…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!