What idiom can be used to name an action when a person tells a lot of redundant information?

EDIT: To be more precise I am trying to describe an action when a person speaks about the subject but there is also a lot of redundant information.

  • Could you provide more context or examples of this? This could be called teaching or it could be call being longwinded or it could be called bloviation
    – Jim
    Feb 28, 2017 at 20:28
  • 5
    “He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.” Abraham Lincoln Feb 28, 2017 at 20:39
  • @hatchet - That’s awesome.
    – Jim
    Feb 28, 2017 at 23:33
  • 1
    Well, 'bullshit' is the most common term, so common we'd hardly call it an idiom (although technically it is a metaphor). 'BS' if you need to be politer.
    – smci
    Mar 1, 2017 at 0:03
  • +1 for quoting Abraham Lincoln, and +1 for "bullshit" and using the word "politer." :-) Mar 1, 2017 at 15:09

11 Answers 11


Circumlocutions captures that meaning. Where people talk generally in circles or with a lot of fluff. I am also partial to saying that they speak with a low signal to noise ratio, which is to say they say a lot, but the useful amount (signal) is way less than the useless amount (noise).

cir·cum·lo·cu·tion ˌsərkəmˌləˈkyo͞oSH(ə)n/ noun the use of many words where fewer would do, especially in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive.


That might be an unnecessarily redundant tautology or battology that is long-winded, periphrastic, pleonastic, prolix, verbose, duplicative, effusive, garrulous and wordy despite having been mentioned before in a supererogatory, superfluous, gratuitously excessive, needlessly repetitious, loquacious and circumlocutory way while reiterating what has already been spoken or written.

"He has a habit of repeating himself more than once."

  • 3
    +1 for the wit and humor. -1 for the answer. (No actual vote cast)
    – cobaltduck
    Feb 28, 2017 at 15:52
  • 'grandiloquent', too...
    – smci
    Mar 1, 2017 at 0:04
  • I didn't realize "tautology" had a definitive outside of the realm of logic! Fascinating! Mar 1, 2017 at 5:17
  • I wanted to add recrementitious as well, but it disturbed my tidy line breaks. ;-) Mar 1, 2017 at 14:27

This isn't an idiom, but I would describe it as unnecessarily verbose.

If you are impatient with someone's long repetitive explanation (and they aren't your boss) you might tell them to:

  • get to the point
  • boil it down for me
  • just give me the highlights
  • give it to you in a nutshell
  • just give you a rundown
  • I'm just looking for the 10-thousand-foot view

Some other variations of "summarize" in this related question here.

A few other similar idioms I can think of:

  • Jack, you're just rattling like an empty wagon (talking about nothing)
  • Sally, now you're just talking in circles (repeating herself, sometimes implying she is confused or contradictory)
  • Boy, Mr. Burns was sure beating a dead horse about last month's bad sales figures. We get it, sheesh. (Continuing to talk about something that has already been made clear)
  • 2
    unnecessarily verbose?! I'm hurt. 😢
    – verbose
    Mar 1, 2017 at 8:22

You might say the speech was brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.

  • 2
    @MarkHubbard For this particular question I think the ideal result would be if we all gave the same answer, (following your lead of putting the same comment on all the answers of course).
    – AllInOne
    Feb 28, 2017 at 18:23
  • Hahahaha! Of course! Feb 28, 2017 at 18:39

"To talk in circles" commonly means to push an idea or an argument by reiterating the same point over and over. Perhaps using different words and sentence structure each time, but each iteration still contains the same information.


This type of thing is rarely described with an idiom in the English language, if there is one then it is only known by a tiny percentage of the English-speaking population.

However, the type of scenario and/or person which you are describing is well-known in the English language and ussually described with an adjective, not an idiom. Some adjectives you could use are:

verbose (formal)

long-winded (less formal)

More specifically, you are looking for a verb for this type of action. Some well-known verbs are:

Rambling (talking for too long)

Waffling (Including loads of unnecesary information)

  • I had started to write an answer about "waffling" then noticed you have it here. This is the phrase I would use (in Ireland). Rambling also valid. To me, these are the best fit to the question, and are words I would actually say out loud.
    – Hugh Nolan
    Mar 1, 2017 at 15:54

Would talking around fit your need?

From The Free Dictionary: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/talk+around

talk around v. 1. To speak indirectly about something: The politician just talked around the issue and never answered the question.

  • 1
    "talking around" can be redundant, but the main connotation is avoidance. Feb 28, 2017 at 22:19
  • You can still use it in combination with getting to the point, or making point i.e. He was talking around for an hour before getting to the point.
    – Thinkeye
    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:59
  • Yes, but the question is about describing redundancy. Mar 2, 2017 at 18:32

The phrase " to beat about the bush" or " beat around the bush" may be tried. The latter is an American version but has already overtook the former British version.

It means to prevaricate avoiding the main issue. The idiomatic expression is an old one and evolves from its literal meaning in the exercise of beating the bush for rousing the birds.

  • Explain your point, don't just beat around the bush.

The expression may mean the speaker's ignorance or a deliberate attempt to avoid embarrassment or hesitation to face the reality. However, he is no where near the difficult topic. So when we tell someone not to beat around the bush, we mean that we want him to tell us something immediately and quickly rather than in a complicated meandering way with much bogus talking.

  • @Barid Baran Acharya I thought about this option but I expect that giving redundant information is possible when still speaking about the main point. So I guess 'beat about the bush' does not suppose touching the main point, right?
    – Anjenson
    Feb 28, 2017 at 19:11
  • beating around the bush would be to avoid the topic entirely.
    – Jordan.J.D
    Feb 28, 2017 at 19:21
  • According to the EDIT, my submissionmay lay claim to an answer. Old proverb, thousands of dictionary entry. To get its meaning there must not be any grey zone. Feb 28, 2017 at 19:29

With vinyl making a comeback, the expression "sounding like a broken record" would work to describe the repetitive (and redundant) nature of someone’s speech:

sound like a broken record

To say the same thing over and over again; i.e., as a scratch or defect on a phonograph record may cause the needle or stylus to skip back and to stay in the same groove and play the same segment over and over.

“He's always complaining about the way she treats him. He sounds like a broken record!”

(paraphrased from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs, via The Free Dictionary by Farlex.)

  • @MarkHubbard Thanks for the good edit and kind words in the "Edit" box. Let's all keep each other informed if this good question should ever get closed. We'll know what to do!
    – Papa Poule
    Mar 1, 2017 at 15:36
  • I think yours is one of the best answers, as you supplied an authentic and well known idiom and documented its use very well. I'd vote for your answer twice if I could. :-) Mar 1, 2017 at 15:41

I'm not sure there is such an idiom. The nearest I can think are idiomatic verbs which don't necessarily have the sense you intend: rattle on, browbeat, badger, bluster, huff and puff, overelaborate, overemphasize, homilize, pulpeteer.

I would make an idiom up--except that I might not (read on--) : "Blow the wind windward," "Speak out of turn with himself," "Blow bellows over ashes," or "Stretch meaning thin?"

Requests for idioms are a funny thing. If it's hard to come up with an idiom to suit a circumstance it may be because there is no such idiom, or if there is it's more obscure than most would reckon its meaning.

Honestly, I think the best usage wouldn't be an idiom, but a short meaningful phrase like "speak overly redundantly."


Pleonasm (/ˈpliːənæzəm/; from Greek πλεονασμός (pleonasmós), from πλέον (pleon), meaning "more, too much") is the use of more words or parts of words than are necessary or sufficient for clear expression: examples are black darkness, burning fire.

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