Redundancies 101: 400+ Redundant Words to Avoid in Writing

over 400 redundant words to avoid in writing

Redundant words, or pleonasms, are a misery for many writers.

This post presents over 400 common redundancies. Avoid them, and your writing will benefit.

Why should you remove redundant words?

– They bloat writing, an obstacle if your word count is limited.

– They make your work difficult to digest. If a person can’t read a sentence out loud without struggling for breath, redundant words might be the problem.

– Some redundancies make you appear pompous. Do you want your work to read like legalese or purple prose?

– Pleonasms detract from the quality and coherency of your writing.

– Redundancies are by definition superfluous. They dilute rather than augment, forcing readers to wade through useless text.

Analyze determiners.

You can often delete determiners without changing the meaning of the text. If you need to show degrees of intensity, select stronger verbs or adjectives.

Consider these two paragraphs.

Truthfully, the sun was horribly hot. Honestly. It burnt me really bad.

As dialogue, the previous paragraph might work. However, let’s pick it apart. Would somebody speak untruthfully? Scrap truthfully. Ditto for honestly. Even if readers swallow the first affirmation of truthfulness, the second will be too much. A really bad sunburn would cause blisters. Consider this more concise version:

The scorching sun gave me a blistering sunburn.

Scrutinize your writing for the following words and their relatives. Do you need them?

Actually, almost, basically, definitely, especially, essentially, extremely, fairly, generally, genuinely, honestly, incredibly, intensely, just, kind of, moderately, only, particularly, quite, rather, really, significantly, slightly, somewhat, sort of, specifically, such, truthfully, type of, very

Do you use some of the following phrases?

If you doubt anything you see in this list of redundancies, check your dictionary.

Let’s consider kneel down.

Kneel: to go down and rest on the knees or a knee

The definition of kneel already includes down.

Embrace the same approach for other entries, remembering that dialogue is an exception to the rule. People speak with redundant phrases, and your characters should sound realistic.

Find more writing tips in
The Writer’s Lexicon and The Writer’s Lexicon Volume II.
Available in both digital and print editions.

Numeric
3 a.m. in the morning
4 p.m. at night
12 midnight
12 noon

A
a total of 5,280
absolutely essential
absolutely necessary
actual facts
add an additional
add up
added
bonus
advance forward
advance
planning
advance reservations
advance warning
aid and abet
AIDS syndrome
all of
all things considered
all throughout
all-time record
alternative choice
annual
anniversary
anonymous stranger
absolutely necessary
armed gunman
artificial prosthesis
as a matter of fact
as far as I’m concerned
as
yet
ascend up
ask a question
assemble together
ATM machine
attach together

B
bald-headed
balsa wood
basic
essentials
basic fundamentals
basic necessities
because of the fact that
best ever
biography of a person’s life
blend together
blue/gold/red, etc. in color
both of them
brand new
brief in duration
brief moment
brief summary
burning embers
but nevertheless
but nevertheless
cacophony of sound
cancel out
careful scrutiny
cash money
cease and desist

C
cacophony of sound
CEO officer
circle around
circulate around
classify into groups
climb up
close proximity
closed fist
CMS system
collaborate together
combine together
commute back and forth
compete with each other
complete
opposite
completely annihilate
completely destroy
completely eliminate
completely engulf
completely finish
completely full
completely surround
completely unanimous
component parts
confer together
connect together
connect up
consensus of opinion
constantly maintained
cooperate together
could possibly
CPU unit
crack of
dawn
crisis situation
cross the arms over the chest
crystal-clear
current trend

D
definite decision
depreciate in value
descend down
desirable benefit
diametrically opposed
different kinds
difficult dilemma
direct confrontation
disappear from sight
dog-eat-dog
fierce competition
drop down
during the course of
dwindle down

E
each and
every
each and every
earlier in time
echo back
eliminate altogether
eliminate entirely
emergency situation
empty hole
empty out
empty
space
enclosed herewith/herein
end result
enter into
entirely eliminate
equal to one another
eradicate completely
estimated at about
every single person
evolve over time
exact same
exactly the same
exposed opening
extradite back

F
face mask
face up to the facts
fall down
false pretense
favorable approval
fellow classmate
fellow colleague
few in number
filled to capacity
final
completion
final end
final outcome
final ultimatum
first and foremost
first conceived
first of all
five in number
fly through the air
focus in on
follow after
foreign
imports
for all intents and purposes
for the most part
forever and ever
former graduate
former veteran
free gift
from whence
frozen ice
frozen tundra
full satisfaction
full to capacity
fuse together
future
plans
future recurrence

G
gather together
general
public
give a gasp
give a nod
give a shrug
give a sigh
give a smile
go and get
GOP party
GRE exam
grow in size

H
harmful injuries
has got
have got
head
honcho
heat up
hidden ambush
HIV virus
hoist up
hollow tube
honestly
hopeful optimism
hot water heater
hot-dog show-off
HPV virus
hurry up

I
illustrated drawing
in a manner of speaking
in a very real sense
in
close proximity
in my opinion
in the final analysis
in the process of
incredible to believe
I saw it with my own eyes
integrate together
integrate with each other
interdependent on each other
introduced for the first time
ISBN number
it’s literally impossible

J
join together
joint collaboration

K
kneel down
know that
knowledgeable experts

L
lag behind
large in size
largest ever
later time
LCD display
lift up
live witness
longer in length
look ahead to the future
look back in retrospect

M
made out of
major breakthrough
major feat
manually by hand
may/might possibly
meet together
meet with each other
mental telepathy
merge together
miles apart from one another
mix together
MLB baseball
more
perfect
most of the people
most unique
moving experience
mutual
cooperation
mutual respect for each other

N
nape of the neck
native habitat
natural instinct
never before
new
innovation
new invention
new recruit
NFL league
nod the head
none at all
nostalgia for the past
now pending
number one leader

O
off of
open trench
open up
oral conversation
originally created
outside in the yard
outside of
oval in shape
over exaggerate
over with
overused cliché

P
pair of twins
palm of the hand
passing fad
past experience
past history
past memories
past records
penetrate into
period of
four days
personal friend
personal opinion
pick and choose
PIN number
pizza pie
plan ahead
plan in advance
please RSVP
plunge down
polar opposites
positive identification
postpone until later
pouring down rain
present incumbent
present time
previously listed above
proceed ahead
protest against
protruded out
puppy dog
pursue after
puzzling in nature

R
raise up
RAM memory
reason why
rectangular in shape
recur again
re-elect for another term
refer back
reflect back
regular
routine
repeat again
reply back
retreat back
return again
revert back
ripe old age
rise up
round in shape

S
safe haven
safe sanctuary
same exact
same identical
scream loudly
scrutinize in detail
separated apart
serious danger
share together
sharp point
shine down on the floor
shiny in appearance
shorter in length
shrug the shoulders
shut down
sigh of relief
since the time that
single unit
sit down
skipped over
slow speed
small in size
small speck
sneaking suspicion
soft to the touch
sole of the foot
spell out in detail
spliced together
square in shape
stand up
start off
start out
still persists
still remains
sudden impulse
suddenly exploded
sum total
summarize briefly
surrounded on all sides
surrounding circumstances

T
take a look at
take a taste
tall in height/stature
tell a lie
temper tantrum
the future to come
the point is that
the reason why
therapeutic treatment
there are many who think
there is a man who
three triplets
three-way love triangle
tilt the head sideways
tiny bit/speck
to coin a phrase
to make a long story short
to tell the truth

total destruction
totally
free
true facts
truly sincere
tuna fish
two equal halves
two twins

U
undergraduate student
underground subway
unexpected emergency
unexpected surprise
unintentional mistake
universal panacea
until such time as
UPC code
usual
custom

V
vacillate back and forth
visible to the eye

W
wake up
wall mural
warn in advance
weather conditions
weather situation
what I mean to say is
when I think about it

whether or not
whirl around
whisper softly
white
snow
write down

Y
yell loudly

Find more writing tips in
The Writer’s Lexicon and The Writer’s Lexicon Volume II.
Available in both digital and print editions.

22 thoughts on “Redundancies 101: 400+ Redundant Words to Avoid in Writing

  1. you missed one that’s one of my big pet peeves! ” These ones”– use “these” or “the ones” but not these ones

  2. I’ve learned more on the ‘nitty-gritties’ of writing from your posts than I did in school and I’m looking forward to the new book’s release.

    I confess that I keep a few of these for dialogue purposes; pleonasms help give characters a unique tone.

  3. A subject I wholeheartedly agree with. A pleonasm is a neoplasm which needs surgical removal. Why does nobody ‘listen’? They always have to ‘listen up’. At least that’s what the ‘vast’ majority think.

  4. All your posts on writing advice are brilliant, but this one is exceptionally so. Your list should form compulsory reading on Scribophile’s site (to guide me as much as anyone else). If I’d known about these superfluous words earlier on in my writing career I could have tightened my sentences up much more quickly. By the way, I love the word ‘pleonasm’ – unfortunately, I’d have to delete it if I ever wrote it in a story as I’m prone to purple prose!

    • Thanks, Tom.

      Ha! Most people would have no idea what neoplasm means. I didn’t before I started researching this concept. My ear is tuned now, and I hear them all the time while my television hums in the background as I work.

  5. I love your posts! I’ve taken to printing them out. As an fledgling writer, I can use all the help I can get. This also allows me to put my hands on the information quickly, rather than try and remember just where it was I saw it.

  6. Great resource, thanks! Recognize presence of some of these words…or should it be many? 😉

    • Thanks, Carol!

      I hope it’s some. I must admit I’m guilty of using a few of these. When you hear them in everyday speech, it’s difficult to prune them from your writing and still have it come across as realistic.

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