At nearly 450 pages, the novel is prolix : the author does not often resist the temptation to finish off a chapter, section, or even paragraph with some unnecessary flourish.

Is the second part of the sentence an example of double negative ? "does not often resist" Then shouldn't it mean - the author is not resisting to the temptation, i.e. gave in to the temptation and finished off in a hurry ? Therefore prolix would be an incorrect here ?

  • No, double negative, and prolix is correctly used here. The source of this statement is saying that the author doesn't (often) resist the temptation to employ "unnecessary flourish" and is, thus, prolix. "unnecessary flourish" = prolix.
    – user98990
    May 9, 2015 at 19:20
  • Reminds me of linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/981/…
    – amdn
    May 9, 2015 at 22:00
  • The author doesn't resist, but what he doesn't resist is "some unnecessary flourish". Ie, he adds more words than are needed.
    – Hot Licks
    May 9, 2015 at 22:12
  • Technically, I don't think it's a double negative. "Resist" isn't a word used for negation, in the same sense as "not", even though it carries a negative connotation in most cases.
    – Hot Licks
    May 9, 2015 at 22:15
  • 1
    Is this meant to be an almost parodic, long-winded easy of describing the author's long-windedness?
    – Chris H
    May 9, 2015 at 22:25

1 Answer 1


Merriam-Webster's definition:

Prolix (adj.)
using too many words

Prolix is used correctly. Let's break this sentence down to see why, starting from the end and working to the beginning.

  1. "[U]nnecessary flourish" means there is a large amount of words that aren't needed in order to understand what is being said.
  2. If the author resists the temptation to use unnecessary flourish, the writing is simple and concise--it is not prolix.
  3. Since the author does not resist this temptation, we take the inverse of the above
    statement: the writing is prolix.

Is the second part of the sentence a double negative?
Unless you consider resist a negative word (meaning using it changes the outcome of the rest of the sentence), the second part is not a double negative. The only negation here is not.

Often times it is very helpful to figure out negation starting from the end of the sentence because negative words change what comes after them.

  • 1
    @LittleEva Whoops, accidentally overlooked that question. I'll update my answer.
    – Adam
    May 9, 2015 at 21:51

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