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Is there a word which describes a statement which is completely redundant, as its opposite would clearly be ridiculous?

For example

Our Party aims to reduce levels of crime.

I've considered: Tautology, truism, etc., but they don't really fit.

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    Not redundant. This states that crime is a focus area for the party. It could be that their focus is health care and have no specific plans to address crime. It's true that they might have just said, "Our party aims to address crime." without specifying the direction they want to take it.
    – Jim
    Jan 20, 2019 at 17:36
  • Depending on your interpretation of opposite, there is nothing obvious about your example sentence. Jan 20, 2019 at 18:06

2 Answers 2

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a platitude TFD

  • a trite, dull, or obvious remark or statement; commonplace; a bromide
  • staleness or insipidity of thought or language; triteness

As in:

Our Party aims to reduce levels of crime.

is platitudinous, as they can't think of anything original to say. A close synonym would be to call it a bromide (a common saying or proverb that is obvious and not that helpful).

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  • You can detect a platitude by inserting the negation ('Our party does NOT aim to reduce levels of crime') and then see whether the statement becomes ridiculous. But even platitudes can be powerful: 'Yes, we can!' or 'Make America great again!' or 'Vote Conservative - you know it makes sense'.
    – JeremyC
    Jan 20, 2019 at 23:09
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boilerplate

This is somewhat of a wildcard term for "cookie-cutter" statements. It works for all of your examples above, whether it's rehashed cynicism or rehashed altruism or rehashed apathy or rehashed sympathy—boilerplate covers almost all of them, including "opposite would be obvious" since boilerplate is rarely non-obvious or original.

boilerplate (ordinary)

a way of writing or thinking that is not special and does not show any imagination

(Cambridge Dictionary)

Used this way, boilerplate can emphasize the uncreative, lazily-applied, one-size-fits-all, boring, generic, not-thought-through, same-old answer that is all around repulsive for its obviously rehashed obviousness.

This is a very boilerplate thing to say because every party says the same thing:

Our Party aims to reduce levels of crime.

...What party doesn't want to reduce crime? They're just reciting from the boilerplate stack!

Here is an article about how boilerplate is frowned upon in the professional world: Boilerplate PR Statements: Meaningless Words that Avoid the Facts. The author starts using the word boilerplate quite often about half way through.

Examples of use

The president gave a speech this afternoon. I didn't listen because he always says the same boilerplate.

or

If you want my respect, come up with something original rather than the same old boilerplate people have been reusing for centuries.

or

My student said his dog ate his homework—how boilerplate!


Background

Boilerplate gets its figurative, "ordinary" definition from its history with the printing press, similar to the Cambridge literal definition of the same entry as above:

boilerplate (standard)

text that can be copied and used in legal documents or in computer programs, with only very small changes

(Cambridge Dictionary)

Here's a great blog post on the history of boilerplate: Boiler Plate | Why Name It That?.

And, there is an entry on SE right here: Meaning of “boilerplate”


Boilerplate has a long history and writing boilerplate can be a useful and lucrative business. While there is much positive that could be said about boilerplate, this Answer addresses the use of the word that fits with the question.

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  • The trouble is that boilerplate has nothing to do with whether or not it is obviously true. Better would the the ‘truism’, which does have the sense of ‘pointlessly true’. Cliché.
    – Tuffy
    Jan 20, 2019 at 16:03
  • But "truth" wasn't part of the question. It was about "stating obvious" with tautology and truism as examples. Boilerplate fits those. :-)
    – Jesse
    Jan 20, 2019 at 16:04
  • I don't think the following is true for boilerplate: "its opposite would clearly be ridiculous".
    – Laurel
    Jan 20, 2019 at 21:55
  • @Laurel, you have a point, but it depends. Rectangles and squares. Boilerplate often includes "opposite [opinion] would be ridiculous".
    – Jesse
    Jan 20, 2019 at 21:59

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