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1. the use of more words than necessary or an instance of this, such as a tiny little child
2. a word or phrase that is superfluous



the use of words that are necessary neither for completeness of meaning nor, usually, for stylistic expressiveness. Although pleonasm is classified as a figure of speech, it is regarded as an extreme that borders on being a stylistic fault. The line between the two fluctuates and is determined by a period’s taste and its sense of proportion.

Pleonasm is common in conversational speech, where it and other figures of speech are forms of the natural redundancy of speech; an example of pleonasm is found in the sentence Svoimi glazami videi (“I saw it with my own eyes”). In folklore, pleonasm acquires stylistic expressiveness, as in put’-doroga (“path-road”), more-okean (“sea-ocean”), and grust’-toska (“sorrow-grief”). In literature, some styles have cultivated pleonasm, among these the embellished style of classical rhetoric. Other styles, including the “simple style,” avoid pleonasm.

A figura etimologica is an intensified form of pleonasm, in which words having the same roots are repeated, as in shutki shutit’ (“to joke”) and ogorod gorodit’ (“to make a fuss”). Sometimes an extreme form of pleonasm, in which the very same words are repeated, is called a tautology. In contemporary stylistic criticism, however, the concept of tautology is often identified with pleonasm.


Redundancy of expression; tautology.
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