Yes, I’m talking to all of you. This is something we’ve all been guilty of, but it’s time to stop the insanity. Even if AI is now doing most of your writing, you’re still editing, and avoiding unnecessary words at all cost should now be your new mantra.

What am I talking about you ask? Well, when you use two words in a row with essentially the same meaning, it’s known as a tautology. Fancy words aside, it’s ultimately saying the same thing twice. It’s a redundancy.

We’ve accepted many of these phrases into our lexicon because they sound good. The words don’t rhyme or feel like they have the same meaning, so we just let it slip. As a writer, this annoys me more than anything. It can lower my opinion of a book I love, detract from a movie or TV show. It just gives me the ‘icks.’

So, to help truly make every word count, I’ve made a list. The ones at the top bug me the most (in case you were wondering.)


Surprise, these are all redundant phrases, aka tautologies.

  • Close proximity
  • Vast majority
  • Added bonus
  • Personal opinion
  • Over exaggerate
  • Totally unanimous
  • First and foremost
  • Honest truth
  • Free gift
  • Prepay in advance
  • Do what you gotta do
  • Armed gunman
  • Necessary requirement
  • Died of a fatal dose
  • Depreciate in value
  • New innovation
  • Attach together
  • Warn in advance

Although looking at this list, it can feel like these phrases make sense, when you transform them into what they mean, they sound silly. You’d never actually say, ‘an added ad-on’ for a bonus nor would you say something is, ‘close close’ when talking about proximity. It’s the use of different words with the same meanings that have tricked us, which is why it’s so important to think about what you’re saying when you look at word choice.


Simply clarifying your speech by cutting down redundant words can transform your writing. It can make even a short email more concise and prevent any possible confusion.

Using fewer words is especially helpful when dealing with the short attention spans we face with many audiences today. If the average adult attention span clocks in at around 8.25 seconds, with every redundant word, you sacrifice some of that precious time. Your audience may miss the point.

And, while some redundant phrases have made their mark on history — think, ‘to be or not to be’ — others can be dismissed without a struggle. People won’t suddenly balk at your writing if you say, ‘in proximity’ instead of, ‘close proximity,’ trust me. So, why not make the change?


I know this post is short, but there’s not much more to say on this issue. I don’t want to sound redundant myself after all.

I leave you with the simple ask to really think about what you’re saying when you write. Think about how you can tighten it up whether it’s removing redundant words or taking out ones that are unnecessary. Saying things concisely adds impact and power to what you’re writing. It’s not easy for me to do either, but when I focus, the final product is almost always significantly better.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich