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As an editor for an academic press, my pet peeve is when authors write sentences like "attempt to conceive of a possible approach to resolve X" instead of "try to resolve X". Obviously one big difference is just in the number of unnecessary words - but another difference is in how the author distances himself from the action. Is there a word for this tendency? Sure, sometimes it has a purpose -- but most times the author is just hedging responsibility. Is there a word in the writing world to describe this?

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    Sesquipedalian. Also pretentious. Jun 14, 2015 at 12:28
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    There is a difference between conceiving of an approach for solving a problem and actually solving the problem. If they were the same, all problems were solved. What you are doing is called "reduction" or "oversimplification".
    – user5645
    Jun 14, 2015 at 14:52
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    Academic, scholarly and also pedantic writing Jun 15, 2015 at 0:28
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    Properly speaking, this is an english.stackexchange.com question, not a writing question. With that said: logorrhea. Jul 10, 2015 at 16:21
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    Were you looking for something like "dither"?
    – EvaF
    Sep 24, 2015 at 20:20

1 Answer 1

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Circumlocution.

Locution that circles around a specific idea with multiple words rather than directly evoking it with fewer and apter words.

Check the wiki article here.

Update

As an author, you'll sometimes want to use those either to avoid repetition (some sentences have the tendency to come out more often than you'd like), or specifically to avoid 'getting straight to the point'.

In your example, the circumlocution is used for this exactly; the sentence doesn't simply want say someone is trying to do X, but insisting on the fact that the whole process of 'trying' is not as straightfoward as the word alone might imply. It gives you greater detail to the process, and does have a nicer phrasing as well.

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  • Hello! While this is a good suggestion, would you consider expanding this a bit more than just the wiki quote? It'd make for a more comprehensive answer. Sep 25, 2015 at 14:29
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    Hullo, I've just updated, I hope this helps. Sep 26, 2015 at 15:14
  • Thanks, I think your edit adds writerly depth to a question that's really just asking for a word. Sep 26, 2015 at 19:37

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