Repetitive redundancies and other ridiculous nonsense

Ransom Riggs

The English language, as commonly spoken in this country, is full of excessive verbiage and unnecessary phraselogical redundancy -- in other words, tautology.

Taut "¢ ol "¢ o "¢ gy: Needless repetition of an idea, esp. in words other than those of the immediate context, without imparting additional force or clearness, as in "widow woman."

Some tautological phrases are so ingrained in our popular language -- like "bits and pieces" or "first and foremost" -- that to simplify them would destroy their traditional impact. This is what interests me: when language abandons utilitarianism in favor of habit. Richard Kallan's book Armed Gunmen, True Facts and other Ridiculous Nonsense is a great collection of common and uncommon tautological phrases, and we thought we'd highlight some of our favorites here.

"¢ "False pretense"
If pretense is "the act of alleging falsely," as asserts, then wouldn't a false pretense be ... true?

"¢ "Advance warning"
A warning delivered after the fact is known, I believe, as "Monday morning quarterbacking."

"¢ "Convicted felon"
If we're guilty until proven innocent, there shouldn't be too many convictionless felons running around.

"¢ "Surviving widow"
Kallan defines it thusly: "The last woman standing in an all-widow game of Russian roulette."

"¢ "Fall down"
Gravity tends to make this modifier unnecessary.

"¢ "All throughout"
More pervasive than occasionally throughout.

"¢ "Close proximity"
As opposed to a distant proximity?

"¢ "Sum total"
This really gets the point across ... and then sum.

"¢ "Shared dialogue"
When was the last time you heard a shared monologue?

"¢ "Mass exodus"
When everyone leaves church at the same time? And speaking of church ...

"¢ "Holy Bible"
I'm so tired of these unholy Bibles.

Repetitive redundancies are everywhere -- what are some of your favorites?