I know that a fact is a fact and if words are used carefully there’s no real need to remind people that your fact is actual.

Now, that a lot of famous English writers use this construction might be understandable, but that the OED Additions uses this redundancy to define some terms is beyond my comprehension unless it is an accepted redundancy.

  • I'm sure that the OED link you provided me with will throw a message You have reached the page that is unavailable for viewing... to many as it did to me. :( – Maulik V Sep 1 '14 at 10:09
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    On the same page you have linked (OED Additions) there should be a defn. #5 of actual defined as an intensifier. Pretty much redundant but very commonly used. I think there might be more to it than that (actual fact vs natural fact - I'm not sure those are even the right 'terms') but I don't have the time at the moment. – Frank Sep 1 '14 at 10:12

In general, actual fact would be redundant. However, there may be limited situations where its use might be justified for emphasis or contrast. Example:

Instead of believing the facts on the Internet about vaccination, you should consult medical journals for the actual facts.

"Facts on the Internet" is being used sarcastically there to mean "myths".

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