the use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense (as in the man he said
) : redundancy
an instance or example of pleonasm
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
Did you know?
, 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 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!"