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Tautology

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Tautology

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Tautology is the unnecessary repetition of meaning within a sentence.

Example

I can't believe I'm seeing it with my own eyes.

It's a new and innovative idea.

If you don't get any better, then you'll never improve.

This arboretum, this collection of trees, is very beautiful.

Discussion

Tautology can be repetition of a single word or of phrases or sentences. The main point in it is that meaning is reproduced.

Tautology is often used in error, including when people are trying to use 'clever' language which they do not really understand. Another place it appears in formal language where the writer is being overly explicit.

It can happen deliberately where the speaker is trying to make sure the other person understands and so is using different words in case the listener does not understand the initial (and usually more complex or jargon-based) word.

Tautology can happen where abbreviations include words which are repeated, such as 'The BPS System', where 'BPS' means Business Processing System'. It can also occur across languages, for example 'chai tea', where 'chai' is Hindi for 'tea'.

Tautology comes from the Greek word meaning 'redundant'.

Classification: Repetition, Excess

See also

Repetition principle

 

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