- Common Redundancies
- Five More Ways to Cut the Clutter
- Flotsam Phrases
- Purple Prose
- Tips to Cut the Clutter
Etymology:From the Latin, "word"
- Exercise in Eliminating Deadwood From Our Writing
- Exercise in Eliminating Wordiness in Business Writing
- Practice in Cutting the Clutter
Examples and Observations:
- "I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English--it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them--then the rest will be valuable."
(Mark Twain, letter to D. W. Bowser, March 1880)
- "Our national tendency is to inflate and thereby sound important. The airline pilot who announces that he is presently anticipating experiencing considerable precipitation wouldn't think of saying it may rain. The sentence is too simple--there must be something wrong with it.
"But the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb that carries the same meaning that's already in the verb, every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing what--these are the thousand and one adulterants that weaken the strength of a sentence. And they usually occur in proportion to education and rank."
(William Zinsser, On Writing Well. Collins, 2006)
- "Two Chicago researchers have confirmed what high school and college students have known for years: Many English teachers are more impressed by purple prose than by the clear, concise language that they profess to teach.
"In a series of experiments over a six-year period, Rosemary L. Hake of Chicago State University and Joseph M. Williams of the University of Chicago asked English teachers to rate pairs of student essays that were identical in everything except linguistic style. One of each pair was marked by simple language, active verbs and straightforward sentences, the other by flowery language, passive verbs and complex sentence structures.
"The two professors found not only that the teachers consistently preferred verbosity to tight writing but also that the style of language affected their judgment about the kinds of errors they discovered."
(Edward B. Fiske, "Education." The New York Times, Oct. 27, 1981)
- "He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument."
(Holofernes in Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare)
Also Known As: clutter, deadwood, wordiness