The English language has many words with multiple spellings, especially those that differ between American English and British English. However, sometimes misspellings can be mistaken for alternative spellings, and this is the case with verbage and verbiage. Although the two seem like they could be alternative spellings of the same word, one of them is actually a spelling error. Read on to find out which word is correct!
What Is the Difference Between Verbage and Verbiage?
In this article, we’ll cover the differences between verbage and verbiage and show you how to use them properly.
When to Use Verbage
Verbage is actually a misspelling of the word verbiage. Verbage should never be used because it is incorrect. Research shows that the word verbage has almost never been used in English books; it’s simply not a commonly-used or accepted word.
When to Use Verbiage
Verbiage is the correct spelling of the word. It’s a noun that means “the way in which something is expressed; wording or diction.” In the past, verbiage had more of a pejorative connotation and was used to describe writing that was excessively wordy. Nowadays, verbiage is a more neutral term that refers to wording in general. Here are a few examples.
- I was impressed by the high schooler’s verbiage in her term paper.
- Vague verbiage isn’t a good choice; it only makes writing murkier.
Avoid using the phrase “excess verbiage,” since it is redundant. The word verbiage on its own already refers to the quality of excessiveness, much like other adjectives such as flowery and complex.
How to Pronounce Verbiage
Verbiage is pronounced ver-bee-ij. Many people pronounce the word as ver-bij, which is likely how the misspelling verbage came about.
Verbage vs. Verbiage: How to Remember the Difference
Remember, verbage isn’t a word, and it should never be used. Verbiage is always the correct choice. One simple way to remember that verbiage is correct is to say to yourself, “I should use the word verbiage,” remembering that the correct spelling contains the letter I. If you can’t remember which spelling is correct, you could always use a synonym like wording or diction.
The Bottom Line
Even though many believe verbage and verbiage are spellings of the same word, there is only one correct spelling: verbiage. In no case is the word verbage considered to be acceptable. You can use the phrase, “I should use verbiage,” to help jog your memory when stuck between the two spellings.