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Top 30 Tautologies

John Rentoul

da2 300x247 Top 30 TautologiesI did a Top 10 Tautologies in The Independent on Sunday recently, but there are so many common ones that I could have compiled a Top 30. Here are the next 20:

11 Pick and choose.
12 Raze to the ground. Nominated by Ben Stanley.
13 General consensus. Philip Cowley.
14 Forward not back. Labour election slogan, 2005.
15 Brief sojourn. (Sojourn: “temporary stay”, from late Latin, day trip, sub+diurnum, less than a day.)
16 Wholly unnecessary. Kenan Malik.
17 Meaningless guff.
18 Deliberate lie.
19 Added bonus.
20 Last vestige.
21 General public. Ramesh Biswas, who also nominated The Color Purple, although this is technically a pleonasm, “the use of more words than are necessary to convey meaning”.
22 Time and tide wait(s) for no man. Was originally a tautology, in that tide is a synonym for time, and evolved into a Canute-like proverb. Like “strait and narrow”, another euphonious pairing of synonyms.
23 Self-confessed. Nick Thornsby
24 Few in number. Alan Pedley, who also nominated the next four.
25 Short in stature.
26 A first introduction.
27 A harbinger of things to come.
28 Still surviving, remaining or left.
29 “The Deadly Assassin”, a classic Doctor Who episode (pictured). Lee Ravitz.
30 Naan bread. Paul Freeman, who says naan means bread. Translated doubles deserve a category of their own: Sahara desert, sharia law, river Avon.

Any suggestions for words that used to mean the opposite (egregious, humbled), mixed metaphors, famous last words, best first lines of songs, or ideas for other Top 10s, gratefully received.

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  • greggf

    How about oxymorons JR, such as Greenpeace, representative democracy, people’s capitalism, criminal prosecution service (or is that a spoonerism?)…….

  • Ciaran Goggins

    Policing by consent? No, post plebgate that is a low blow. Direct ancestor?


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