Posted by: Jack Henry | April 20, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Redundant Adjectives

Oh my darlings,

It must be close to vacation time because I am stressed out and I have too much to do to really settle down and write you something super-fantastic before I go. I just read an article about jargon and vogue words, but I’m too low on energy to start on another rant about that! So instead, I give you this small gift of redundant adjectives to avoid, from Daily Writing Tips.

1. free gift
A gift is a thing given willingly to someone without payment. The adjective free is redundant.

2. closed fist
A fist is by definition a hand with the fingers folded inward toward the palm and held there tightly, typically in order to strike a blow or grasp something. The adjective closed is redundant.

3. verdant green
The adjective verdant derives from a Latin word meaning “green.” Verdant came into English from a French word meaning “becoming green.” The English meaning of verdant is “green” or “green with vegetation.” An enthusiastic fertilizer manufacturer advertises a product that will provide the consumer with “a verdant green lawn.” Either verdant or green will do.

4. rubicund red
The adjective rubicund derives from a Latin verb meaning, “to be red.” Something that is rubicund is red or reddish. This description from fan fiction can do without one of the adjectives: “Drawing rivulets of blood, his fingertips glowed a rubicund red.”

5. overused cliché
The blogger who wrote this sentence could have saved an adjective: “The overused cliché I hate the most is ‘off the beaten path.’” In reference to language, a cliché is an overused expression.

6. unexpected surprise
A surprise is an unexpected occurrence. The phrase is not uncommon on the Ngram Viewer, and is frequent online:

An unexpected surprise greeted us upon our arrival home.

Life is full of unexpected surprises.

A foreigner in the dining hall was an unexpected surprise.

As “unexpectedness” is part of the definition, it’s enough to say that something is a surprise.

7. universal panacea
Panacea derives from a Greek word meaning, “cure-all” and is defined in English as “a universal remedy.” Because panacea contains the meaning universal, it’s not necessary to tack universal onto it, as in this sentence written by a journalist: “When Henry Grady was inviting Northern capital South, we were much more certain that industrialization was the universal panacea for all economic and social ills.”

Panacea is sufficient.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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