Wrongful language: tautology

Rather like the opposite of an oxymoron, a tautology is when two words or phrases that mean the same thing ‘combine together ‘ in ‘close proximity’ to create needless repetition at best and total nonsense at worst. The problem is some are so commonly used that to separate them can sound awkward. Here are a few more:

  • free gift
  • serious danger
  • waiting patiently
  • new innovation
  • mutual cooperation
  • original source

Sometimes a writer will claim something, for instance a lying politician or a greedy banker, is a tautology for satirical effect.


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