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If the meaning of regards is best wishes, would not best regards (used to express friendliness in greetings, especially at the end of letters) a pleonasm, in the context of letters?

Best regards,
kiamlaluno

Best best wishes,
kiamlaluno

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The meaning of regards is not best wishes. –  ShreevatsaR Feb 7 '11 at 16:58
    
That's what the NOAD reports. –  kiamlaluno Feb 7 '11 at 17:08
    
All five answers below disagree, and I think you should give them (and other dictionaries) more consideration in light of the answers. –  ShreevatsaR Feb 7 '11 at 20:46
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The meaning of the question is the one I always meant for it. The fact I always found best regards at the end of letters/emails made me think that was the only context where I could find best regards. I then made explicit the context, and that is why the question changed. –  kiamlaluno Feb 8 '11 at 7:30
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The fact that "regards" might be equivalent to "best wishes" just means that both can be used in the same circumstances, with roughly the same intent (a polite close to a letter) conveyed. There is no suggestion that "regards" specifically means "best wishes". To compare: saying "bye" is largely the same as saying "goodbye". But that doesn't mean that "goodbye" is the same as "goodgoodbye", "goodgoodgoodbye" etc :-) –  psmears Feb 8 '11 at 9:19
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6 Answers 6

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I think there are two main points here:

  • Regards does not only, nor originally, mean best wishes. In some particular contexts — most often, as closing salutations in letters or emails — they’re indeed effectively synonymous. But regards has other meanings as well. Originally, regards carried no specific connotations of being good; it just so happened that one of its most frequent usages was for sending people kind wishes, and so in that context, it picked up those connotations.

  • Even if that were its only meaning, synonyms are not exact, and meaning is not substitutive — synonyms are very, very rarely so exactly synonymous that you can always substitute them for each other without changing meanings.

    For instance, as synonyms go, puppy and young dog are pretty close — close enough that one might reasonably say “puppy is defined as young dog”. (Indeed, checking a couple of dictionaries, it is.) But a young puppy is not redundant: we know it means (in most contexts) a dog that is young even for a puppy. Nor is an old puppy an oxymoron. In isolation, puppy means almost exactly young dog; but it’s picked up different connotations, so in many contexts, replacing puppy with young dog can change the meaning of a phrase significantly. This is why pleonasm is often rather effective: ‘technical’ redundancy can be an illusion.

    Substituting synonyms to check whether something makes sense is often helpful nonetheless, as a very rough rule of thumb. But when it doesn’t work, one shouldn’t be too surprised.

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It's just young dog love ... –  TRiG Feb 15 '13 at 15:30
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a)

The answer to the question is No.You might regard someone with a complete lack of respect! So using regards alone doesn't clearly show how you feel about someone you're corresponding with. Of course in correspondence using "regards" alone doesn't have a negative connotation and is used to show good wishes.

b)

Sometimes pleonastic usage is welcomed. The usages are:

  1. Idiomatic expressions

  2. Professional and scholarly use

  3. Stylistic preference

  4. Literary uses

For getting more information visit Wikipedia

So for emphasizing or making the purpose clear we might use redundancies. For example:

"This was the most unkindest cut of all." —William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar.

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I disagree with a). While regards in general aren't necessarily always positive, do you have references for someone signing off a letter (which is the context of this question) with disrespectful regards? –  gpr Feb 7 '11 at 21:57
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No, because I might regard you with disdain, or my worst regards.

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PS: I had to look up pleonasm, thanks for the new word! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleonasm –  Ed Guiness Feb 7 '11 at 13:21
    
Worst regards sounds a contradiction, if regards means _best wishes. What would worst best wishes be? –  kiamlaluno Feb 7 '11 at 13:22
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Despite common usage, the unadorned word "regards" does not mean "best wishes". It's only when you prepend "best" it takes on a similar meaning. –  Ed Guiness Feb 7 '11 at 13:23
    
I read the word pleonasm in this answer. –  kiamlaluno Feb 7 '11 at 13:27
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I see regards as just a greeting. "My Salutations" - "Give my BEST salutations to..." or "Give my salutations to..." –  mplungjan Feb 7 '11 at 14:21
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Regards doesn't carry with it a very open and public sense of best that you're talking about. Most people probably just understand it as something like "good wishes" or some other non-superlative and bland but positive way to express friendship. So Best regards at the end of a letter, if it got noticed at all, would simply be read as equivalent to Best wishes.

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You can also give someone kind regards, or warm regards, so specifying best regards is not redundant. As PLL points out, "regards" by itself does not equate to "best wishes"; I think of it in this usage as "the worth or estimation in which something or someone is held" (Merriam-Webster definition 4a). In effect, you're closing with a little note letting the person know that you have a good opinion of them.

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Regards is used to hide the emotional content of your salutation. I once had a manager who told me there is no room for emotion in business, which I do not find to be true.

However, when needing to maintain a professional air surrounding emails and letters, regards is a snappy quick way of saying (more often then not) 'best wishes'; which therefore makes 'best regards' a redundancy.

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The OP's question is whether "best regards" is a pleonasm, not really a request for help using it. –  MετάEd Feb 15 '13 at 14:43
    
Yes, this in no way answers or addresses the question. –  Jon Hanna Feb 15 '13 at 15:17
    
@Jon "which therefore makes 'best regards' a redundancy." It answers the question. –  KitFox Feb 15 '13 at 17:14
    
@KittenCanoodle Ah. I see now. It's not a redundancy though, since "regards" in this sense is a elided form of "best regards", "kind regards" and similar, and without those forms existing previously we wouldn't understand the bare "regards". But that's it being wrong, rather than irrelevant as my misreading led me to interpret it as. –  Jon Hanna Feb 15 '13 at 17:19
    
@Jon nods I left my comment because you are not the only one who misread it, if you catch my meaning. –  KitFox Feb 15 '13 at 17:25
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protected by kiamlaluno Feb 15 '13 at 14:55

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