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There’s a lot of deleting in copyediting, not just of the “very”s and “rather”s and “quite”s and excrescent “that”s with which we all encase our prose like so much Bubble Wrap and packing peanuts, but of restatements of information — “as estab’d,” one politely jots in the margin.
Much repetition, though, comes under the more elementary heading of Two Words Where One Will Do, and here’s a collection of easily disposed of redundancies. Some of these may strike you as obvious — though their obviousness doesn’t stop them from showing up constantly. Others are a little more arcane — the sorts of things you could likely get away with without anyone’s noticing — but they’re snippable nonetheless.
In either case, for those moments when you’re contemplating that either you or your prose could stand to go on a diet and your prose seems the easier target, here’s a good place to start.
(The bits in italics are the bits you can dispose of.)
- ABM missile
ABM = anti-ballistic missile.
- absolutely certain, absolute certainty, absolutely essential
- added bonus
- advance planning, advance warning
- all-time record
As well, one doesn’t set a “new record.” One merely sets a record.
. . . .
- exact same
To be sure, “exact same” is redundant. To be sure, I still say it and write it.
- fall down
What are you going to do, fall up?
- fellow countryman
- fetch back
To fetch something is not merely to go get it but to go get it and return with it to the starting place. Ask a dog.
- few in number
- fiction novel
Appalling. A novel is a work of fiction. That’s why it’s called a novel. That said, “nonfiction novel” is not the oxymoron it might at first seem. The term refers to the genre pioneered — though not, as is occasionally averred, invented — by Truman Capote with In Cold Blood, that of the work of nonfiction written novelistically. Lately one encounters people referring to any full-length book, even a work of nonfiction, as a novel. That has to stop.
- final outcome
- follow after
- free gift
A classic of the redundancy genre, much beloved of retailers and advertisers.
- from whence
Whence means “from where,” which makes “from whence” pretty damn redundant. Still, the phrase has a lot of history, including, from the King James Version of the Bible, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” So I suppose you can write “from whence” if you’re also talking about thine eyes and the place your help is comething from.
For a dazzling (and purposeful) use of “from whence,” consider Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls lyric “Take back your mink / to from whence it came” — gorgeously appropriate for the tawdry nightclub number in which it’s sung.
- frontispiece illustration
A frontispiece is an illustration immediately preceding, and generally facing, a book’s title page.
- full gamut
A gamut is the full range or scope of something, so the word needs no modifier. Ditto “complete range,” “broad spectrum,” “full extent,” and their cousins.
Link to the rest at Medium