Skip to main content

Call Us. 202.681.0725

200 Common Redundancies

Tips and ideas to eliminate repetition in our words and speaking.

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 has already been said.

Now does this mean that repetition must be avoided at all costs, or that good writers never repeat themselves? Certainly not. As discussed in Cohesion Strategies, 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

Our concern here is with eliminating needless repetition–redundant expressions that make writing longer, not better. Following are some of the common redundancies. 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.

Redundant expressions: Bad habits are hard to break

A bad practice in writing (and speaking) is redundancy. Anyone who has sat through a speech that goes round and round and uses the same few words over and over knows what I mean. We may sometimes do this deliberately, for stylistic reasons, or in order to raise the word count of an essay or report. But even when we strive to avoid repetition, we may be more redundant than we intend to be.

Is it absolutely necessary to stop at the automated teller machine machine?

Certain redundant expressions are so common that we tend to use them unconsciously, but if we want to improve our communication skills, it’s not a bad idea to make a conscious effort to avoid them.

Let’s take a look at some of these redundancies, beginning with absolutes: absolutely essential and absolutely necessary are redundant because essential and necessary have absoluteness built into their definitions. Likewise, very unique and exact duplicate are poor constructions because unique is as absolute as a word can be, and if a duplicate is not exact, it’s not a duplicate. Completely destroyed and completely empty are equally redundant.

Other redundancies are “extended abbreviations,” such as ATM machine, PIN number, UPC code, and HIVvirus. Were we to use these, we would be withdrawing money from the automated teller machine machine, inputting our personal identification number number to make a purchase, scanning Universal Product Code codes, and trying to find a cure for the human immunodeficiency virus virus.

Spot the redundant expressions

The best argument for avoiding redundant expressions is that the use of them implies the writer or speaker is either careless or unschooled in basic vocabulary. Consider the following story:

Mona had a difficult dilemma. She worked for a caterer, and from 9 a.m. in the morning until 12 noon, her job was to hand out free gifts at the mall. But her close personal friend Myrtle had just given birth to a baby girl, and she had promised to take care of Myrtle’s pair of twins while Myrtle was in the hospital. To Mona, the twins were annoying pests, but she would keep her promise. When Mona explained to her boss that Myrtle’s early delivery had come as an unexpected surprise, she could see the intense fury in his eyes. Silently, he prepared the different varieties of his decorative garnishes. The evil fiend then suddenly exploded and spelled out in detail why Mona was fired. Mona’s future prospects looked dim, as jobs were few in number. Mona now runs her own company, so getting fired may possibly have been her lucky break.

The preceding bit of fiction contains a whopping 18 redundant expressions. As the writer, I have revealed that either I am careless or I do not grasp that all dilemmas are difficult, a.m. = in the morning, and noon is always 12. Furthermore, when is a gift not free, or a close friend not personal? And if a just-born girl is not a baby, what on earth is she? As for the twins, it would be quite a trick if they were not a pair, and also, being pests, if they were not annoying.

If Myrtle’s delivery was an unexpected surprise, what, pray tell, would an expected surprise be? The intense fury (“intense intense anger”) in the boss’s eyes was probably no surprise, given that he was an evil fiend (“evil evil being”). And shame on his redundant food preparations: different varieties of decorative garnishes? If they’re not different, they’re not varieties; if they’re garnishes, they’re decorative. Just how would he have exploded if not suddenly, and is it possible to spell something out with no detail? Mona would be remarkable if she had prospects for the past rather than the future and if she found that jobs were few in something other than number. At least Mona’s story had a happy ending, even if its telling ends with a regrettable redundancy: may possibly (never use that one!).

With that, I absolutely definitely end here with positive certainty.

The opinions and other information contained in OxfordWords blog posts and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Oxford University Press.

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) cliché 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)

grammar, redundancies, writing

Presentation Perfection for Clients around the World.

  • arrows
  • aarp-foundation
  • adt
  • american express
  • ash
  • bet
  • celgene
  • comcast
  • crown investment
  • environics
  • faa
  • fse
  • icf next
  • ifa
  • marriott
  • mid florida
  • motorola
  • nasa
  • oracle
  • pepsico
  • ryder
  • software ag
  • traub hospitality
  • true north
  • v2soft
  • velos
  • xscion
  • "We engaged The Presentation Team to do a Presentation training for our team and he did a great job. He spent time understanding our requirements and the skill level of our team members and created a course which met our expectations and goals. I highly recommend The Presentation Team as a Presentation (PowerPoint) trainer."

    Navdeep Sidhu
    Senior Director, Software AG

  • "Kevin Lerner provided best-in-class services when hired to work on promotional materials for the launch of a key product at Motorola. The expertise and quality that he brought to the project were second to none and as a result, he delivered a top-notch presentation that was quickly adopted throughout the organization. Kevin is great to work with, delivers on time, is a great team player and is always willing to go the extra mile."

    Maria Cardoso

  • "Kevin has been a working with Cox Communications to deliver world-class PowerPoint presentation visuals since 2009. His ability to meet our specific needs, timeframe, and budgets has been exceptional. His professional interaction with our team reflects his deep expertise in the industry, superior presentation design skills, and commitment to superior service."

    Jonathan Freeland
    VP, Video Marketing at Cox Communications

  • "Kevin is an enthusiastic, creative, and passionate presentation guru. Our company was impressed and felt the value of his training in 2013 that he was invited again recently to again share his knowledge. Both times he has been energetic and addressed many areas for presentation development. From planning to follow-up Kevin is personable and easygoing, motivating our teams to take their presentations to the next level."

    Yoshimi Kawashima
    Project Coordinator, Nissin International

  • "Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from tips & tricks to aesthetics, all with the intent of getting the message across crisply and creatively. I've already received praise for decks that incorporate the skills obtained from his training. I highly recommend Kevin's services."

    Era Prakash
    General Electric

  • "Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from "The PowerPresentations seminar opened my eyes to all the limitless possibilities in presenting."

    Leah Gordillo
    Saint Francis Medical Center

  • "Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from "[Kevin and The Presentation Team have] always delivered 110% in terms of meeting our objectives for finished product and budget"

    Paul Price
    Watsco Corp.

  • "I had more people come up to me after I spoke, commenting on the visuals you created, than I did on the subject matter!"

    Andy Smith
    Smith & Robb Advertising

  • "As a Fortune 1000 company, we sought to produce a classy, yet conservative presentation for our shareholders. It was evident that you and your team listened to our thoughts as you developed the presentation..."

    Will Flower
    Republic Services

  • "Your expertise in the filed of PowerPoint and general presentation techniques helped elevate us to the level necessary to beat the competition."

    Mike Geary
    James Pirtle Construction

  • "Kevin brought a high level of creativity, enthusiasm, and deep multmedia experience to our team. He worked dillegently with the team to produce an outstanding proposal which we subsequently won.

    Jeff Keller

The Presentation Team Logo - Inverse

Call Us. 202.681.0725

info @

Giving a Presentation?  We can Help.

Sign-up for free PowerPoint Tips, PowerPoint Templates, and Presentation Strategies.