Q. Recently I heard someone talking about “baby puppies” in relationship to writing—and how we shouldn't use them. I have no idea what they were talking about. Can you enlighten me?
A - “Baby puppies” is simply referring to the use of two words that actually say the same thing. The official name usually given to such instances is “tautology.” The reference to “baby puppies” is an example of a tautology since a puppy by definition is a baby, baby is not necessary. A few other examples would be annual birthday, blended together, cancel out, cash money, broken shards, close proximity, correspond back and forth, dead corpse, equal to one another, filled to capacity, free gift, kneel down, revert back, true facts, written down, and totally abolished. You might want to edit your own work to catch any such baby puppies, and then start your own list of them that you find in your writing or in the writing of others.