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The title says it all. Is it redundant to say "mention in passing" given that "mention" means refer to (something) briefly and without going into detail?

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    No, it is not redundant.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 13:13
  • 1
    Not fair to ask questions without giving context.
    – fev
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 13:47
  • 2
    Are you mentioning this question in passing? :) Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 14:32
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    Pragmatically at least, yes. "I'll mention that ..." sounds unnatural as an aside. "I'll just mention that ..." is used to introduce an aside. // But being a redundancy does not mean it is necessarily unacceptable. "I'll just mention in passing that ..." usually sounds more natural than "I'll just mention that". Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 14:51

2 Answers 2

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The definitions for mention Macmillan lists first are certainly commonly used ones:

mention [verb] [transitive]

(1) to say something during a conversation, but not discuss it much or give many details

  • He didn’t mention her all evening.

(1b) to refer to something in a written document without giving many details ...

mentioned above/below (=mentioned earlier or later in a document)

The 'not discussing it much' condition probably mandates the 'only in passing' descriptor in conversation (though it could be argued that it was one person's sole short contribution and the descriptor is unwarranted), but the document example demands that it be 'in passing'.

So it can certainly be argued that 'in passing' repeats the 'not discussing much / not giving many details' assertion.

However, redundancy is certainly not unacceptable per se, and may be the preferred form. "I'll mention that ..." can sound unnatural as an aside.

"I'll just mention that ..." is often used to introduce an aside.

And "I'll just mention in passing that ..." usually sounds more natural than "I'll just mention that".

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The phrase is not redundant.

If you mention something in passing, it means that you insert the mention into a train of thought or argument, rather then merely mentioning it out of any context. Something merely "mentioned" has no context, whereas the phrase "mentioned in passing" is most useful when placed in a surrounding context.

I must mention in passing that it would have helped us answer your question if you had given an example of the use of the phrase.

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  • I assumed that context would be irrelevant as the phrase is either redundant or not.
    – Peter4075
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 16:57
  • I regret any confusion. My mention of context was not a tilt at you @Peter4075 but to say that something merely "mentioned" has no context, whereas the phrase "mentioned in passing" is most useful when placed in a surrounding context. I have added this thought in the answer.
    – Anton
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 18:52

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