In The Eye of Argon, "the half naked harlot," "the alluring complexion," "the amorous female," "the wench," "the female," "the tempting female," "the complying female," and "the inquisitive female" appear within a 200-word excerpt, all referring to the same character.
It is common to refer to a character by a noticeable characteristic, such as "the tall warrior" in place of his/her name, since it breaks up the repetition of the text. But in order to qualify as "epidemic" the work must use such allusions in absurdly excessive prevalence.
As per the qualification "useless," these allusions must not give any new information about the character in question. For example, the woman referenced in the page quote was introduced as "willing prostitute" and "slender female" just a few sentences earlier.
For whatever reason, the variations "the ___ male" and "the ___ female" are particularly common, as demonstrated by the page quote(s).
In milder cases, the Epidemically Useless Allusion is simply irritating, but sometimes, it can be impossible to tell which character is being referenced, making the scene difficult to follow. The term "the other" is a common culprit, often being passed back and forth between the two characters at random intervals to maximize confusion.
Results in Department of Redundancy Department by definition. Part of the Bad Writing Index. Compare with Said Bookism.