"The ship sailed through the billowing winds and the petulant waves."

Is it redundant? Because, if I say billowing, the reader would probably think petulant waves is too redundant. What do you think?

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    Do whatever you want, it is your story. :) But if you ask me, that's a decent sounding sentence. though I question whether you need the 2nd and 3rd "the" – ashleylee Jan 23 '19 at 19:46
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    Hello and welcome to the site :) Unfortunately writing critiques are off-topic here. We handle questions about writing in general, and topics of interest to writers, but not specific responses to particular pieces of writing, unless they are illustrating a general point or larger issue. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Jan 23 '19 at 20:09


Winds are not waves. You can describe each of them if you wish.

Billowing and petulant have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

  • Billowing means "filled with air and swelling outward."
  • Petulant means "childishly sulky or bad-tempered."

The first is a description of the physicality of the subject. The second is an emotional description. Actions by a thinking being.

To be redundant, the two phrases would have to be saying more or less the same thing.

Depending on the rest of the work, the two phrases might be too cluttered or overdone, but they would not be redundant.

  • Sorry, one of the definition stated: "To surge or roll in billows.", so billow meaning large waves, I thought it implied that. – puffofsmoke Jan 23 '19 at 21:06
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    A billowing wave is a wave that is not just large but swelling and either driven by the wind or curling on the shore, so it is partly hollow. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jan 23 '19 at 21:35
  • So even though I attacked the adjectives to the wrong nouns, one phrase is not implied by the other. Wind can be billowing or not. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jan 23 '19 at 22:15

While @Cyn is correct on the type of discription, I think you run into a discription issue. Billowing winds is not a thing. Winds cause things to Billow (like Sails, curtains, coats, capes, ect) but they themselves do not billow. Billow is better used to describe something moving because of the wind being caught in a solid surface of the object than it is to describe the moving of the wind. Winds blow, gust, waft, storm, ect.

Petulant may also not be the best description of the waves, but a slight bit fairer. My only real complaint is that "petulant" anthropomorphizes the waves/ocean/sea (aka it ascribes human character to a thing that is not capable of such character. The waves in real life don't have an attitude from a pure scientific standpoint). This is fairly poetic, but as the two behaviors are side by side, it flows better that the wind similarly anthropomorphized, which is again not uncommon in a poetic description. This is more a personal thing for me as petulant is overly anthropomorphic (In the sense that it's a very poetic and not all that cliche to my mind) and billows is not at all (Billows is something one thing does in response to another force... it's not a human exclusive action that the sails (or wind) can do.) so it's jarring to my mind and is probably the reason you're grammar-spidey-senses are tingling.

  • Are you sure about that? I've seen it in some novels. – puffofsmoke Jan 23 '19 at 21:18
  • Pretty sure. I've seen it describing mostly visual objects that are moving because of the wind... the closest I recall is "Billowing Clouds" but even then, it's a visual object moving. Colored gases could also billow. – hszmv Jan 23 '19 at 21:27
  • But I did see "billowing winds" in some novels. Are you saying that the authors made a mistake? – puffofsmoke Jan 23 '19 at 21:32
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    I have no problem with the phrase "billowing waves" (which I describe below as a wave that is not just large but swelling and either driven by the wind or curling on the shore, so it is partly hollow). It's also pretty common in poetry and some prose to anthropomorphize nature. I'm not saying the OP's line is the best, but it's okay. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jan 23 '19 at 21:38
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    google.com/… "Billowing winds" is not an uncommon expression. 12000+ occurrences.... "angry waves" is a very common expression.. If waves can be angry, they can definitely be petulant. – ashleylee Jan 23 '19 at 21:52

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