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So, the correct plural form of medium is media. Of course, there are exceptions, and the words have taken on new usages (such as adding a definitive article "the" to media, making it singular), but isn't the word multimedia redundant? What you are really trying to say is multiple mediums -- or just media.

I imagine it started in the 50s or 60s. Did it start as a "buzzword" or some sort of industry jargon? Perhaps it is a byproduct of the aforementioned exceptions, in that "the media" became singular, and thus a new pluralized form had to be developed?

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"The media" is not a new useage - one might also say "the unwashed masses," "the criminals" or "the newspapers," and be understood as referring to a single (and thus singular) group that is named for its membership. – user867 Jan 8 '13 at 6:52
You can have a multimedia presentation about video and mp3 music on more than one media, floppy, memory stick, harddisk – mplungjan Jan 8 '13 at 7:50
In your reasoning, things like "several media" or "various people" would also be redundant, because the nouns already are plurals. – Mr Lister Jan 8 '13 at 8:53
Adding "the" to a word does not make it singular. – RegDwigнt Jan 8 '13 at 11:26
@MrLister and user867 -I agree with you that when referencing the singular group of many things, you are not being redundant. Or rather in your examples, groups of groups. I suppose I muddied the question when bringing up the definitive article case. I suppose I was referring to the usage of multimedia as an adjective - Which user867 addresses below, for what I believe is satisfactory explanation as to why there is a unique term: so as to remove ambiguity. – random_acts Jan 10 '13 at 1:12
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Oddly enough, your question suggests a possible answer. Consider the sentence "There will be a multimedia presentation." If you substitute "media" for "multimedia" the multiple possible meanings of "media" make the meaning of the sentence ambiguous - and I suspect that the "the media" meaning would be the more popular interpretation, due to being more commonly used.

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This is a very interesting point, and it is funny that my question suggests the issue involved. I think you nailed it here, and it does seem to indicate that due the common usage of media as an almost proper noun (in that there is one media - the group of people/companies who present news and entertainment), we must specify that we are talking about format of information, not the outlet through which it is presented. I suppose its just a shift in usage. – random_acts Jan 10 '13 at 1:25
...and "mediums presentation" wouldn't work, and multimedium doesn't roll of the tongue quite the same. – random_acts Jan 10 '13 at 1:34

Multimedia is used to describe, for example, presentations that include video, audio, still graphics, and text. It's not used to describe the media used to entertain us. So, no, it's not redundant.

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To clarify what I am saying: a medium is a intermediary between two things: an artist to viewers of art or events and the consumers of news. A tool. The word media is the plural of this thing that goes "in between". Audio is a medium, video is a medium. They are collectively media. To say they are multiple media is redundant. Further, I think you're distinction is accurate in that it is the common usage, but incorrect in that the word media unto itself is not limited to entertainment, or that multimedia excludes entertainment. – random_acts Jan 10 '13 at 1:16
@random_acts - If you'd been around when the word was invented you'd understand. Envision four or five slide projectors, maybe a movie projector, and a tape recorder for audio. All "orchestrated" to give a coherent presentation -- two slides popping up at once on opposite corners of the screen, then fading to a slide covering the entire screen, eg. There are "multiple media". – Hot Licks Apr 26 at 12:49

protected by Andrew Leach Apr 26 at 12:08

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