For Free and Other Pleonastic Expressions
pleonasm: The use of more words in a sentence or clause than are necessary to express the meaning
Pleonastic expressions are common in conversation. We all use turns of phrase in which we repeat ourselves: “the books were few
in number,” “We made advance dinner reservations,” “I know with positive certainty.”
few: adjective. amounting to a small number.
reservation: noun. an act of engaging a seat, room, place, ticket, vehicle, etc., in advance;
positive: adjective. expressed without qualification; certain.
In casual conversation, speakers may be forgiven these verbal tics, but advertisers and journalists can be expected to aim to minimize redundancy in their copy.
Here are some examples from the web:
Twenty-One Cool Products And Services You Can Get For Free
“An unexpected surprise” (very popular headline for hotel reviews)
The Borden twist is that Borden and Fallon are a pair of identical twins who take turns as each persona.
Las Vegas has its share of annoying pests.
Future prospects remain bright for agricultural graduates
Do you want to give your child everything he needs to succeed as a baseball player? Good! — Teach them the basic fundamentals when they are small.
What is the current consensus of opinion concerning the relationship of REM sleep to emotional stability?
Poorer soils are usually paler brown in color…
the green color shows a few raindrops, but the red color indicates very intense rain.
County Schools’ Report Card Scores Show Good Improvement
for free: If something is “free,” it is “given out of generosity and not in return for something else.” The formation “for free” has probably developed by analogy with “for nothing,” One can get “something for nothing,” A “free gift” is also pleonastic; the most common meaning of gift is “something given without charge,” i.e., “free.” It is enough for advertisers to announce that something is available free: “Buy a computer and get a printer free.”
unexpected surprise: a surprise is an unexpected occurrence or event.
pair of identical twins: Two children or young brought forth at one birth are twins. A pair is “a couple; a set of two.” It’s enough to say that the men are “identical twins.”
annoying pests: In the figurative sense, a pest is “an annoying person or thing.”
future prospects: The word prospects in this context refers to future occasions or events.
basic fundamental: Fundamental means “serving as the foundation or base on which something is built.” The adjective basic means “Of, pertaining to, or forming a base; fundamental.”
consensus of opinion: The word consensus is enough. It means “Agreement in opinion.”
brown in color, green color, red color: A color is a hue or tint. Brown, green, and red are colors. It is rarely necessary to say so when describing a weather map or other depiction in color. It’s enough to say, “The red indicates intense rain.”
good improvement: The word improvement includes the idea of “good.” There’s no such thing as “bad improvement.” The word can be modified in terms of degree. For example, “slight improvement,” and “minor improvement.”
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