8

Let's say you want to state "X people tend to be Y", e.g.

Actuaries tend to be overweight.

Gays tend to be emotional.

Indecisive men are usually seen as unattractive.

Chances are that someone might take offense to something like that, so I noticed a pattern in which instead of making a simple statement like that, people would write rather long, logically unnecessary, essays, explaining that "tend" refers to the overall trend, and not every X is Y, and that some people who are not X can also be Y, and that just because they are Y doesn't mean you don't respect them, and so on, ad nauseam.

Is there a word for this kind of extra, logically unnecessary, verbosity added just to make sure no one gets offended?

  • Tact comes to mind. I don't think it's necessarily negative. I think you might be referring more to political correctness, though. – anongoodnurse May 18 '16 at 2:52
  • @medica I don't think tact implies verbosity, does it? – MaxB May 18 '16 at 2:53
  • 1
    Being blunt implies lack of verbosity. Being tactful may not necessarily imply verbosity, but certainly a softening of the message may mean more words. – anongoodnurse May 18 '16 at 2:54
  • Political correctness? I am not sure if I can post an answer with this. – user140086 May 18 '16 at 4:30
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    Poking around the web, I found one chunky example of what you are describing under the section title "Voluminous disclaimer and sidenote with historical digressions:" At least they are honest about it. Linky – Phil Sweet May 18 '16 at 18:07
5

A somewhat blunt term for finessing a statement this way is pussyfooting around.

to avoid making a definite decision or stating a definite opinion because of fear, doubt, etc.

"Pussyfoot." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

It's commonly heard as "stop pussyfooting around" and is well suited to disclamatory bloat that retracts the statement but leaves the idea in your head.

3

Writing a long essay instead of a short sentence could be done to:

Cover (one's) assTFD

Vulgar Slang To take measures to avoid being held responsible if something goes wrong.

"The police were more interested in covering their asses than in finding the killer."

It's like what Mari-LouA comments: A person adds a preamble to justify the use of a word because they are afraid of offending someone. They don't want to be accused of generalizing or making sweeping statements.

The method applied could be called:

CircumlocutoryM-W

using or containing more words than necessary to express an idea

the studio's statement that “the film's earnings did not live up to expectations” was a circumlocutory admission that the movie was a flop.

synonyms: circuitous, wordy, diffuse, garrulous, logorrheic, long-winded, pleonasic, prolix, rambling, verbose, windy

Say in a roundabout wayTFD

to imply something without saying it; to say something indirectly; to speak using circumlocution.

"Why don't you say what you mean? Why do you always say something in a roundabout way?"
"What did she mean? Why did she say it in a roundabout way?"

Beat around the bushTFD

Fig. to avoid answering a question; to stall; to waste time.

"Stop beating around the bush and answer my question."
"Let's stop beating about the bush and discuss this matter."

To speak evasively or misleadingly, or to stall or waste time. To flush pheasants and other birds so they could be shot, British gamekeepers hired beaters who would swing sticks at likely places where the birds might be lurking. Not to go directly to such foliage but to work around it instead gave the impression of wasting time or not trying very hard to raise the birds; hence, beating around the bush.

  • These suggestions are synonyms for "padding out", or not getting to the point. A person who adds a preamble to justify the use of a word because they are afraid of offending someone is not beating around the bush or being circumlocutory. They don't want to be accused of generalizing or making sweeping statements. The expression that springs to mind is to cover one's ass/back. – Mari-Lou A May 18 '16 at 5:58
  • @Mari-LouA Oh, now I get it. I'll edit. Thanks for the comment. Others would've simply downvoted without helping me. – NVZ May 18 '16 at 5:59
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    I don't think there is a word or an expression that fits exactly the OP's requirements. – Mari-Lou A May 18 '16 at 6:01

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