ple·​o·​nasm ˈplē-ə-ˌna-zəm How to pronounce pleonasm (audio)
: the use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense (as in the man he said) : redundancy
: an instance or example of pleonasm
pleonastic adjective
pleonastically adverb

Did you know?

Pleonasm, which stems (via Late Latin) from the Greek verb pleonazein, meaning "to be excessive," is a fancy word for "redundancy." It's related to our words plus and plenty, and ultimately it goes back to the Greek word for "more," which is pleōn. Pleonasm is commonly considered a fault of style, but it can also serve a useful function. "Extra" words can sometimes be helpful to a speaker or writer in getting a message across, adding emphasis, or simply adding an appealing sound and rhythm to a phrase—as, for example, with the pleonasm "I saw it with my own eyes!"

Word History


Late Latin pleonasmus, from Greek pleonasmos, from pleonazein to be excessive, from pleiōn, pleōn more — more at plus

First Known Use

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pleonasm was in 1610


Dictionary Entries Near pleonasm

Cite this Entry

“Pleonasm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

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