• The use of more words than are necessary to convey meaning (e.g., “see with one’s eyes”), either as a fault of style or for emphasis.

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Example Sentences

“Despite the author’s tendency toward pleonasm, I enjoyed reading the entire series.”

“Karen edited her papers carefully to cut out all pleonasm after receiving a critique on her wordiness.”

“To correct a tendency toward pleonasm in my writing, I read everything aloud as I edit.”

Word Origin

Greek, mid-16th century

Why this word?

“Pleonasm” comes from the Greek “pleonazein,” which means “be superfluous.” Purple prose is an example of “pleonasm” — it specifically refers to extravagant writing with superfluous words. While it’s usually the sign of an overeager writer who hasn’t yet mastered the art of editing, purple prose has its place. The pleonasm can be a stylistic choice, meant to call attention to the flowery words and imbue the topic with an over-the-top effect. 

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