200 Common Redundancies in English

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One way to cut the clutter in our writing is to eliminate repetitious expressions. Because we so often see and hear redundancies (such as "free gifts" and "foreign imports"), they can be easy to overlook. Therefore, when editing our work, we should be on the lookout for needless repetition and be ready to eliminate expressions that add nothing to what's already been said.

Now does this mean that repetition must be avoided at all costs, or that good writers never repeat themselves?

Certainly not. Careful repetition of key words and sentence structures can help establish clear connections in our writing. And in Effective Rhetorical Strategies of Repetition, we consider how writers may rely on repetition to emphasize or clarify a central idea.

Our concern here is with eliminating needless repetition — redundant expressions that make writing longer, not better. Following are some of the common redundancies in English. In certain contexts, some of these phrases may serve a purpose. More often, however, the phrases just weigh down our writing with unnecessary words. We can eliminate the needless repetition in each case by omitting the word or phrase in parentheses.

A

  • (absolutely) essential
  • (absolutely) necessary
  • (actual) facts
  • advance (forward)
  • (advance) planning
  • (advance) preview
  • (advance) reservations
  • (advance) warning
  • add (an additional)
  • add (up)
  • (added) bonus
  • (affirmative) yes
  • (aid and) abet
  • (all-time) record
  • alternative (choice)
  • A.M. (in the morning)
  • (and) etc.
  • (anonymous) stranger
  • (annual) anniversary
  • (armed) gunman
  • (artificial) prosthesis
  • ascend (up)
  • ask (the question)
  • assemble (together)
  • attach (together)
  • ATM (machine)
  • autobiography (of his or her own life)

 

B

  • bald(-headed)
  • balsa (wood)
  • (basic) fundamentals
  • (basic) necessities
  • best (ever)
  • biography (of his--or her--life)
  • blend (together)
  • (boat) marina
  • bouquet (of flowers)
  • brief (in duration)
  • (brief) moment
  • (brief) summary
  • (burning) embers

 

C

  • cacophony (of sound)
  • cameo (appearance)
  • cancel (out)
  • (careful) scrutiny
  • cash (money)
  • cease (and desist)
  • circle (around)
  • circulate (around)
  • classify (into groups)
  • (close) proximity
  • (closed) fist
  • collaborate (together)
  • combine (together)
  • commute (back and forth)
  • compete (with each other)
  • (completely) annihilate
  • (completely) destroyed
  • (completely) eliminate
  • (completely) engulfed
  • (completely) filled
  • (completely) surround
  • (component) parts
  • confer (together)
  • connect (together)
  • connect (up)
  • confused (state)
  • consensus (of opinion)
  • (constantly) maintained
  • cooperate (together)
  • could (possibly)
  • crisis (situation)
  • curative (process)
  • (current) incumbent
  • (current) trend

 

D

  • depreciate (in value)
  • descend (down)
  • (desirable) benefits
  • (different) kinds
  • disappear (from sight)
  • drop (down)
  • during (the course of)
  • dwindle (down)

 

E

  • each (and every)
  • earlier (in time)
  • eliminate (altogether)
  • emergency (situation)
  • (empty) hole
  • empty (out)
  • (empty) space
  • enclosed (herein)
  • (end) result
  • enter (in)
  • (entirely) eliminate
  • equal (to one another)
  • eradicate (completely)
  • estimated at (about)
  • evolve (over time)
  • (exact) same
  • (exposed) opening
  • extradite (back)
     

F

  • (face) mask
  • fall (down)
  • (favorable) approval
  • (fellow) classmates
  • (fellow) colleague
  • few (in number)
  • filled (to capacity)
  • (final) conclusion
  • (final) end
  • (final) outcome
  • (final) ultimatum
  • (first and) foremost
  • (first) conceived
  • first (of all)
  • fly (through the air)
  • follow (after)
  • (foreign) imports
  • (former) graduate
  • (former) veteran
  • (free) gift
  • (from) whence
  • (frozen) ice
  • (frozen) tundra
  • full (to capacity)
  • (full) satisfaction
  • fuse (together)
  • (future) plans
  • (future) recurrence

G

  • gather (together)
  • (general) public
  • GOP (party)
  • GRE (exam)
  • green [or blue or whatever] (in color)
  • grow (in size)

H

  • had done (previously)
  • (harmful) injuries
  • (head) honcho
  • heat (up)
  • HIV (virus)
  • hoist (up)
  • (hollow) tube
  • hurry (up)

I

  • (illustrated) drawing
  • incredible (to believe)
  • indicted (on a charge)
  • input (into)
  • integrate (together)
  • integrate (with each other)
  • interdependent (on each other)
  • introduced (a new)
  • introduced (for the first time)
  • (ir)regardless
  • ISBN (number)

J

  • join (together)
  • (joint) collaboration

K

  • kneel (down)
  • (knowledgeable) experts

L

  • lag (behind)
  • later (time)
  • LCD (display)
  • lift (up)
  • (little) baby
  • (live) studio audience
  • (live) witness
  • (local) residents
  • look (ahead) to the future
  • look back (in retrospect)

M

  • made (out) of
  • (major) breakthrough
  • (major) feat
  • manually (by hand)
  • may (possibly)
  • meet (together)
  • meet (with each other)
  • (mental) telepathy
  • merge (together)
  • might (possibly)
  • minestrone (soup)
  • mix (together)
  • modern ______ (of today)
  • (mutual) cooperation
  • (mutually) interdependent
  • mutual respect (for each other)
  • (number-one) leader in ________

N

  • nape (of her neck)
  • (native) habitat
  • (natural) instinct
  • never (before)
  • (new) beginning
  • (new) construction
  • (new) innovation
  • (new) invention
  • (new) recruit
  • none (at all)
  • nostalgia (for the past)
  • (now) pending

O

  • off (of)
  • (old) adage
  • (old) cliche
  • (old) custom
  • (old) proverb
  • (open) trench
  • open (up)
  • (oral) conversation
  • (originally) created
  • output (out of)
  • (outside) in the yard
  • outside (of)
  • (over) exaggerate
  • over (with)
  • (overused) cliche

P

  • (pair of) twins
  • palm (of the hand)
  • (passing) fad
  • (past) experience
  • (past) history
  • (past) memories
  • (past) records
  • penetrate (into)
  • period (of time)
  • (personal) friend
  • (personal) opinion
  • pick (and choose)
  • PIN (number)
  • pizza (pie)
  • plan (ahead)
  • plan (in advance)
  • (Please) RSVP
  • plunge (down)
  • (polar) opposites
  • (positive) identification
  • postpone (until later)
  • pouring (down) rain
  • (pre)board (as an airplane)
  • (pre)heat
  • (pre)record
  • (private) industry
  • (present) incumbent
  • present (time)
  • previously listed (above)
  • proceed (ahead)
  • (proposed) plan
  • protest (against)
  • pursue (after)

R

  • raise (up)
  • RAM (memory)
  • reason is (because)
  • reason (why)
  • recur (again)
  • re-elect (for another term)
  • refer (back)
  • reflect (back)
  • (regular) routine
  • repeat (again)
  • reply (back)
  • retreat (back)
  • revert (back)
  • rise (up)
  • round (in shape)

S

  • (safe) haven
  • (safe) sanctuary
  • same (exact)
  • (sand) dune
  • scrutinize (in detail)
  • self-______ (yourself)
  • separated (apart from each other)
  • (serious) danger
  • share (together)
  • (sharp) point
  • shiny (in appearance)
  • shut (down)
  • (single) unit
  • skipped (over)
  • slow (speed)
  • small (size)
  • (small) speck
  • soft (in texture) [or (to the touch)]
  • sole (of the foot)
  • spell out (in detail)
  • spliced (together)
  • start (off) or (out)
  • (still) persists
  • (still) remains
  • (sudden) impulse
  • (sum) total
  • surrounded (on all sides)

T

  • tall (in height)
  • tall (in stature)
  • (temper) tantrum
  • ten (in number)
  • three a.m. (in the morning)
  • (three-way) love triangle
  • time (period)
  • (tiny) bit
  • (total) destruction
  • (true) facts
  • (truly) sincere
  • tuna (fish)
  • (twelve) noon or midnight
  • (two equal) halves

U

  • (ultimate) goal
  • undergraduate (student)
  • (underground) subway
  • (unexpected) emergency
  • (unexpected) surprise
  • (unintentional) mistake
  • (universal) panacea
  • (unnamed) anonymous
  • UPC (code)
  • (usual) custom

V

  • vacillate (back and forth)
  • (veiled) ambush
  • (very) pregnant
  • (very) unique
  • visible (to the eye)

W

  • (wall) mural
  • warn (in advance)
  • weather (conditions)
  • weather (situation)
  • whether (or not)
  • (white) snow
  • write (down)