“I Used to Be an Ex-Manager” and More Than over 1100+ Other Redundant Phrases

I thought 750 was a lot. That’s how many redundant phrases you’ll find in my book, You Can Say That Again, which came out in April 2015 with illustrations by Brian Poulsen. Since then, I’ve continued to log redundant phrases that I see, hear, write, say, or learn about from others who’ve gotten hooked.

When my personal list hit 1000 on January 26, 2016—that is, when I came across “hurriedly scurried” and typed it into row 1000 in my spreadsheet—I published the first version of this blog post. Why hog the fun? Three years later, the phrase “over 40+” jumped out at me from something I read and became item 1100. I celebrated the milestone by publishing this refreshed version of the original post. By the time you read these words, the spreadsheet will have grown to over 1100+ entries. That’s more than 1100. Plus.

Update Nov. 20, 2022: the count now stands at 1,139 with the addition of “successfully unsubscribed.”

Below are all the phrases that have joined the collection since the book came out. Dip in anywhere, and give your inner editor’s funny bone a tickle. Take “moral high horse.” Or “live studio audience.” “Old codgers.” “Old coots.” “Old fossils.” “Old ruins.” “Commonly available general knowledge that anyone would know.”

I don’t make this stuff up.

Bonus: developing an ear for redundant phrases sharpens your writing.

Warning: collecting these phrases is addictive.

Hat tip to my mom, Stella Robertson, who picked up this post’s title phrase from a cashier who apparently had had enough of being an ex-manager.

Visual-verbal redundancy

sales funnel top middle bottom

  • layers labeled “top,” “middle,” and “bottom”
  • an arrow labeled “movement” (See Edward Tufte’s tweet below.**)

Adjective Phrases

  • anecdotal rather than scientifically measurable; bold rather than timid
  • bad, not good
  • brand new
  • completely buried
  • custom tailored
  • deeply profound
  • equally as good; equally as important
  • every single
  • flanked on each side
  • frozen solid
  • fully occupied; fully topped off
  • handsome looking
  • honest and open; perfectly honest; totally honest
  • inaugural first
  • individually customized
  • minimally sufficient
  • my personal
  • oven-roasted
  • overly wordy
  • preplanned; preprogrammed
  • pretty to look at
  • punctual in a timely fashion
  • readily available
  • recorded earlier
  • ripe for the picking
  • related but separate
  • totally unique
  • vertical up and down

Noun Phrases

  • accidental fall
  • actionable blueprint; actionable step; actionable tips
  • additional 10% more
  • admirable role model
  • adverse complication
  • a few hours of time
  • alternative choice; alternative option; possible alternative
  • amplifying hearing aid
  • a select few
  • attorney at law
  • audio for your ears
  • available choices; available offerings
  • big elephant in the room; invisible elephant in the room; elephant in the room nobody talks about
  • blank white paper (“Blank” derives from “blanc,” meaning “white.”)
  • brief glimpse
  • caryatid in female form
  • central tenet
  • chai tea
  • chorizo sausage
  • chutney sauce
  • clear evidence; clear vision
  • comments to consider
  • commonly available general knowledge that anyone would know
  • competitive rivalry
  • component pieces; individual pieces; constituent parts
  • conscious decision; decisive decision
  • considered deliberation
  • content writer
  • continuing series; ongoing series
  • core belief
  • customer relationships with our customers
  • difficult conundrum
  • digital download; digital MP3 player
  • direct interview
  • emotional empath
  • enterprising entrepreneur
  • essential keys
  • eternity ring
  • excess clutter; excessive verbiage
  • exciting thrill
  • falling rain
  • family genealogy; family heirloom
  • fancy buzzwords
  • favorable commendation
  • fellow countrymen
  • final completion; final upshot
  • first foray; first pilot project
  • focus mostly on; primarily focused on
  • forward momentum; forward progress
  • foundation on which to build
  • moonlighting on the side
  • friend of mine
  • full truth
  • fundamental disruption
  • future adaptations that we haven’t made yet; future potential
  • general rule of thumb
  • gentle breeze; gentle lilt; gentle pat
  • global pandemic
  • goals to aim for
  • gracious offer
  • grand scheme of things
  • gravitational pull
  • hands-on workshop
  • heavy downpour; heavy burden; heavy load; heavy traffic congestion; heavy whipping cream
  • herald of the onset of spring
  • high-level overview
  • historical statistics
  • hollow tube; hollow inside
  • hot-water heater; hot cocoa
  • huge tectonic shift
  • icy sleet
  • image caption
  • immediate vicinity
  • independent consultant
  • inner child within
  • inner hunch
  • integral member
  • internal competition within the company
  • introductory kick-off
  • Jewish rabbi
  • joint co-selling
  • key foundational elements; key highlights; key takeaways
  • laptop computer
  • large behemoth; large volume
  • last and final stop
  • lasting durability; lasting impression
  • level best
  • light drizzle; light dusting; light patter
  • (the) lingua franca among speakers of different languages of the country
  • little foible; little twerp (see “small”)
  • live studio audience
  • LRP planning cycle (“long-range-planning planning cycle”)
  • luxury yacht
  • major coup
  • mammoth avalanche
  • mass exodus
  • measurable gains
  • meticulous attention to detail
  • migraine headache
  • misguided myths
  • misogyny against women
  • momentous milestone
  • monster storm
  • moral high horse
  • multilingual polyglot
  • mural on the wall
  • naan bread
  • negative blowback
  • news to share
  • number-one leader
  • obstacles in the way
  • official announcement
  • old codgers; old coots; old fossils; old ruins
  • one-person monologue; one-person monologue with myself
  • original founder
  • overwhelming deluge
  • pat cliché
  • pita bread
  • playful banter
  • positive affirmations
  • potential bride-to-be
  • practical utility
  • predictive guess
  • premade template
  • prioritized priorities
  • proactively find impending failures
  • queue of items all lined up
  • quick moment; quick pit stop; quick reflexes
  • real fact; real value; true value
  • recurring theme
  • reddish hue
  • seismic shift
  • serious emergency
  • severe blizzard; winter blizzard
  • sharia law
  • single most important thing
  • small morsel, small detail (see “little”)
  • smash hit
  • snapshot in time
  • snowstorm event
  • solution of salt and water
  • special gift; special guest
  • specific example, specific detail
  • sponsored advertisement
  • standard benchmark; standard boilerplate
  • strong commitment; strong emphasis
  • suggestions, not directions
  • superannuated snail-mail address
  • the new new normal
  • tomato ketchup
  • total stranger
  • tug of war that goes back and forth
  • two distinct things
  • unmet need
  • unwanted problems
  • updated version with additions; updated version with new additions; updated version with some new additions
  • valuable assets; valuable feedback; valued heirloom; valuable insights
  • vertical wall
  • vision to behold
  • widow of the late Dr. Wright
  • young seedling

Verb Phrases

  • accidentally butt-dial; accidentally forget
  • act unilaterally on one’s own
  • actively think about
  • add an additional
  • adumbrated the civil war that would follow
  • aim for a goal
  • berate verbally
  • break down the anatomy of
  • build up over time; flatten out over time; haunt you over time; innovate over time
  • can’t overstate enough
  • change the subject to something else
  • completely collapse
  • conscientiously follow up
  • could perhaps; might maybe
  • cross-collaborate
  • deflect spam before it’s posted
  • differentiate from the others
  • dread in advance
  • dump down, slash down
  • feel happy inside
  • fire both barrels at the same time
  • first coined; first discovered; first invented; first learned
  • flow seamlessly
  • go alone by himself
  • go too far with oversharing
  • guffaw out loud
  • help contribute; help facilitate
  • hurriedly scurried
  • imagine in your mind
  • increase by an additional +2
  • intentionally eliminate
  • internally develop our own custom solution
  • keep pace rather than run along behind
  • leave nothing left unsaid at the end
  • laugh out loud; LOL out loud; listen quietly
  • learn new things
  • make logical sense
  • manually cut and paste
  • may potentially
  • meet and greet
  • nod one’s head
  • noodle on it in your brain
  • often frequented
  • order from a vendor
  • overcomplicate unnecessarily
  • personally see
  • pinpoint the exact cause
  • predict an action before it is known; predict in advance; predict the future; prepay in advance; prepare in advance
  • proactively create
  • reset back; respond back
  • rest peacefully
  • revisit again
  • right now I’m looking
  • run amok all over the place
  • scrutinize in detail, spell out in detail
  • see you later
  • self-taught herself
  • sense a palpable shift
  • set apart from the rest
  • spin around
  • start big not small
  • still lingers
  • submit for your consideration
  • successfully manage, successfully unsubscribed
  • suddenly exploded
  • suspects but isn’t sure
  • sustain into the future
  • swirl around; swivel around; twirl around; turn around
  • throw around carelessly

Adverb Phrases, Odds, and Ends

  • All of a sudden abruptly
  • Allowing the first-ever sorority in the neighborhood could set a precedent.
  • A new book is born.
  • at cross purposes with each other
  • but yet
  • Chicago is our last and final stop.
  • CTA action; PDF format
  • dynamically on the fly
  • each individually
  • ETA is approximately 11:00.
  • Feel free to share this post if you like.
  • for future reference
  • greater than the sum of its individual parts
  • I’ll send you a message separately.
  • I’m going to play my whole album for you in its entirety from beginning to end.
  • in a comment below
  • in a matter of days, not weeks
  • including but not limited to
  • individually customized
  • in my own opinion; in my own personal opinion
  • in sequence order
  • In terms of flow, this message flows well.
  • in this day and age
  • It’s possible that her retirement may become permanent.
  • I used to be an ex-manager.
  • Limit each voicemail to 23 seconds or less.
  • Marilyn Monroe’s last film before her death
  • more probable than not
  • most especially
  • no matter whether
  • one after the other in succession
  • only to the extent that
  • over 40+
  • over and over again
  • overly verbose
  • patches of snow mottling the streets
  • so therefore
  • Soviet Union (“union union”)
  • starting in January and moving forward
  • That leaves one container left.
  • That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a human being.
  • The expectant mother gave birth on the side of the road.
  • Torpenhow Hill (“hill hill hill hill”)
  • unconditionally no matter what
  • under two minutes or less
  • upside down on its head
  • up to as much as
  • usually but not always
  • Wanted: roommate to share residence.
  • what the boundaries are and are not
  • wholly unaware
  • zero in on exactly

Curious about the other 750 phrases? You can find them in my original post (“The Annals of Redundancy Annals“) and in this little book, illustrated by Brian Poulsen.

*Curious about the use of “over” vs. “more than” (as in “over 1100+” vs. “more than 1100+”)? Bryan Garner, in Modern English Usage, notes that “over” and “more than” have been used interchangeably with numbers for over—aka more than—600 years. He dismisses the distinction as a “baseless crochet.” Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, concurs. See her post “‘More Than’ Vs. ‘Over’: A Big Change at the Associated Press.”

**Hat tip Edward Tufte:

A Few Sources

  • How to Say It: Helpful Hints on English (Putnam: New York, 1926)
  • @tiredtvterms Twitter stream
  • Weasel Words blog
  • Everyday life

Acknowlegments

Thanks to all who helped (via comments to this plea for help and other channels), including Dey Alexander, Rahel Anne Bailie, Helen Barham, Penny J. Beebe, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky, Julian Cable, Don Rutledge Day, Jim Durning, Andrya Feinberg, Tina Granzo, Amram Hakohen, Sharikul Islam, Sherri Henkin, Joe Hood, Wendy Hood, Laurie Hornor, Ray Johnston, Neal Kaplan, Larry Kunz, Cheryl Landes, Sally Lewis, Rich Maggiani, John McGloon, Margaret Marcuson, Neil Mattson, Frank Mazur, Kevin Nichols, Dawn Peru, Anne Reed, Stella Robertson, Jim Sherer, Greg Schmall, David Spencer, Susan Steiger, Darcy Tannebaum, Joe Tierney, Jake Trudell, Bill Warner, and Lotta.

If you contributed and I left you out, consider yourself part of the gang.

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5 thoughts on ““I Used to Be an Ex-Manager” and More Than over 1100+ Other Redundant Phrases

  1. It occurs to me as I think about it that you can put practically almost any -ly adjective in front of unique and get a new one. Not quite an infinitely unlimited supply, but close.

  2. Richard, you make an excellent, mighty fine point. I capture only phrases that I and others—that is, friends and people who are not myself—come across “in the wild,” out in the world, in our real lives. Otherwise, just generating -ly phrases would keep me busy adding to the list eternally forever and ever and ever and ever…

  3. I’m turning red with blushing pride over your kind, nice words of writing. Of course, you are correctly right that we shouldn’t manufacture made-up redundancies; there is an adequate sufficiency of them in the wild.

    At this point in time, I’ll go back to work on my job.

Comments are closed.