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What is the opposite for the straight talk idiom? How do I best call the activity when someone makes a very long preamble before he says what he wants?

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As tchrist's list shows, there are many variations. Can you specify more narrowly what you'd like? – Mitch Jan 4 '13 at 13:18
In my experience, "straight talk" can also imply a high level of honesty. In that case, the opposite could include gossip, flattery, and deceit. – oosterwal Jan 4 '13 at 13:22
Long-winded talk/-er is what I was looking for. Thanks @tchrist! – lexeme Jan 4 '13 at 14:12
@oosterwal "Straight talk" does mean speaking with a high level of honesty -- rather than "coming straight to the point" as OP implies. – Kris Mar 16 '13 at 6:44
You need to reword the question. See my comment @oosterwal. – Kris Mar 16 '13 at 6:44
up vote 8 down vote accepted

In the noble spirit of one immortal orator, who said:

This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.

. . . I can myself do little less than recommend vigorously not timorously, for timor no more profits a man than it does a mouse or a moth, any of the following fine and splendid formulations of art:

  • chatty
  • circuitous
  • circumlocutory
  • desultory
  • diffuse
  • digressive
  • discursive
  • evasive
  • gabby
  • garrulous
  • long-winded
  • loquacious
  • maundering
  • meandering
  • palaverous
  • prolix
  • rambling
  • talkative
  • turgid
  • vague
  • verbose
  • waffling
  • windy
  • wordy

and of course, my own favorite word for vexing prattlers wont to sacrifice wit’s soul on the Altar of Florid Flourish:

  • Polonian
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I like long-winded and rambling. – oosterwal Jan 4 '13 at 13:19
@oosterwal Many people do. :) – tchrist Jan 5 '13 at 15:16

If you are actually talking about someone who waffles on long-windedly before getting to the point (rather than someone who doesn’t say things straight out and honestly, which is how I too would understand ‘straight talk’), the first idiom that comes to mind is beating around the bush.

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I'd suggest "pussyfoot" for the specific use you mentioned. In other uses, I might say an antonym for "straight talk" would be "euphemism" or the vulgar "B.S.".

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The opposite of a familiar and straightforward idiom would be a strange and impenetrable circumlocution. I suggest "obfuscatory tergiversation."

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Had to look up tergiversation, but it's a good word. – Mari-Lou A Aug 1 '13 at 21:24

The opposite of straight is crooked (the adjective /'krʊkəd/, not the past participle /krʊkt/).

The opposite of talking is thinking, in the sense that what one says may not represent what one thinks. Particularly when the topic is lying.

So I'd say the opposite of straight talk would be crooked thinking.

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The opposite of talking, surely, is just not talking. So crooked silence is even more of a direct opposite. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 1 '13 at 23:11

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