What is the opposite for the straight talk idiom? How do I best call the activity when someone makes a very long preamble before he says what he wants?

  • In my experience, "straight talk" can also imply a high level of honesty. In that case, the opposite could include gossip, flattery, and deceit.
    – oosterwal
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 13:22
  • 1
    @oosterwal "Straight talk" does mean speaking with a high level of honesty -- rather than "coming straight to the point" as OP implies.
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 6:44
  • 1
    My first thought was ‘gay talk’, but I don’t suppose that’s quite what you’re looking for here … Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 20:03

6 Answers 6


In the noble spirit of one immortal oratorm when he so colorfully advised our hero . . .

This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.

. . . I can myself do little less than recommend vigorously not timorously, for timor no more profits a man than it does a mouse or a moth, any of the following fine and splendid formulations of art:

  • chatty
  • circuitous
  • circumlocutory
  • desultory
  • diffuse
  • digressive
  • discursive
  • evasive
  • gabby
  • garrulous
  • long-winded
  • loquacious
  • maundering
  • meandering
  • palaverous
  • prolix
  • rambling
  • talkative
  • turgid
  • vague
  • verbose
  • waffling
  • windy
  • wordy

and of course, my personal favorite word for vexing prattlers wont to sacrifice wit’s soul on the altar of florid flourish:

•  Polonian

  • 4
    I like long-winded and rambling.
    – oosterwal
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 13:19
  • @oosterwal Many people do. :)
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 5, 2013 at 15:16

If you are actually talking about someone who waffles on long-windedly before getting to the point (rather than someone who doesn’t say things straight out and honestly, which is how I too would understand ‘straight talk’), the first idiom that comes to mind is beating around the bush.


The opposite of a familiar and straightforward idiom would be a strange and impenetrable circumlocution. I suggest "obfuscatory tergiversation."

  • Had to look up tergiversation, but it's a good word.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 21:24

I'd suggest pussyfoot for the specific use you mentioned. In other uses, I might say an antonym for straight talk would be euphemism or the vulgar B.S. even.


The opposite of straight is crooked (the adjective /'krʊkəd/, not the past participle /krʊkt/).

The opposite of talking is thinking, in the sense that what one says may not represent what one thinks. Particularly when the topic is lying.

So I'd say the opposite of straight talk would be crooked thinking.

  • 1
    The opposite of talking, surely, is just not talking. So crooked silence is even more of a direct opposite. Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 23:11

Last year the question Word for a person who talks without content was closed as a duplicate of this one.  While I believe that my answer works for this question, I believe that it works even better for that one.  The answer is double-talk.


  • language that appears to be earnest and meaningful but in fact is a mixture of sense and nonsense
  • inflated, involved, and often deliberately ambiguous language
  • language that uses many words but has very little meaning

English Oxford Dictionaries:

    another term for doublespeak


        Deliberately euphemistic, ambiguous, or obscure language.
        ‘the art of political doublespeak’

Collins Dictionary:

    empty, deceptive, or ambiguous talk, esp by politicians

Macmillan Dictionary:

    a way of saying things that makes it impossible for people to understand, used by people in official positions when they want to hide the truth

grammar.about.com discusses doublespeak:

    Doublespeak is language that's intended to deceive or confuse people.  …

    Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms, unsupported generalizations, or deliberate ambiguity.  Contrast with plain English.

    William Lutz has defined doublespeak as “language which pretends to communicate but doesn’t.”

The grammar.about.com page referenced above lists many other terms, phrases, and references that relate to these questions, such as

Amusing Contemporary Notes:

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