Learn English – A word for “using two words next to each other that mean the same thing”


I'm not even sure if there is a word for this. My partner says there is but I can't find it anywhere.

The example I'm giving is garlic aioli. The word aioli is a Mediterranean garlic and olive oil sauce, so why do they put garlic in front of the word aioli? It's like saying garlic, garlic and olive oil sauce.

Another example is Loch Ness lake, because apparently loch means lake in Scottish, it's like saying lake-Ness lake.

Anyways, I dunno if that makes much sense at all. Is there a word for that?

Best Answer

The word you want is pleonasm:

Pleonasm (/ˈpliːənæzəm/; from Greek πλεονασμός (pleonasmós), from πλέον (pleon), meaning "more, too much") is the use of more words or parts of words than are necessary or sufficient for clear expression: examples are black darkness, burning fire. Such redundancy is, by traditional rhetorical criteria, a manifestation of tautology. That being said, people may use a pleonasm for emphasis or because the phrase has already become established in a certain form.

A context-relevant excerpt from the article body:

Redundancies sometimes take the form of foreign words whose meaning is repeated in the context:

  • "We went to the El Restaurante restaurant."
  • "The La Brea tar pits are fascinating."
  • "Roast beef served with au jus sauce."
  • "Please R.S.V.P."
  • "The Schwarzwald Forest is deep and dark."
  • "The Drakensberg Mountains are in South Africa."

At chux's request, here are some examples without foreign phrases, courtesy of Mental Floss:

  • Nape of the neck
  • Gnashing of teeth
  • False pretense
  • Safe haven
  • Bleary-eyed
  • Veer off course

If the term is too technical for you, you could simply say that saying Loch Ness lake is redundant.

(Source: Wikipedia)