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(pronounced vol-yuh-bul)  adjective


1. characterized by a ready, rapid, and continuous flow of speech; talking easily and readily; fluent; extremely articulate. 2. glib; loquacious; talkative; talking incessantly.

Other Forms

Volubility (pronounced vol-yuh-bil-uh-tee) noun

(Helpful tip: unlike its synonyms talkative, loquacious, and garrulous, voluble is often used as a term of commendation. Still, because voluble has both a complimentary and an uncomplimentary sense, be sure to give sufficient cues so your audience is clear about what you are implying.)

Main Example

  • In recent weeks, allegations of sexual harassment have surfaced from workplaces all across the nation, as if a dam had burst. What explains this tidal wave of accusations? In this author’s judgment, when several prominent actresses started accusing the then-extremely powerful and well entrenched Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct and, in some cases, with explicit accounts of his misdeeds, it gave a sense of empowerment to other women to speak out about the inappropriate sexual behavior they had been subjected to by their male superiors. Thus the current and unprecedented volubility on this issue from female professionals not just in Hollywood but also in Congress, sports, media, and other businesses. This author welcomes wholeheartedly this latest advance in the emancipation of women in the American workplace.

Workplace Examples

  • We have a hot button issue for tonight’s meeting, and if Sid is present, he’ll pretty much dominate the discussion. In addition to his voluble nature, this is one topic Sid is really passionate about.
  • For our next spokesperson, let’s pick someone who can speak fluently and volubly. In this sound-bite culture, the media often allows a person fewer than ten seconds to make a point, so we need someone who won’t fritter away precious seconds by talking slowly or peppering each sentence with numerous “uhs,” “ums,” and other unnecessary pauses.

Other Examples

  • this author, who is, among other things, a public speaking coach, giving the following words of advice to an executive just as she is about to take to the dais: “Remember what I said about knowing your audience? Because of the characteristics of today’s group, make a special effort to speak slowly...please temper your volubility a bit.”
  • describing the happenings on the opening day of a huge new center to feed the hungry and homeless, one of the co-founders saying: “Because of the momentousness of the occasion, most of us were very emotional that morning. Even the usually voluble Jessica--who first conceived of this facility--had a hard time getting through her speech because she choked up a few times.”
  • Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, and Tucker Carlson: three of the most voluble commentators on the national political scene
  • Clint Eastwood and the late Glenn Ford: two Hollywood personalities renowned for their inclination to say very little, and thus being the antithesis of volubility
  • Each time this author boards a flight and hears the airline CEO’s welcome message, just as happened during the recent Thanksgiving holidays, his mind is cast back to the pre-United-Continental merger, when Larry Kellner was the CEO of Continental Airlines. What made Mr. Kellner’s message so remarkable? His ability to introduce himself and his airline in remarkably short order, thanks to his ability to utter a stream of words very rapidly and yet with extreme clarity and distinctness. Not one missed syllable, despite the fast rate of speech. In this age of shrinking attention spans and ever-increasing demands on the time of both speakers and listeners, volubility such as Mr. Kellner’s can be a competitive edge for anyone whose job involves any amount of oral communication.

© 2018 V.J. Singal
No part of this may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author.

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