ple·​o·​nasm | \ ˈplē-ə-ˌna-zəm How to pronounce pleonasm (audio) \

Definition of pleonasm

1 : the use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense (as in the man he said) : redundancy
2 : an instance or example of pleonasm

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from pleonasm

pleonastic \ ˌplē-​ə-​ˈna-​stik How to pronounce pleonasm (audio) \ adjective
pleonastically \ ˌplē-​ə-​ˈna-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce pleonasm (audio) \ adverb

Did you know?

Pleonasm, which stems via Late Latin from the Greek verb pleonazein ("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!"

First Known Use of pleonasm

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pleonasm

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About pleonasm

Time Traveler for pleonasm

Time Traveler

The first known use of pleonasm was in 1610

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About pleonasm

Dictionary Entries Near pleonasm




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for pleonasm

Cite this Entry

“Pleonasm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on pleonasm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pleonasm

Nglish: Translation of pleonasm for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!