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13 Redundant Phrases You’re Probably Using All the Time

Do you use an abundance of redundance? An overflowing flow of superfluous surplus? Quit being so extra!

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forever and ever
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Forever and ever

Did you ever describe someone as droning on and on (and on!) forever and ever? Or have you ever promised to love someone forever and ever? Either way, no need to add “and ever” to descriptions of forever. Daily Writing Tips recommends you avoid using the phrase, because forever is, by definition, endless. No need to extend it.

2 / 13
new innovations
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New innovations

According to Oxford Dictionaries, “new” already exists within the definition of innovation—which is a new method, idea, or product. So if you want to win the prize for redundancy, go ahead and describe something as a “fresh new idea innovation product method.” How innovative! Check out these 10 old-fashioned words that can make you sound smart.

3 / 13
completely annihilate
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Completely annihilate

So, when you annihilate something you cancel it out and make it void. You basically reduce it to nonexistence. You can’t annihilate something more. Your work is complete! There’s no need to add “completely.” Richard Norquist at ThoughtCo lists other redundant words that get linked with “completely” like destroyed, filled, and engulfed. So completely redundant! Things that are not redundant? These words you think are synonyms but aren’t.

4 / 13
blatantly obvious
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Blatantly obvious

According to Grammarist, redundancies are “word overflows.” That sounds almost poetic, in addition to being blatantly obvious, but it’s best to avoid overstatement. Blatant and obvious mean the same thing. There’s no need to descriptively modify one term with the other—unless you want a deluge of word overflow, then by all means, go for it! Here are the grammar mistakes editors hate.

5 / 13
fiction novel
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Fiction novel

Less is more. Cut the fluff. Avoid repetition. Use one word instead of two wherever possible. Editor Benjamin Dreyer advises precision in writing, and he finds the phrase “fiction novel” an appalling affront. Who wouldn’t? Fiction is not always a novel, but a novel is always a fiction—or in the case of a “fiction novel,” a prose affliction. The delete key is your friend.

6 / 13
passing fad
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Passing fad

Fads are those hyper-popular cultural crazes like Beanie Babies, mullet hairdos, and Angry Birds. Granted, you’re still snuggling your Beanie plush and rockin’ your bi-level hairstyle while launching screamy birds on your phone app. However, for most people, those behaviors have passed. Fads are by nature temporary. Like waves, fads reach to a swell, then crash upon the rocks of culture before receding from society. Don’t be a hanger-on—or add the word “passing” to “fad.” It’s already implied.

7 / 13
period of time
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Period of time

According to APA style, you can avoid redundancy by eliminating unnecessary words. Despite the sense that your authority grows in relation to the number of words you deploy, in brief, less is always more. Also, time is relative (thanks, Einstein!) in addition to constantly elapsing—or occurring across a period, or flying, or crawling by. No need for “moments of time” or “periods of time,” when just the single word time will do.

8 / 13
please RSVP
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Please RSVP

You know you should RSVP for parties, but what do the letters stand for? Respond So Verification Promulgates? Actually, it’s a French phrase, excusez-moi. RSVP refers to “Répondez s’il vous plaît,” which translates to “respond if you please.” Adding the “please” is redundant, but it never hurts to be polite. Check out these foreign words that actually sound rude in English.

9 / 13
safe haven
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Safe haven

Pleonasm is not as fun as it sounds. It’s a fancy word for redundancy—or using way more words than you need. Just get to the point, will ya? According to Benjamin Smith at Mental Floss, phrases like “frozen tundra” and “false pretense” also fall into this pleonastic category. Haven suggests a place where you’re unlikely to encounter disaster. Anything’s possible! Still, it’s safe to delete “safe” from the phrase. Don’t miss these offensive words you need to stop saying.

10 / 13
advance warning
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Advance warning

It’s not really a warning if it doesn’t occur before whatever it is you’re being warned about. The weather centers don’t give warnings about storms that have already moved on. Your dad doesn’t give you his final warning after he’s already revoked your privileges and the car keys—although he has the right! All proper warnings happen in advance. Advance your knowledge with 10 English words you won’t find in any other language.

11 / 13
unexpected surprise
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Unexpected surprise

Surprise! All surprises are naturally unexpected. Except perhaps in cases of surprise parties with advance warnings! This phrase is redundant, and you’ll often find it used in cases that weren’t, in fact, surprising. Ever hear anyone claim, “What an unexpected surprise!” after they’ve opened your gift? Or when you show up uninvited at dinnertime? Find more surprises with the most confusing grammar rules in the world.

12 / 13
sudden impulse
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Sudden impulse

You know what’s fun? Trying to have an impulse that’s not sudden. A true impulse can’t be pre-planned. You just have to let it happen—involuntarily according to the dictionary definition. All impulses will be of the sudden sort. Avoid redundancy when describing them. Here are 70 words and phrases you’re probably using all wrong.

13 / 13
end result
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End result

You can probably conjure a situation where it’s possible to have a result before the end, but why bother? Technically, the result (for whatever) will occur at the end (of whatever). The result is the conclusion, the outcome, the final product, the finish. In other words, the result is the end. Feel free to use “result” or “end,” but never both. End redundant results! Memorize these 10 fancy words and you’ll instantly sound smarter.

Molly Pennington, PhD
Molly is a writer and collage artist with a PhD in film and cultural studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Her professional astrology services and artwork are available at Baroque Moon Astrology. She covers the zodiac, books, movies, TV and culture for Reader’s Digest, and loves to talk about all the ways we make meaning.