WORD NERD WEDNESDAY By Voni Harris (11-2-11)

This week’s word study? Tautology.

Here’s a tautology (from Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary):

The dawn in overcast, the morning low’rs; And heavily in clouds brings on the day.

Title page of "A Dictionary of the Englis...

How about:

Necessary essentials  Widow woman   Insanely crazy        Grown man

What if I added some biological tautonyms to the mix?

bison bison           

gorilla gorilla

One final tautology:

Unnecessary redundancy

I think you’ve got the idea!

The Greek tauto- means identical, from to auto- meaning “the same.” Logos,  of course, means “speech, word, reason, account” in the Greek. So, tautology is the use of unnecessary words meaning the same thing. The Webster’s 1828 defines it this way: A repetition of the same meaning in different words; needless repetition of a thing in different words or phrases; or a representation of any thing as the cause, condition of consequence of itself.

            BONUS: auto- describes things that are “acting or directed from within.” In other words–acting or directed by themSELVES.

According to my American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1969), a tautology is also “a statement that is true because it provides for all logical possibilities; for example: The earth is either round, or it isn’t round.” If you ask my husband if a baby is a boy or a girl, he’ll say, “yes.”

The word –nym is from the Greek, and it means “name.” In a tautonym, the animal has the same official scientific name in both the genus and species. A pseudonym, is a false (pseudo) name, though authors call it a pen name to make it less, well, illegal-sounding. A patronymic is a name from your father (patri-), such as Fitzgerald, meaning “son of Gerald.” [Isn’t it amazing what we’ve taken the pains to name?]

To take a moment to credit: I used mainly the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language for my prefix, root word, and suffix definitions, but consulted Webster’s New World College Dictionary, too. We’re a multi-dictionary family. ‘Cuz I am a Word Nerd.

WORD NERD CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: Create a tautology, either of the verbal or logical variety. Of course, share them as a comment.

Blessings, Voni