Is "Apple Cider" Redundant?

Mignon Fogarty


You see them at all the grocery stores this time of year: bottles of apple cider. So imagine my surprise when I read in Garner's Modern American Usage that "apple cider" is technically redundant. Cider is defined as "juice pressed from apples." It comes from the Late Latin word for "strong drink."

"Apple cider" is an example of marketing influencing the language. Some drink makers call juice from other fruits cider (e.g., blueberry cidercherry cider), so some manufacturers who make traditional cider feel the need to point out that their juice is from apples.

"Apple cider" now joins "chai tea" (which technically means "tea tea," since "chai" is the Hindi word for "tea") as a phrase that is technically redundant, but often needed so consumers understand what they're buying.

UPDATE: Ngram graph added 10/14/2011:

Mignon Fogarty is the author of Grammar Girl's 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse AgainFollow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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