Linguistic redundancy, not the employment variety. In the linguistic category, there are both legal and non-legal redundancies.

The legal

We’ve seen these before (see ‘Gruesome twosomes‘), but they bear repeating.

Legalese is replete with pairs of words that mean the same thing and therefore don’t need to be used together (except to create a leaden, lawyerly effect).


  • cease and desist [how about plain old stop?]
  • free and clear [one or t’other, not both]
  • full and complete [same comment]
  • if and when [ditto]
  • null and void [just say of no effect]
  • of no force or effect [of no effect works here too]
  • save and except [I hate this]
  • separate and apart [except as a term of art in family law]
  • unless and until [I hate this more than save and except]

 The non-legal

Writing that is non-lawyerly (or not exclusively lawyerly) also suffers from redundancies. Here are some common ones:

  • absolutely necessary [you need something or you don’t]
  • added bonus [a bonus is always added]
  • armed gunman
  • blue in colour [no, it’s just blue]
  • close proximity
  • during the course of [please, just during]
  • each and every
  • exact same
  • face mask [where else?]
  • full gamut [there are no partial gamuts]
  • general consensus [consensus is, by definition, general]
  • mental telepathy [telepathy is communication from one mind to another; it’s always mental]
  • moment in time [a moment is, perforce, in time]
  • new recruit
  • outward appearance [can there be an inward one?]
  • personal belongings [unless you’re nicking someone else’s stuff from the overhead compartment, I guess]
  • personal opinion [it’s no one else’s]
  • PIN number [what do you think the N stands for?]
  • pre-heat, pre-arrange, pre-existing, pre-owned, pre-plan, pre-prepared [all of these involve a prior action or condition before something else happens; pre­- is unnecessary]
  • reason why
  • role model [just model, which doesn’t mean only the runway kind – ‘The rapper is not perhaps the best model for inner-city youth’]
  • safe haven [yeah, you want to avoid the unsafe ones]
  • software programme [that’s what software is]
  • sum total [that’s like saying debit deficit]
  • time period [one or the other; they mean the same thing]
  • terminal building [a terminal is a building]
  • United Together [optimistic but perhaps ill-advised slogan of the 2016 Democratic National Convention; as opposed to?]
  • very true [the truth is not relative]
  • very [or any other modifier] unique [something is unique or it ain’t]
  • weather conditions [weather is a condition, and the conditions would generally include the weather]

 Up next: one L or two?

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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