If JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation, then when you say JSON object, aren't you really saying "JavaScript Object Notation Object"?

Would saying "JSON string" be more correct?

Or would it be more correct to simply say JSON? (as in "These two services pass JSON between themselves".)

  • It would be more accurate to say they pass JSON encoded objects between them.
    – Josh K
    Commented May 11, 2011 at 19:45
  • 9
    Anyone who says this ought to be reported to the Department of Redundancy Department. Commented May 11, 2011 at 20:59
  • @MasonWheeler: at least twice! Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 6:15
  • 1
    @MasonWheeler: +1: Have you ever heard sentences like "... the TCP/IP protocol..."? Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 6:38
  • We've been using "PIN numbers" in the UK for years, it never seems to bother anyone :-)
    – Matt
    Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 8:24

6 Answers 6


JSON is notation for an object. Not an object itself.

A "JSON Object" is a String in JSON notation. That's not redundant.

Saying "JSON String" would be more clear than "JSON Object". But they would mean the same thing.

"JSON Object" can be shorthand for "JSON-serialized Object". It's a common-enough elision of confusing words.



Let's think of a real-world example -- "English" would probably be a good analog for "JSON" in that they both name the notation being used. Still, I think saying, "They spoke in English sentences" adds precision from "They spoke in English."

I wouldn't ding somebody for leaving it out, but I don't think it's redundant to include it.


A JavaScript Object Notation Object is just that. You need to qualify what type the object is of. If you just said "my script returns a JavaScript Object Notation", then it doesn't make sense.

JSON doesn't mean an object in itself, it merely relays what type of object you are dealing with, such as an XML object or serialised object does, etc.

All of these are strings, but we organise them in our minds as objects.


This might be a bit more of an English idiosyncrasy, but the rule of thumb I've always heard is something a long the lines of "The sentence should still make sense if you spell out the acronym." Thus, my vote would be that use of the phrase "JSON" makes sense on its own as the following:

The server returns JSON.

Still makes sense when it is spelled out

The server returns JavaScript Object Notation.

The trick is likely going to be more in the grammar of the sentence than if "object" is included or not.

  • 1
    +1: Good point. JSON, by itself, is incomplete because it's not a noun. It's an adjectival phrase.
    – S.Lott
    Commented May 11, 2011 at 19:54
  • to turn that around - think of how odd it would be to say "The server returns a JSON"
    – sunwukung
    Commented May 11, 2011 at 21:55

Technically yes, JSON Object stands for "JavaScript Object Notation Object". But it has specific meaning - in fact, depending on context, it may mean either "string representing serialized JavaScript object", or "JavaScript object that can be sent or received as JSON string using some communication protocol".

In the first case, it actually means 'serialized JavaScript object'. In the second case, JSON is used as qualifier because not every object can be represented in JSON notation - one example is objects that contain function values.

So 'on paper' it looks redundant, but if you consider actual meaning it's not.


I would also like to point out that even though it's not a case of redundancy here, redundant practices with acronyms are being done all the time, especially with technical terms (e.g. ATM machine, TCP/IP protocol, UDP protocol, SMTP protocol, etc.).

By being redundant and restating the essence of the acronym it is easier to convey what the acronym relates to.

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