high quality. quality

While editing a report, I came across the adjective high-quality. I'm sure I've seen this word many times before, but I was on brevity patrol that day and so paused for reflection. Using track changes, I commented, "Doesn't high-quality mean the same thing as quality?"

The author of the document disagreed, as did another colleague, as did my Twitter friends. City Girl's reply was particularly insightful: "Acura makes quality cars, but Mercedes makes high-quality cars."

In other words, quality means "good," whereas high-quality means "great."

This was a plausible distinction, yet upon further reflection, I did what I should have done in the first place: consulted the dictionary. According to Merriam-Webster, quality means "high quality," while high-quality isn't even listed.

I'm not sure you can define a word using that word, but, in my book, Merriam-Webster is the gold standard. Therefore, high-quality is a tautology.

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