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TAUTOLOGY

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TAUTOLOGY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Jun 18, 2007 12:04 am

• tautology •

Pronunciation: taw-tah-lê-jee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A redundant phrase, a phrase with a repeated meaning, such as a feminine girl, an unmarried bachelor, a dead corpse. 2. Two phrases in a statement that make the statement true regardless whether either of the phases is true: "Linguistics will either make me smarter or not make me smarter."

Notes: A tautology is the opposite of an oxymoron, two words that contradict each other, such as the living dead. The words of a tautology mean the same thing: a dead corpose is a tautology because corpse itself means "dead". The adjectives in phrases like tiny speck, ATM machine, PIN number, a true fact, close proximity are all tautological.

In Play: Today's Good Word is a more precise substitute for redundant when you hear phrases like waffling politician, greedy corporate executive, sneaky lobbyist: "That's tautological," fits the situation more closely. This word can also add variety where we would otherwise use "X is his/her middle name", too: "It would be tautological to say that Dunham Wright is a decent person; "decency" is his middle name."

Word History: Today's Good Word is the English version of Greek tautologos "redundant" made up of tautos "identical" + logos "word, idea". The Greek word logos gave English logic and the suffix -ology which we freely attach to words of all ilks these days. We just bumped into logos in the Good Word logorrhea. Logos is the noun from the verb legein "to speak, talk", whose root we find in lexicon (leg-sikon), lecture, and legend. This root came down to Old Germanic as *lekjaz "enchanter" (someone who uses magic words) which was laece "physician, doctor" by the time it reached Old English. Today? In Modern English it refers to an old, primitive medical device—the leech. (Would it be tautological to say a grateful readership is thankful to Michael Oberndorf for suggesting today's Good Word? Well, it wouldn't overexpress our gratitude.)
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Postby Perry » Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:29 am

In Modern English it refers to an old, primitive medical device—the leech.


Bloodsucking leech would be another tautology.
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Postby scw1217 » Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:13 pm

dead corpose


Oops, good Dr., a typo!
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Postby Perry » Wed Jun 20, 2007 8:44 pm

Another very common one is "PDF file".
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Postby tcward » Sun Jun 24, 2007 1:28 am

Perry wrote:Another very common one is "PDF file".


Well... Technically, 'PDF' stands for Portable Document Format, so that's not so much tautological as it is more than most people care to know. :wink:
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Postby tcward » Sun Jun 24, 2007 1:28 am

Perry wrote:Another very common one is "PDF file".


Well... Technically, 'PDF' stands for Portable Document Format, so that's not so much tautological as it is more than most people care to know. :wink:
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Postby tcward » Sun Jun 24, 2007 1:29 am

Perry wrote:Another very common one is "PDF file".


Well... Technically, 'PDF' stands for Portable Document Format, so that's not so much tautological as it is more than most people care to know. :wink:
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Postby tcward » Sun Jun 24, 2007 1:29 am

Perry wrote:Another very common one is "PDF file".


Well... Technically, 'PDF' stands for Portable Document Format, so that's not so much tautological as it is more than most people care to know. :wink:
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Postby Bailey » Sun Jun 24, 2007 7:19 am

very funny Tim, your triple posts to make the point. oops quadruple posts.

mark mark-Bailey Bailey

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Postby Perry » Sun Jun 24, 2007 7:55 pm

My bad. (I'll only state this once :wink: ). I thought that PDF stood for Portable Document File. Ah well, another spontification bites the dust.
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Postby skinem » Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:57 am

One of my pet peeves has been the phrase "true fact"...I guess as opposed to false facts...

Not truly tautological, but I've often thought they should be...

flat tire
broken-down car
bad TV
angry teenager
crooked politician
unecessary meeting
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Postby gailr » Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:03 pm

free gift
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Postby skinem » Mon Jun 25, 2007 2:11 pm

gailr wrote:free gift

Ha! I've heard my dad say that there's no such thing as a free puppy....
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Postby gailr » Mon Jun 25, 2007 6:00 pm

skinem wrote:
gailr wrote:free gift

Ha! I've heard my dad say that there's no such thing as a free puppy....

His lunches aren't free, either...
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Postby eberntson » Tue May 29, 2012 10:30 pm

So where does the opening phrase, "a dark and stormy night" fall as a tautology?

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Fear less, hope more;
eat less, chew more;
whine less, breathe more;
talk less, say more,
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