Redundant words and phrases –Do you use them?

redundant-words-phrases1Redundancies are rampant in our language. Most use them without even thinking.

Definition: A word, words or phrases used in excess of those necessary for clarity. Actually, my post on exact same is a redundancy.

Check these out:

  • Complete opposite – can it be somewhat opposite?
  • ATM machine – The M in ATM is for machine.
  • HIV virus – HIV means Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • PIN number – The N already stands for number
  • Armed gunman – come on journalists, quit using this
  • ER room – This one has been around forever. Emergency room room?
  • IRA account – It is not necessary to say account
  • Advanced notice – duh!
  • Free gift – What other kind is there?
  • 7 a.m. in the morning – This really bugs me.
  • Pair of twins – Isn’t that how they usually come?
  • Attached together – (not the twins)
  • Revert back – well, revert means to go back
  • Past history – as opposed to future history maybe?
  • How about final outcome and added bonus?

It really bothers me when someone says in his or her personal opinion. Closely tied to this is “a friend of mine.”

I will stop now. My spellchecker hates most of what I typed. Apparently, it does not like redundant words or phrases either. Do we have a consensus of opinion (oops) on this?

Give me some other examples, please.

4/22  Leonard McDonnell (distant relative?) in Melbourne, Australia offered tuna fish as a redundant phrase.  What other kind of tuna is there, he askes.

4/24  Phil Earnhardt, who was at the Fort Collins Tweetup, mentioned a phrase that bugs him.  It is close proximity. He says, ” I oppose close proximity; I’m constantly seeking distant proximity.”

4/26  Lori Evans  (femme_artiste on Twitter) said, “Pair of twins: Only works if you’re talking about 4 people!”  So true.

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64 responses to “Redundant words and phrases –Do you use them?

  1. Woody Woodward

    Bob, here is s fauxpas I have been guilty of. How about a Jewish man who decides to devote his life to keeping the Mosaic Law, is well-educated in Torah and Jewish customs, goes through Rabbinic training to become a leader, then we ignorantly refer to them as “Jewish Rabbi’s.” Is a Rabbi Jewish or are the Jewish Rabbi’s?

  2. I oppose close proximity; I’m constantly seeking distant proximity.

    My other pet peeve is the phrase Arnold made famous: “No problem.” I ask people if they say “problem” when there is one.

  3. Hi Phil (floatingbones)
    I will add your redundancy to my blog post with a link back to you.
    Did you see my prior post where I mention no problem vs. thank you?

    Thanks for attending the Tweetup.

  4. Pair of twins: Only works if you’re talking about 4 people! ; )

  5. Good one Lori. I will add it to my postscripts on the redundancy blog post.

  6. i love your page……
    thanks for the words posted

  7. Thanks for reading and enjoying. Where are you located?

  8. Why does an ad say that a product is being offered “for free” instead of just “free?”

  9. Interesting question. I am not an expert on linguistics or English but….
    I would hazard this guess. If I said I am offering something FOR a dollar, and I substitute FREE, maybe the structure stays the same.

    Just a stab at an answer.

  10. As it pertains to finances, I believe the word “free” is not synonymous with the word “nothing” but, instead, means “for nothing.” The preposition “for” is included in the meaning. Therefore, to say that something is “for free” is tantamount to saying that it is “for for nothing.” Obviously, there is disagreement on this.

  11. How about “Rio Grande River,” “added bonus,” or when someone says something like “out of 85 total” when they could just say “out of 85″?

  12. Britny Good ones. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Some of the redundancies are likely the result of advertising. For example, in advertising it’s commonplace to see “Save 20% off,” where “Save 20%” will do just fine. Advertisers want to infuse as much perceived savings as they can.

  14. We often refer repeatedly to the Department of Redundancy Department. I think we got that from Donald Rumsfeld.

  15. By the way, I found your website when I searched for “close proximity” as a redundant phrase. You confirmed my suspicion.

  16. Thanks I am glad I could help.

  17. Did Rumsfeld really say that?

  18. I just came across “close proximity” in a work of fiction I am editing. Knowing it’s a redundancy, albeit a harmless one, I deleted the word “close.” I consulted my main dictionary for evidence to support my explanation of the word “proximity” to the author. (Because I know I’m picky, and I know he’ll ask why.) The example sentence given by my dictionary? “Do not operate microphones in close proximity to television sets.” *sigh*

  19. In airline jargon, there is “pre-boarding.” Is that when you board before you board?

    And, before debarking, make sure you have all your “personal belongings.” As versus impersonal belongs, or public belongings?

  20. Dan Good ones! Thanks for reading my blog.

  21. I would like to nominate “From Whence”. It is either “from where” or “whence”. If you say “from whence”, it is not only wrong, but makes you sound like a pretentious twit.

  22. Thanks Maria. I had not thought about that one.

  23. I, too, found your site while looking for “close proximity.” That one’s troubling, because “proximity” often requires a modifier–the word alone doesn’t tell you *how* close something is. Ergo, “close proximity.” But I have a couple of others that I don’t see mentioned in your site. One is “pre-plan”; no explanation needed. It’s disgusting how often that appears these days. Another, less obvious, one is “whether or not,” since it’s been used since time immemorial. “Whether” contains both positive and negative, so to say “or not” is to repeat what “whether” has already considered. It’s redundant to say, “Tell me whether or not you’re coming,” when “whether you’re coming” says it all. N’est-ce pas?

  24. Billybob You have a sharp eye for these items. Thanks for reading and for commmenting.

  25. Would someone please explain to me what “admixture” adds to “mixture”? And what “delimit” does for “limit” other than cost ink? And while we’re at it, how does, “I was thinking to myself” improve on, “I was thinking”? Can one “think” to someone other than himself? Those of you who are familiar with mystery/thriller writer Lee Child might be bugged, as am I, with his propensity to modify all manner of nouns with the phrase “some kind of.” E.g., “He was standing next to some kind of window.” Shouldn’t some nice editor somewhere point out that those words are unnecessary,meaningless, and therefore nonsensical filler? EVERY noun is potentially, or actually, “some kind of” something, no?

  26. Excellent points Billybob Yes, and editor should not let “some kind of” go. My pet peeve is “a friend of mine.” As opposed to a friend of someone else, I guess.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  27. You’ve created a monster, wordsbybob. I can’t shut off the “redundancy filter.” So here’s what I’ve been stockpiling: pre-condition (as in insisting on pre-conditions before one negotiates); advanced planning; advance reservations (or “you’d better make reservations in advance”); please RSVP (the “SVP” is French–s’il vous plait–for “please”); “blue in color”; “rectangular in shape”; “brutal rape,” “brutal murder.” My pet peeve these days is not a redundancy but terrible English usage: “very unique,” “so unique,” other modifiers w/”unique.” There are no shades or degrees of uniqueness, since the word means “one of a kind.” Ugh!

  28. Thanks for continuing to read. Your examples are great. You show do a guest blog for me.
    Hey, where are you located?

  29. Thanks for the encouragement. I’m in L.A., where I practice law (civil litigation–which might be an oxymoron, come to think of it).

  30. Billybob Oh, you are in LALA land. I still welcome a guest post. As an attorney, you will probably want to bill me for the time. HA.
    Thanks again. I enjoy your comments.
    Are you on LInkedin or Facebook?

  31. Thanks, wordsbybob. By the way, is that a surname or first name? As for the billing, don’t think I haven’t been keeping my timesheet. You can pay monthly, if that works for you. Yes, I’m on both LinkedIn and Facebook, in a very tentative way–I haven’t completed the profile for the former; the latter I do absolutely nothing with (but only if I’m allowed to end a sentence w/a preposition). I received an email today in which was mentioned “voluntary donation.” I guess they got tired of “free gift.” Have a great non-redundant day.

  32. Actually, wordsbybob is my full name–like Cher, Bono or Liberace.
    I may have mentioned this one but I will say it again. Is that redundant? My wife of 40-some years comments on the “cute little VW bugs” she sees on the road. I guess that is to distinguish them from the cute BIG VW bugs she sees.

  33. Kinda like “small village.” My new pet peeve illustrates just how far our English usage has fallen. It seems that almost everyone now writes, “In addition to…the book also tells about….” Isn’t it beyond basic that “also” is redundant? While we’re about it, how about giving book editors a lesson on proper use of semi-colons? If the editors don’t know what the critters are for, they oughtn’t to be using them, methinks. I’ve had it to “here” with a semi-colon followed by a conjunctive (and, or, but), when the semi-colon is supposed to join independent clauses, no ifs ands or buts.

  34. Kristina Alice

    I totally agree with most of the comments here, but I would add that I feel in some cases I would use a redundant phrase for emphasis or style. For example, “rectangular in shape” or “blue in colour,” and as for the example above “some kind of,” couldn’t that be used to express that the noun it’s describing isn’t up to par or is unusual or something similar. Also I think saying “a small village” is not a crime, you could technically say it was large or huddled or spread out, etc. The adjective small does add meaning and from my point of view cannot be viewed as totally redundant. Another comment I was not completely sure about is regarding “no problem,” I can’t seem to understand how that got bumped in with redundancies like “close proximity” and “free gift.” Language is not just a rigid form to be treated with such severity, obviously there are conventions to stick to, but it should flow free and is there to be enjoyed, the quirky, non-perfect aspects make it just the more special.

  35. Here’s one I just came across, in an email to tens or hundreds of thousands of people (and fairly intelligent ones, at that):
    “The Hidden Secret They Don’t Want You to Know”.
    Puh-leeeeze!

  36. Hate those out in the open secrets.

  37. I just came across this one for the umpteenth time: “pre-packaged.” “Packaged” before what? Neither does “previously recorded,” since, by definition, a recording was made before you saw it. If they mean to say you’re seeing a tape rather than a “live” production, they should simply say, “This is a recording” or some such. And, sportsfans, how about “recorded live”? Haven’t they heard that dead men tell no tales?

  38. Billybob Does “preowned” car fall in this category too?

  39. I think “preowned” is okay because it clearly means that someone previously owned it. But “pre-packaged” means only “packaged,” as “pre-recorded” means simply “recorded.” One might as well say he pre-dressed before he went out, or she pre-showered before the ball.

  40. The following is straight out of a major newspaper online: “Age-old stereotypes still remain.” Doesn’t “remain” contain “still” in its meaning? Thus if you “remain” in the house, you are, by definition, “still” in the house, n’est-ce pas? Sheesh….

  41. Also, “I see what you are saying.” Maybe not so much redundant as not possible.

  42. Just found your blog. I was looking for a place where I could vent with this one, which really confuses me: “co-mingle”. I hear this often from U.S. conservatives (redundancy?) who deplore the co-mingling of people of different races. I guess mingling with them is okay, but co-mingling is really over the top.

    Emmjazz

  43. Emmjazz Thanks for reading and commenting.

  44. Oh, yeah? How’s ’bout “intermix” and “delimit”? Eh? Eh?

  45. Hey Billybob Good to hear from you again. You and/or Emmjazz should write a guest post for my blog.

  46. “I have a friend of mine” instead ” I have a friend” or ” A friend of mine ” or “A friend”

    reduce down
    Redundancy? You can say that again!

  47. Good one, Joan. That drives me crazy too.

  48. TechnicallyProficient

    How about “hot water heater” instead of “water heater”
    I am abhorred at the incorrect use of “healthy” in place of “healthful.”

  49. TP Thanks for the comment. Hot water heater is a great redundancy. You should consider writing a guest post about “healthy” and “healthful.”

  50. @TechnicallyProficient: How about “abhorred by” instead of “at”? Though it’s not redundant, it seems incorrect.

  51. duchessdoright

    There is also a tuna fruit. I would be very sad if I put asked for a tuna for my morning smoothie and ended up with a fish. I would also be disappointed if I was hoping for the fish, but failing to specify was given the eel.

  52. Thanks duchess. I have not heard of tuna fruit.

  53. Thomas Condon

    Here’s a pet peeve (in case I missed it in this list): “We share a common goal”.

  54. Therapists often refer to “CBT therapy” or DBT therapy.” The ‘T’ in both already stands for (you guessed it) therapy (cognitive behavioral; dialectical behavioral).

  55. Therapists often refer to “DBT therapy or “CBT therapy.” The ‘T’ in both already stands for (you guessed it) therapy (dialectical behavioral; cognitive behavioral). When you need therapy-therapy, you know you’ve got issues.

  56. I find that too Allie. Thanks for reading my blog.

  57. Technically Proficient

    MSDS is a Material Safety Data Sheet and it is ALWAYS referred to as a “MSDS Sheet!”

    How about our preamble to the US Constitution ” In order to form a more perfect union, etc.” Nothing can be “more perfect,” By definition, “perfect” is a superlative. “Perfect” is “perfect.”

    Technically Proficient

  58. PS What the hell are TechnicallyProficient and Billybob on about? They’re neither “abhorred by” nor “abhorred at” it. Either you weirdos are trying to say you abhor it or maybe you’re horrified by it, but there’s no such thing as being abhorred by something, except maybe by me. If something abhors you *then* you’re abhorred by it. So you’re saying that that expression abhors you, which makes no damn sense. A phrase or expression is not a thinking being and can’t abhor. You abhor it.

  59. I never thought about more perfect. Good point.

  60. Allie I approved your comment but I am not comfortable with you calling some of my readers weirdos. I do get the point of your post. Thanks for reading my blog.

  61. Oh, Allie, how you talk! Yes, of course you’re right: I abhor all the abhorrent abhoraciousness of which you write. And I am truly chagrined and chastised. And don’t forget embarrassed. Yessirree, (wordsby)bob. Almost unforgivable. But, let’s not lose sight of the forest vs. trees, shall we? Calling names (“weirdos”) is not only gratuitously nasty, but it also (a) detracts from your message, and (b) betrays your political affiliation (Dem, of course–who else can’t resist calling people names instead of simply intelligently disagreeing?). I, er, uh, um, abhor your attitude.

  62. I have no political affiliation, baby boo! Nothing can detract from my message, because I’m right, sweetheart, and you just feel salty ;) I abhor poor grammar and senility. I like your name, though, so that’s OK! Keep it real, hon. Peace!

  63. Technically Proficient

    Just for the record: Mr. Webster says that the verb “abhor” means “to regard with extreme repugnance or aversion; detest utterly.” So, I go along with Billybob.

  64. Technically Proficient

    At grave risk, I submit the following: crooked lawyer.

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