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”)
10 thoughts on “15 Reduplicative Doublets”
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.
Is there a similar list of contrary doublets? Fast and loose, sweet and sour, hot and cold, love-hate,…
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!
I had no idea that there was a name for this. Thanks for the info
Nice list. I’m intrigued some of them are hyphenated and some not. Wonder what the deciding factor is for that.
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.
Thanks, Mark! If there’s anything I love, it’s both inconsistency and the arbitrary!
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.
Thank you Mark once again. You’re a genius! Enlightening is your mission on earth if it’s true we humans have any.
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).