To my ears the term "various and sundry" sounds redundant. What is the proper use of this idiom?

  • 1
    In the UK, it is all and sundry dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/…
    – Tristan r
    Feb 12 '14 at 14:33
  • 2
    It's just meaningless repetition, similar to not in any way, shape, or form. Without wishing to seem too pedantic, I suggest the proper way to use this "idiom" is never. Personally I think it always sounds dated/antiquated, but I suppose others may think it's "clever". Feb 12 '14 at 14:35
  • @Tristanr in the UK, it is also "various and sundry", though it's much rarer.
    – Jon Hanna
    Feb 12 '14 at 15:08
  • 1
    Jon, so rare that I had not heard of it.
    – Tristan r
    Feb 12 '14 at 15:26


Fowler notes that many pleonastic set phrases were created (not originally created) to achieve emphasis, but because of overuse they now invariably wind up “boring rather than striking the hearer.” Many of these—such as any and all; fit and proper; aid and abet; save and except; sole and exclusive; null and void; terms and conditions; cease and desist; and various and sundry—have been adopted from legal jargon. Other common pleonastic twins that usage authorities find objectionable include if and when; unless and until; compare and contrast (from educationese); first and foremost; and the much-despised each and every. The prudent copyeditor will completely eradicate such clichéd pairs.

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    In educational usage, compare and contrast refers to two distinct and complementary activities: noting similarities, and noting differences, respectively (and thus using, as Locke might say, both wit and judgment). Dec 21 '15 at 16:00
  • Apparently pleonasm was a strong feature of Hebrew literature; one result being that the King James Version is full of them. This may have had some influence in their introduction to English - and presumably other European languages. Are they equally prevalent in Dutch?
    – WS2
    Dec 21 '15 at 16:18
  • They certainly exist :) nl.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleonasme
    – mplungjan
    Dec 21 '15 at 16:24

No one bothered to answer the original question: What is the proper use of the idiom? It's perfectly acceptable to use this construction, meaning a (large and) diverse group of people or things, in creative writing. In fact, I'm about to use a variation of it myself in a detective novel: "assorted and sundry suspects"

  • comments are not answers. Edit your answer to begin with "It's perfectly ..." and include citations to support it.
    – lbf
    Mar 13 '18 at 19:43

"Various and sundry" is in fact not redundant. Various means varied, and sundry means of indeterminate number. Proper use of this idiom is as an adjectival phrase denoting both of these concepts, for example, "He added various and sundry ingredients to the stew."


Sundry is defined as "including many things of different kinds." It's second meaning "an indeterminate number" is assumed by its first. Many things isn't a "determinate number." Since the first definition stands for both, you're better off dropping various. There will be sundry opinions about this I am sure, but they will no doubt be of both "an indeterminate number" and "differing in some respects."

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