I am amused by expressions that combine the same word in two different languages, for example:

  • Kielbasa sausage: kielbasa is Polish for sausage.
  • Chorizo sausage: chorizo is Spanish for sausage.
  • Queso cheese: queso is Spanish for cheese.
  • Carne asada steak: carne asada is Spanish for grilled meat, therefore you could just say grilled steak instead.

This phenomenon is not limited to English. In Spanish you often find not only redundancy but also contradiction:

  • bluyín: transliteration of blue jeans. A pair of blue jeans is called un bluyín.

    • bluyín azul: blue blue jeans .
    • bluyín negro: black blue jeans (black jeans).
    • bluyín blanco: white blue jeans (white jeans).
  • bistec: transliteration of beef steak.

    • bistec de res: beef beef steak.
    • bistec de cerdo: pork beef steak (pork chop).
    • and my favorite, bistec de pollo: chicken beef steak.

Do you have any other examples that include at least one English word?

  • I must say that "chorizo" is not Spanish for "sausage". "Chorizo" is a very specific kind of sausage, and there are other kinds, such as "salchichón", "lomo embuchado", "morcón", etc. So the expression "chorizo sausage" makes perfect sense in English, because "chorizo" qualifies the more generic "sausage". – CesarGon Jan 10 '11 at 13:15
  • 2
    @CesarGon: this is a good example of different definitions depending on the region. The definition of chorizo in my country of origin (Colombia) is less restrictive. According to Wikipedia: In Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia, chorizo is the name for any coarse meat sausage. Spanish-style chorizo is also available, and is distinguished by the name "chorizo español" ("Spanish chorizo"). Nevertheless, I think you are right since the interpretation of chorizo by English speakers possibly derives from Mexico or Spain. – Jaime Soto Jan 10 '11 at 13:35
  • +1 Oh, I didn't know that; thanks for explaining. To me, and to most Spaniards in general, "sausage" is in general translated as "salchicha", i.e. the thing you put in your hot dogs, which is barely related to chorizo or other cold meats. – CesarGon Jan 10 '11 at 19:26
  • What is "queso cheese"? I've been unable to find references to it on the web. – CesarGon Feb 1 '11 at 22:36
  • I have seen queso cheese used in the context of queso cheese sauce or queso cheese dip, meaning a sauce or a dip made with Mexican (or pseudo-Mexican, e.g. Monterey Jack) cheese. – Jaime Soto Feb 2 '11 at 15:30

Such redundancy is rather common in place names, especially when the English usage takes the name from another language and adds its own word for the feature ("river", "hill", "mountain", etc.) See this list or this long list of tautological place names, including, e.g.

  • Paraguay River ("Great River River")
  • River Avon / River Tyne ("River River")
  • Dal Lake / Lake Chad / Lake Tahoe ("Lake Lake")
  • Bredon Hill ("Hill Hill Hill")
  • Summit Peak / Pinnacle Peak (several places with these names)
  • Torpenhow Hill (which is fictional, though Torpenhow exists, and while not exactly meaning "Hill Hill Hill", does mean "Head-peak hillock" or "rising-peak hill" or similar)
  • Faroe Island ("Sheep island island")
  • La Brea Tar Pits ("The Tar Tar Pits")
  • Jiayuguan Pass ("Jiayu Pass Pass")
  • Milky Way Galaxy ("Milky Way Milky Way" — this is actually a fault with the word "Galaxy"!)
  • Timor Leste / East Timor ("East East", but this is actually the eastern half of the easternmost island there).

(I've only picked some representative examples; it's a very long list.)

So it would be more interesting to look for examples that aren't place names.


The most famous example is "The La Brea Tar Pits," which of course means "The The Tar Tar Pits."

  • 1
    Another jewel from that area is Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels Angels of Anaheim. – Jaime Soto Dec 2 '10 at 21:56

My favorites are when the waiter asks if I want the French dip "with au jus" or asks if I'd be interested in the soup du jour "daily special"!


Since Torpenhow Hill has been mostly debunked, my favorite is the Hungarian "bacon szalonna": szalonna is Hungarian for bacon. (It's used for American-style thin-sliced streaky bacon, as opposed to the traditional mostly-fat szalonna.)

  • Removed some comments that were not relevant to the answer at all. – Kosmonaut Dec 7 '10 at 19:22

book of the Bible

Does this count?

How about

déjà vu all over again

  • Maybe if we called it "book of the Biblos," the Greek word for book. – Jaime Soto Dec 2 '10 at 22:11
  • The Bible is both a book, and made of books, so "book of the Bible" doesn't really count. There actually are books of a book and therefore there's no redundancy. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Dec 3 '10 at 13:59
  • 2
    And deja vu all over again is a deliberate redundancy. – Marthaª Dec 3 '10 at 15:14
  • 1
    @Martha, I think by this point in history that phrase is used by people inadvertently as well who are not "in on the joke". – WAF Dec 5 '10 at 5:17

One in Thai: เสื้อเชิ้ต (seua chert) - "shirt shirt".

  • 1
    What type of shirt is it? Is the chert portion derived from English? – Jaime Soto Dec 7 '10 at 19:08
  • The type is called "plaid shirt" in English. Dress shirts also qualify, but not T-shirts, sweaters and such. Yes, "chert" is from English, as Thai doesn't have the "sh" sound (btw, Thais borrow English words quite easily). – dbkk Dec 7 '10 at 22:28

What about "my PIN number"? Does this count?

  • 3
    That's RAS (Redundant Acronym Syndrome) Syndrome! – Andrew Grimm Jan 10 '11 at 10:07
  • 2
    I enter my PIN number into the ATM machine all the time. – ghoppe Jan 10 '11 at 16:54

‘Koi carp’ (carp carp — 鯉【koi】 is Japanese for carp)


Sahara Desert means--you guessed it, Desert Desert. I think it's common to just call it The Sahara though.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.