior reasons doesn't want to divulge his relationship status might use amphilogistic language (i.e., the "pronoun game") to talk about his significant other without making concessions as to his relationship. For example, instead of saying "She made dinner for me last night", an amphilogistic statement would be "'Dinner was already made for me last night".'
Another example is the use of equivocation to deceive others without blatantly lying. For example, if a mother asks her child to clean a throw rug, and the child replies that he will "hang the rug and beat it" instead of saying he will "clean it", he could mean that he will forget about the rug (hang it) and quickly leave (beat it).
Euphemism is the use of circumlocution to avoid saying words which are under a cultural taboo, such as words which are, or could be, considered offensive. Euphemism, however, is only sometimes circumlocutory. For example, "Holy mother of Jesus!" is a circumlocution of "Mary!", but "heck", while still euphemistic, is not a circumlocution of "hell".
Euphemistic circumlocution is also used to avoid saying "unlucky words" – words which are taboo for reasons connected with superstition. For example, calling the devil "Old Nick",[note 2] calling Macbeth "the Scottish Play" or saying "baker's dozen" instead of thirteen. A fictional example is referring to the main villain Lord Voldemort in the fantasy book series Harry Potter as "He who must not be named."
In Oral Poetics 
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Poetic circumlocution is commonly used in oral poetics. It is, in fact, a definitive characteristic of many oral poetic traditions. Riddles, for example, are circumlocutory poetic games. Charms, spells and other incantations are another form of circumlocutory oral poetics. Circumlocution is often even a sacred injunction, of which the Judaic law prohibiting the uttering of the name of God is but one example among many.
African oral poetics constantly employs circumlocution, as does African American poetics. The Blues, for example, whose lyrics consist of an endlessly suggestive stream of imaginative metaphors, are defined by circumlocutory poetic logic, as Ben Sidran makes clear in his book Black Talk: "The direct statement is considered crude and unimaginative; the veiling of all contents in everchanging paraphrase is...the criterion of intelligence"
That African-American circumlocutory sensitivity and skillset was amplified and intensified by slavery and racial oppression in the US, as John Sobol makes clear in his book, Digitopia Blues - Race, Technology and the American Voice. The historic restrictions preventing slaves and their descendents from speaking their minds frankly, combined with their Afrocentric circumlocutory skills, gave rise to a wide range of circumlocutory idioms in America, from scat singing and jive talk to jazz itself, which Sobol argues is a circumlocutory language. "Jazz is the voice denied words."
See also 
- However, it is important to note that concepts are not necessarily objectively simple only because a simple word or expression exists for them. Many concepts which are exceedingly complex or difficult, or notoriously hard to define, are associated with very simple, short or plain words. This is very much dependent on culture or, properly, the language used.
- "Speak of the devil, and he will appear" is the proverb.
- "periphrasis - definition and examples of periphrasis (rhetoric)". Grammar.about.com. 1953-08-10. Retrieved 2013-05-20.
- "Ambage" in American Heritage, and Dictionary.com
- "Liturgical Language: Keeping It Metaphoric, Making It Inclusive - Gail Ramshaw - Google Books". Books.google.se. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- "The Names of God in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: A Basis for Interfaith ... - Máire Byrne - Google Books". Books.google.se. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- "The Greek-English Derivative Dictionary: Showing, in English Characters, the ... - William Burke - Google Books". Books.google.se. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- "Amphilogism - definition of Amphilogism by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- "equivocation - definition of equivocation by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- "equivocal - definition of equivocal by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
|Look up circumlocution in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|