I was reading an article in The Atlantic when I ran across this sentence:

Are both spellings equally as acceptable?

I've seen this "equally as" construction before, and I've wondered if it was acceptable. To me

Are both spellings equally acceptable?

is a perfectly grammatical and complete sentence, and the version with "equally as" sounds wrong. How does it even make sense? If two things are not equally "as acceptable", does that mean that one is more "as acceptable" than the other?

Anyway, even if there's nothing wrong with "equally as", isn't the "as" redundant? Is there any difference in meaning between the two versions?

  • What are you asking? The verb protest can form the nouns protester and protestor: "protester or protestor \ prə-​ˈte-​stər, ˈprō-​ˌte-​ , prō-​ˈte-​ \ noun". Both spellings are in the dictionary, although the far more common spelling is the first. But I don't see how "the correct spelling" of that word could be either riotor (which is not in the dictionary, although rioter is) or lootor (which is also not in the dictionary, although looter is). – Jason Bassford Jun 2 '20 at 5:02
  • On about my tenth reading of the question, it seems that the confusion of the introductory paragraph is a red herring to your actual question. If word A is used twice as commonly as word B, it could be said that word A is twice as acceptable as word B. (It's accepted twice as often.) So, equally as acceptable makes sense to me. – Jason Bassford Jun 2 '20 at 5:06
  • @JasonBassford I'm sorry, I had no idea I was being so obscure. I hope my question is clearer now. – bof Jun 2 '20 at 5:30
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    @JasonBassford - The rioter/looter point was political/social commentary (and/or humour), not really part of the question. – nnnnnn Jun 2 '20 at 6:29
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    @JasonBassford As a complete sentence, I regard Both spellings are equally acceptable as the correct version. (The acceptability of both is equivalent.) – Kate Bunting Jun 2 '20 at 8:24

In a strict sense, "equally as acceptable" should be short for "equally as acceptable as that other thing just mentioned or compared".

Citation needed I'm aware (but I might get around to expanding later, leaving this as a starting point for now) not any longer, read on

On the other hand, the M-W quote mentioned by @sykkor in the comments make the "equally" serve in a position to additionally stress the equality

One project is equally as important as the other.

although expressing that equality would be fully conveyed by the equalizing element in the comparison as ... as alone. So it's rather a tautology, tempting to say this may be leaving correctness to a matter of taste.

An that's exactly what the other quote, on BTB says, (formatting added)

Equally as is non-standard English because the preposition as is unnecessary after the adverb equally.

So here we have the answer to the issue with correctness -- saying equally as is semantically redundant and grammatically incorrect.

This is further supported by the fact that the page on the subject on M-W leads nowhere conclusive, much unlike any M-W page on established language fact. It just fades out, after giving no solid explanation or backing for anything, with the question

What made you want to look up equally as? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

That's revealing as it rounds up the impression that there's really nothing to state on that page (except online clickbait).

If you feel a need to add stress to an equal comparison in a standard colloquial way, you could say just as, but certainly not as equally as.

  • There are indeed good reasons for regarding as as redundant, but it is not clear what the argument is for equally as being grammatically incorrect. – jsw29 Jun 10 '20 at 15:09
  • thinking aloud, you may be on to something here... thinking about it... – somebody_other Jun 11 '20 at 0:47

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