Pleonasms or Tautological Redundancies

(avoid redundancies or excessive repetitiousness by not using unnecessary repetitions and superfluous words or more word usages than is needed, desired, or required)

The use of pleonasms results in a superfluity of words, sometimes deliberately, for emphasis; or the unnecessary repetitions resulting from a lack of the realization that such terms are redundant.

A tautological statement, sentence, etc. repeats its meaning in an unnecessary or excessive way by using different words to say the same thing.

* The pleonasms followed by an asterisk (*) came from an essay, "The Affluent Rich"; by Nat Boynton in his book, Media Rare. My special thanks to Mr. Jerry Gordon for contributing a copy of the essay so I could go through it and pick out the "UR's" (Unnecessary Redundancies) or pleonasms.

Please contribute any pleonasms you may come across from any of the media and let's make this list even more significant as it expands. You may send your suggestion, or suggestions, to e-mail contact or use this e-mail address: words@wordinfo.info

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Some Pleonasms Listed
  • It's deja vu all over again. -Attributed to Yogi Berra

    The term, deja vu, means "a feeling of having experienced something before although in fact it is the first time that it has been experienced".

  • "Smoking can kill you, and if you've been killed, you've lost a very important part of your life." -Attributed to actress, Brooke Shields
  • Lead-lined coffins called a health risk.
  • Census says rich have most of the money. (news item)
  • Cliches are a dime a dozen. . . avoid them like the plague.
  • Cure suggestibility with hypnosis.
  • I've told you a million times, "Don't exaggerate!"
  • Is that a mirage or am I seeing things?
  • It's bad luck to be superstitious.
  • I used to be an agnostic, but now I'm not so sure.
  • Sometimes you can observe a lot just by watching. -Attributed to Yogi Berra
  • Half the lies our opponents tell about us are not true.
  • Football is an incredible game. Sometimes it's so incredible, it's unbelievable. -Tom Landry
  • When large numbers of men are unable to find work, unemployment results. -Calvin Coolidge
  • Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined. -Samuel Goldwyn
  • I never make predictions, especially about the future. -Attributed to Samuel Goldwyn
  • "In the city today, the temperature rose to 105 degrees. This sudden rise of temperature was responsible for the intolerable heat."
  • "Trapped, like a trap in a trap." -Dorothy Parker
  • I used to be indecisive, now I'm not sure.
  • He lived his life to the end.
  • Some people are superficial but that's just on the surface.
  • The world is apathetic but I don't care.
  • Always avoid alliteration.
  • Treachery will often bring loyalty into question.
  • Perspective is in the eye of the beholder.
  • "If we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure." -Attributed to former Vice-President Dan Quayle
  • Seen somewhere in the U.S.: "Fish and chips with French fries."

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specific examples
staged scenario
stellar astronomers
string together
successful achievement
A redundant statement or words repeating the same definitions; as, successful [having the intended result or obtaining what one desilres] + achievement [the act or process of finishing something successfully].
sudden impulse
suffered poorly *
sum total (s) (noun), sum totals (pl)
surrounded on all sides *
sworn affidavit
Affidavit refers to a voluntary declaration of facts written down and sworn to before an officer authorized to administer oaths; so, saying "sworn affidavit" is redundant because "affidavit" is already a sworn document.
Table Mesa
Table Table
Tautologies and Pleonasms
Tautologous expressions are often used in legal documents for clarification of meaning; such as, "will and testament" and "breaking and entering".

This practice may have been a result of expressing English documents with a mixture of Anglo-Saxon and French, or Latin terms.

When early writers weren't sure if both designations had the same meaning, or that others might not have a clear understanding of the French or Latin, they apparently included terms from both the Anglo-Saxon and the "foreign"; words side by side, just to be sure others understood what was meant. This is according to David Crystal in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language.

Pleonasms are the opposites (antonyms) of oxymora. A pleonasm consists of two concepts (usually two words) that are redundant. What does "redundant" mean? Well, how about "more than enough; overabundant; excessive; and superfluous"?

Still having a problem understanding what pleonasm means? Some pleonastic expressions are also known as tautologies. Tautology means, "needless repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence; redundancy; pleonasm". All right, what about pleonasm? Well, it means, "the use of more words than are necessary for the expression of an idea; redundancy".

So it is that we go around in circles: pleonasm means tautology, which means redundancy, which means pleonasm, which means tautology, ad infinitum.

Also see the unit of pleio-, plio- words meaning, "more, most; excessive; multiple".