I'm looking for a phrase like "transcendental language", but meaning eloquent rather than other-worldly.

In particular, I want to refer to a [literary] sketch as "_ language". This sketch is A Gotham Reverie by Fanny Fern, in which a prostitute is referred to [revealed as a prostitute] in very abstract terms, such as "her name was Magdalen" (I'm paraphrasing), "her own unrelenting, unforgiving sex", etc.

  • 1
    You will have decide upon what you think it is -- if it is not eloquent then it is something else. Until you can pin down what your image of it is, it won't be possible to find a word. – Kris Feb 9 '12 at 8:03
  • @Kris, Eloquent is more like "well written". I want to say indirect. I think "euphemistic" is the closest to what I'm looking for. – gatoatigrado Feb 9 '12 at 9:46
  • why the downvotes? Is it unacceptable to forget phrases? seriously... – gatoatigrado Feb 9 '12 at 19:05

Consider also "figurative" in addition to your euphemistic, since euphemistic implies that the words you're avoiding using are somehow taboo or unpleasant, while figurative can imply flowery language in general.


Refined may serve, with senses including "Showing or having good feelings or good taste. An absence of coarseness. Not vulgar."

Being refined often is an aspect of high-flown language, that is, language "pretentiously eloquent; highly figurative" or "lofty, extravagant, refined".

If the writing or your review have elements of irony, consider terms arch, "knowing, clever, mischievous", and precious, "treated with too much reverence" or "contrived to be cute or charming", and synonyms of the latter including twee, "overly quaint, dainty, cute or nice" and saccharine, "sentimental or romantic to the point of ridiculousness".

  • Didn't know about "high-flown" -- that's great too, thanks!! (Too bad I have to choose one answer ... I thought Avner's was a little more standard.) – gatoatigrado Feb 9 '12 at 17:53

Confusingly similar to euphemistic, there’s euphuistic, used to describe affectation in writing or speech.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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