This week and next, I’m looking at ways to describe how much – or how little – we speak. There are lots of words (especially adjectives) in this area, with very different connotations, from chatty (=talking a lot in a friendly, informal way) to reserved (=tending not to talk about your feelings or opinions):
Jamie was his usual chatty self.
My grandfather was a quiet, rather reserved man.
This post will cover words and phrases that mean ‘talking a lot’ and Part 2 will deal with the opposite.
Some of the adjectives describe permanent characteristics while others are used for moods and temporary states. A very common word used to describe someone who usually talks a lot is talkative and a less common, rather formal word for this is loquacious:
Over dinner, the usually talkative Sophie was strangely quiet.
The famously loquacious senator did not disappoint.
Another word for someone who talks a lot is garrulous. This is often used disapprovingly, suggesting that the person talks too much, about things that don’t matter:
Barker plays the garrulous taxi driver.
Another negative (and formal) word in this area is verbose. Someone who is verbose uses more words than is necessary to express themselves, usually in a way that is boring:
He has a reputation for being a rather verbose speaker.
Other, more approving, adjectives in this area, for example communicative, forthcoming and (formal) expansive tend to describe a person who at a particular time is willing to talk or give information because they are in the right frame of mind:
He’s never very communicative in the morning.
She clearly didn’t want to talk about her marriage but was more forthcoming about her children.
The manager, in a relaxed and expansive mood, spoke about his philosophy.
There are a few nouns for people who talk a lot. The informal words gasbag and windbag are both rude ways of referring to a person who always talks too much, in a way that is boring. The informal but less rude word chatterbox is used especially for talkative children:
He was a pompous old windbag.
He plays the father, an egotistical gasbag.
Lily’s teacher said she was a bit of a chatterbox in class.
I’ll finish with a nice idiom. Someone who can or could talk the hind leg(s) off a donkey, talks a lot, without stopping:
Sophie’s a nice girl but she could talk the hind legs off a donkey!
If you found this post interesting, do look out for Part 2 on words and phrases for not speaking much.