Colossus 247 Hello
Can something be very unique? Unique means one of a kind, so I think not. And yet it is a phrase that is often used, without us stopping to think of the actual meaning.
How about the honest truth? Can the truth ever be dishonest? A duplicate copy is another example of redundant phraseology, also known as tautology, or using different words to say the same thing. Tautology comes from the Greek tauto ‘the same’ and logos ‘word’.
A free gift is a gift, which is free anyway. When we say ATM machine we’re really saying Automatic Teller Machine machine. It’s the same with PIN number (Personal Identification Number number) and HIV virus (Human Immunodeficiency Virus virus).
There are many more examples where we should save our breath, instead of repeating the obvious. We say a bouquet of flowers as if there’s such thing as a bouquet of cats or dogs or rusty nails. Added bonus, first introduction, false pretence, future plans, past history – we hear them all the time. Then there are phrases like null and void, which both mean the same, as do bits and pieces and first and foremost.
Some more common tautological phrases: At the present time, pair of twins, sad misfortune, invited guests, end result and will and testament.
Sometimes these phrases are said for emphasis, or maybe an assumption that the reader won’t understand the meaning of one of the words, such as the sign Please Prepay In Advance. Most people know what ‘prepay’ means, thank you very much.
But usually we don’t realise we are needlessly repeating ourselves or stating the obvious. Here’s a limerick that emphasises the statement of the obvious:
There once was a fellow from Perth
Who was born on the day of his birth.
He got married, they say,
On his wife’s wedding day,
And he died when he quitted the earth.”