Garner's Usage Tip of the Day: single most.

single most. This grating redundancy (“single” adds nothing to the superlative it precedes) appears most often in quoted speech, but it’s also common in edited text — e.g.: o “To see or not to see? Stratford is a must for every big-bus tour in England, and probably the single most [read ‘most’] popular side-trip from London.” Rick Steves, Rick Steves’ Great Britain 2008 269 (2008). o “Yves Saint Laurent, widely considered the single most [read ‘most’] influential fashion designer of the second half of the 20th century, died Sunday at age 71 at his Paris home after a long illness.” Wendy Donahue, “Yves Saint Laurent: 1936-2008,” Chicago Trib., 2 June 2008, News §, at 1. o “[Anna] Wintour is an intimidating but somewhat elusive presence in the movie, but when she lets her bobbed hair down she reveals surprising insecurity for someone widely considered to be the single most influential person [read ‘most influential person’] in the $300 billion worldwide fashion industry.” Lou Lumenick, “It’s a Cold Wintour,” N.Y. Post, 18 Jan. 2009, at 11. For information about the Language-Change Index, click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Some of the worst things ever written have been due to an avoidance of the ordinary word, and the mistaken choice of what the writer thought was a more dignified word or phrase.” Henry Bett, Some Secrets of Style 102-03 (1932).
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