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Etymologically Redundant Expressions

There are many words and phrases which contain redundancy in their etymology. However, this does not really qualify them as pleonasms in most cases.

Rice PaddyPaddy comes from the Malay word for rice (padi), hence this is etymologically redundant, meaning rice rice.

Head Chef – The word chef comes from the French word for head, also used to mean head cook. The English word chief comes from the same source. So head chef, etymologically, means head head.

Cash boxCash box is redundant because originally the word cash (from the Italian cassa or French casse) meant money box. Cash box thus means money box box.

Head of Cabbage – The word cabbage means head, being derived from the Latin caput "head" via Old French caboche. To speak of a head of cabbage is thus to speak of a head of head.

HailstoneHail derives from the Greek for pebble or stone. It is somewhat redundant, then, to speak of a hailstone or stone stone.

Rivers Called River

River Avon – This UK river has a name that means river river. Avon used to mean river.

Rio Grande RiverRio Grande means big river. Therefore the addition of river yeilds the etymologically redundant Big river river.

Paraguay River – This is a triple redundancy. Both para and guay derive from terms meaning river. So to say Paraguay River is essentially to say river river river!

Yenisei River – The same is true of this name. Yene means big river and ses also means river. Thus we have an expression that literally translates as big river river river.

Other Places

Sahara Desert – Sahara Desert is apparently a repetition because Sahara may be derived from an Arabic word for sand or desert, which would mean Sahara Desert means desert desert.

The Los Altos Hills – Los Altos in California has a name that means the hills. It is thus entirely redundant to say The Los Altos Hills as it simply means the the hills hills.

The La Brea Tar Pits – We have the same situation with this area of southern California. La Brea means the tar so this etymologically redundant name is literatlly the the tar tar pits.

Mount Fujiyama – Mount Fujiyama means mount mount Fuji because yama means mountain in Japanese.

Alice Holt Hurst Wood – This name for a tree-covered area in Surrey, UK derives from words meaning Alice wood wood wood.

Torpenhow Hill – This place in Cumbria in the UK may be a quadruple etymological redundancy. Tor and how can be traced to Old English forms of hill, and penn may be linked to the Celtic word for hill. If this is true, the name means hill hill hill hill. However, linguists and etymologists generally argue that at least one of the elements of this name has a different root.

More Redundancies, Pleonasms, and Tautologies

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