Learn English – Is the phrase “a stark contrast” redundant


Merriam-Webster defines stark as "sharply delineated."

The same dictionary defines a contrast as a "juxtaposition of dissimilar elements."

Doesn't it follow then that "a stark contrast" essentially means "a juxtaposition of very different different elements?"

If so, would "a great contrast" make an acceptable substitute?

Best Answer

There is no redundancy in 'stark contrast' as in typical cases of redundancy.

Contrast is an attribute with degrees of variation: none to total.

stark in stark contrast merely qualifies the attribute to the level of extreme perceptibility.

Two things may be different to some extent. The difference is not perceptible so long as the contrast is below a certain threshold. Beyond that, and then a little further, the difference becomes so "glaring" that it comes out prominently: 'stark contrast'.