Redundancies and pleonasms

Redundancy is just one of the many problems that fall under the general category of Wordiness. A redundant phrase or expression is called a pleonasm. You may think you know when a redundancy occurs, but some of them can be subtle.

The following seems like a simple sentence, but look closer and you’ll see all the redundancy. “An unexpected surprise came 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? Your friend could just as well have said, “A surprise came when twins were born at midnight” with far less repetition.

Or what if you heard someone say, “The armed gunman gave an advance warning that he would make death threats on their lives”? Can you find the pleonasms in that sentence? The expressions we use are full of unwitting redundancy.

I’ve prepared a good long list of pleonasms; some of them are rather funny. Can you see what’s wrong with these? Can you think of any others? Once you start paying attention to each of your words, I’m sure you’ll begin to detect occasional redundancies. In fact, comment below with your pet peeve redundancies and pleonasms, and I’ll add them to this list.

  • 12 midnight/12 noon
  • Actual facts
  • Advance planning/advance warning/advance reservations
  • All meet together/join together
  • Ancient fossil
  • Armed gunman
  • Autobiography of one’s life
  • Awkward predicament
  • Basic necessities/basic fundamentals
  • Broke both his legs
  • Cease and desist
  • Cheap price/expensive price
  • Close proximity
  • Commute back and forth
  • Consensus of opinion
  • Death threats on his life
  • Difficult dilemma
  • Dry desert
  • Each and every
  • End result
  • Estimated roughly/guesstimated
  • Familiar fixture
  • Filled to capacity
  • First and foremost
  • Former business failed/former ex-husband
  • Free gift
  • Frozen ice
  • Future ahead looks bright
  • General public
  • Genuine original
  • Green in colour (or any colour)
  • In order to…
  • Interconnect/intermix/interlink
  • Joint collaboration
  • Linger behind
  • Main thrust
  • Major breakthrough
  • Major milestone
  • Mutual cooperation
  • Natural instinct
  • Null and void
  • Over and over again
  • Past experience
  • Personal friends/personal opinion/my personal anything
  • Point in time/period of time
  • Postponed until later
  • Pre-recorded
  • Quickly mushroomed
  • Reason is because
  • Reason why
  • Regular routine
  • Rugged mountain range
  • Safe haven
  • Single most/single biggest
  • Small cubbyhole
  • Standard orthodoxy
  • Sudden impulse
  • Sudden explosion
  • Surrounded on all sides
  • The spring/summer/fall/winter months
  • Ultimate goal
  • Unexpected surprise
  • Unintentional mistake
  • Very unique
  • Whether or not
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Arlene Prunkl

Arlene Prunkl is a freelance manuscript editor and the owner of PenUltimate Editorial Services. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

I welcome all comments. Please note that Disqus is a secure commenting system requiring moderator approval, and it may be a short while before I receive notification of your comment, approve it, and reply. Thanks for your patience!

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