The act of speaking excessively or continuously is referred to as verbal diarrhea. How about speaking very little? Is there a word for it?

  • 4
    There's a common antonym for diarrhea; why not use that? Jan 15, 2014 at 19:50
  • 5
    laconism Jan 15, 2014 at 20:14
  • 1
    Perhaps not the most common of words (had to check the dictionary to confirm that it was actually a commonly accepted one at all), but I quite like the sound of taciturnity. Jan 15, 2014 at 20:28
  • How about 'verbal retention'?
    – user58319
    Jan 15, 2014 at 20:57
  • 2
    OP's verbal diarrhea is of course a whimsical slang term for logorrhea - pathologically excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness. Jan 15, 2014 at 21:39

7 Answers 7


If you need a (possibly periphrastic) term with negative nuance then verbal constipation sounds appropriate.

An opposite term though of verbal diarrhea, which most often is used as a virtue is laconicism. (From the greek word λακωνικός=laconic, which originates from Laconia, the ancient greek state with capital Sparta, where it was considered a virtue to express yourself using a mimimal amount of words.)


A good term to describe the person who speaks little (as opposed to the act itself of remaining silent) is taciturn.

Many other words that describe people who tend to be quiet imply their reasons for not being talkative--for instance, reticent, diffident, and aloof. Taciturn has relatively little nuance in that respect.

  • I've seen taciturn used with a clear connotation that the person is a grumpy, cold person - that is, implying that it's part of their disposition, as opposed to just their current behavior. That said, I think taciturn is still the best choice.
    – asfallows
    Jan 15, 2014 at 21:43

If you were looking for an adjective (rather than the act or the speech itself), then terse would work well.


Perhaps parsimony

excessive unwillingness to spend money or use resources; stinginess

The term is sometimes used in the phrase verbal parsimony.

And there is always sphinx-like

mysterious and not allowing people to know what you are thinking


I'm close lipped myself. Some would say tight lipped:

2: reluctant to speak : taciturn


As John says, verbal constipation would seem suitable (and witty). More fun, but sadly less suitable, might be verbal charley horse.


"Succinct": using few words to state or express an idea


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