Only the online Cambridge dictionary marks the verb “to expatiate” as ‘formal disapproving’. Nowhere else could I find the reference to a ‘disapproving’ connotation, although all the online dictionaries agree upon its formality. Do you deem it to be used to criticize the act of “speak[ing] or writ[ing] about something in great detail or for a long time” or can it be simply used as a synonym of “talking at length”?

1 Answer 1


I looked up the word on Wordnik, which, in addition to showing several different meanings of the word, shows a list of sample usages along the right-hand side of the webpage. (The website starts with 10, but you can view even more with the click of a mouse.)

Neither the plethora of definitions on the left nor the example usages down the right seem to indicate an always-negative connotation to the word. While some seem to suggest that the expatiated diatribe would be unwelcome (please, spare me!), not all of them do.

It seems like a good choice of words when you want to express a long rambling, but doesn't seem to always connote "disapproving."

  • I agree with you: the disapproving connotation depends on the context and is not inherent in the word itself. You may expound on a topic without being prolix (i.e. unnecessarily talkative or lengthy). Oct 8, 2012 at 13:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

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