Related to More formal word for the chronic state of being in a snit

Suppose someone is doing extensive speaking -- perhaps presenting to a group, or testifying in a hearing. Suppose her hostile attitude leads her to contradict herself and say a lot of nonsense. Really stupid things that a person with her training and title should know better than to say. How can I express


in more formal language?

I tried the thesaurus but the words I found there weren't formal enough (e.g. tripe, claptrap, hogwash, etc.).

  • 1
    Protracted inanity, perhaps?
    – Mick
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 15:25
  • 1
    Inaccuracies, falsehoods, incorrect statements...
    – Helmar
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 15:31
  • @Helmar - I can think of some other placed in my document where I can use these too, thank you. Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 20:54
  • 1
    You may find it helpful to post a question related to this problem on academia.stackexchange.com or workplace.stackexchange.com. We can help only with specific words; you might find suggestions about strategy on one of those sites. Of course, that would mean writing a new and different question.
    – ab2
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 21:19
  • @ab2 - thanks for the suggestion but this is a 13yo -- little early for Academia, I think! Workplace doesn't seem quite right either. However, I did get a bit of helpful info from Law. Not too much because special ed law is extremely specialized. Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 2:51

6 Answers 6


Of all the synonyms listed by Wiktionary, the most formal option seems to be absurdity. As a replacement for nonsense, I'd use the plural, absurdities.

That said, nonsense is much more formal than most other options (baloney, bunkum, bullshit, etc.). I've seen it in serious books and scientific articles.

  • So far this is working the best for me. I can sort of see this working in a formal argument Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 20:52
  • Bunkum is growing on me. Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 21:23

This lady is making inconsistent statements. In your presentation or summary, you can list and counter some of her more egregious inconsistencies.

Inconsistent, Dictionary.com

lacking agreement, as one thing with another or two or more things in relation to each other; at variance........That which is inconsistent involves variance, discrepancy, or even contradiction, especially from the point of view of truth, reason, or logic.

egregious, from Cambridge English Dictionary

(of something bad) extreme; beyond any reasonable degree:

egregious errors of fact

an egregious example of misrepresentation

  • .....Promising! Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 21:22

Nonsense can be expressed as balderdash, to use an older term. In earlier times (i.e., such as Dickens' era), it was used a lot. Today, it is probably only used by the more literary among us. That said, it retains its punch.


In political context, even though the word rhetoric is not a 100% synonym of "nonsense", I would use "political rhetoric". Rhetoric means

Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous

[American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition]

  • The problem isn't the way she expresses herself so much as the content of what she says. But I can use this word elsewhere in the document. Good word. Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 21:24

The word "illogic" is defined by oxforddictionaries.com as

Reasoning or thought which is not logical.

  • This is a good one to add to my basket. I'm allowed to write 60 pages, and I don't want to re-use the same 5 words over and over. Thank you. Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 21:03

In psychology, stress can sometimes lead to what is called Regression.

Regression involves taking the position of a child in some problematic situation, rather than acting in a more adult way. This is usually in response to stressful situations, with greater levels of stress potentially leading to more overt regressive acts.

Regressive behavior can be simple and harmless, such as a person who is sucking a pen (as a Freudian regression to oral fixation), or may be more dysfunctional, such as crying or using petulant arguments..

Source: Changing Minds.

Regression is a Freudian concept.

Someone that is using immature or babyish language while in a state of Regression is certainly doing something that could be described as "nonsense" within the context of the situation in which they are supposed to be acting like an adult.

Another possible term, also somewhat of a term of art, is Glossolalia.

Glossolalia or speaking in tongues, according to linguists, is the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables that lack any readily comprehended meaning, in some cases as part of religious practice in which it is believed to be a divine language unknown to the speaker.

Source: Wikipedia.

  • If you're gonna talk about Freud, the word is neurotic, not dysfunctional!
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 16:11
  • @Lambie talk to the people who wrote Changing Minds! Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 16:16
  • In any case, I don't see that your answer is even related to the question.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 16:22
  • My answer provides a term that can be used to describe the behavior of someone behaving in the manner indicated by the OP, and, by extension, the content of such a person's speech. The OP specifically mentions speaking nonsense as a result of psychological or emotional factors, not just nonsense in an abstract or linguistic sense. Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 16:26
  • You have changed your answer. Glossolalia is for Bible thumpers, not for people who express themselves badly.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 16:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.