Figure Name pleonasm
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Aquil. 45 ("pleonasmus," "plus necessarium"); Isidore 1.34.6; Susenbrotus (1540) 29-30; Sherry (1550) 32 ("pleonasmus," "superabundancia"); Peacham (1577) F2r; Day 1599 82 ("pleonasmus") ; JG Smith (1665) ("pleonasmus"); Macbeth (1876); De Mille (1882) ("pleonasm," "analepsis"); Holmes (1806) ("pleonasmus"); Raub (1888) 222; Bullinger (1898) ("pleonasma; or, redundancy"); Johnson (1903) ("pleonasm"); Norwood (1742) ("pleonasmus")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms pleonasmus, superabundancia, plus necessarium, superfluity, analepsis, redundancy
Etymology Gk. "superfluous," "redundant" pleonasmos: from pleonazein "to be more than enough" (from pleon or pleion "more" and pleos)
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Lexicographic

1. Use of more words than is necessary semantically. Rhetorical repetition that is grammatically superfluous. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Superfluity: a Gram. figure whereby some superfluous word (though not without its sufficient importance) is added in a sentence, &c.; PLEONASMVS, redundantia, superfluity: derived from [pleonazo] redundo, to abound superfluously. A figure whereby some superfluous word is added in a sentence to signifie emphatically the vehemency and earnestnesse of the speaker, and the certainty of the matter spoken. (JG Smith)

3. Pleonasm, or Superfluity, is our next figure, the using of more words than would convey the idea. (Macbeth)

4 a) 218. PLEONASM.
By pleonasm is meant the employment of more words than usual, or of redundant words. (De Mille)

4 b) 219. ANALEPSIS.
Analepsis is another name for pleonasm, as above defined, being a grammatical redundancy employed for rhetorical emphasis:
"Health, virtue, industry-these are the elements of happiness." (De Mille)

5. A Pleonasmus hath more words than needs; And, to augment the emphasis, exceeds. (Holmes)

6. "the use of more words than are necessary" (Raub)

7. When more Words are used than the Grammar requires... The figure is so called when there appears to be a redundancy of words in a sentence; and the sense is grammatically complete without them. Sometimes the substantive appears to be redundant when its idea is already implied in the adjective; or when two nouns are used where one appears to be sufficient... The figure may affect words, or sentences. We have therefore arranged the examples as follows:-
1. Certain idiomatic words,
2. Other words.
II. Sentences.
1. Affirmative.
2. Negative. (Bullinger, 431)

8. Ple'onasm.—Pleonasm is the expression of an idea that is already sufficiently expressed or implied in the same sentence. (Johnson, 192)

9. PLEONASMUS. Pleonasmus, you know, Sir, is a Greek word, and it is uncivil to explain it in your company. This Figure makes use of more words than are necessary; but they give a much stronger stronger accent and emphasis to our discourses. (Norwood, 102-103)


1. With these very eyes I saw him do it.
Referring to eyes is unnecessary since this is implied with "saw." (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. I heard it with these ears.

I saw it with these eyes.

I spake the words with my own mouth. (JG Smith)

3. "The Spring, she is a blessed thing,
She is the mother of the flowers." - Mary Howitt (Macbeth)

3. In a well-known piece of Thomas Hood, the lamentation of a certain little husband domineered over by a large wife, pleonasm can be detected in the second line:
" When I speak, my voice is weak;
But hers, she makes a gong of it:
For I am small and she is tall,
And that's the short and long of it." (Macbeth)

4 a) When properly employed it is productive of a high degree of emphasis:
"The Lord he is God."
Here the word "he" is emphasized, and indicates more strikingly the antecedent "Lord." (De Mille)

4 b)"The armaments that thunder-strike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
And monarchs tremble in their capitals-
These are thy toys." -BYRON. (De Mille)

5. I saw it with mine eyes. (Holmes)

6. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Raub)

7. [ex. from I. 1.] Gen. 1:2.- "And darkness was upon the faces of the deep," ie. upon the deep. But how much more forcible and emphatic the expression becomes by the pleonasm. (Bullinger, 432)

7. [ex. from I. 2.] Ps. 40:7.- "Then said I, Lor, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me" ie. in the book, namely the Holy Scripture. (Bullinger, 440)

7. [ex. from II. 1.] Gen. 1:20. - "And fowl that may fly above the earth, in the open firmament of heaven."

7. [ex. from II. 2.] Gen. 40:23.- "Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him." (Bullinger, 442)

8. Prescott, in his Conquest of Mexico, writes: "Fortune gave him the means in after-life of verifying the truth of his assertion."As verify means prove true, Prescott should have omitted the words "the truth of," which are pleonastic. Creasy, in his History of England, Chapter VII, writes: "The return of Earl Godwin and his sons to power, in 1052, appeared likely to overthrow the schemes of the Norman duke, but an accidental shipwreck, a few years afterwards, placed in his power Harold, the acknowledged chief of the Godwin family." As all shipwrecks are accidental, that word in this sentence is a pleonasm. It may be that Professor Creasy was intent upon calling attention to the fact that it was accident, not skill or treachery, that placed Harold in the power of the duke. If so, he should have written, "the accident of a shipwreck," etc. The commonest case of pleonasm is in the use of the participle. Over and over again, in conversation and in print, we have the form of expression "after having done," "after having walked," "after having thought," etc., instead of "having done " or "after doing," "having walked" or "after walking," "having thought" or "after thinking," etc. There is a surprising example of pleonasm in the Revised Version of the New Testament. The 13th verse of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews in the Authorized Version reads thus: "But to which of his angels said he at any time. Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?" The English revisers make this verse read: "But of which of the angels hath he said at any time. Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy
feet?" In Psalm ex, where the expression first occurs, there is no pleonasm in either version. A common form of pleonasm appears in Hawthorne's chapter on Leamington Spa: "Perhaps the proverbial phrase just quoted may have had its origin in the natural phenomenon here described." Of the words "perhaps" and "may," either is enough to indicate the uncertainty. The better expression would be: "Perhaps the phrase had its origin," or "The phrase may have had its origin." (Johnson, 192-194)

9. Deut. 33. 6. O foolish people, and unwise! Which fort of expression still more eminently denotes their what of wisdom, and discretion. (Norwood, 103)

9. Prov. 27. 2. Let another man praise thee, and not thy own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips: and this variety of words is not so unuseful to engage our thoughts, to consider with more attention, the subject matter of our discourse, and the importance of it. (Norwood, 103)

Kind Of Similarity
Part Of Delivery
Related Figures perissologia, figures of syntax, me-ism
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes Added "Part of" Delivery - Nike
Reviewed No