The All-Time Most Important Blog Post in History Ever

writing-1170146_960_720You may not have heard the term “pleonasm” before, but we’ve all encountered (seen or heard) many pleonasms in our lives.

Pleonasms — pronounced “PLEE – e – naz – ums” — are terms that use more words than are necessary to convey or give a clear meaning. They are sometimes used for emphasis, or to give more or extra attention to something, but more often than not (usually), they are not needed and serve no purpose (have no reason for being there).

People who teach writing often say that to improve a piece of writing, it’s a good idea to remove redundancies (two or more things that have the same function), including pleonasms.

Here are a few examples of commonly-used pleonasms. They aren’t incorrect, but just unnecessary.

– “I asked Jeff what his future plans are for his neighbor’s cats.”
Explanation: “Plans” are decisions we make about what to do in the future, so including “future” in this sentence is redundant.

– “The little girl’s father told her not to speak to complete strangers.”
Explanation: “Strangers” are people we do not know, so “complete” here — meaning absolute or total — is not necessary. Someone you know even a little would not be called a stranger, but most likely an “acquaintance.”

– “If current trends continue, we will get more snow this year than any other year in history.”
Explanation: A “trend” describes the general direction that something is occurring or developing right now, so “current” — meaning what exists now — is superfluous (unnecessary).

It may be easy for us to spot (identify) pleonasms in the sentences above, but Americans use them all the time in speech and in writing. It probably isn’t possible to eliminate them all in American English even if we wanted to, since they are so common that many have become a part of how we naturally communicate.

However, a comedian (person who tells jokes to make people laugh) named George Carlin wrote a 2004 book based on his funny observations (things he noticed) about his fellow Americans (Americans like him). Carlin was famous for pointing out (giving attention to) funny things American say, and in this book, he talked about the many pleonasms found in everyday English.

Here’s a short excerpt (section taken from a longer text) from his book. See if you can spot the pleonasms. I’ve included the same paragraph at the bottom of this blog post with the pleonasms in red, but try to find them yourself before looking.


“I needed a new beginning, so I decided to pay a social visit to a personal friend with whom I share the same mutual objectives…The end result was an unexpected surprise. When I reiterated again to her the fact that I needed a fresh start, she said I was exactly right; and, as an added plus, she came up with a final solution that was absolutely perfect.”


[Answers below. Try not to peek (look before you’re finished).]












“I needed a (new beginning)*, so I decided to pay a (social) visit to a (personal) friend with whom I share the same (mutual) objectives…The (end) result was (an unexpected) a surprise. When I reiterated (again) to her the fact that I needed a fresh start, she said I was (exactly) right; and, as (an added) a plus, she came up with a (final) solution that was (absolutely) perfect.”

* “new beginning”: All “beginnings” are “new,” so it’s better to say “new job, life, goal, focus,” or something else specific, although “new beginning” is commonly used.


The paragraph above would be simpler and clearer if we eliminated the words in parentheses ( ). Are any of them unclear or confusing? Did you find them all? You get bonus (extra) points for finding the ones in the title of this post.

~ Lucy

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18 Responses to The All-Time Most Important Blog Post in History Ever

  1. Dan says:

    Hello Lucy.

    Thanks! I have never heard that difficult to pronounce word before.
    Very interesting and so true.
    We do tons of things unconsciously and that is one of the many.

    Superfluous words in the title: all time and history.

    I would only say “the most important blog post ever”


  2. Tania says:

    I was able to spot some pleonasms.
    We use the same word “pleonasm”, and we have a special dictionary for pleonasms.
    The pleonasms are a difficult subject for any linguistic exam.
    I agree with Dan about the pleonasm from the title, all time and history.
    Thank you, Lucy.

    Best wishes,


  3. Fayssal says:

    Helleo Lucy,
    truly this is a very interesting topic the least I can say

  4. Dan says:

    To me It’s astonishing how we unconsciously, repetitively do/say things or
    do not see things under our nose and then someone like Carlin shine a light on it, point it out and you see, realize, something it was there all the time.
    It’s like turning a switch on in the brain and you are like “wow”.

    I’ll be frank, reading that piece I would have never spotted the redundancies
    without Lucy’s introduction.

    Carlin was great. Just the other day I was looking at one video in which he was talking about political correctness. He was so right, and funny.

    Thanks again

  5. Dan says:

    Sorry but as I was reading through the various pages from the linked
    website I came across a couple of gems that it’s a crime not to share.

    Quote “language is a tool for concealing the truth”

    “Question everything you read or hear or see or are told.
    Question it. And try to see the world for what it actually is, as opposed to what someone or some company or some organization or some government is trying to represent it as, or present it as, however they’ve mislabeled it or dressed it up or told you.”


  6. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Pleonasms and redundancies are waste of time. They turn the writing and hearing boring, as though those who are listening were stupid. Avoid them.

  7. Pete says:

    The trump juggernaut secure three ore states last night.
    His win on Florida was significant.

    Thanks God Hilary is winning strong too

    A learning guide member


  8. Pete says:

    Hey Lucy,
    The Redundancy on the title is ” ever ” and “All time. ”
    How about that 🙂

    U are right !
    I m not familiar with the term ” pleonausum.”
    Hey , guess what , my friends, native speakers , weren’t familiar with that either
    I just tested the term against them. None was the wiser!
    Well , we are all familiar with the word ” redundancy ” though.
    Thanks for the new word.
    However , I must say , I rather stick to the term “redundancy.”

    U know , I don’t know , i m not comfortable by stripping my written or verbal sentences off pleonasms. U know , we are not a bunch of automatons. Our way of talks needs panache and spice.
    Besides , i m so used to them that it is mentally labour extensive trying to scrap them off ur sentences.

    U know , they are not all bad
    If anything , they add charactor to our otherwise dull way of expressing ourselves

    So , they are best to be left alone.

    A learning guide member

    P.S. As for the bonus : I want your strong American accent Lucy

  9. Thiago Messias says:

    Loved this post

  10. Tania says:

    You are right, Peter, with the best bonus, a strong American accent.
    You are funny, as always.

  11. rafsoc says:

    Why to arase pleonasms from our sentences? They help us to better understanding.
    A language is what people speak and no teacher or fanatic can change it.

  12. Pete says:

    Hey Tania ,

    You are too kind my friend
    Thanks for the pick-me-up

    I really needed that


    A learning guide member


  13. Dan says:

    Hi there rafsoc.

    As it is clearly/perfectly, professionally explained in Lucy’s post.
    It would be better to eliminate unnecessary stuff.

    Of course anyone is going to talk as they are pleased. But for brevity,
    Clarity, time saving, it is better to get rid of “useless” words.

    That’s not easy. That’s why we are all here. For learning.


  14. Pete says:

    What u hear on the latest episodes Is based on true stories.
    I mean , it is not just some word-exchange between Lucy and Jeff.

    we are a divided country with people living in delineated communities.

    A learning guide member


  15. Dan says:

    Hey Pete.

    If I am allowed to ask, what community do you live in and what’s like?
    Are you satisfied with your community?


  16. Pete says:

    By comunity I mean

    We r nation of nations
    There are almost no interracial mingling around here. People stick with their own people of creed,cultur , and color. U barely see people cross the invisible comunity lines. Well, at work places is a different story. People of differences work together. Well,pretty much the have to. However , passed daily work hours, u barely see they hang out like friends going one another’s place , hanging around in coffee shops or bars or clubs. All isolated within their pre-defined boundaries highly influenced by cultures and religions.
    My good friend,
    I don’t define my self by communities or boundaries. If any thing , I m free spirited floating around communities. One day u see me hanging around with a bunch of Italian in little Italy ( a neighbour hood in Toronto ) , and the other day seeing me chewing fat with a bunch of fellow Asians in china town.
    And , just two days ago I was all out with a hand full of Irish man in St Patrick day.

    I don’t define myself by boundaries
    I assimilate

    A learning guide member


  17. Mari Carmen says:

    Hello, hi Peter

    Don’t know why, your smart words remind me the lyrics of an eighties’ song, a total hit: “you are the world you are the children, you are the ones to make a brighter day, so let’s start giving”.

    Excuse me for the redundancy

  18. Hiro says:

    > the fact that I needed a fresh start,

    Perhaps, “a fresh start” could be replaced by “a new life” or something similar as a start is always “fresh .”

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