Repetitive Redundancy, Again and Again

WRITTEN October 13, 2011 Author: Rich Atkins

Doing (or saying / writing) the same thing twice is counterproductive. Avoid double work in communication! Pretend that each word you use will cost you .75¢ (look for ways to contain costs). Oftentimes, a “repetitive redundancy” will show up in speech or writing. For each of these examples below, see how words can be deleted, making communication clearer.

RAS Syndrome
Repetitive Acronym Syndrome Syndrome)
  • ATM Machine (Automated Teller Machine Machine)
  • GPS System (Global Positioning System System)
  • PIN Number (Personal Identification Number Number)
Redundancies (see if you can drop one or more words from these terms and expressions)
  • Clear distinction
  • Same exact
  • Basic fundamentals (Are there any other kind?)
  • Preboarding (isn’t it just “boarding”?)
  • Preheating (isn’t it just “heating”?)
  • 6:00 AM in the morning (Is there another 6.00 AM?)
  • Hot water heater (At the price of fuel these days…)
  • Free gift (Is there any other kind?)
  • Past history (Is there any other kind?)
  • Refer back (Where else could one refer?)
  • Future projections (Are there any other kind?)
  • Desirable benefits (Ask HR about the “undesirable benefits”!)
  • “Personally, I think…”
  • “I self-examine myself.” (Who else would you self-examine?)
Contradictory Terms – generally just odd combinations of words.
  • Terribly good
  • A little big
  • Love him / her to death
  • Pretty ugly
  • Plastic glass / Plastic silverware

According to, the word REDUNDANT applies to things that are UNNECESSARY or COULD BE LEFT OUT.
For example: calling a blank sheet of paper empty is redundant.

We were all taught to avoid being redundant. However, sometimes in the effort to be descriptive, it can get away from us. Use this as a guide, remind yourself to proofread, and use your voice clearly in speaking and writing.

This information is discussed in our Business Writing curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.

Other Redundancy Resources:

3 Types of Redundant Writing and How to Avoid Them

Redundancy in Writing: What it is and why you should avoid it.

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