What does the term tautological pleonasm mean


As tautology is a rhetorical stylistic device that can appear in texts of all kinds and literary genres. The tautology describes either the fact that the same thing is said again with a different expression or that the same state of affairs is repeated with the same words of the same part of speech. Accordingly, pleonasm and hendiadyoin are related.

The term goes back to ancient Greek and is made up of ταὐτό (tauto) as λόγος (lógos) together. These words can be used with the same thing and speech translate. The meaning refers to what the stylistic device is basically about: namely, the same thing again to talk and repeat it like this.

We distinguish between two different forms of tautology:(1) Either the same word is repeated by a synonymous term, or (2) the same word is used again. It is also important that the repeating words must belong to the same part of speech in order to be considered tautological. Now let's look at some examples.

(1)I'm going to ... youneverandnevermarry.

The above example is tautological, what about the combination never and never lies. The words actually mean the same thing. The content of the statement would be identical if it were there I will never marry you. True is never outdated (see archaism), however also means never or No way. This reinforces the statement. Furthermore, both words belong to the same part of speech (Adverb).

(1)You make meanxietyandFear

The above example has a tautology because the words anxiety and Fear are synonymous. Here, too, we can simply do a test if one of the words is omitted. The sentence You're scaring me says the same thing and is signified by the same Fear only reinforced. Fear and anxiety also belong to a part of speech (Noun). Let's look at the second possibility.


In this example the exact same word is repeated. Inevitably, the two parts of the tautology also belong to the same part of speech (Noun)because it's the same word. In this case, too, the effect of this doubling is a reinforcement and affirmation of what has been said.

Note: The tautology is therefore a stylistic double statement. In all examples the same thought is said again. This repetition can be done using either the same word or several words with the same meaning and part of speech. Nevertheless, it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish a tautology from pleonasm and hendiadyoin. So let's look at the differences.

Pleonasm and tautology

Pleonasm is a stylistic device that combines words with the same meaning that often belong to different parts of speech. The double statement of the pleonasm is also redundant. This means that the additional information given by the second word is self-evident, since it is a property of the first word and therefore appears completely superfluous.

This means that the tautology creates a double proposition made up of words of the same part of speech, which increases the urgency of what is being said. The individual parts of the tautology can also consist of several words. In contrast, pleonasm is one-tier. One word always relates to the other, only providing superfluous information. Let's look at an example.

This matter requires yourspersonal presence.

The above sentence includes a pleonasm. The word presence means that the person is personally there. Furthermore, the colored words belong to different types of words, which is why a tautological connection is excluded anyway. presence is a noun, personally an adjective. Since the presence is always personal, the additional word does not provide any new or additional information.

The tautology, however, connects words to reinforce what has been said. If someone does something never and never would do that is the conscious reinforcement when us anxiety and Fear that also creates a greater urgency and if I only and alone love my child, this is as reinforcing as it is tautological. So the tautology deliberately wants to reinforce!

Note: In German lessons and in numerous stylistic overviews, this subtle difference is seldom noticed or simply overlooked. Therefore, the tautology can - but only in this sense - apply as a special form of pleonasm, but strictly speaking it is not.

Hendiadyoin and tautology

The Hendiadyoin forms a new but more complex term from two words. However, the individual words of the Hendiadyoin cannot simply be exchanged or even omitted entirely.

Accordingly, tautology and Hendiadyoin can appear quite similar, since the words of Hendiadyoin often have a similar meaning. However, they are not a double statement, but rather give the individual terms a completely new meaning. Let's look at an example and make the difference clear.

I amFireandflameto you!

This example is a Hendiadyoin. While the words are similar, so we might be inclined to call the whole thing tautological, we can do a simple cross-check here. If someone Fire and flame is for something, then he loves it or is passionate about it.

If the whole thing were a tautology we could remove one of the words. However, a person cannot flame to be for something. The combination of both terms thus has the complex concept of enthusiasm or the Passion educated and not only reinforced the statement. One final example.


This proverb has to be considered very carefully, so as not to mix up the stylistic devices. Schnapps is schnapps is a tautology like that business from the previous example. The same applies Job is job. However, the proverb does not just want to tell us that the words are about a drink and something to do, it indicates that the two areas should be separated from each other.

Hence the connection of the two tautologies becomes a complex, new term or fact created: namely the separation of professional and private. Accordingly, the whole is a Hendiadyoin, which is formed from two tautologies.

Effect and function of the tautology

Of course, it is difficult to ascribe a fixed effect to a style figure, as this can turn out differently in every text. Nevertheless, such stylistic devices have an effect on their recipient (Reader, listener) and this can be described. However, it must be checked whether this is actually the case.

Overview: Meaning, effect and characteristics of the style figure
  • The tautology is a stylistic device that means a double statement. This means the designation of the same word, state of affairs or thought with the same word or several words with a similar meaning and part of speech. It is similar to pleonasm and hendiadyoin.
  • In contrast to the tautology, the pleonasm is always superfluous because it a Word adds as it does not provide any new information and is therefore superfluous. In contrast, the Hendiadyoin forms a new, complex term from several terms.
  • The tautology has a reinforcing effect and since the duplication is done consciously, it should underline what has been said and bring the urgency of the content more to the fore.