Purple Pleonasm

I love the Dictionary.com “Word of the Day.” Very often, the word is new to me, and I like to try to put it to use in a thought or a sentence.

Today’s word is pleonasm:

\PLEE-uh-naz-uhm\, noun;
1) The use of more words than are necessary to express an idea.
2) A superfluous word or expression.


Synonyms: copiousness, garrulity, loquaciousness, verbosity


I’ve been accused of purple prose before, but after today’s word, I’ve decided purple pleonasm is so much more descriptive of the writing style into which I sometimes drift.

Allow me to “expose” myself. Here’s an excerpt of a story I wrote several years ago:


The rising sun bade goodbye to the night’s moon glow with a kiss of violet, pink, orange and finally golden yellow.  Earth accepted Sun’s kiss and blushed with color.

And here is the critique given to me by a prominent college professor/editor:

“Oh. . . my . . . God.”


I smiled. I knew she’d love it. Then, I saw her pulling her hair out.


“No. No. No!!” she continued. “This is so purple. Purple, I say. Purple!”

As you might imagine, I went pale and queasy all at once. She’d torn it to pieces. My masterpiece! My child!

I think. . . I hope . . . my writing has come a long way. At least when I read that passage now, I feel the same kind of yucky sickness one might feel after eating eight servings of tiramisu.

So, I’ve grown as a writer, and though a critique can often feel like standing by and watching someone beat your child, it has helped – a lot. I’ve come a long way in dropping the purple. Now, if I can let go of the pleonasm.

Still, it does have a distinctive ring to it.
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9 Responses to Purple Pleonasm

  1. What can I say? A perfect word to describe what I myself am guilty of doing. I am learning, too. But in my world of forgiveness, I also understand that there is a love of words in a writer, in particular, that influences this phenomenon. "Less is more." Repeat.

  2. ed_quixote says:

    Ring is definitely the word. Reminiscent of the bells in the third movement of Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Kijé's Wedding.

  3. Jack LaBloom says:

    Well, knock me down with a soft, white, fluffy feather. Who would've thought I'd be guilty of pleonasm.

  4. K.D. McCrite says:

    I do believe all (or 98%) of fiction writers do this in the early days of learning the craft. I know I did. Great post, Jan!

  5. mgmillerbooks says:

    Guilty. I think we all are in the beginning. Thanks for the post. I'll be extra conscientious of my pleonasm now–especially since I just learned the word 🙂

  6. Russell says:

    Reminds me of Leonard. Ask him what time it is and he'll tell you how to build a watch.

  7. Donna says:

    I know that most times less is more, but then sometimes more is just needed. lol I so relate. I loved this post so much that I shared it on My Life.'s face book page. I am a new GFC follower from Author Central. Hope you'll have time to pop over to my blog for a follow. Hope to see you there. Donnahttp://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com

  8. I'm guilty of pleonasm, especially in the science writing I did for my degree, and my advisers nailed me for it. I've tried to stay away from purple (even if it is my favorite color), but I don't know how successful I've been. Loved your post! :)Siobhan

  9. If ever in a million years I fell guilty to using too many words to express a thought, well then I'd expect . . . well, never mind. Good post, Jan. Nothing better than tightening our work by cutting out excess words, especially in description.

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