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Redundancies

In English usage, redundancy is usually defined as the use of two or more words that say the same thing, but we also use the term to refer to any expression in which a modifier’s meaning is contained in the word it modifies (e.g., early beginnings, merge together—many more are listed below). Think of redundancies as word overflows.

This list is far from complete, and we’re developing it organically (i.e., adding redundancies as they come up in our work) rather than compiling the list by stealing from other online sources, which would be too easy. If you feel strongly that any redundancy should be added here, please comment.

A

Actual fact

Added bonus: A bonus is by definition something added.

Adequate enough: One or the other will work.

After having

Arm’s reach: reach or arm’s length.

B

Blatantly obvious: Things that are blatant are obvious.

Blend together

[Adjective]-born: e.g., Brazilian-born, Texan-born. Make it Brazil-born or Texas-born (or Brazilian or Texan).

Browse through: To browse is to look through something, so through is already contained in its meaning.

But yet: As conjunctions (but not as adverbs), but and yet are synonyms.

C

Central protagonist

Chase after

Close proximity: To be in proximity to something is to be close to it. Try close to or in proximity to instead.

Collaborate together

Comingle, co-mingle: The verb mingle means to mix or bring together in combination. 

Combine together: To combine is to bring multiple things together.

Continue on: If you two words, try go on.

Critical juncture: A juncture is a moment made critical by a concurrence of circumstances.

Critically important

Current status quo: The status quo is the current state of affairs.

D

E

Each and every: Each and every are synonyms.

Early beginnings

End result

Enter into: Try go into, or just enter.

Equally as: Try one or the other.

Excess(ive) verbiageVerbiage is an excess of words.

F

False pretense and false pretenses: Pretenses are by definition false.

Far distance: Exception: when contrasting a far distance with a near distance.

Favorably disposed: To be disposed is to have a favorable inclination to something.

Fellow classmates: Try fellow students.

Few in number: Few always pertains to number.

Final destination: Exception: in reference to journeys, especially airline flights, that have multiple destinations.

Final outcome

Final result

First and foremost

First dibs: When you have dibs on something, you have the primary claim to it.

First discovered: Generally, something can only be discovered once, but there are exceptions—for example, “I first discovered bananas in 1979, then forget about them, and then discovered them again in 2009.” Alternatives: First saw, first encountered, first observed.

Follow after

Forewarn

Free gift: If it’s not free, it’s not a gift.

Future plans: All plans pertain to the future.

G

General consensus (of opinion): A consensus is an opinion generally held by a group.

General vicinity

Generally always

H

Historic milestone: A milestone is by definition historic.

I

In the negative: no.

In the process ofThe meaning of this phrase is usually conveyed by the surrounding verbs. For example, we are in the process of moving could be just we are moving.

Innocent civilians

Interact with each other

Intermarry, intermarriage

Intermingle

J

Join together: Things that join can only do so together.

Joint cooperation: If it’s not done jointly, it’s not cooperation.

Just exactly: Exactly means precisely or in all respects, and one definition of just is precisely. 

K

L

M

Main protagonist

Manually by hand: Manually means by hand. 

Meld together

Mental attitude: Can an attitude be anything but mental?

Merge together

Mix together

Moment in time: A moment is a short, indefinite period of time.

Most quintessential: Quintessential contains most in its definition—i.e., the most typical of a quality or state.

Most unique

N

O

Old adage: The definition of adage is a traditional (i.e., old) saying that is accepted as true.

Opening gambit: but only when gambit is used in its traditional sense.

Orbit around: Orbit means to go around (something).

Outward appearances: Appearances are by definition outward.

Overexaggerate: Excess is contained in the meaning of exaggerate, but overexaggerate works where exaggeration is expected, such as in some types of acting.

P

Past experience: All experience is in the past.

Past history

Pervade throughout: The verb pervade means to be present throughout.

Plan ahead

Plan in advance

Pre-plan: Exception: where pre-plan means prior to planning. 

Prior experience: All experience is prior (though people seem to love using this phrase in job listings).

Proceed forward: To proceed is to move forward.

Proceed further

Proof positive: Proof is usually sufficient.

Q

R

Rate of speed: Rate or speed is usually sufficient.

Reason is because: Reason is contained in the definition of because, and while the phrase reason is because is common, sticklers for this sort of thing say either the reason is that or it is because.

Repay back: Go with either pay back or repay.

Repeat again: This is redundant when something is repeated for the first time.

Reserve ahead of time

Return back: Try go back or just return.

Revert back: either go back or just revert.

S

Self-confessed

Sequential order: in order or in sequence.

Shared commonalities

Slight edge: One definition of edge is a slight advantage or superiority, so the modifier is unnecessary.

Slight hint

Software programs: All computer programs are software.

Steady stream: Streams are by definition steady.

Sum total: These words are synonyms.

Sworn affidavit: An affidavit is a formal statement of fact made under oath before a notary public or other authorized officer.

T

U

Unexpected surprise

Up until: Go with up to or just until.

Uphill climb: When climb isn’t emphatic enough, try uphill battle.

Usually always

V

Various different: These words are synonyms.

Vitally important

W

Well respected: If you want to use the word well, try well regarded or well thought of.

Whether or not: Or not is often contained in the meaning of whether, but whether or not is not redundant when or not is a necessary alternative to the positive option (e.g., “I’m going whether you go or not.”)

While at the same time

Whole entire: These words are synonyms.

X

Y

Z

Comments

  1. Hi there just wanna ask/double check if this is redundant:

    “Been through hell and out”
    I’ve heard the saying “Been through hell and back” but “Been through hell and out”? It really sounds off.
    Based on my understanding, “been” is a past tense and it means that
    you already came from a certain place and you’re already out of it.
    A reply is greatly appreciated… Thanks all.

    • “Been” is the past participle of “to be.” When you say you’ve been
      somewhere it doesn’t necessarily follow that you’re not there anymore.
      For example, you walk into a slaughterhouse and realize, “Oh, I’ve been
      here before.” You were here once and you are here now. Plus, the phrase
      is an idiom; it is idiomatic. Usually we let idioms off the logical
      hook. After all, if you’ve actually been to hell, then you won’t have
      time to split grammatical hairs–between all the interviews and therapy and burn
      treatment and so on.

    • Claudzilla says:

      I hear this more frequently as “been TO hell and back” which, as an idiom (as Leo pointed out it is) works just fine. You’ve been to hell and returned here. Though just saying “been through hell” accomplishes the same thing.

  2. Underneath: under or beneath

  3. The worst ever is “general pubic.” When I hear this (especially from professionals, like the talking heads on the news) I want to barf into my thesaurus. The public, by definition, IS ALREADY GENERAL. So, when people say this, they are really saying, “public public.” I need a Valium……

    Totally agree with the whole “been there and back” too. Good catch.

    • “general pubic”. Not so redundant I think..

    • ‘general pubic’ is a good one as far as typos go…

      But seriously, Ï can’t see anything wrong with ‘general public’. It is used to differentiate smaller or specialized audiences or readerships from wider ones. For example, a scientific publication – though technically available to the public as a whole – typically addresses only other scientists. When someone eventually publishes the findings in a more readable, more easily understandable language, without the jargon, you can say it’s for the “general public”.

  4. Oh, and how about “unmanned drone”? Hello…a drone is, well, unmanned by definition; if it was manned, it would be an airplane.

    Or (and this one just kills me), “Sorry I was late for work, my alarm clock didn’t go off.” Really? It rings all night and you wake up when it stops?

  5. Not all software are programs and not all programs are software. A cd of PDFs contains software, but no programs. My favorite radio program is not software. Software application would also appear redundant too, but not all applications are software, etc.

    SPL,

    Alarms going off shouldn’t kill you, but a bomb going off might. Look up “go off”.

    • What the entry actually says is, “All computer programs are software,” which is true and has nothing to do with radio programs or concert programs or any other kind of programs. Also, a CD containing only PDFs does not contain software, only documents. You will need software to read those PDFs.

      • Oh boy. I thought I was clear. Apparently not.
        Look, I’m not a pedant. I like correcting pedants because we all make mistakes. However, I haven’t. First of all, the author was saying “software programs” is redundant, which it isn’t. Your snark “actually” makes no sense. Yes all computer programs are software, but not all software are programs, and not all programs are software.

        Second, PDFs are software there Bill Gates. You’re conflating your own understanding of “documents” (not a technical term in this sense, you mean files) and applications. However, both are soft-ware. Files can’t be hard-ware. Software is a pretty vague term alone. So is program. Saying software program helps to specify.

        *15 Years Systems Engineer

        • titledprimates says:

          From Wikipedia: Computer software or simply software is any set of instructions that directs a computer to perform specific operations.

          “Software programs” is most definitely redundant.

          *Not a phony engineer

  6. Most unique. Unique implies one of a kind!

  7. Revert Back ; both mean the same

  8. I’d add “orbit around,” since “orbit” means “to go around something.”

  9. I’d like to add “climb up.” Do we say we climb up a hill or simply, we climb a hill? As to its definition, “to climb” means “to go upward on or along, to the top of or over.”

    Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/climb

    • And yet, it seems perfectly acceptable to say that we “climb down” a hill, too, thus the potential need to differentiate the direction one is climbing.

  10. Junaid Khan says:

    Furthermore – Further is always more.

  11. You say that Historic Milestone is redundant as “A milestone is by definition historic”. I take exception to this as a milestone is by definition “One of a series of numbered markers placed along a road or boundary at intervals of one mile or occasionally, parts of a mile.” Thus, the placement of “Historic” in front of “Milestone” is not redundant, but helps to define it as a milestone in history, as opposed to a physical milestone to measure distance. For example “We reached a milestone with the completion of our technologically advanced motorway”. Was this a historic milestone due to the advanced technology used, or did they reach a physical milestone at the end of the motorway?

    • Grammarist says:

      But we’re talking about the other sense of “milestone”–in the words of the OED:
      A significant stage or event in the progress or development of a society, a career, an individual’s physical and mental growth, etc.; a measure of progress or change.

      • David R. says:

        “Historic milestone” is often redundant: for example, if a milestone is significant enough to be reported in the newspaper, it probably is historic. But if I reach a milestone in a personal project that hardly anyone else will ever hear about? That’s not a historic milestone.

  12. With regards to the entry – “Mental attitude: Can an attitude be anything but mental?”
    Well actually, yes it can. An attitude can also refer to the geometric orientation of an object, or the angle of an aircraft in regard to a reference point. Thus, the placement of “Mental” in front of “Attitude” is not redundant, but helps to define the type of attitude. For example “The pilot flew his plane with the correct attitude”. Did the pilot fly the plane with the correct angle of attack, or the correct state of mind?

    • An attitude can also be bodily or emotional.

      • You two said what I was going to say. :-) Attitude can be a synonym for posture.
        Some of these I would define as “redundancy for emphasis”, like “each and every”. The written word can be hard to emphasize, so redundancy is one way to convey meaning that’s lost without vocal inflection. Trouble is, people get used to reading a phrase, so they use it when speaking.

  13. Why are the following on this list?

    Intermarry, intermarriage: Used when specifically talking about marriages between distinct groups, where “marry” does not have that implication.

    After having: There must be exceptions to this, with verbs that may require “have” (e.g. “have lunch”, “have relations”)

    First and foremost: these are not necessarily synonymous; the first stated reason of many may not be the most important

    Future plan: “My current plan is to finish my college degree; future plans include becoming mayor of Smallville.”

    Innocent civilians: Neither of these words contain the meaning of the other.

    • Grammarist says:

      Thank you. We’ll revisit these, as they obviously need better explanations if not removal.

    • JEKinTX says:

      Let me explain, especially in America you are either a Citizen of a Felon. A felon is considered guilty and likewise loses certain rights afforded to a citizen. Hence, a citizen is innocent. Now the moment a citizen does something that is so offensive it makes him/her a felon then even if the jury/judge hasn’t yet tried the person in court- the truth be known that person is in reality a felon although not a convicted one at the time.

      This brings us to another idea, if a felon gets away with a crime, and is still regarded as a citizen by others then in their eye’s he/she may appear to be a citizen, but to the criminal he knows he is indeed a felon based on the essence of the law. I hope this clears this up and hasn’t confused you.

      • that’s only in the US…. and innocent doesn’t necessarily refer to specific crimes. it can also refer to moral/ethical innocence. you could, in theory, have belligerent civilians.

    • JEKinTX says:

      Example: A felon loses the right to vote, a right any citizen meeting the proper age and registration requirements can do without fearing (hopefully) and coercion or bullying.

  14. “Point in time” should be added to the P’s, I think. I often see sentences like, “At this point in time, I am riding a camel into town.” Either “at this point” or “at this time” is sufficient.

    “Most unique” doesn’t really belong in this section, does it? Modifying “unique” is just illogical; it’s not redundant to say something is “more unique” or “less unique.” Right?

    Why is “after having” on this list? The first this that occurs to me when I hear this phrase is the wordy usage of something like “after having eaten…” compared with the more concise “after eating…” I don’t see anything redundant about the former. Am I missing something?

    • Oops: The first THING that occurs to me…

    • David R. says:

      “At this point in time” is completely redundant and can just be deleted from any sentence in which it occurs or, if emphasis is required, replaced with “now”. In your example, the use of the present tense already implies that you’re not talking about any other point in time.

  15. Oh, here’s a good one: “Audible to the ear.” This redundancy has been audible to my ear and visible to my eyes (I don’t read Braille, so it hasn’t been tangible to my skin, and I don’t write with chocolate syrup… or a scratch-and-sniff pen… you get the point). It’s a silly thing to say, sillier thing to write.

  16. Claudzilla says:

    I have an issue with “excessive verbiage” being on this list, because there are many people who don’t know the definition of it that includes the idea of excessiveness. The other definition of verbiage is simply “wording,” and it’s one that gets a lot of play where I work. so we would need to use the phrase “excessive verbiage” to indicate someone’s wording is wordy!

  17. Armed gunman is used too much.Never seen an unarmed gunman !

    • JEKinTX says:

      Good one! However, if a person is a known gunman (say at a heist) then you disarm him would he not be an unarmed gunman? Perhaps I guess a better word would be disarmed gunman. Yet, an armed gunman instantly becomes an unarmed gunman the moment that he/she is disarmed. Oh. the iparadox we create! LOL!

    • Randall Polk says:

      Well you may see a gunman , but not be aware that he is one , if he isn’t packing at the moment . But I see your point …armed gunman is a bit much . I think “armed man ” , or simply just (ha ha ) , ” gunman ” would suffice .

  18. While this is a very refreshing article, I think some of these terms/phrases don’t belong on here. Phrases like “each and every” and “first and foremost” contain repeated definitions because they’re used for emphasis. And the phrase “excessive verbiage” I think is usually used in a smart ass kind of way, although I’m sure there are people that don’t know that verbiage also implies excessiveness.

  19. When people say “I, personally, think that…”

    • David R. says:

      And “I thought to myself…” Who else would you be thinking to? Are you telepathic?

    • Rüdiger says:

      The phrase is used when expressing an opinion that is known (or feared) to deviate from a prevailing or more commonly accepted opinion. It is meant to acknowledge that most think otherwise and to soften the opposition. Seems fine to me.

  20. jesuitfriar says:

    Self-confessed is actually a valid entry on Shorter Oxford English Dictionary C2007 as “adjective (usu. attrib.) so by one’s own admission”; on Canadian Oxford Dictionary c1998, 2004 as “adjective openly admitting oneself to be ” ; on New Oxford American Dictionary c2005, 2009 as an “adjective [attrib.] having openly admitted to being a person with certain characteristics” and some other dictionaries.

  21. I’d add “perspective view”.

  22. Honest truth, not necessary to say honest.

  23. David R. says:

    Many legal phrases are redundant; some of them have become common in everyday use. “Aid and abet”, “assault and battery”, “cease and desist”, “due care and attention”, “goods and chattels”, “in any way, shape or form”, “on or about” (“about” already includes the possibility of “on” a particular date),”null and void”, “sole and exclusive”, “terms and conditions”, “true and correct”, “will and testament”.

    • Charlie Hess says:

      Most of your examples are not redundant, there are some subtle and some huge differences.
      Aid-as little as not stopping the crime
      Abet-took part in the crime
      Assault-threaten verbally or physically but not touch
      Battery-making contact with a person

      Cease-stop what you’re doing now
      Desist-don’t do it in the future
      On-an exact date
      About-not sure of the date but near it. being sure is important.
      Null-having no existence
      Void-not legally binding
      Sole-there is one

      Exclusive-no one else is allowed to…
      True and correct may seem like the same thing, but they can be wildly different. Consider the question, Does this (garment) make me look fat? The correct answer, without even looking at her, is always NO.

  24. ThatGrammarGuy says:

    I’d like to put forward “very unique” or “totally unique”. in scientific terms, ‘unique’ is a discrete variable i.e. something either is or is not unique, it cannot exist in a variable measure (continuous).

    this also applies to “fairly certain” and “quite sure”. these statements are ridiculous as certainty is an absolute, it cannot be in half-measure.

    • Rüdiger says:

      I agree on unique. However, ‘fairly certain’ and ‘quite sure’ don’t seem so redundant to me, (despite your otherwise compelling logic). How else would you express a ‘small degree of uncertainty’ – to be almost (or fairly, quite) certain (but retain some doubt) …?

      • Chris Porter says:

        Agreed. I would add that, in practice, absolute certainty is impossible. In my experience, there is always room for doubt, and that’s a good thing.

  25. Doplgangr says:

    “Blend together”
    You can bend slightly or bend largely. “Bend” and “together” are not necessarily redundant.

    • Yes, but you cannot “blend apart”. If you blend two things “slightly” or “largely”, you are still mixing them together, hence the redundancy. I suspect you are confusing “together” and “thoroughly”.

  26. Ones I see periodically:
    – “ATM machine”: what do you think the M stands for?
    – “PIN number”: what do you think the N stands for?
    – “6 a.m. in the morning”: as opposed to the 6 a.m. in the afternoon, or the 6 a.m. in the evening?

  27. Kenya321 says:

    “Re-double”

    It seems to me that simply doubling should be enough

  28. Rüdiger says:

    Many of the redundancies listed here can easily be imagined in a context where they would be legitimate and rather meaningful. You give yourself some examples: “main protagonist” or “far distance” (“when contrasting a far distance with a near distance”). Similarly, “end result” (as opposed to an intermediate result) could be OK, or “repeat again” (repeat something for a second, third, n-th time…), “past experience” (an experience in the distant past, prior to a more recent experience), “sequential order” (when in contrast to a different type of order such as alphabetical). And so on.

  29. Is STOOP DOWN redundant?

  30. Will Knot B. Revealed Snr. says:

    It’s worth mentioning that such redundancies are referred to as Tautology.

  31. Randall Polk says:

    I have heard people say ” the real reality ” as in , ” What’s the real reality here ? ” These were confused people , mind you .

  32. My favorite one: “Past experience: All experience is in the past.”

  33. My skin crawls when I hear “engage with,” so it crawls OFTEN. Business verbiage is particular disposed to taking this form.

  34. “Rise up” – this hurts my ears, I even hear this in the news, in political debates! More offensive that the other post – “climb up” because in some instances like from a ladder, you can “climb down.” There is no “rise down.”

  35. Nathan Swanson says:

    I know this is a year old, but I do have one… “and etc.” Etc. or “et cetera” means “and other things” or “and so forth.” So, when people say “and etc,” they are really saying “and and so forth.”

  36. Daryl Benzel says:

    “Usually always” – This one actually appears to be a contradiction; the two words have different meanings. Agree?

  37. mzilikazi paskwavaviri says:

    over and above? Just to say something..

  38. Gail Christie says:

    “Encode for” The “for” is already implied in encode. A gene can code for a trait, or encode a trait.

  39. Brian Anderson says:

    In the list above… See Continue on. “If you two words…” Looks like it should read “If you USE two words…”

  40. Brian Anderson says:

    I’ve always thought that the epitomy of redundancy was if something was “redundant again.”

  41. Brian Anderson says:

    I’ve always thought that the epitomy of redundancy was if something was “redundant again.”

  42. recently popular among young TV broadcasters: “deja vu all over again!”

  43. douglas tylkowski says:

    Few in number isn’t really redundant considering you are vaguely describing the amount of the number. Example: the crowd here is few in number.

  44. bsd987 says:

    I agree with most of your material, but many of these are quite simply not redundancies, or at the very least are not adequately cabined as such.

    “Current status quo” is not always redundant, at least not when comparing a previous status quo to the current one. Granted, this usage is uncommon, but it can occur.

    “End result” and “final result” likewise need cabining. When interim results are being discussed, it is not a redundancy.

    A milestone is not necessarily historic, and something that is historic is not necessarily a milestone. I’ve had many milestones in my life, but I don’t think anything I’ve ever done is historic. Sorry, but this one is completely and utterly wrong (complete and utter should be on this list).

    I might be in the minority here, but all the plan ones—while accurate in a very formal understanding of the word ‘plan’—don’t rise to the level of redundancy. “Plan ahead,” at least to me, must occur before an event begins. I plan ahead my week if I plan it on Sunday, but if I wait until Monday I am merely planning it. Maybe I have created a distinction to compensate for common usage, but it is a distinction nonetheless.

    Slight edge is not a redundancy in most usages. I’m not positive which dictionary you are using (both M-W and OED don’t provide your definition), but ‘edge’ in that sense generally just means an ‘advantage’ over otherwise even competition, not a slight advantage. It arguably may be a redundancy in the context of saying “X gives Y a slight edge over Z” (I would say not), but to say “X has a slight edge over Y in Z” would never be a redundancy.

    Uphill climb (as opposed to ‘to climb uphill’) is not a redundancy, as the noun ‘climb’ connotes both upwards and downwards controlled movement.

    Also, I agree in principe with “in the process of,” but your example indicates one of the situations where it is not redundant. “We are moving to Chicago” connotes a different meaning than “We are in the process of moving to Chicago.” Because of the temporal element of the to be verb, the first is not adequately specific, at least absent non-verbal context, to give a definitive meaning. I agree that there are better phrases to use than “in the process of,” but it is not redundant in that context.

  45. Laura Hellen says:

    you missed my all-time pet peeve: “the reason why …” #redundant

  46. vachona says:

    What about “exact same” (and its evil twin, “exact duplicate”)?

  47. “commingle” (note the preferred spelling as per Merriam-Webster and Oxford, and neither has any support for the “co-mingle” abomination you suggest!) is not a redundancy. It is a different word from “mingle” and has a specific meaning (although I suspect that this distinction is being lost through ignorance and common misuse of “commingle” as if it is a learned synonym for “mingle”).

    It is quite correct to say “Our guests mingled on the deck while I prepared the BBQ” and “After much stirring, the two paints commingled to the desired hue”. It would be incorrect (although maybe poetic?) to use “commingle” in the first example, but would be OK, but not as fully meaningful, to use “mingle” in the second. Loosely, “mingle” means “mix together”, whereas “commingle” (a word that has been known since at least 1602) carries the additional meaning of “so as to thoroughly intermix”. The individual guests are still identifiable regardless of who they are standing next to, whereas the two original paint colours have become one with no specific trace of either original remaining.

  48. Redundancy has a place in “proper English”, for example as a rhetorical device (to provide additional emphasis), in legal doublets ( en. wikipedia .org/ wiki/Legal_doublet – these should be explained and flagged here, or get their own entry), as a comedic device, and possibly other uses too. Few real-world examples of these deliberate uses of redundancy are likely to employ such hackneyed phrases as listed here, but this should probably be pointed out in the introductory text.

  49. louis scabnug says:

    Submitting ” forward progress “. Used during EVERY NFL game commentary. All progress is forward.

  50. “And also” are synonyms.

  51. Male stupidity.

  52. I recently saw a popup saying “Wait while we redirect you back to…” and something about it just irked me so I’m wondering if the phrase “redirect back” contains a redundancy. Thanks!

  53. Chris Porter says:

    I did a lot of scrolling and skimming to see if anyone else has brought this up, but if they did I missed it. I disagree that “each” and “every” are synonymous. “Each” considers items one by one while “every” refers to the entirety. Every zebra has stripes, but each zebra’s stripes are differently patterned. In an effort to prove this, you could photograph each zebra’s pattern, but it would take a very long time to photograph every zebra.

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