Use Simple Language to Describe Unknown Words


Sometimes when you are talking to someone you want to use a word that you have learnt and forgotten or there’s a perfect word in your first language that nobody else would understand. To deal with that you need to use simple language to describe unknown words. This is called circumlocution and it is the topic of today’s post.

What’s the word?

The first step is to know what kind of word you need to describe. The type of word you want to describe needs to be described as its basic function. For example, describe a verb as an action; an adjective as a description or a colour; and a noun as a thing, a person or a situation.

Use a relative clause

If you need help with relative clauses, this post might be helpful. Basically, you need to add information that defines the word.


“The sea around that island is, oh, it’s a description that means it has bubbles.”

“To study effectively you need to do an action that makes something bigger, stronger or better to your memory.”

“Kids in some parts of Africa suffer from a situation where they haven’t eaten any food.”

The result?

The person you’re talking to will often tell you the word if they know it. If they don’t know it, they will understand what you are talking about and you will have successful communication, which is the whole reason for speaking an extra language, isn’t it?