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(yo͞o`fyo͞oĭzəm), in English literature, a highly elaborate and artificial style that derived from the Euphues (1578) of John LylyLyly or Lilly, John
, 1554?–1606, English dramatist and prose writer. An accomplished courtier, he also served as a member of Parliament from 1589 to 1601.
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 and that flourished in England in the 1580s. It was characterized by extensive use of simile and illustration, balanced construction, alliteration, and antithesis. Euphuism played an important role in English literary history by demonstrating the capabilities of English prose. The term has come to mean an artificial, precious, high-flown style of writing.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a florid, elegant style in English literature of the last third of the 16th century, consisting entirely of rhetorical turns of phrase and figures of speech; its guiding principle was a syntactic, lexical, and phonetic parallelism (J. Lyly’s novel Euphues, the source of the term, the novels of R. Greene, and the early comedies of Shakespeare). Euphuism helped enrich the language of English literature and bring about its rapprochement with other European literatures. Karamzinism in Russian literature from 1790 to the 1810’s is an analogous development.

In a broader sense, euphuism denotes a grandiloquent style replete with tropes, metaphors, and periphrases.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


style overly rich with alliteration, figures, and Latinisms. [Br. Lit.: Euphues, Espy, 127]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.