Self-Editing #7: Redundant Pleonasms

   Posted by: Faith   in Creating Coldcuts

…and yes, that title is an example of a pleonasm. In case you were about to point fingers. HAH!

So, what the heck is a pleonasm, anyway? Sounds to me like some kind of strange bacteria you’d go to the doctor to get medication for.

“Sorry, ma’am, but you have a serious case of the pleonasm virus. It’s been going around, so don’t worry, I’ll write you up a prescription for that…”

But that is NOT what a pleonasm is. Nay, a pleonasm is defined as such by the ever-reliable dictionary.com:


[plee-uh-naz-uhm] Show IPA


1. the use of more words than are necessary to express an idea; redundancy.

2. an instance of this, as free gift or true fact.

3. a redundant word or expression.

Ah… okay, now it’s making more sense. I think. Now, not to repeat myself (har har), but it appears that a pleonasm is a word or phrase that repeats itself.

This is really easy to do in first drafts, and I bet we all do it without thinking. Here are some more examples (redundancies in italics):

  • “It cost $10 dollars.”
  • “He saw it with his own eyes.”
  • “We got to the bar at around two a.m. in the morning.”
  • “The table was square in shape.”
  • “He yawned tiredly.”

Yes, I’m guilty of this… anyone else? Fortunately, this is really easy to cut out of the manuscript, though not always as easy to catch (that’s what critique partners are for!).

As always, thanks to the lovely agent Kelly Mortimer for inspiring this post and the others in the self-editing series. Her grammar guide made me think long and hard about certain things in my own work, and I wondered whether others had similar issues… so hopefully you’re learning things along with me! :)

This entry was posted on Saturday, September 4th, 2010 at 5:20 am and is filed under Creating Coldcuts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 comments so far


Hahaa, yes, pleonasm does sound like a nasty, invisible bug. Thanks for teaching me something new today!

September 4th, 2010 at 11:29 am

I used to be a bad one for, “she nodded her head.” Now I mercilessly cut those from others’ writing.

September 4th, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Oh dear! I’m sure I’m very guilty of this. Must go take a peek at all my writing to edit all my pleonistic (is that a word?) tendencies!

September 7th, 2010 at 10:52 am

Jessica — You’re welcome! I just learned the word when I was writing it… haha.

Barbara — Oh man, that’s a bad one for me too. I’ve cut plenty of those lately… *shudder*

Bethany — Ooh, if you use lots of pleonasms, does that make you pleonistic? It *sounds* right, and if it’s not a word, it should be!

September 7th, 2010 at 3:22 pm

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