Am I Being Redundant or What?

Well, we all speak in redundancies and think nothing of it. Really–how many of us say “close proximity” or “major breakthrough”? (Is there any such thing as a minor breakthrough? Maybe.) Part of writing efficiently and concisely involves catching redundant or superfluous words that are really not needed. Here are some groups of words where either one or the other will suffice alone:

  • adequate enough
  • paramount importance
  • past history (unless you’re into sci-fi or some branch of quantum mechanics and want to distinguish from future history)
  • plan in advance
  • serious danger (funny to me)
  • total annihilation
  • trained professional
  • want in advance
  • joint cooperation
  • final outcome
  • eliminate altogether

Can you think of some? Maybe if we become aware of these we can get rid of some of these unnecessary habitual customs.

31 Responses to “Am I Being Redundant or What?”

  1. Miranda April 5, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    Love this post. superfluous words drive me CRAZY.
    nothing at all
    absolutely perfect
    early beginnings
    completely/utterly failed
    sprinted fast
    ultimate goal

    and thats just in the few seconds after reading your post..
    adverbs are often the culprit

    • cslakin April 5, 2013 at 7:09 am #

      Those are great, thanks!

    • Lee Harvey Keitel April 10, 2013 at 7:10 am #

      “old adage” (a particular pet peeve)
      “frozen tundra”
      “New and improved”

  2. christineevelynvance April 5, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    What about “profound impact”? Would that be chop-able?

    • cslakin April 5, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      You can have different types of impact, from profound to insignificant, so it’s not redundant.

    • Amber Starr November 17, 2016 at 2:57 am #

      <Near miss
      <Each and every
      <Actual fact
      <Current status quo-status quo= current state of affairs
      <Enter into
      <False pretenses-pretenses are by definition, false
      <Browse through-browse= to look through
      <Chase after
      <Critical juncture-juncture=moment made critical by occurrence of circumstance
      <Blend together
      <End result
      <Final destination-except on multi-leg airline flights
      <Few in number-few always pertains to number
      <Far distance-except when comparing with a near distance
      <General consensus-consensus= opinion generally held by a group
      <General vicinity
      <First discovered
      <Moment in time
      <Joint cooperation-If it's not done jointly, it's not cooperation
      <Orbit around
      <While at the same time
      <Steady stream- streams are by definition steady.
      <Unexpected surprise
      <Sum total-words are synonyms
      <Well respected
      <Vitally important
      <Self-confessed
      <{Adjective}-born: e.g., Texas-born, German-born–should be Texan or German
      <Final result/outcome
      <Join together
      <Interact with each other
      <FREE GIFT- If it's not free, it's not a gift.
      <Future plans-all plans pertain to the future
      <Collaborate together
      <Fellow classmates
      <Favorable disposed-to be disposed=to have a favorable inclination to something.
      <Continue on–try go on instead
      <Mix together
      <Plan ahead, Plan in advance or Pre-plan- except where pre-plan means prior to planning.
      <Outward appearances-appearances are by definition outward.
      <Past experiences or Past history
      <Pervade throughout-verb pervade means to be present throughout
      <Proceed forward-to proceed is to move forward
      <Proceed further
      <Reserve ahead of time
      <Rate of speed-one word or the other will usually work
      <Proof positive-proof is usually sufficient.
      <Manually by hand
      <Meld together
      Well that is all I could think of for now. hope this helps. anyone with additions or correction, post away

  3. Patrick Ryder April 5, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    Be fantastic to have a big list of these. I love to strip these from my writing, but they keep creeping back because words these days don’t seem to carry as much weight as they did, and most people feel a need to tag ‘intensifier’ words and phrases onto words that should be powerful enough on their own.

    For a good example of this, listen to the dialogue in/on ‘Lord of the Rings’ book/film. People say precisely what they mean and they are taken at their word. Ironically, this generates more power than prose littered with intensifiers.

    If I wasn’t scared of going bankrupt, I’d offer a cash prize to anyone who emails me to point out unnecessary words in my writing.

  4. Owen April 5, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    exactly right
    perfectly correct
    personal friend
    mutual cooperation
    unexpected surprise
    rise up
    revert back
    continue on

  5. Susan Uttendorfsky April 5, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    I love to point out these redundancies to my editing clients!
    *hugely pregnant
    *general public
    *absolutely [anything positive – wonderful, great, etc.]

    🙂 Great post!

  6. Barbara McDowell Whitt April 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    now defunct
    grown adults
    can’t help but wonder

  7. Andy McKell April 6, 2013 at 2:36 am #

    I always like the way politicians find it “hard to predict the future”. Of course, it is much easier to predict the past.

  8. Gary Ciesla April 6, 2013 at 5:24 am #

    “Where are you at?” is ubiquitous and heard everywhere. It not only drives me crazy, but insane as well. Sometimes I hear it when I am driving my car automobile, or eating my dinner supper. “Where are you?” is sufficient and suffices. “At” is about as unnecessary and unneeded in this instance as the word “that,” which can be very often usually extra and extraneous in writing.

    Tip to writer authors (which is just about everybody and everyone nowadays and today): If you need to cut or eliminate words to write to a very specific length or number of words, look for the word “that.” In many instances and occurrences, it can be eliminated and deleted without sacrificing the meaning of the point you are trying to get across to the reader or the one comprehending your essay of words.

    • cslakin April 6, 2013 at 5:43 am #

      Lol. I hope your redundancy was deliberate and on purpose!

  9. Grace Bryan Butler April 6, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    Good topic, CS. It’s timely for me. I am taking a short break from trimming the fat from the book I am editing.
    Patrick, I agree. I sometimes worry that my meaning will not be clear without the ‘intensifiers’. Many words do seem to have lost their impact.
    Owen, ‘rise up’ is my redundancy pet peeve.
    There are many listed in this discussion that I hadn’t noticed. Thank you for bringing them to my attention.
    I am really, very grateful and appreciative. 🙂

  10. Ian Miller April 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    I would suggest some caution. Since a given cause can have a sequence of events, “final outcome” may not be so bad. Consider a large earthquake of NE Japan. First there is shaking, then a tsunami, then people shut down the power supply, then people start to shut down Fukushima, then, oops! I am still not sure what the final outcome is, but there have been a number of intermediate ones.

  11. Ian Coutts April 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    “Mandatory requirement.” This one comes up all the time in government documents. And they will not let it go…

  12. Timothy Linnomme April 7, 2013 at 1:08 am #

    ‘as well’ and ‘at all’ are two have tried to excise out of my writing…

    Does ‘Military Intelligence’ also count? 🙂

    A ‘Mandatory Requirement’ could mean something set in stone (lol!) versus a requrement that ould be met in multiple ways.

  13. Dennis Kevitt April 7, 2013 at 5:50 am #

    I think we use redundancy as convenient way to add emphasis. Beyond belief seems more emphatic than unbelievable. Repetition through redundancy fools us into thinking we have added to the importance of what we are proposing or that it will have a stronger influence on our readers to accept what we are proposing.

    I am always let down when I hear the phrase “I would like for you to ….” I used to think that phrase was confined to the south but now I even professional journalists on national media use it.

    Another one that I believe is still appreciatively confined to the south is “Did you look the mail?” That isn’t a redundancy but it “bugs the fire” out me, nonetheless!

  14. Deevra Norling April 8, 2013 at 2:22 am #

    This is a great reminder! I think I too have been guilty of inadvertently using redundant terms. I’ll be more aware now to be on the lookout for them!

  15. Grace Bryan Butler April 9, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    ‘as well’ and ‘at all’ are two have tried to excise out of my writing… (-: It sneaks in on all of us, doesn’t it?
    “Did you look the mail?” I’ve lived in The South my entire life and have never heard this phrase. I’ve heard ‘look at the mail’. Perhaps you left out a word. I can’t imagine what the objection would be, though.
    I hear ‘mandatory requirement’ all the time. Good one to watch for.
    I am glad you brought this up. These are things we know but tend to forget. This is a good forum for such reminders. Can anyone thing of others?

  16. Sandy Schwalb April 10, 2013 at 3:41 am #

    “terrible tragedy” This is my peeve – I hear this in the media way too much. Not sure I can think of a time when the phrase “wonderful tragedy” would be used.

  17. Robert O'Daniel April 10, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    How about: end result, essential prerequisite, basic fundamentals, audible to the ear, close proximity, complete stop, evolve over time, and of course the perennial favorite, which some love, the invited guest.

    • Amber Starr November 17, 2016 at 3:12 am #

      Robert O’Daniel:
      I don’t think that audible to the ear is actually a redundancy. There are many sounds–certain frequencies– that the human ear cannot hear and yet make sound nonetheless

  18. Ramona Cunningham April 10, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    repeat back

  19. cslakin April 10, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    These are all great. I’m thinking I should compile these into a booklet. Or keep them coming and we may have enough for a reference book!

  20. David Erickson April 11, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    Odd that I can’t see the box to reply.

    Yes, I’ve seen all of these and used a good many of them. Excellent comments.

    I assume it’s okay to use multiple redundancies in dialogue -:)

    • cslakin April 11, 2013 at 7:59 am #

      Dialog should reflect character, so if you have a character who uses a lot of circumlocution, it would fit.

  21. Charlie LaFrance April 16, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    While writing environmental documents for government agencies (back in the late 20th Century), I put a sign on my office door declaring my office to be the “Department of Redundancy Department, Office of Obfuscation,” as a reminder to my colleagues (and particularly me) to watch for these types of redundancy. I think much of the redundant verbiage in government documents adds obfuscation rather than clarity.

  22. Kaley April 22, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    Stumbled upon your post from Writum group on LinkedIn. I am an offender (can I say horrible offender?). I noted in your post that either one or the other would suffice alone. Tricky little birds!

    😀 Looking forward to reading more.

  23. Prem Rao December 4, 2013 at 4:58 am #

    Great post, Susanne. Some that bug me:

    * “Current status” for “Status”
    * “This point in time” for “now”
    * “Most urgent” for ” Urgent”
    * “For the amount of” for ” For” 🙂

  24. Andre Gere February 4, 2017 at 5:26 am #

    Is grateful thanks a redundant word? Thanks!

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