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14 common phrases that use more words than needed


A pleonasm might sound like a deathly disease but in fact it is a word to describe a rhetorical device that is commonly used in many languages to exaggerate and reinforce a point.  Pleon is an ancient Greek word meaning too much or excessively. There are many common phrases which include redundant words which add no extra content but are able to create an effect.  Read on and you’ll see we are all culprits of using more words than needed! 

There are many examples of pleonasms that crop up in day to day life that are taken for granted like tuna fish or frozen ice. Only when you stop and take note do you realise that we are using more words than needed to get our point across.  Let’s have a look at 14 common phrases !

1/ Tuna fish

Everyone knows that tuna is a type of fish so why do we feel like we need to make this point clear?  Is it because it is most commonly bought in a tin…

unnecessary words

2/ Bleary-eyed

By definition bleary means a dimmed or dulled vision so it seems unnecessary to add eyes to the phrase.  How else can we see what is in front of us?

3/ Armed gunman

The word “gun” in gunman implies that the officer would be armed.  Unless if they were off-duty.

4/ Prepay in advance

Shops really want to put the point across. They don’t want to be hanging around waiting to be paid they want it pre-paid… meaning in advance!

5/ Temper-tantrum

This commonly used phrase to describe the awkward stage of a toddler is fairly apt.  Repeating the same meaning twice really helps to put those sleepless nights in context.  There is always a double whammy of bawling!

unnecessary words

6/ Stupid idiot

You really want to point out their stupidity or should I say idiocy.  It doesn’t matter really. They are one in the same thing…

7/ Unexpected surprise

By definition a surprise is unexpected as you didn’t see it coming.  Again this is a redundant repetition just to create an effect.

8/ I saw it with my own eyes

Honestly, who’s eyes would you have been using other than your own?

9/ Free gift

Shops want you to know how generous they are being.  However isn’t there a saying that nothing comes free in life!

Unnecessary words

10/ Exact replica

A replica is a copy of another object which implies that the maker paid close attention to detail.  Do you really need to use the word exact.  It does add a flourish to the phrase…

11/  Burning fire

There is not much else in the world that burns except fire.  Or perhaps when you have an itch or a pounding headache.

12/ Frozen ice

Often used by weather presenters emphasising the need to be cautious on the roads due to the frozen ice…  We get it. Ice means freezing temperatures which means potentially dangerous driving conditions!

unnecessary words

13/  Veer off course

Veering is when you change your track or you go off course so there is really no need to add any extra elaboration which is giving no extra context.  We love to add some drama!

14/ It’s deja vu all over again

We all know that deja vu, which is taken from French, means seeing something again. Why do we feel it necessary to spell this out to others?

Can you think of any other times we use unnecessary words to embellish phrases?  You’ll be hearing them all the time now! 

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