Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Sarah S. Christman BuckinghamEmail author
  • Kayle E. Sneed
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_871


Periphrasis; Pleonasm; Prolix


Circumlocution is the use of more words than necessary to express what could be said precisely and directly. Frequently present during word-finding difficulties, circumlocutions typically involve production of functional or attributive descriptions in place of content words that cannot be immediately accessed (Benson and Ardila 1996). Examples include saying, “the thing that you use to tell time” instead of “clock” or saying “the thing that is red, white, and blue” instead of “American flag.”

Circumlocution is found in neurotypical individuals who occasionally have a word on the “tip of the tongue,” that is, when the semantics of a needed word can be accessed but not the phonological form. It is also frequently present, however, as a symptom of anomia in individuals with fluent aphasias and cognitive-communication disorders (Davis 2013). In these circumstances, circumlocution can be viewed as both a symptom and a compensatory strategy...

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Further Reading

  1. Benson, D. F., & Ardila, A. (1996). Aphasia: A clinical perspective. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Davis, G. A. (2013). Aphasia and related cognitive-communication disorders. New York: Pearson.Google Scholar
  3. Kohnert, K., & Peterson, M. (2012). Generalization in bilingual aphasia treatment. In M. R. Gitterman, M. Goral, & L. K. Obler (Eds.), Aspects of multilingual aphasia (pp. 89–105). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Raymer, A. M. (2015). Clinical diagnosis and treatment of naming disorders. In A. E. Hillis (Ed.), The handbook of adult language disorders (2nd ed., pp. 161–183). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah S. Christman Buckingham
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kayle E. Sneed
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Communication Sciences and DisordersThe University of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA