Word of the Day : April 2, 2020
1 : the use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense (as in the man he said) : redundancy
2 : an instance or example of pleonasm
Did You Know?
Pleonasm, which stems (via Late Latin) from the Greek verb pleonazein, meaning “to be excessive,” is a fancy word for “redundancy.” It’s related to our words plus and plenty, and ultimately it goes back to the Greek word for “more,” which is pleōn. Pleonasm is commonly considered a fault of style, but it can also serve a useful function. “Extra” words can sometimes be helpful to a speaker or writer in getting a message across, adding emphasis, or simply adding an appealing sound and rhythm to a phrase—as, for example, with the pleonasm “I saw it with my own eyes!”
The grammarian’s recent post discussed pleonasms, such as “past history” and “personal friend.”
“Like most writers, I can be a stickler about language, but anyone who hangs out with me for long enough will learn that I favor a certain ungrammatical turn of phrase: ‘true fact.’ Technically speaking, that expression is a pleonasm—a redundant description—since all facts are, by definition, true.” — Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 19 Dec. 2018