1 : the use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense (as in the man he said) : redundancy
2 : an instance or example of pleonasm
The grammarian’s recent post discussed pleonasms, such as “past history” and “personal friend.”
Did You Know?
Pleonasm, 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 plenty, 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!”