Let’s Talk About… Pleonasms

Webster’s New International Dictionary defines redundancy as “the generic term for the use of more words than are needed to express one’s meaning.”


A pleonasm is the rhetorical term for redundancy, specifically talking about words that could be eliminated and yet the meaning of the phrase would be the same.

Pronounced “PLEE-uh-naz’m” it comes through Latin from the Greek pleonasmos, abundance, which comes in turn from pleonazein, to be excessive, and pleion, more.

There are different types of pleonasms (such as double negatives), since it is often used purposely for a specific linguistic effect. But there are some pleonasms that we use in everyday life without realizing that we are being redundant.

So here is a list of redundant words and phrases that make us redundant when speaking without realizing we are being redundant (see what I did there?):

  • Tuna Fish: We already know that tuna is a fish
  • ATM Machine: Automatic Teller Machine Machine
  • PIN Number: Personal Identification Number Number
  • Safe Haven: A safe safe place
  • Null and Void: A legal term, they both mean the same thing
  • Terms and Conditions: See above
  • Cease and Desist: See above again
  • Free Gift: A gift is always free
  • Raise your hands up: If you raise them, they are already up
  • Nape of the neck: You only have one nape and it’s already on your neck
  • Head honcho: Borrowed from Japanese, honcho means “leader” or “head of the group”, so you are saying the head head of the group
  • Frozen Tundra: Tundra, by definition, is frozen
  • Advance planning:  Planning is always done in advance
  • Poisonous venom: Venom, by definitions, is poisonous already
  • Unexpected Surprise: Isn’t it obvious by now?


What other pleonasms do you know?


(Resources: Wikipedia, Authors Guild, Mental Floss, Fun with Words)

Absolute Nonsense (A Whole List of It!)

I never knew there were quite so many words for “nonsense” until I stumbled upon this list by The Phrontistery. (I swear, I didn’t make them up myself)

You may not believe it, but all of these words (over 60 of them) all mean the exact same thing: Complete and total nonsense.

It’s strange, but it’s not entirely surprising. What better way to discredit an opponents argument, then claim that it’s complete rubbish, hogwash, baloney… you get the idea.


ackamarackus pretentious or deceptive nonsense
baboonery foolishness; stupidity; nonsense
balderdash nonsense; a jumble of words
ballyhoo bombastic or pretentious nonsense
baloney humbug; nonsense
bambosh deceptive nonsense
bilge lower point of inner hull of a ship; nonsense or rubbish
blague humbug; pretentious nonsense
blague pretentious nonsense
blarney skilful flattery; nonsense
bletherskate a garrulous talker of nonsense
brimborion worthless nonsense; trash
bugaboo loud or empty nonsense
buncombe speech-making intended for the mass media; humbug
bunk nonsense; humbug
bushwa nonsense
cack rubbish; worthless nonsense
claptrap showy language designed to gain praise; nonsense
clatfart idle chatter; nonsense
codswallop something utterly senseless; nonsense
effutiation twaddle; humbug
eyewash humbug; something done merely for effect
fadoodle nonsense
falderal nonsense; meaningless refrain of a song
fandangle pretentious tomfoolery
fiddlededee nonsense
fiddle-faddle trifling talk
flam humbug; trickery
flannel ostentatious nonsense
flapdoodle gross flattery; nonsense
flimflam nonsense; trickery
flummadiddle nonsense; humbug
flummery anything insipid; empty compliment; humbug
fribble frivolous nonsense; a trifling thing or person
fustian pretentious writing or speech; inflated or nonsensical language
galbanum nonsense; a kind of gum resin
galimatias nonsense; confused mixture of unrelated things
gammon to feign an action; perpetrate a hoax on; nonsense, rubbish
gibberish nonsense talk
grimgribber learned gibberish; legal jargon
haver foolish nonsense
hibber-gibber gibberish
hogwash nonsense; worthless idea
hooey nonsense; humbug
humbug nonsense
jabberwock nonsense, gibberish
jiggery-pokery deceptive or manipulative humbug
kelter nonsense
kidology deceptive trickery; nonsense
linsey-woolsey coarse inferior wool or wool-flax weave; nonsense or confusion
macaroni nonsense; foolishness
malarkey humbug; nonsense
morology nonsense
mullock nonsense; rubbish
mumbo-jumbo obscure nonsense
narrischkeit foolishness; nonsense
nugament nonsense; trifle
phonus-bolonus exaggerated trickery or nonsense
piddle nonsense
pigwash rubbish; nonsense
poppycock humbug; nonsense
posh nonsense
quatsch nonsense
rannygazoo foolish nonsense
razzmatazz meaningless talk; hype; nonsense
rhubarb nonsense; actors’ nonsense background chatter
riddle-me-ree nonsense language
rottack rubbish; nonsense
schmegeggy nonsense; an idiot
shuck nonsense
skittles rubbish; nonsense
slipslop nonsensical talk
spinach nonsense
squit silly talk; nonsense; an insignificant person
stultiloquence foolish or senseless talk
taradiddle senseless talk; deception; nonsense
tarradiddle lie; falsehood; nonsense; fib
tootle nonsensical writing or speech
tosh rubbish; drivel; nonsense
trumpery deception; trickery; showy nonsense
twaddle rubbish; nonsense

I’m sure there are more out there, and the list will never end, because only having only one word for nonsense? What poppycock.

Video: Mental Floss’ “79 Common Mispronunciations”

I don’t often discuss pronunciations on here because you basically have to learn a whole new language to understand the traditional pronunciation guide.

Well, not a new language, but literally a new alphabet. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a visual representation of the sounds different consonants, vowels, and diphthongs make when spoken out loud.

Again, this isn’t something I plan on digging into often. But I couldn’t help but share this video from Mental Floss, starring the hilarious John Green, about a few common mispronunciations.


LSSU’s List of Banished Words (Plus, A Few of My Own)

I love words. I do. But I have to admit… I don’t like all of them.

In a recent post, I talked about the winners for various Word of the Year awards, and these were words that have seen drastic increases in usage and influence. But let’s be honest… there are some words that have become over-used as well.

While doing my research for my WotY post, I stumbled across a slightly different list put together by Lake Superior Sate University in Canada.

In 1977, they begun a tradition of putting together an annual List of Banished Words. Born from a conversation during a New Year’s Eve party, the lists full title is “LSSU’s Annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.” I think that about sums it up.

If you want to see LSSU’s list, check it out here. It features some great words and phases such as “break the internet”, “secret sauce”, “vape”, and “manspreading”. It’s wonderful, it’s inspired, and it’s much needed.

I decided I wanted in on the trend too, so here is my own personal list of Banished Words from 2015. All definitions are (appropriately) from Urban Dictionary.



Definition: Used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.

Used in a sentence: “Wearing UGGs and drinking PSLs is so basic.”

My thoughts: I’m over it. Girls don’t deserve a derogatory label for liking the same things as other girls. The use of the word basic is starting to be… basic.


Ride or Die

Definition: The people in your life who are there through thick in thin (A conjunction of the phrases “ride it out” and “die trying”)

Used in a sentence: “My best friends will always be my ‘ride or die’s.”

My thoughts: Can we please talk about how “ride or die” isn’t a noun? And can’t exactly be plural?



Definition: Something that is more awesome than awesome. It is a modifier of your basic awesome into a more awesome version.

Used in a sentence: You good for plans tonight? Yea? Awesomesauce.

My thoughts: I’m sorry, am I putting together a list of words from the 90s?? Awesomesauce (and it’s friend ‘cool beans’) need to return to the past.



Definition: The act of moving/shaking ones [buttocks] in a circular, up-and-down, and side-to-side motion.

Used in a sentence: “Look at that drunk girl over there, twerking on all the guys!”

My thoughts: While everyone attributes the word, and possibly dance move, to Miley Cyrus, it’s been around much longer than that. And it’s welcome to leave now. The dance move isn’t going to go away (been to a high school dance recently?), but at least we could stop talking about it.



Definition: Term of endearment, shorthand for “before anyone else”.

Used in a sentence: “I can’t hang out tonight, I’m staying at home with bae!”

My thoughts: Please. No. And I won’t even mentioned the whole Danish poop thing. Oh, whoops, I did!


On Fleek

Definition: The quality of being perfect, or on point.

Used in a sentence: “I just got my eyebrows done, and they are on fleek!”

My thoughts: After going viral from a Vine video, this word even landed in a Nicki Minaj song. There are so many words for looking good, and this is what we ended up with? It has a certain ring to it, but it’s complete nonsense.



Definition: A clever solution to a tricky problem.

Used in a sentence: “I just tested out this awesome life hack from Pinterest!”

My thoughts: The word you are looking for is ‘tip’. Pretty much every use of the word ‘hack’ requires extra effort, instead of saving people time.



Definition: To get hyped, to get excited for something, usually a party. Often used to mean drunk or high. Short for ‘turned up’.

Used in a sentence: “Let’s go out to the club and get turnt tonight!”

My thoughts: !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!


I can’t even

Definition: An expression that denotes so many emotional responses that the user can’t even comprehend what has been said or seen.

Used in a sentence: “OMG, did you hear what she just said? I can’t even!”

My thoughts: Ok, I won’t lie. I use this all the time. Maybe I’ll banish it next year? No guarantees.


(Resources: Metro, Time, Patch, Urban Dictionary)


Pop Culture Quest: How I Met Your Mother

One of my favorite shows of all time, CBS’s How I Met Your Mother (or HIMYM for short) is well known for spawning neologism’s left and right. The cult sit-com follows five friends in New York City as Ted Mosby, the main character, searches for his future wife.

As far as their extensive vocabulary of words and phrases that have entered pop culture, let’s be honest. Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris, is responsible for most of them.


Here are a few of my favorites!

Revertigo: The change that happens to someone’s personality when he or she spends time with someone from his or her past.

Desperation Day: Feb. 13, the last day to find someone with whom to spend Valentine’s Day

woo-girlsWoo Girls: Single women who go out in large groups and yell “wooo!” a lot—even when nothing is actually exciting them

Steak sauce: A-1, the tops, the best, awesome.

Superdate: One date that includes “17 dates-worth of romance”

Lawyered: What a lawyer says upon winning an argument. (Not actually invented by HIMYM, but often used by Marshal)

Suit Up!: A common declaration by Barney, referring to his policy of wearing a suit for almost every occasion and often expecting others to do the same.

The Bro Code: a set of written rules for bros to follow635603241805640236-306960360_Hot Crazy Scale

The Hot/Crazy Scale: A person is allowed to be crazy, as long as they are equally hot. A
graph is used to display someone’s hot-to-crazy ratio. Ideally, you want your date to be above the diagonal line, indicating that they are hotter than they are crazy.

Slap Bet: The bet to end all bets. If you win, you can slap the person in the face as hard as you can.

On The Hook: A relationship between two people- person A is infatuated with person B, person B likes being adored, but isn’t ever going to date them. Person A is “on the hook.”

The Dobler-Dahmer Theory: “If both people are into each other, then a big romantic gesture works: Dobler, but if one person isn’t into the other, the same gesture comes off serial-killer crazy: Dahmer.” “Dobler” refers to Lloyd Dobler from the late 1980’s romantic comedy film, Say Anything, while the Dahmer is referenced to serial killer Jeffery Dahmer.

Graduation Goggles: The nostalgic feeling one has about a time or someone in their life when it is about to end, even if the time/that person was completely miserable. As soon as you are about to leave, quit or break up with someone or something, you start to enjoy everything you hated about it before because you realize that it will soon be gone forever.

ewok_line-thumb-330x199-73183.jpgThe Ewok Line: The Ewok line correlates the birth year of a person and the subsequent appreciation of Ewoks. It is used to determine whether someone is too old for you to date.

The Chain of Screaming Theory: The Chain of Screaming (also known as The Circle of Screaming or The Pyramid of Screaming), states that once screamed at by a higher authority, one must scream at an inferior.

The Lemon Law: The Lemon Law entitles either party on a date to call off the date within the first five minutes with no repercussions or hard feelings. Just cite Lemon Law and you’re out.

The Mermaid Theory: Theory that single men and married women can’t really be friends,
because every woman, no matter how initially 5727734409_aaec2abfberepugnant, has a mermaid clock— the time it takes for a man to realize he wants to sleep with her. This is due to a woman’s hotness being in direct proportion to the time exposed to her

The Sexless Inkeeper: When you have someone go home with from the bar just because they want to sleep at your place for free, not to be actually with you.

Platinum Rule: Never date someone you will see on a regular basis. Such relationships never work out in the end and lead to never-ending suffering as those involved would constantly see each other.

Nothing Good Happens After 2 A.M. Rule: … Exactly what it sounds like.


Thanks for joining me today! Want more Pop Culture Quests? Check out my two part series on Harry Potter here and here, as well as Jurassic World here.

(Resources: Time, Tampa Bay Times, EW, The HIMYM Wiki, Buzzfeed)

Mental Floss’s “11 Words You Might Not Realize Come from ‘Love’ ”

Happy Belated Valentines Day, readers!

Yes, I know I missed it, but I was way behind on my last post and needed to get it up ASAP. So, here we are. Pretend for me that it’s still Valentines Day?

Todays post is borrowed from one of my favorite publications, Mental Floss. They put up this lovely post for V-Day, and I enjoyed seeing how many ordinary words have their roots in the reason for this particular season.

Let’s take a look!


11 Words You Might Not Realize Come from “Love”

By Mental Floss contributor Arika Okrent


In Old English, believe was geliefan, which traces back to the Germanic galaubjan, where laub is the root for “dear” (so “believe” is “to hold dear”). Laub goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root for “love,” leubh.


We got furlough from the Dutch verlof, which traces back to the same Germanic laub root as in believe. It is also related to the sense of leave meaning allowance or permission (“get leave,” “go on leave”). The “leave” in a furlough is given with pleasure, or approval, which is how it connects back to love.


Old English Frigedæg was named for Frigg, the Germanic goddess of love (and counterpart to the Roman Venus). According to the OED, frīg was also a noun for “strong feminine” love.


Venom comes from the Latin venenum, which shares a root with love-goddess Venus, and originally referred to a love potion.


The root of amateur is Latin amare, “to love.” An amateur practices a craft simply because they love it.


The Latin caritas, which ended up as charity in English, was a different kind of love than amor, implying high esteem and piety, rather than romance and passion. It was used to translate the Ancient Greek agape, the word used in the New Testament to express godly love.


Greek had another word for love, philia, that—in contrast to agape and eros (sexual love)—meant brotherly or friendly love. It’s used in many classical compounds to signify general fondness or predilection for things. Philosophy is the love of sophos, wisdom.


Love of anthropos, humanity.


You might know it as the “city of brotherly love,” but you might not know that the tagline is right there in the name. It’s love for adelphos, brother.


The name Philip comes from the compound phil– + hippos, love of horses.


Have you been taking acidophilus probiotic supplements for digestive health? It’s made from acid-loving bacteria, i.e., bacteria that easily take up an acid dye for viewing under the microscope.


Thanks Mental Floss! Again, to see the original article, check it out here. Also, if you like reading about words that derive from the Greek word “phil”, meaning love, check out my post about “philias”!

The Votes are In!: 2015 Words of the Year

It’s an annual tradition for the big names in the dictionary community to look over the newest and more notable words of the previous year and decide on what they believe were the most significant.

2015 did not disappoint. Amidst popular nominations like “deflategate” and “dadbod”, the community took a fast and loose approach to choosing their”word” of the year. 2015 official choices include a rising gender neutral pronoun, a suffix, and…yes… an emoji.





“In 2015, Dictionary.com saw a number of themes emerge in the words that gained enough traction to be added to the dictionary along with words that trended in user lookups. The most prominent theme across both of these areas was in the expanding and increasingly fluid nature of conversations about gender and sexuality. Additionally, the theme of racial identity led to some of the most notable headlines and new additions to Dictionary.com this year.

Encapsulating the most robust fields of language evolution and user interest this year, Dictionary.com’s 2015 Word of the Year is identity.”- Dictionary.com


Vocabulary.com & American Dialect Society


“One intriguing choice has emerged among language scholars: they  used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. While they has filled the gap for centuries when speakers and writers have needed a third-person singular pronoun that does not specify gender, this year it has taken on new prominence.” –Vocabulary.com

“The use of singular they builds on centuries of usage, appearing in the work of writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. In 2015, singular they was embraced by the Washington Post style guide. Bill Walsh, copy editor for the Post, described it as “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.” While editors have increasingly moved to accepting singular they when used in a generic fashion, voters in the Word of the Year proceedings singled out its newer usage as an identifier for someone who may identify as “non-binary” in gender terms.” –American Dialect Society

Want to see more of the ADS nominations? Check them out here.




“A suffix is the Word of the Year because a small group of words that share this three-letter ending triggered both high volume and significant year-over-year increase in lookups at Merriam-Webster.com. Taken together, these seven words represent millions of individual dictionary lookups.” –Merriam-Webster


The Oxford Dictionary


“That’s right – for the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is a pictograph: 😂, officially called the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji, though you may know it by other names. Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and use of the word emoji, increase hugely.

This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and 😂 was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that 😂 made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014.” –Oxford Dictionaries


Collins Dictionary


“‘Binge-watch’ (To watch a large number of television programmes, especially all the shows from one series, in succession) has been named Collins Word of the Year 2015 thanks to a dramatic increase in usage.”  –Collins


Around the World

Want some more WOTY’s? All of the above were English choices, so here are some other selections from various languages and countries around the world.

New Zealand: Public Address

Quax:  to shop, in the western world, by means of walking, cycling or public transit.

Australia: Australian National Dictionary Centre 

sharing economy : an economic system based on sharing of access to goods, resources, and services, typically by means of the Internet’

South Africa: LitNet Journal

#: The word of the year is the hashtag symbol.

China: Chinese National Language Monitoring and Research Center

: incorrupt

Japan: Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation

The kanji for “an”: safety or security

Spain: Fundación del Español Urgente & Portugal: Porta Editora

Refugiado: refugee

Germany: Langenscheidt

Smombie: A teenage who is too engrossed in their phone to pay attention to where they are going as they are walking down the street


Interesting Note: Entities in Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Denmark all had a variation of “refugee” as their Word of the Year.


Want more? The Oxford University Press put together an amazing list of more 2015 nominations and choices. Check it out here.