15 Reduplicative Doublets

By Mark Nichol

Reduplicative doublets are a small class of idioms in which a word is repeated after the conjunction and; such repetition is intended to provide an emphatic boost to a statement. Here are fifteen such constructions with definitions and sample sentences.

1. Again and again: repeatedly (“I practiced the maneuver again and again so that I didn’t have to think about what I was doing”)

2. By and by (or by-and-by): later, or eventually (“I think he’ll come around to our way of thinking by and by”)

3. Done and done: done thoroughly and satisfactorily (“The team avenged its loss with a decisive victory — done and done”)

4. Ever and ever: always, or seemingly so (“I had to wait for ever and ever for my car to get fixed”)

5. Half and half: in equal parts; also, a food or drink made of two often equal ingredients, or a mixture of cream and milk, or a person of dual nationality or mixed ethnicity (“She likes half and half in her coffee”)

6. Hot-and-hot: multiple courses of food served individually as soon as cooked (“The catered meal was served hot-and-hot”)

7. Less and less: increasingly less, progressively decreasing, or decreasingly true or prevalent (“I’m less and less confident of success as the days pass”)

8. More and more: increasingly more, progressively increasing, or increasingly true or prevalent (“It’s getting more and more difficult to find in stores”)

9. Neck and neck: very close in a contest or race, suggesting two horses whose necks are side by side (“The candidates are polling neck and neck lately”)

10. On and on: continuously (“The speaker droned on and on beyond her allotted time”)

11. Out-and-out: complete or utter (“That’s an out-and-out lie!”)

12. Over and over: repeatedly (“He said it over and over, to make sure I understood”)

13. So-and-so (or so and so): a placeholder name for a person (often initial-capped), a placeholder word for one or more things, or a euphemism for an offensive epithet (“I talked to So-and-so — that guy over there”)

14. Such-and-such: a placeholder for a thing or action (“If you were to go to such-and-such a place, you’d find the building”)

15. Through and through: see out-and-out (“He’s a loser through and through”)

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10 Responses to “15 Reduplicative Doublets”

  • Stephen

    Interesting. Even though I recognise all of these, I couldn’t have listed them all and was surprised there were so many idioms of this form.

  • @qesfan

    Is there a similar list of contrary doublets? Fast and loose, sweet and sour, hot and cold, love-hate,…

  • Lynn

    You learn something new every day! I can’t recall ever hearing or seeing “hot-and-hot” before, and I thought “half and half” was exclusively the domain of coffee creamer.

    “Ever and ever” is interesting; I always thought the idiom was “forever and ever”. Have I been writing it wrong this whole time, or is that also an acceptable form of the phrase?

    Thanks for the post! I enjoy getting these daily tips in my inbox!

  • jevon

    I had no idea that there was a name for this. Thanks for the info

  • Kay

    Nice list. I’m intrigued some of them are hyphenated and some not. Wonder what the deciding factor is for that.

  • Mark Nichol

    Kay:

    Good point about the hyphenation; I should have included a note about that. Because English has never had a body that regulates standards, inclusion or exclusion of hyphens in such constructions is arbitrarily — and inconsistently — based on custom.

  • Kay

    Thanks, Mark! If there’s anything I love, it’s both inconsistency and the arbitrary!

  • Andy Martin

    Don’t forget “the sweet by and by”, a euphemism for the after-life/heaven. It’s used in the lyrics of black as well as white spirituals.

  • Silvia G.Martinez

    Thank you Mark once again. You’re a genius! Enlightening is your mission on earth if it’s true we humans have any.

  • Sally

    Interesting, Mark, though ‘done and done’ and ‘hot and hot’ are new ones on me (‘done and dusted’ is becoming commoner here in Australia right now).

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