50 Idioms with Single, Double, and Triple

By Mark Nichol

The following is a list of idioms about multiplicative numbers (single, double, and triple) and their meanings.

1–2. at a single blow/stroke: with one movement
3–4. at/on the double: quickly
5. body double: someone who stands in for another, especially in a performance
6. double: two servings of an alcoholic beverage, a two-base hit in baseball, or an identical person or thing
7. double as: serve in two capacities
8. double back: return to a starting point
9–10. double bill/feature: a performance involving two works or two performers or groups of performers; a separate meaning of “double bill” refers to being charged the cost of something twice
11. double bind: a dilemma
12. double booked: committed for two events, or scheduled for two people or parties at the same time
13. double cross: an act of cheating or swindling
14. double date: socialize as two couples, or the act of doing so
15. double digits: the numbers 10 through 99
16. double down: originally, double one’s bet in blackjack; by extension, exert twice the effort
17. double dribble: use both hands to bounce a basketball, or bounce a basketball again after stopping, or the act of committing either penalty
18. double Dutch: a difficult language; also, a game of jump rope involving two ropes swung in different directions
19. double duty: said in reference to something that serves two functions at once
20. double entendre: a word or phrase with more than one meaning, one of which is obscene or sexual
21. double in brass: see “double duty” (from a reference to a musician who performs on more than one instrument during a performance)
22. double life: a life in which one assumes two identities
23. double nickels: the number 55, often in reference to a speed limit (from the value of a nickel)
24. double or nothing: a type of bet in which a person receives double the prize or nothing
25. double over: bend over, as if in laughter or in pain
26. double standard: principles or values hypocritically applied differently to different people or situations
27. double take: a reaction in which one looks twice at something or someone because one is confused or surprised
28. double talk: comments made to avoid telling the truth
29. double tap: a repeated touch, or repeated firing of a weapon
30. double time: move twice as fast, or cheat; as a noun, a rate of pay that is twice the normal rate, or a type of tempo in music
31. double trouble: a difficult person or thing, or two difficult people or things
32. double up: pair up or share; also, see “double over”
33. double whammy: an occurrence of two bad things at a time
34. double-bagger: a person considered so ugly that two nested grocery bags should be placed over the person’s face to conceal it
35. double-decker: a vehicle with two levels, or a two-layer sandwich
36. double-dipper: one who earns two salaries or collects both Social Security payments and a federal pension; also, one scoops half-eaten finger food in a dip or sauce at the risk of introducing germs
37. double-edged sword: something that might be advantageous but also dangerous
38. double-tongued: deceitful or hypocritical
39. doublespeak: deceitful or misleading language
40–41. H-E-double-hockey-sticks/toothpicks: a euphemism for the oath hell, from the resemblance of the uppercase letter l to hockey sticks or the lowercase letter l to toothpicks
42. of a single mind: in agreement
43. see double: see two of everything, as when affected by dizziness
44. single: an unmarried person, or a one-base hit in baseball
45. single file: a reference to a line of people or things, with each one standing behind another
46. single out: focus on or identify one thing
47. triple: a set of three, or a three-base hit in baseball
48. triple threat: someone talented in three areas
49. triple whammy: see “double whammy”
50. triple-bagger: see double-bagger

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1 Response to “50 Idioms with Single, Double, and Triple”

  • Syed Irfan Ajmal

    Quite an interesting list! Learned a big deal from it. I especially a good laugh reading about “double whammy” and “triple whammy” 🙂

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