Over and above the bare minimum

Here’s a post for the true word nerds out there.

You’re probably already familiar with the pitfall of a tautology. But what about a pleonasm?

A tautology is when you repeat yourself.

Look at the tiny little spider.
Oh look at that gigantic huge spider!

Both are tautologies.

A pleonasm is similar to a tautology, except that it is more clearly a case of the waffles. It’s when you use more than enough words to make your point.

The jolly man was happy.

The man was ‘happy’ or ‘jolly’ would suffice. We don’t need both.

I’m told you are a very clever genius.

Now, genius is a big call. But if that’s what you’re trying to convey, then stick with it. Genius on its own will cut it. Clever becomes redundant.

Here are some more pleonasms to get you in the groove. Remember, stop when you have enough words and you’ll save yourself the crime of writing too much.

Travel at a rate of speed of 100 kilometres per hour.
The soldiers realised they were surrounded on all sides.
The children both got one each.
Will you repeat that again?
I’m trying to decide whether or not this post is confusing.

Whether you’re spinning tautologies or being plainly pleonastic, please try and stop. Waffle and clutter just bogs your writing down. Minimalism is good. Greedy tautologies and pleonasms are bad.

It will take vigilance – that’s a true fact. But I’m convinced and firmly believe the effort will improve and showcase your writing.

Enough said.