Here's a sentence: "The volume of resources invested is clearly evident."

Is this redundant?

  • 1
    I don't think so. Either because something can be evident but not clearly so, or because clearly emphasizes evident.
    – user85526
    Aug 11, 2014 at 20:52
  • 1
    It's a pleonasm. They are not identical but 'evident' does have a connotation of 'clear' so it might be jarring to some. Or, because 'evident' is weak, it could just be extra emphasis.
    – Mitch
    Aug 11, 2014 at 21:09
  • Clear and Present Danger. Aug 12, 2014 at 0:22
  • I think clearly evident emphsasizes that the reciever of the sentence is an idiot. Or not. There's just something about the tone of using clearly.
    – Zoe
    Aug 12, 2014 at 9:11
  • @Zoe, you are correct.
    – jay_t55
    Aug 12, 2014 at 9:27

7 Answers 7


Yes, it is redundant.

The volume of resources invested is clear.

means the same thing basically as:

The volume of resources invested is evident.

However, redundancies can be (and are) used for strengthening an expression.

According to Wikipedia:

the term "redundancy" tends to have a negative connotation and may be perceived as improper because of its use of duplicative or unnecessary wording... however, it remains a linguistically valid way of placing emphasis on some expressed idea. Through the use of repetition of certain concepts, redundancy increases the odds of predictability of a message's meaning and understanding to others.

It goes on to give commonly used examples: a variety of different items, an added bonus, to over-exaggerate, end result, free gift", future plans, unconfirmed rumor, past history (one memorialized in medicine as "Past Medical History"), safe haven, potential hazard, completely surrounded, false pretense, and so on.

So though it's redundant, it does not mean it's not a useful and acceptable way to express an idea more clearly.

  • 9
    I don't think those two first blockquoted sentences mean the same thing. The first one, to me, implies that it is easy to see the volume, whereas the second just means that it is possible to see the volume.
    – user85526
    Aug 11, 2014 at 21:09
  • 1
    @George Pompidou 'In evidence' has two fairly distinct meanings (other than the legal usage): Plainly visible; to be seen [AHD]. However, only the first of these is licensed by most online dictionaries for the adjective evident: 'clearly seen; plain or obvious' (Google D). So the phrase 'clearly evident' is redundant. Though some accept it as a collocation (eg quite empty) operating as an emphatic device. Aug 11, 2014 at 22:33
  • 1
    I disagree. 'It is evident that Ms Smith murdered her husband - we find trace amounts of gunpowder on her hands, and her DNA at the scene' vs 'It is clearly evident Ms Smith murdered her husband, she was found covered in blood afterward, and video evidence shows her climbing in her windows followed by shouting and crashing'.
    – dwjohnston
    Aug 11, 2014 at 22:53
  • I don't think the current dictionaries agree with what I'm seeing.
    – user85526
    Aug 11, 2014 at 23:11
  • 1
    @dwjohnston - you're embellishing to strengthen a bad argument. "The jury will weigh the evidence." No one says that one cannot use the two together - it's an accepted, combination of redundancies like "variety of different". Aug 12, 2014 at 3:32

Not at all. Something may be merely evident, or it may be clearly evident. "Clearly evident" may be the same as "obvious" but "evident" is not necessarily obvious.

I don't know why we cannot have degrees of evident.

  • Something which is evident should be clear, or it should not be evident. Harldy evident makes sense. But is almost evident? Partially evident? Completely evident? This is what you seem to be proposing when you state degrees of evident. Aug 11, 2014 at 21:13
  • How about evident but unclear? If something is documented, but poorly so, it is evident what it does, but it is not clear.
    – user85526
    Aug 11, 2014 at 21:17
  • 1
    If you checked in a dictionary, you'd see that just about every definition of 'evident' is a variety of 'plainly seen' rather than merely 'visible'. Aug 11, 2014 at 22:35
  • 1
    You say ' "evident" is not necessarily ["]obvious["] '. The Google dictionary does not agree: <<evident: plain or obvious; clearly seen or understood >>. Essentially, we're not going to agree here, but I'm tempted to counter your 'not at all' with a 'certainly'. In fact I will do. Aug 12, 2014 at 9:06
  • 1
    the obviously correct answer. it's bizarre on ESO when these long discussion pop up about very simple questions. you no more "can not modify evident!" than you "can not modify moving!" or "you can not modify tall!". it's just a weird, silly question. of course, obviously, err evidently, you can modify "evident". weird days.
    – Fattie
    Aug 12, 2014 at 10:19

The Latin roots suggest that something which is evident should always be able to be seen clearly ("obvious to the eye or mind"). In the example sentence given, the word "clearly" is redundant, but in a comparison one conclusion could be more clearly evident than another.

That being said, the phrase "clearly evident" does have some usage.
See Ngram.

Other sources:

  • you're defining evident as "obvious". but you can modify "obvious". whole discussion is weird.
    – Fattie
    Aug 12, 2014 at 10:19

That specific word choice does appear redundant, however, people who use that phrase don't intend to say the same thing twice, but rather put a qualifier on the word evident.

People who use this phrase likely mean something more like "abundantly evident" or "abundantly clear".

Wanting to be literal about the phrase "clearly evident," perhaps someone actually means to say that not only is the item evident, but the fact that it is evident is clear. It would be like saying "It was made obvious on purpose and that can be easily seen."

Either way, the message is the same: "There can be no mistake except by negligence."


Yes, it's redenduant. Chambers Concise Dictionary: evident, adj. that can be seen; clear to the mind; obvious. "Clearly evident" is tautological, "an error of style that repeats something already implied in the same statement". Like "a necessary requirement" or "a major disaster".


Answering OP's question:

In linguistics, redundancy refers to information that is expressed more than once.


The majority of dictionary definitions stress that 'evident' primarily means 'that is plain / clear to see'

So it is unarguable that this is an example of redundancy.

However, people are rushing to the defence of the expression. With no need:

Often, redundancies occur in speech unintentionally, but redundant phrases can also be deliberately constructed for emphasis, to reduce the chance that a phrase will be misinterpreted. In rhetoric, the term "redundancy" tends to have a negative connotation and may be perceived as improper because of its use of duplicative or unnecessary wording (and some people expand the definition to include self-contradictory wording, similar to double negation); however, it remains a linguistically valid way of placing emphasis on some expressed idea.

[Wikipedia; op cit]

  • you've accidentally based an answer on 'wikipedia'
    – Fattie
    Aug 12, 2014 at 10:20

Summing up what I have seen here and what I have personally observed:

By most dictionary definitions, "clearly evident" is literally redundant. A number of writers believe this to be true.

Even given most dictionary definitions, there are some that feel "clearly" can be used to add emphasis, to mean "particularly evident" or "more evident than is typically the case".

And for some of us, "evident" does not simply mean plain or obvious. It means "something that can be derived, learned, or understood; based on evidence." While none of the definitions cited so far are so worded, definitions like "that can be seen" and "clear to the mind" do not imply trivially so.

As an example, if at the end of a long mathematical proof I say "Therefore it is evident that the hypothesis is correct" -- I believe this is an appropriate use of the word evident, but illustrates something that is not "clearly evident", because it required rigor to demonstrate. In fact I have often heard 'evident' used this way.

From the example, and the definitions that do not preclude it, I claim that "clearly evident" is arguably correct and meaningful usage.

  • it has nothing to do with "emphasis". it just means "clearly evident". you could also have "slightly evident" "evident if you turn on the xray machine" "sometimes evident" (depends on the tides) "barely evident" "happily evident" and so on.
    – Fattie
    Aug 12, 2014 at 10:21

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