What do you call the method what you use when you know what to say but not exactly how to say it but use another method to do so?

You have an idea you have to explain to people, you know what you want to say but not how to articulate it correctly. So you end up using examples, sayings to help the person to understand what you are trying to convey, to help to get to the meat/jist of it until you get an "aha"moment that is what I'm trying to say

The stackexchange english language user knew what he wanted to ask in an indirect way but didn't know the exact words to ask it correctly so he used examples to trying get the question in a "roundabout" way.


Pete wants directions to the arcade. He asks a passerby but forgot the word " arcade" so instead he asks "can you give me directions to the place in the mall where the 12-year old kids hang out?" He used workaround way to explain where he wanted to go. He didn't say the correct word but the passerby knew the place he meant.

What method did Pete use?

For the above Pete can't explain the word succinctly so he uses a [...] way or expresses it []

Words that don't fit exactly:

convoluted means. Convoluted means difficult to understand or complex where I'm trying to instead convey it's an "other" way to ask to get there.

non-succinct way also is similar to the above

Inarticulate method coveys he isn't clear which is untrue since he is using another method

parallel conveys the two ways that are the same, where instead I want to say the the other method is instead an out of the norm way

Roundabout,Workaround is probably the closest I can think of

This might be a better explanation of the context

The computer system user asks a question but the support ticket was closed with explanation "Your question is convoluted". The user believes the reason is unfair as he believed he question in isolation might be phrased without the correct technical terms but he additionally used a specific example to explain what he was trying to achieve which left no room for ambiguity to understand what he was asking. He escalates it to their manager saying his question was not convoluted as he used used a [got to the jist of it] way to explain which the helpdesk should have understood and that he feels they were intentionally being pedantic.

  • Circumlocution, perhaps?
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 6:10
  • Mick, the definition says it means the same as roundabout. I am trying to say other way, not necessary a long way just a different way. Almost like answering a question in another language.
    – dfmetro
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 6:16
  • Turn of phrase? - a way of saying something: dictionary.cambridge.org/it/dizionario/inglese/turn-of-phrase
    – user66974
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 6:18
  • @JOSH that definition seem to a characteristic of a person where as I;m looking for a person uses it for a specific scenario where he for example forgets the word and uses another way to describe it.
    – dfmetro
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 6:21
  • Are you looking for a technical term, an idiomatic word or phrase, or just some plain English? For the last, I'd suggest equivalent expression. For the others, I've no idea.
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 6:32

5 Answers 5


I think you're looking for paraphrase [MW]

a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form


You are probably looking for verbose.



Using or expressed in more words than are needed.
‘much academic language is obscure and verbose’

‘Yesterday I told myself that I needed to stop teasing Kevin Keith about his verbose comments.’
‘I am sure that this email seems overwhelming, and verbose.’
‘She often wondered how could a man be so verbose.’


I actual thinking he's describing a parable [Wikipedia]

A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles.

For example, Jesus used the parable of the mustard seed to explain the joys that would be encountered in heaven from simple beginnings.


alternative explaination? You rejected convoluted though it seems to apply to your example of looking for the arcade.

  • convoluted dictionary meaning is "extremely complex and difficult to follow." If the computer user example he does the opposite making it easier to understand by providing an example for the helpdesk so there is no ambiguity. The user's lack of knowledge of technical terms doesn't mean his explanation was convoluted like was alleged by helpdesk. If you ask someone in the mall point me to the place in the mall where the kids hang out, there is nothing that indicates it is complex at all. A 5 year old could point you to where.
    – dfmetro
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 9:03

How about opaque; which means unclear or not obvious.

It is also often used to explain speech or text, as in:

"The manual was written using technical jargon that is opaque to many users."

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