If I mention a skyscraper as a tall skyscraper, it is obvious that tall is not providing any extra value. I am wondering what is the word describing this type of unnecessary adjectives or more generally unnecessary definition?
The noun phrase 'a tall skyscraper" could mean "a building that is even taller than many buildings labeled skyscrapers" just as "a tall basketball player" could mean a person taller than the average of that already tall group.
If such a relative comparison is not intended, if the writer merely means to emphasize that this skyscraper is tall, as all skyscrapers must be then it is a redundancy, since "skyscraper" means "a particularly tall building". Sometimes a redundancy can be good style, as a form of emphasis, but most often it is not.
This is not a circular definition, because it is not a definition at all, but a circular definition is generally redundant.
I would not call this a tautology, although it might technically be one. I use "tautology" for a self-evident statement that says the same thing in two different ways, or has two alternatives which are opposites, so one must be true, such as:
- All those who do not go will stay
- That which is not true is false.
- My name is John, or else it isn't.
Mostly I use and see "tautology" in formal logic, or where things are being analyzed in a manner similar to that used in formal logic.
It is called a tautology:
the saying of the same thing twice over in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style
They arrived one after the other in succession.
Tautology can sound serious but be hilarious sometimes:
- to over-exaggerate
- frozen ice
- The evening sunset
Some consider a tautology expressions like working mum (I find it so amusing!).