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Example

The blue and yellow plumage proclaims the Cyanistes caeruleus species.

OED defines the term ‘proclaim’ as

a. trans. fig. Of a thing: to make known or manifest; to be evidence or an indication of, demonstrate; to reveal as; to show or prove to be.

The ‘fig.’ abbreviation denotes figurative, so the usage is supposedly informal. The word is also listed as an updated entry. However, every other dictionary does not list the above definition as informal, so is it formal? The audience would be professors (not specific to a subject).

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    figurative does not mean informal. And no, such uses of proclaim are not, by themselves, informal (they are not necessarily formal or informal). – Drew Nov 6 '16 at 23:09
  • In this context, "proclaims" is overstatement. It's a finer word than called for. But overstatement is a form of figurative language. – Zan700 Nov 7 '16 at 1:22
  • @Drew Though, would it acceptable in formal writing? (I assume yes.) – weeeeeee Nov 8 '16 at 2:56
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That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
Hamlet (act II, scene ii)

The usage is not so much informal as poetic. It may strike a serious audience as oddly high-flown, perhaps to the point of sarcasm.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy—rich, not gaudy,
For the apparel oft proclaims the man
Hamlet (act I, scene iii)

  • I am assuming yes, but is its usage acceptable in formal writing? Sorry for re-asking but I want to ascertain it. – weeeeeee Nov 8 '16 at 21:04
  • It wouldn't be considered informal, if that is your question, but I would hesitate to use it anywhere I wouldn't also use thy or oft. – Malvolio Nov 8 '16 at 21:08
  • The question is more so ‘is it acceptable in formal writing given it is properly used’. I probably should have asked that initially. – weeeeeee Nov 8 '16 at 21:34
  • "Acceptable" is pretty vague. A college professor would not think you are being inappropriately frivolous (which I think is what you are asking), but might think you have found an oddly dated or poetic usage. – Malvolio Nov 8 '16 at 21:49
  • Isn't it a rule to avoid figurative language in formal writing? – weeeeeee Nov 19 '16 at 21:04
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I like your sentence. Proclaim gives this bird majesty. If your audience were MacDonalds servers I'd suggest an alternative. The professors will be fine and will just enjoy it.

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