10.04.2008

First and foremost is redundant

I heard someone use the phrase "first and foremost", which it reminded me that it's redundant. Sure, they have different meanings, because "foremost" suggests strong emphasis while "first" is at the front of the list, but putting those two words together isn't necessary.

I know it's an idiom, but still--when people use that, it seems like they're just filling space.

4 comments:

outerhoard said...

It isn't really redundant. It means "This is the first example I'm mentioning, and also the most important". The "first" refers to temporal order, while the "foremost" refers to importance.

mj said...

True, but I don't think people always think of such a distinction--I think they use it just for emphasis.

outerhoard said...

That would be demonstrated if you can find examples of sentences such as: "Among the many good reasons to study linguistics are because it is interesting and because it is useful. But first and foremost, you should study linguistics because it is fun."

mj said...

That example shows the redundancy.