I am looking for a derogatory word or short phrase to describe unconcise texts or the process of their creation, i.e., the text is redundant, overcomplicated and filled with irrelevant details or trivialities. The text is however not necessarily unstructured, entirely irrelevant or nonsensical.

The word should be applicable to written texts though it does not need to be restricted to them.

I expect such a term to exist, since German has many words for this (labern, schwafeln, …) – the suggested translations of which do not satisfy me, however, as they seem to be mainly about other negative aspects or spoken language or not derogatory.

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    There are many such words in English as well. Rather than trying to pick one for you (because that's always just a battle for points), I'd suggest you look up synonyms for "prolix", such as "verbose", "loquacious", etc (though some such words are typically applied only to speech, not writing).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 13:56
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    @Wrzlprmft Sorry if this is petty, but regarding the title - english.stackexchange.com/questions/15725/…
    – Niall
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 18:38
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    You could call it verbal diarrhoea. And if you don't mind mixing metaphors you could say it was a case of verbal diarrhoea and mental constipation.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 19:58

7 Answers 7


Pace Dan Bron, the obvious word is waffle:

[mass noun] British Lengthy but vague or trivial talk or writing:
we’ve edited out some of the waffle


This may be related to the German schwafeln, I suppose. It fits your description of "redundant, overcomplicated and filled with irrelevant details or trivialities." There is a verb waffle as well, which means to produce waffle.

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    +1 for teaching me a neat new word (it's not used this way in the US; now I can out-pretentious my friends who imitate BrE!).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 14:12
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    Note that in AmE, this word instead means to waver indecisively, so depending on your audience it might or might not be understood. Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 16:04

One of possible words that come to mind is expatiate:

to speak or write about something in a way that includes a lot of details or uses many words

The naturalist is known for her willingness to expatiate on any number of issues relating to wildlife and the environment.

Bloviate may also be suitable:

to speak or write verbosely and windily

(From Merriam-Webster)

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    I think bloviate carries the negative connotations the OP asked for. Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 15:34
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    Bloviate is good, but expatiate is both uncommon and not particularly negative. Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 16:05

Sounds like rambling to me. While it's not explicit in the definition, culturally, rambling is typically seen as a derogatory statement of writings or speech.

  1. aimlessly wandering.
  2. taking an irregular course; straggling: a rambling brook.
  3. straying from one subject to another; desultory: a rambling novel.

The speaker rambled on with anecdote after anecdote.

It can also be used as a noun

His journal was filled with incoherent ramblings.

  • Rambling was actually among the dissatisfactory translations I got as it seems to be mostly about a lack of good structure. The texts I am talking about are not necessarily badly structured or aimless; they are just overly verbose.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 15:33
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    @Wrzlprmft - and "verbose" is insufficient? It generally has a negative context in English.
    – Telastyn
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 15:35
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    @Telastyn I don't find verbose to be necessarily derogatory. Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 16:06

I think "long-winded" applies. If you want to damn it with faint praise, you can describe it as only "slightly topical" or "marginally germane."

A slightly longer phrase might be to "cram 2 pages of thoughts into 20 pages." Also one can use "minutes" for speeches.

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    Long-winded is good, although it has connotations of speech rather than writing. Elliptical, however, is the opposite of long-winded, it means that so much has been left out that the remainder is hard to understand. Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 17:16
  • That's certainly one meaning for elliptical, but I've also understood it to mean just plain obscure... though I'm willing to be re-educated.
    – webmarc
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 17:20
  • Elliptical comes from ellipsis, to leave out words or phrases. Webster defines it as "using few words and therefore hard to understand" and also as "marked by extreme economy of speech or writing." It can definitely mean cryptic and indirect, but wordiness is a bit of an antonym. Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 18:32
  • Webster's also says " (2) : of or relating to deliberate obscurity (as of literary or conversational style)"... but I'll concede the point.
    – webmarc
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 18:36

Try wordy, defined by google as "using or expressed in too many words." It has the advantage of being the opposite of what it derides.


Overly descriptive writing containing many flourishes, and redundant elements is also known as purple prose.

Wikipedia says:

In literary criticism, purple prose is written prose that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is sensually evocative beyond the requirements of its context.

An example of purple prose is the following

Plain: He set the cup down.
Middle Ground: He eased the Big Gulp onto the table.
ACK: Without haste, the tall, blond man lowered the huge, plastic, gas station cup with a bright red straw onto the slick surface of the coffee table.

Source: Write World Don't be a Dickens: Avoiding purple prose

  • Some superb examples of wordiness writing here: bulwer-lytton.com/2013win.html (very amusing)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 8:52
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    "Gaylord welcomed his Thanksgiving guests by unleashing a bullwar litany of throaty insults on his unsuspecting relatives, who had been patiently fidgeting as they awaited the arrival of the soup tureen with varying degrees of faked bonhomie".
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 10:35

I despise sloppy prose. Be precise, be concise, or risk TLDNR.

Poorly crafted is also sometimes used for example: Poorly crafted verbiage.

In fact, verbiage alone is sometimes sufficient: Merriam Webster

a profusion of words usually of little or obscure content

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