Please Stop Using the Phrase ‘Revert Back’

Here’s a quick grammar tip: You can save yourself a word — and four keystrokes — the next time you decide to type out the phrase ‘revert back.’

I read an article the other day that used the phrase “revert back” and was suprised a professional organization would make such a mistake.

At the same time, I wasn’t all that shocked. People make the mistake so often these days it’s considered correct.

Even though it isn’t.

So what’s so wrong with “revert back?” It’s something straight out of the Department of Redundancy Department.

The actual article stated this: “Possibly the worst corporate name ever is finally no more: Tronc will revert back to Tribune Publishing.”

Tronc, which is definitely a bizarre choice for a corporate name, won’t “revert back” to Tribune Publishing. Tronc will simply revert to Tribune Publishing.

The primary meaning of revert is “to return to” as in, returning to a previous condition or state.

Our old friend, the Online Etymology Dictionary, which explains how words came to be, reveals that the word came into English in the early 14th century. It meant “to come to oneself again.” It likely originated from the Old French revertir which meant “return” or “change back,” and a variant of the Latin word revertere, which meant to “turn back or come back.”

So you can easily see how this “back” business may have slipped its way in, even if it was unnecessary. If you use the phrase “revert back,” you’re literally saying “return back” which makes absolutely no sense.

Sure, plenty of people make the mistake all the time. But for those who know better, it’s a glaring error. Making an error like that can call the rest of your writing into question, along with your credibility.

So it’s one of those common, everyday redundancies that you want to eliminate as quickly as you can.

Which redundancy do you find most annoying?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.