When looking for a word for a lengthy, tedious, boring, text*, I had the feeling that tirade could be the right one.

However I looked it up in on-line dictionaries and all of the the ones I consulted say that it's supposed to refer to an angry speech/text.

I'm not yet convinced though, I think I heard it used for what I'm looking for, in a humorous manner (and maybe the dictionaries I looked up only reported the canonical meaning).

So, can you native speakers confirm, or confute, my impression?

* I have already, unsatisfactorily, read Idiom to describe a text (or speech) which is too long.

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    As a native speaker, I would always associate tirade with anger, and almost always with speech (the written equivalent of a tirade is a screed). I'm trying to come up with a good substitute for you, but it's eluding me at the moment. People do use the word tome to mean a large and possibly intimidating book, but you'd need another adjective to definitively convey that a tome is boring or tedious. – Canadian Yankee Oct 15 at 19:54
  • Thank you, I had never heard of screed before. If it makes any difference I'm referring to a long article/blog post rather than a whole book. In any case, it would probably be better to contribute to can-tirade-be-used-for-a-non-angry-lengthy-boring-speech-text rather than here if you do come up with alternatives. – user2118 Oct 15 at 20:01
  • Related question: Difference between tirade, harangue, and rant – J.R. Oct 15 at 20:09
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    tirade really goes to tone, which is angry. – Lambie Oct 15 at 20:19

If you want a word that is non-angry, long, and boring, then tirade is not it. The dictionaries aren't wrong. A tirade is given in anger.

Perhaps you're thinking of the third sense of Merriam-Webster's definition of monologue:

3 : a long speech monopolizing conversation
// I stifled a yawn as she continued her monologue about her vacation experiences.

This has the advantage of being applicable to both speech and text.


Or, there's the verb drone:

b : to talk in a persistently dull or monotonous tone
// droning on and on about his health

However, this one is applicable only to speech.

If you are talking about a written document, a somewhat obscure term is screed:

screed (n): a long piece of writing, especially one that is boring or expresses an unreasonably strong opinion:

A recent example of its use:

Brown joined the company in 2017, not long before a screed against Google’s diversity efforts written by engineer James Damore went viral.

If not actually angry, a "tirade" should be at least loud and energetic and usually refers to oratory. If the speech was long but dull I would instead use something like monologue, or say the speaker droned on for some length of time. It can be boring (or at least tedious and repetitive), but since that's not included in the definition, you'd have to explicitly add that information.

I managed to get through the text of her speech, which was mostly an interminable tirade against the evils of gluten.

A "harangue" is similarly energetic, and usually is meant to make the listener feel guilty for some misdeed. As with "tirade", if it's boring, you'd have to say so.

After we got home, covered in filth, our father launched a tedious harangue at us about how foolish we were to play around the storm drains after a heavy rain. As if we didn't already know.

  • Screed is absolutely spot on: conveys exactly the right degree of self-righteous tedium. – Oliver Turner Oct 16 at 8:01
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    Screed does look like a suitable word but it's a very obscure word that few people will have heard of. – user5505 Oct 16 at 12:02
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    @user5505 Yes, I agree. It might have most native English speakers scratching their heads, but still most could pick up the meaning from context. I've added a recent example from an article in Wired. – Andrew Oct 16 at 14:05

Tirade strongly suggests a long loud speach full of angry or unbalanced criticisms and complaints.

In contrast a harangue suggests a long tedious and pushy persuasive speach, but not necessarily an openly angry speaker.

  • Really? So harangue could be a good solution? – user2118 Oct 15 at 20:02
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    Although it's the first word I thought of, too, harangue might be too emotive for "boring" and "tedious". – J.R. Oct 15 at 20:13
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    harangue is usually directed at a particular person. "He was haranguing me." Tirade is just "put out there". It's what the current U.S. president does. It could be to a bunch of people or only one. But meaning is basically the same: angry and off-the-cuff and somewhat disjointed. – Lambie Oct 15 at 20:18
  • @Lambie The original meaning of "harangue" is a "a speech addressed to a public assembly" (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary). Later meanings given include "a bombastic ranting speech or writing". – David42 Oct 16 at 19:54
  • @David42 Yes,well, if you harangue your audience, the audience is like a unit. – Lambie Oct 16 at 20:07

A lengthy, tedious, and boring text lacks the energy to catalyse any excitement and I would always associate a tirade with a long angry provocative speech whether oral or written. The closest synonym would be a rant which seems to me interchangeable as a less "fancy" word choice.

The word tome (for a text only) is more appropriate for the length and tedium but isn't nearly cruel enough if you are using the word as a weapon. If you are doing a review of the tome I would recommend launching into a tirade given what you have just been subjected to for hours on end :-)

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