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pleonasm

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pleonasm

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin (Hyperion, 2004)

Definition:

The use of more words than are necessary to make a point. Adjective: pleonastic.

Pleonasm may serve as a rhetorical strategy to emphasize an idea or image. Used unintentionally, it may also be viewed as a stylistic fault.

See also:


Etymology:

From the Greek, "excessive, abundant"

Examples and Observations:

  • "The most unkindest cut of all."
    (William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar)


  • "In the farmhouse I saw, with my own eyes, this sight: there was a man, of young age and graceful proportion, whose body had been torn limb from limb. The torso was here, an arm there, a leg there. . . .

    "All this I saw with my own eyes, and it was the most fearsome sight I ever witnessed." (Michael Chrichton, Eaters of the Dead. Random House, 1976)


  • "These terrible things I have seen with my own eyes, and I have heard with my own ears, and touched with my own hands."
    (Isabel Allende, City of the Beasts. Rayo, 2002)


  • "As a rhetorical figure, [a pleonasm] gives an utterance an additional semantic dimension, as in Hamlet's dictum about his father: 'He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again' (Shakespeare. Hamlet, I.2.186-187), where 'man' contains the semantic markers (+ human) and (+ male) contained in 'father' and 'he,' but according to the context it has the specific meaning 'ideal man.'"
    (Heinrich F. Plett, "Pleonasm," in Encyclopedia of Rhetoric. Oxford Univ. Press, 2001)


  • "pleonasm. Term in rhetoric for repetition or superfluous expression. Hence, in grammar, a category is sometimes said to be represented pleonastically if it is realized by more than one affix, word, etc."
    (P.H. Matthews, Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. Oxford Univ. Press, 1997)


  • Ears pierced while you wait.


  • I forgot my PIN number for the ATM machine.


  • "Many tautological (or tautologous) expressions occur in everyday usage. The tautology in some is immediately apparent: all well and good; to all intents and purposes; cool, calm, and collected . . .. In others, it is less obvious, because they contain archaic elements: by hook or by crook."
    (Tom McArthur, The Oxford Companion to the English Language. Oxford Univ. Press, 1992)


  • George Carlin's Department of Pleonasms and Redundancies
    "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 and who is one of the most unique individuals I have ever personally met. 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.

    "Based on her past experience, she felt we needed to join together in a com­mon bond for a combined total of twenty-four hours a day, in order to find some new initiatives. What a novel innovation! And, as an extra bonus, she presented me with the free gift of a tuna fish. Right away I noticed an immedi­ate positive improvement. And although my recovery is not totally complete, the sum total is I feel much better now knowing I am not uniquely alone."
    (George Carlin, "Count the Superfluous Redundant Pleonastic Tautologies." When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? Hyperion, 2004)


  • "Dougan uses many words where few would do, as if pleonasm were a way of wringing every possibility out of the material he has, and stretching sentences a form of spreading the word."
    (Paula Cocozza, review of How Dynamo Kiev Beat the Luftwaffe, in The Independent, March 2, 2001)


  • "It's déjà vu all over again."
    (attributed to Yogi Berra)
Pronunciation: PLEE-en-IZ=em
Also Known As: pleonasmus, superabundancia, macrologia, tautology, perissology

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