Embers and Pleonasms
Someone on NPR reporting a fire said something about “the still-hot embers.”
A Google search brings up about 5,000 uses of the phrase “still-hot embers.”
The phrase is a pleonasm. Embers can’t be anything but hot.
ember noun: a small piece of live coal or wood in a half-extinguished fire.
i. the use of more words in a sentence than are necessary to express the meaning;
ii. redundancy of expression—either as a fault of style, or as a figure purposely used for special force or clarity;
iii. an instance of this, or the superfluous word or phrase itself.
Pleonastic idioms sprinkle conversation and advertising:
PIN number [Personal Identification Number number]
ATM machine [Automated Teller Machine machine]
Comedians deliberately use pleonasms for humorous effect: “deja vu all over again.”
Careless writers and newscasters make an effort to avoid such jarring pleonasms as:
red-colored areas on the map
And, of course, “still-hot embers.”