“Studiously” – 369,000 google hits
“Studiously ignored” – 85,500 google hits
“Studiously ignores” – 59,700 google hits

Here at TrueNorth we like words almost as much as programming, well I do anyway. I have been looking for a good example of this phenomenon for a while, where a regular english word becomes so attached to its partner that it may as well not exist on its own.

I think ‘bated’ is one of the best:

“bated” – 1,230,000
“bated breath” – 401,000

That gives a word redundancy factor (yes I am making this up) of 0.33.

I opened this up on FB recently and got some very nice examples:

“Earth shattering” – 0.30
“Casting aspersions” – 0.40
“Backhanded compliment” – 0.40 (backhanded criticism is a mere 6,000 hits)
“Foregone conclusion” – 0.49
“Extenuating circumstances” – 0.11

The current record holder seems a bit cheaty, as it is not an idiom but a snippet of a larger cliche:

“Let bygones” – an incredible wrf of 0.65

A few that work because they use proper nouns:

“Midas touch” – 0.22
“Poseidon Adventure” – 0.57

And one that works because this usage swamps the common usages of the individual words:

“Star Trek” – 0.46

Some have gone beyond the 1.0 extinction limit and the words have simply merged:


So, the ‘Official’ rules of the game are:

1) Pick a two word pairing
2) Google one of the words in quotes and record the number of hits
3) Google the pairing in quotes and record the number of hits
4) Divide 3) by 2) to give the wrf
5) Spellings are exact but must all be regular english words
5) No proper nouns

Can you beat ‘let bygones’?

One thought on “Word redundancy factors

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