‘Close’ Proximity, ‘End’ Result, and More Redundant Words to Delete From Your Writing
Advice on extraneous words from the Random House copy chief
There’s a lot of deleting in copyediting, not just of the “very”s and “rather”s and “quite”s and excrescent “that”s with which we all encase our prose like so much Bubble Wrap and packing peanuts, but of restatements of information — “as estab’d,” one politely jots in the margin.
Much repetition, though, comes under the more elementary heading of Two Words Where One Will Do, and here’s a collection of easily disposed of redundancies. Some of these may strike you as obvious — though their obviousness doesn’t stop them from showing up constantly. Others are a little more arcane — the sorts of things you could likely get away with without anyone’s noticing — but they’re snippable nonetheless.
In either case, for those moments when you’re contemplating that either you or your prose could stand to go on a diet and your prose seems the easier target, here’s a good place to start.
(The bits in italics are the bits you can dispose of.)
- ABM missile
ABM = anti-ballistic missile.
- absolutely certain, absolute certainty, absolutely essential
- added bonus
- advance planning, advance warning
- all-time record
As well, one doesn’t set a “new record.” One merely sets a record.
- assless chaps
The garment, that is. Not fellows lacking in dorsal embonpoint. I’m not sure how often this will come up in your writing — or in your life — but chaps are, by definition, assless. Look at a cowboy. From behind.
- ATM machine
ATM = automated teller machine, which, one might argue and win the argument, is redundant enough as it is.
- blend together
- cameo appearance, cameo role
- capitol building
- closed fist
A closed hand is, I suppose, a thing. But as there are no open fists, neither are there closed ones.
- close proximity
Like “from whence” (see below), “close proximity” can be defended simply by its lengthy history of turning up in competent…