Word of The Month: Logorrhea

David Zapatka

Are you enjoying our political cycle of nonstop commentary on the candidates, their platforms, their off-handed remarks and actions? How about the debates; fascinating? insightful? longwinded? boring? Does it sometimes seems like the words of the talking heads and the candidates go on 24/7?

Lindsay Cantoni, friend and fellow bridge player, brings this month’s word to our column, logorrhea. The sound of this word may remind you of a more familiar word, diarrhea. You are certainly making the connection.

Logorrhea ˌlȯg-ə-ˈrē-ə,:noun 1. excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness. The spoken form of logorrhea (in the non-medical sense) is a kind of verbosity that uses superfluous or fancy words to disguise a useless or simple message as useful or intellectual and is commonly known as “verbal diarrhea.” 2. (in the medical sense) pathologically excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness that is characteristic especially of the manic phase of bipolar disorder.

Logorrhea can also be used as a form of euphemism to disguise unpleasant facts and ideas. Think again of much of the political commentary we have been inundated with of late. The medical and non-medical uses of this word as described above become blurred.

Origin – from ancient Greek λόγος logos “word” and ῥέω.

Used in a sentence – “The article suffers from the logorrhea that infects so much academic writing.”

“I have really nothing at all to say today, but of course I’m not going to let that stop me from rattling on.” There’s a word for this condition: logorrhea, the excessive use of words. Logorrhea is generally used in conjunction with the bonehead at a party who just will not shut up…John Scalzi (Columnist)

Author Eric Arthur Blair, a.k.a. George Orwell, had much to say about the political logorrhea of his day. In his 1946 essay titled “Politics and the English Language,” he criticizes the “ugly and inaccurate” written English of his time. This political language according to Orwell “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Orwell believed that the language used was necessarily vague or meaningless because it was intended to hide the truth rather than express it. This unclear prose was a contagion which had spread to those who did not intend to hide the truth and it concealed a writer’s thoughts from himself and others.

Orwell is quoted on one of his major points, “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”

“He who talks much cannot talk well.” —Carlo Goldoni

“They always talk who never think, and who have the least to say.” —Matthew Prior

Share the logorrhea in your life or any other word you may have interest in with our readers along with your insights and comments to dzapatka@wbhsi.net.