I am looking for the name of the figure of speech, where two words with similar meaning are used together to convey an idea more emphatically. For example: 'Cease and Desist', 'Null and void', etc.

I tried googling but nothing concrete turns up.


  • I have heard them referred to as couplets, two words coupled together in a common phrase. But couplet has a more common meaning for rhyming lines in poetry.
    – Kim Ryan
    Jul 15, 2015 at 9:49

3 Answers 3



According to wiki - Pleonasm is the use of more words or parts of words than is necessary for clear expression: examples are black darkness, or burning fire

  • 1
    That applies to null and void. But cease and desist are completely different. Both are needed.
    – Kim Ryan
    Jul 15, 2015 at 9:50

You have the choice between tautology, accumulatio, hendiadys and pleonasm. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_rhetorical_terms


I don't know of a classical (Latin or Greek) rhetorical figure, but the following might help.

Siamese Twins are, according to Wiki, "a pair or grouping of words used together as an idiomatic expression or collocation, usually conjoined by the words and or or."

Wiki has a whole list of Siamese Twins which involve related and synonymous words, so you might think to call such pairs Siamese Synonyms or Related Twins.

You might like these terms better than pleonasm, since they suggest the presence of a conjunctive element where pleonasm does not.

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