When a person talks about something, s/he doesn't get to the point but starts with a pun, intending to let us figure out its purpose.

Someone told me I could use reserved to describe that person, but I checked ODO which says this means slow to reveal emotion or opinions. I guess it's not quite correct here.

Is there any better word for such a person?

  • Puns are usually cryptic (especially to people learning a new language), but the speaker may only be attempting to inject some humour. Nov 26, 2011 at 2:45

6 Answers 6


If he speaks in a way that hides the meaning of his intentions, he is being cryptic. You are right that reserved is not the right word as that would mean he is shy.

  • Though I must admit, I've never encountered a pun I've considered cryptic. They're a bit too silly for that.
    – user13141
    Nov 26, 2011 at 8:49

Circumlocutor: literally, one who speaks around. The sense I get from your description is that of someone who is too enamored with his own voice. The deliberate concealing of meaning is esoteric, which one may use as either a verb or a noun. "Obtuse" suggests dense, slightly stupid. I would call this person annoying.


I think that's referred to as being obtuse.


He sounds to me to be vague and inarticulate.

  • Or a pompous windbag.
    – Warren P
    May 25, 2013 at 23:51

Speakers who take a long time to get to the point are longwinded. Those who may be briefer, but who are nevertheless dull or insensitive in their expression are, as Hy Libby has suggested, obtuse.

  • I thought that obtuse was more about the difficulty on the listener's part to get the implications, and not about the speaker's inability to explain things well or just general lower intellectual power.
    – Mitch
    Jan 21, 2012 at 18:12
  • @Mitch: The OED gives ‘Annoyingly unperceptive or slow to understand; stupid; insensitive. Also, of a remark, action, etc.: exhibiting dullness, stupidity or insensitivity; clumsy, unsubtle.' So even if not of a person, then certainly of what a person says. Jan 21, 2012 at 18:29
  • The context I think of is usually about someone not 'getting an explanation. But I suppose that doesn't prevent it being about someone giving a bad explanation.
    – Mitch
    Jan 21, 2012 at 18:38

If he's hesitant to state his point out of concern for social repercussions, he may be said to be pussyfooting or beating around the bush.

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