How can I replace harped on with a more positive expression?

The production manager harped on the new quality assurance regulations for nearly an hour.
  • concentrated on ...
    – Jim
    Jun 13, 2014 at 20:59
  • 1
    Elaborated on... Jun 13, 2014 at 21:10
  • My understanding of this idiom implies a fundamental negative connotation. To me 'harped on' means something along the lines of: disparaging ad nauseam. I don't think there is a way to describe this as a positive thing. If you are more concerned with making it positive than with preserving the meaning of the statement than you should look for a word that describes the fact that he was focusing on QA regs rather than on the fact that he was focusing on their negative aspects. Jun 13, 2014 at 21:15
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    Dunno if I'm a lone voice here, but the cited example doesn't read like a valid usage to me. So far as I'm concerned, he'd have to have harped on about whatever his subject was. Less negatively he might have elaborated [at length] on his theme. Jun 13, 2014 at 21:16
  • @FumbleFingers- Yes, I've seen that usage too. idioms.thefreedictionary.com/harp+on
    – Jim
    Jun 13, 2014 at 21:19

6 Answers 6


dwell (on):

to linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing (often followed by on or upon ): to dwell on a particular point in an argument.

Though, it is usually used for negative things but not necessarily. It is a more positive expression than harp on. Using the preposition upon is more formal and less common.


expound: "to explain by setting forth in careful and often elaborate detail <expound a law>"

In this case, you'd probably want to use it with the word on:

The production manager expounded on the new quality assurance regulations for nearly an hour.

To wax lyrical:

The production manager waxed lyrical about the new quality assurance regulations.

  • +1 if that's what the question meant - continually going on about something in a positive way.
    – Frank
    Jun 14, 2014 at 11:37

A neutral version could simply be:

The production manager spoke about the new quality assurance regulations for nearly an hour.

Putting a positive spin on it:

The production manager spent nearly an hour elucidating the new quality assurance regulations.


To make clear; to clarify; to shed light upon.


Consider the following:

  • Focused on
  • zeroed in on
  • concentrated on
  • stressed on

The production manager promulgated on the new quality assurance regulations for nearly an hour.


  1. to make known by open declaration; publish; proclaim formally or put into operation (a law, decree of a court, etc.).
  2. to set forth or teach publicly (a creed, doctrine, etc.).

Example of the use of "promulgated on" from [Merriam-Webster]:2

Her ideas have been widely promulgated on the Internet.

  • 1
    Have to agree with the Beast here; in American English that is defintely bad usage. You can promulgate regulations, but you can't promulgate on them.
    – keshlam
    Jun 14, 2014 at 4:05
  • @keshlam, thank you for your constructive reply but I believe my sentence compares with "the Court promulgated Rules of Civil Evidence" supreme.courts.state.tx.us/rules/history.asp : I am not convinced the omission of the 'on' from the original sentence is necessary. I need to think on it
    – Third News
    Jun 14, 2014 at 5:01
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    One can promulgate a law or creed. One can promulgate a law or creed on the internet. In both cases promulgate is synonymous with "spread" or "disseminate". One cannot promulgate on a law or creed. Jun 14, 2014 at 12:41
  • @WhatRoughBeast and I are in agreement, I'm afraid. It's just not a valid usage with "on" or "upon" in that position. At least not in the forms of English I'm familiar with.
    – keshlam
    Jun 14, 2014 at 15:32

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