Circumlocution (also called circumduction, circumvolution, periphrasis, kenning or ambage) is a phrase that circles around a specific idea with multiple words rather than directly evoking it with fewer and apter words. It is sometimes necessary in communication (for example, to avoid lexical gaps that would cause untranslatability), but it can also be undesirable (when an uncommon or easily misunderstood figure of speech is used). Roundabout speech is the use of many words to describe something that already has a common and concise term (for example, saying "a tool used for cutting things such as paper and hair" instead of "scissors"). Most dictionaries use circumlocution to define words. Circumlocution is often used by people with aphasia and people learning a new language, where simple terms can be paraphrased to aid learning or communication (for example, paraphrasing the word "grandfather" as "the father of one's father"). Euphemism, innuendo and equivocation are different forms of circumlocution.
Euphemistic language often uses circumlocution to avoid saying words that are taboo or considered offensive. For example, "Holy mother of Jesus!" is a circumlocution of "Mary!", but "heck", while still euphemistic, is not a circumlocution of "hell".
Euphemistic circumlocution is also used to avoid saying "unlucky words"—words which are taboo for reasons connected with superstition: for example, calling the devil "Old Nick",[note 1] calling Macbeth "the Scottish Play" or saying "baker's dozen" instead of thirteen.
Innuendo refers to something suggested but not explicitly stated.
Equivocation is the use of ambiguous language to avoid telling the truth or forming commitments.