29 Oct

Listening to BBC Radio 4 yesterday, I heard someone say that there were “various different reasons for…”. In this context, “various” and “different” mean the same thing: they are tautologous.

“Tautology” – which according to the Oxford English Dictionary is the “repetition…of the same statement, word or phrase, or the same idea or statement in other words” – comes sometimes, I imagine, from the speaker or writer trying to emphasise a point: reduce down, instead of reduce; join together, instead of join; mix together, instead of mix; etc.

At other times, it is probably because the speaker or writer doesn’t understand the precise meaning of a word: it is not, for example, correct to say, “raze to the ground”, because the definition of raze is “to destroy completely, to obliterate”; you don’t “revert back” to something, because revert means “to go back”; and you don’t have a “necessary requisite”, because a requisite is “something essential” – and finally, you should never put “in addition” in the same sentence as “also” or “as well”.

The golden rules? Think before you speak or write; don’t use two (or more) words where one will do; if you’re not sure of the meaning of a word, look it up!

Today’s picture

Oh dear, the clocks have gone back – it’s 17.15 and pitch dark (and it’s pouring with rain, again). This is sunset at Uluru, Australia.Image





One Response to “Tautology”


  1. Tautology « alswordsnpictures - October 29, 2012

    […] Tautology. […]

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