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Redundancies, Pleonams, Tautologies

The concepts of redundancy, pleonasm, and tautology are all virtually the same, meaning the use of more words that in necessary. Full definitions of each of these three terms are given below: Redundancy, Pleonasm, Tautology.

If you prefer to skip these detailed definitions, take a look instead at our examples of pleonasms, tautologous expressions, and redundant phrases:


PLEONASM [16c: from Latin pleonasmus, Greek Pleonasmós ('more-ness') excess, redundancy].
A traditional term for the use of more words than necessary, either for effect, or more usually as a fault of style, and any instance of that use, as in: Could you repeat that again? rather than Could you say that again? or Could you repeat that?; They both got one each rather than They both got one or They got one each; That's a more superior product (superior already denotes 'more'); It's a really new innovation (an innovation is already new).
Some common pleonasms attract little comment, such as free gift (gifts are by definition free) and plans for the future (plans cannot be about the present or past).
Many famous writers have been pleonastic, including Shakespeare's double superlative 'The most unkindest cut of all' (Julius Caesar).
© 1992 The Oxford Companion to the English Language.


TAUTOLOGY [16c: from Latin tautologia, Greek tautología repeating what has been said, from tautó the same, from tò autó the (thing) itself].
(1) Also pleonasm. A term in rhetoric for unnecessary and ineffective repititition, usually with words that add nothing new: She was all alone by herself; Me myself personally.
Many tautological (or tautologous) expressions occur in everyday usage. The tautology in some is immediately apparent: all well and good; to all intents and purposes; cool, calm, and collected; free, gratis, and for nothing; ways and means.
In others, it is less obvious, because they contain archaic elements: by hook or by crook; a hue and cry; not a jot or tittle; kith and kin; null and void; part and parcel; rack and ruin; weird and wonderful; without let or hindrance.
(2) In logic, a compound preposition that is always true: A or not-A, as in Either it is raining or it is not raining in Dublin today.
© 1992 The Oxford Companion to the English Language.


REDUNDANCY [16c: from Latin redundantia excess, from redundare to overflow, from re– again, epenthetic d, and unda wave].
(1) In general usage, more of anything than is (strictly) needed, usually resulting from repetition or duplication; pleonasm or tautology.
In the sentence They also visited us last week too, either also or too is redundant, because both words express the same idea.
(2) Technically, both the repetition of information (or the inclusion of extra information so as to reduce errors in understanding messages) and part of a message which can be eliminated without loss of essential information.
© 1992 The Oxford Companion to the English Language.

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