Monday, February 28, 2011

Redundant phrases

Thomas Jefferson: "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do."

A redundant expression (pleonasm) is a group of words, usually a pair, in which at least one word is superfluous. Some expressions are used colloquially while others are down right silly no matter where they are uttered.

Many have come into standard use through repetition or as part of a vocation. Null and void, terms and conditions, and sworn affidavit are pleonasms in the legal field. Commonly used to become “correct”: joined together (in holy matrimony), safe haven, PIN number (Personal Identification Number number), ATM machine (Automated Teller Machine machine), heat up and mental telepathy.

Some humorous expressions are: hot water heater (shouldn’t it heat up cold water?); bare naked (if you are naked, you are bare); armed gunman (versus a gunman without arms, how does he hold his gun then?); temporary loan (all loans are temporary otherwise is it not a gift?); true fact (are there false facts?); end result (is there a beginning result?); foreign imports (versus domestic imports?); tuna fish (are tuna anything but fish?); and my favorite, free gifts. Writing using redundant expressions is not better writing, only longer writing.

Here are some redundant expressions to be avoided.

starve to death, each and every, reason is because, final conclusion, still remains, best ever, clearly evident, fellow teammate, reflect back, tiny bit, advance warning, usual habit, sudden impulse, pick and choose, passing fad, added up, sand dune, cancel out, and also, skipped over, wept tears, thoughtful deliberations, utter annihilation, my personal opinion, exactly identical, could possibly, crisis situation, former graduate, empty out, cancel out, basic fundamentals, round in shape, spell out in detail, unexpected emergency, closed fist, illustrated drawings, complete monopoly, kneel down, stand up, depreciate in value, future plans, definitely decided, different varieties, sum total, made out of, reason why, first conceived, could possibly, proceed ahead, general public, preboard, usual habit, sharing the same, absolutely guaranteed, past experience, lag behind, completely opposite, but nevertheless; evolve over time; refer back to, over exaggerate, brief moment, excess verbiage, ask the question, already exists, and also, pouring down rain, over again, foot pedal, and personal friend.

Do you recognize your own speech habits in these phrases? Does “preboard” sound weird to you or normal? Can you think of any others not listed here?

These sites list many redundant phrases.

1 comment:

Mary Jane Honegger said...

I love learning new words and I always seem to learn one from you, Norm. I've never heard the term "pleonasm" before. It's a great word. However, I was shocked to find "sand dunes" on your list. I grew up close to the sand dunes in central Washington. As teenagers I remember we would say we were "going to the dunes"; but mostly, I remember the hot grit of the sand dunes trickling through my toes. I gave it a lot of thought, but, I don't think I can change, even knowing I would rid the world of one of the pleonasms that gives you such cause for distress. So, it's the "sand dunes" for me! Sorry, Norm!