Saturday, December 03, 2016

"Multiple": Another single word cliche

Image result for single word cliches

It's everywhere. In written journalism and used by talking heads on TV. "Multiple" when plain old "many" is called for. 

In the print version of the NY Times a few days ago: Great Barrier Reef Facing Multiple Threats, Report Says. (The online version of the story did better: Great Barrier Reef Threatened by Climate Change, Chemicals and Sediment).

Besides, there's really only one threat to the reef: human activity.

The  single word cliche is a variant of the Elegant Variation rule about using the same word twice in a sentence. Writers making this error apparently want to tart up their prose with a word different than the obvious---and usually shorter---choice.

See also this, this, and this.