Figure Name tautologia
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); Peacham (1593); Sherry (1550 ("tautologia," "inutilis repelicio eiusdem"); De Mille (1882) ("tautology"); Hill (1883) ("tautology"); Waddy (1889); Kellog (1880) ("tautology")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms inutilis repelicio eiusdem, figure of self saying, tautology
Etymology Gk. tauto, "the same" and logos, "saying"
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Syntactic

1. The repetition of the same idea in different words, but (often) in a way that is wearisome or unnecessary. (Silva Rhetorica)

2. Tautologia is a tedious and wearisome repetition of one word, either in an unorderly fashion, or too often repetition. (Peacham "traductio")

3. Tautology arises from verbosity, and may be defined as the repetition of the same idea in different words. (De Mille)

4. 1. Tautology.
A biographer of Dr. Johnson's, among other instances of "desperate tautology," quotes the familiar lines from the imitation of Juvenal:
"Let observation, with extensive view,
Survey mankind from China to Peru;"
and maintain, not unjustly, that this is equivalent to, "Let observation with extensive observation observe mankind extensively." This hardly surpasses the instance of tautology in Addison's Cato:
"The dawn is overcast, the morning lowers,
And heavily in clouds brings in the day,
The great, the important day, big with the fate
Of Cato and of Rome." (Hill)

5. (2) By tautology, or the repetition of the same idea in different words; thus, "He walked on foot, bareheaded"; "The names of our forefathers who came before us should be held in reverence"; "The prophecy has been fulfilled literally and to the letter." (Waddy)

6. TAUTOLOGY consists in the repetition of the sense in different words. (Kellog, 98)


2. If you have a friend, keepe your friend, for an old friend is to be preferred before a new friend, this I say to you as your friend. (Peacham)

3. In the following passage, speaking of the style of Prior, he says:
"He had often infused into it much knowledge a often polished it into elegance, often dignified it into splendor, and someĀ· times heightened it to sublimity; and did not discover that it wanted the power of engaging attention and alluring curiosity."
Although it is certainly possible to show that there is a separate meaning to everyone of these words, yet it is evident that the real distinction is but slight, and they are equivalent to so many tedious repetitions of the same thing. (De Mille)

Kind Of Repetition
Part Of
Related Figures synonymia, figures-vices, figures of repetition
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No