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Redundant Phrases – Pleonasms

How often have you heard a friend say something like this: "It was an unexpected surprise when a pair of baby twins was born at 12 midnight"? What is a surprise if not unexpected? What are twins if not a pair? Who can be born but a baby? When is midnight if not at 12? The expressions we use are full of redundancy. Your friend could just as well have said: "It was a surprise when twins were born at midnight" with far less repetition.

Many stores try to tempt us with free gifts, but how could a gift be anything but free? You would surely feel it to be an unfair use of the word "gift" if you were to be charged for it!

These redundant expressions are called pleonasms. Some common ones are in the list below. Remove the superfluous words (in brackets) and you will not subtract from the overall meaning of the expression.

  • (actual) experience
  • (advance) planning
  • (advance) reservations
  • (advance) warning
  • all meet (together)
  • (armed) gunman
  • at (12) midnight
  • at (12) noon
  • autobiography (of my life)
  • (awkward) predicament
  • (baby) boy was born
  • (basic) fundamentals
  • cease (and desist)
  • cheap (price)
  • (close) proximity
  • cold (temperature)
  • commute (back and forth)
  • consensus (of opinion)
  • (difficult) dilemma
  • each (and every)
  • (empty) space
  • (end) result
  • estimated (roughly) at
  • filled (to capacity)
  • (free) gift
  • (frozen) ice
  • (general) public
  • green (in color)
  • join (together)
  • (natural) instinct
  • never (at any time)
  • (null and) void
  • (pair of) twins
  • (past) experience
  • (poisonous) venom
  • (pre-)recorded
  • reason is (because)
  • (regular) routine
  • (small) speck
  • (suddenly) exploded
  • surrounded (on all sides)
  • (unexpected) surprise

If you would like to send us redundant expressions that you have heard, we'd love to hear your favorites.

More on Redundancy, Pleonasm, and Tautology

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