Like vs. Like-Like: A Look at Reduplication in English


You can like someone, and then you can LIKE-like someone. These two things, though they both involve liking, have different meanings. The first one could mean that you like a person as a friend or you have a crush on that person, depending on the context. However, the second type of like—the LIKE-like—unambiguously implies that you have a crush. What’s happening here when like is repeated? Does this happen with other words in English? 

In linguistic terms, this kind of repetition is called reduplication. Reduplication is when a word, an element of a word, or a phrase is repeated. This can often result in change of meaning or tone. It happens in many languages, not just English, and there are many types of reduplication. There’s rhyming reduplication (razzle-dazzle, hoity-toity), exact reduplication (bye-bye, din-din), ablaut reduplication (ding-dong, zig-zag), and shm-reduplication (baby-shmaby, fancy-schmancy).

LIKE-like, as seen above, is an example of contrastive focus reduplication (sometimes also called lexical cloning or the double construction). In a 2004 paper by Jila Ghomeshi, Ray Jackendoff, Nicole Rosen, and Kevin Russell called “Contrastive Focus Reduplication in English (The Salad-Salad Paper),” they explore this specific type of reduplication, offering the following examples:

I’ll make the tuna salad, and you make the SALAD-salad.
I’m up, I’m just not UP-up.
My car isn’t MINE-mine; it’s my parents’.
Oh, we’re not LIVING-TOGETHER-living-together.

The UP-up example has since been immortalized in a Zits comic strip (showcased in this 2007 Language Log post). In more recent years, social network sites have taken off, and now a new example exists. “Are you FRIENDS-friends or Facebook friends?” Here, the speaker is contrasting the idea of friends in real life versus friends online, just as in the other examples, the speaker is contrasting one thing with another somehow more real or intense version of the same thing. For more examples, check out Kevin Russell’s corpus of examples here, complete with a handy index.

In the case of contrastive focus reduplication, what exactly is happening? As Ghomeshi et al. noted in their paper, this type of reduplication is not just confined to phonological features; it’s “a combination of phonological, morphosyntactic, syntactic, and lexical factors.” Contrastive focus reduplication, then, is quite a flexible and robust discourse tool. Given that it can stretch to fit all sorts of contexts, what exactly does it do? In the examples above, the reduplicated words or phrases act as intensifiers—they are describing things that are somehow more real, true, intense, or strong. Liking is a feeling, and LIKE-liking is a more intense kind of feeling. Being up means being awake, but being UP-up means you’re out of bed and ready to start the day.

Why opt for reduplication over more straightforward communication? Maybe to show humor? To be cute? Maybe because there’s simply no better way to present an intensified version of the thing being contrasted. The beauty of contrastive focus reduplication is that there’s a comparison baked into the structure of the sentence. It gives a cue to listeners to start contrasting items in their minds, which is something that might have been completely glossed over had the structure of the two items not echoed each other. Whatever the reason people use contrastive focus reduplication, it seems to have what the Salad-Salad paper refers to as a “contagious quality”; once you’re exposed, there’s no going back.

Have you encountered any examples of contrastive focus reduplication recently? Let us know in the comments.


  1. Phil -  February 15, 2015 - 10:33 am

    yeah-yeah means yes

  2. Phil -  February 15, 2015 - 10:31 am

    yaah- yeah means yes

  3. old gobbo -  October 21, 2013 - 3:55 am

    Two or three points, in reaction to what is an interesting and useful discussion. I regret that retirement poverty means I have not consulted the original paper, and I apologize for any misunderstandings

    a) I am not sure I understand the usefulness of both “morphosyntactic” and “syntactic”, although certainly this usage demands a multi-level response to the combination of repetitiveness and stress in the speech act (implicit of course in written usage). And I share the distaste of one or two others for ‘reduplication’

    b) ‘act as intensifiers’ – intensificatory repetition has been around for a long time (e.g. long, long way), and is not usually contrastive: I think the focus in the kind of usage dealt with here is indeed more to do with the contrastive aspect noted in your final paragraph of comment (and as one comment noted, often referring to a secondary context).

    c) However, while it can be an amusing usage (‘not up up’ captures the bafflement of being out of bed but not ready to deal with things), it is not always or even often a “better way”, but a lazy short-cut for e.g. a real (or real-life) friend, the vegetable salad. The ‘not LIVING-TOGETHER living together’ example works well, again because it is a humorous way of dealing with a (possibly) slightly taboo subject. (Looking at some of the examples in the Kevin Russell corpus confirms this for me: for instance the Brad-Vivian-Bernard Aggressive-Aggressive is funny, but the Felicity-Julie one is not and ‘it’s just aggressive’ would be a better response; and I appreciate Alison’s reaction to a later instance: ‘You are seriously challenged in the fantasy department’).

  4. Angalyssa -  October 16, 2013 - 9:43 am

    Now We Know Where You’re Mind’s Really At Huh? :) Lolz

  5. john -  October 15, 2013 - 7:07 am

    I thought I was looking at the female reproductive tract in tthe picture was actually two bunnies?

  6. Britt -  October 11, 2013 - 5:07 pm

    Oh cray-cray, how I hate thee. =P

  7. desami rosales -  October 10, 2013 - 7:28 pm

    I really enjoy reading the comments from all over the world. It’s like a MAJOR- major venue of learning such words and knowledge.

  8. I felt an urge to post this -  October 10, 2013 - 5:08 pm

    My name is Kay-Kay,
    I am cray cray,
    And that’s okay-kay.

  9. Chato -  October 10, 2013 - 4:57 pm

    In the Caribbean we are noted for emphasis by reduplication in just about The sun here is not just hot, but hot-hot, and things are not just sweet, but sweet-sweet, and good good, and bad-bad, and wet wet, and he’s ugly-ugly, or fat fat. Such reduplication is normal-normal in our neck of the woods or sea.

  10. Marli -  October 10, 2013 - 4:34 am

    @Hebeestie Wallopman, somewhere at the start of the comment section:

    I find your “I’m a reader”-attitude a little pretentious. However, since you’re “a reader”, I would assume that you know about flowing writing in lit. Sometimes sentences simply sound better when using the same words or letters.

    In this case, I used many S-es in the last sentence, and ‘rhymed’ with “better” and “letter”. Comes natural ;) Reduplication is a way to emphasize a single word, when it’s the perfect word in the case. If you like-like someone, to me it doesn’t mean that you love him or are extremely fond of her, you just mean to emphasize that you honestly mean the word ‘like’.

  11. Sophia -  October 10, 2013 - 3:41 am

    I don’t just like this site, I LIKE-like it!! And my husband says I’m not just weird, I’m WEIRD-weird!!

  12. tryanmax -  October 9, 2013 - 8:31 pm

    In response to everyone who declares reduplication to be lazy or childish speech, I must emphatically disagree. When used in the LIKE-like manner, it is actually meant to convey an idea for which the English language is lacking. Anyone who’s been to a few Bible studies can tell you that Greek is much better for expressing a variety of levels and forms of affection (as in agape). And who hasn’t been regaled with the trivium that Eskimos have a hundred words for snow (regardless whether it’s true)? But no language can be so nuanced in every area, thus something must be improvised.

    As for it’s use in speaking to children, I’m sorry to disillusion some folks, but diminutive speech that is reserved for and directed at infants and toddlers is a universal and timeless social phenomenon. It’s not going anywhere soon. Best to just cope with it; it’ll do wonders for your blood pressure. Who knows? maybe it serves some vital social function for our species and isn’t just cutesy wootsy.

  13. YUP -  October 9, 2013 - 6:04 pm

    A. Eller, I like your style, I mean, your STYLE-style. That style. I agree, this is a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

    Obviously everyone who commented here cares enough to care, but is there anyone who CARES-cares? I don’t CARE-care.

    I try to listen to things, but I don’t always LISTEN-listen. The funny thing about this is just plain listening (as opposed to LISTENING-listening) and not hearing are two different things. Does that mean you can HEAR-hear?

    What about HERE-here in a courtroom? HEAR-here, but don’t HEAR-there.

    Krusty the Clown always says, “Hey, hey kids…”

  14. Drake Publishing -  October 9, 2013 - 4:47 pm

    Hustle and bustle is believe works as well. I only mention it because I just used it in my book.

  15. Curtis -  October 9, 2013 - 3:32 pm

    I’ve noticed this in my life. However, I’ve also noticed when people repeat names to change the person.

    BoyA: “Hey, do you know Steve?”

    BoyB: “Steve? I don’t think so… What’s his last name?”

    BoyA: ” I have no idea… But I’m pretty sure you do, you know, Steve-Steve?”

    BoyB: “Ah, Steve-Steve! Yeah, me and him are good pals!”

  16. David Foster -  October 9, 2013 - 2:17 pm

    And I know of fire, and FIRE fire, also known as conflagration.

  17. TS12 -  October 9, 2013 - 2:15 pm

    I play the clarinet, and whenever I’m talking about higher octaves, I always say, “Not the low “e,” or the high “e,” but the HIGH-high “e.”
    (Or, even, the High-HIGH-high “e”!)

  18. Snoliver -  October 9, 2013 - 11:40 am

    Jennifer and Joedonb: “That that” is not reduplication, since the two words are fulfilling different functions in the sentence. In “I think that that TV show is silly,” the first “that” introduces the content of the thought and the second “that” specifies what TV show you are referring to. We commonly leave out “that” when it refers to the content of thought, sight, etc.: “I think that you are strange” and “I think you are strange” mean the same thing – the second is just less formal language.

  19. Unknown Known -  October 9, 2013 - 11:36 am

    I agree with Bastette that our brains respond to reduplications. Linguistic tools like reduplication whether they are rhyming, repeating, or otherwise help us learn our lessons faster. We memorize better if words are put to songs which have lots of reduplications; so maybe it’s that that makes it work. Poetry works the same way. I can remember my father was dazzled by his two-year-old granddaughter walking next to him on a raised wall one day reciting all of Jabberwocky. Songs and poetry (Beowulf?) were the primary way to teach the masses until very recently. Think masses for the masses?

    I understood most of the examples cited throughout these comments but some I felt were for the listener(s) within their culture and in context of the moment. Which brings me to the re-duplication, listening-listening, brought up by Nima – I think Paul Simon said it best “people hearing without listening” – it’s not like hearing is a word that ordinary users wouldn’t understand but maybe in Nina’s crowd, ‘hearing without listening’ is muddying the waters and ‘not listening-listening’ is clearer to them. It’s also a way of defining the group – having their own language. It’s not devolution of the English language; languages evolve. Think about all the new tech words introduced by American entrepreneurs that have found their way into languages all over the world.

  20. 'Ley Gitimate -  October 9, 2013 - 11:11 am

    Oh, I know one! I know one! =D

    2011 Miss Universe First Runner Up Venus Raj in her answer to the Final’s Q&A:

    I had no “Major Major” Problem. :)

    We use reduplication in the Philippines, usually to place emphasis on the word. MOre often than not, it is when the word is in its highest form already and yet one feels that the highest form isn’t even enough to describe the intensity of it. =D

    This is “so so” FUN.

    But the meaning changes when “so-so” is used to describe something:

    Q: How’s the party?
    A: Hmn, just so-so…
    Here it means something, usual… uneventful. :)

    Cool, right?!


  21. Angalyssa -  October 9, 2013 - 10:10 am

    Lol Good For You. Now Go Get That Boy (: Im Encouraging Youu ;)

  22. Brianna -  October 9, 2013 - 8:18 am

    I say “a lot,” then I pause and stress the amount by adding, “a LOT-a lot.” My friend used to always say, “Yeah, I heard you the first time.” Silly Tyler didn’t understand contrastive focus reduplication. Pshh.

  23. Dave -  October 9, 2013 - 7:23 am

    In reply to Smokris: D-Day and H-Hour is not quite the same as reduplication. As pointed out in the essay, the purpose of reduplication is to emphasize or intensify the word. “I don’t like her, I LIKE-like her… meaning that I really like her a lot. The D in D-Day and the H in H-Hour are variables, as in math. It is an unknown day (or an unannounced day).

    For example, June 6 was THE D-Day for the invasion into Northern France. The actual date was not only classified, but was variable. The invasion was supposed to start a few days earlier, but weather precluded that.

    Since it is variable, the more general term of D-Day is used in planning as opposed to an exact date which may change (or needs to be kept secret). Can you imagine if they used June 4 in all the plans and one unit didn’t get the notice that the invasion was delayed until June 6 due to weather? One small Company invading against the entire German Army on the wrong day… They would have been destroyed, but even more so, the plan would have been divulged and the Germans would know where the invasion was going to take place.

  24. Kyle -  October 9, 2013 - 12:15 am

    Just thought of something else. This can also happen if a word is used both as a noun and adjective right in a row. Thinking back to the classic speech,
    “…it’s not the known unknowns, it’s the unknown unknowns.”

  25. Devansh Sharma -  October 8, 2013 - 9:49 pm

    i went too far far with this………. that i even started comparing the noises of snores……..

  26. melissa -  October 8, 2013 - 2:04 pm

    I like like this boy at school

  27. Mei -  October 8, 2013 - 1:10 pm

    @ はな Ahaha! I love both your comments! That’s so true, me and my family use “din-din” to let my toddler-age nieces and nephews know that it’s dinner time. I love your panda-panda story too :D I’m in the same boat, I’m going to be in doo-doo myself if I don’t get to my homework too! XD I just love this website, such great, deep-thought inspiring articles. I absolutely do not find reduplication linguistics to be “lazy” as Hebeestie Wallopman called it. Good one Matt M.! :D I love a large vocabulary, don’t get me wrong. However, the beauty of words is found in their simplicity as well. Sure one could say: Do you like him, or do you love him?” or better yet, “Do you like him, or are you enraptured by him?”. But how much more fun is it to say: Do you like him, or do you LIKE-like him?” :)

  28. Kyle -  October 8, 2013 - 11:00 am

    I can think of one other way of doing this which seems a little different from the standard “like-Like” discussed in the article. If I’m sitting around having a great day and someone asks how I am I might reply with a happy, “mighty fine, might fine” or perhaps with the less happy, “not bad, not bad”

    I know I do this and am pretty sure family and friends in the area do also, so it may be regional (midwest).

  29. moose -  October 8, 2013 - 10:08 am

    i like like the bunny cause they taste good causie they just do

  30. Alice C -  October 8, 2013 - 6:19 am

    I’m not going ‘out- out’ i’m just going ‘out’

  31. SOPHIE STEPTOE -  October 8, 2013 - 6:09 am

    hello i like-like chicken and BACON!!!!!!!!

  32. monkey happy -  October 8, 2013 - 1:17 am

    monkye go happy kids marathon 4-5-6 :D

  33. Max H -  October 8, 2013 - 12:15 am

    Oops, I made an error yesterday. The song dates back to at least 1961 and the full title is “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”. And the reference to Orwell is from his novel “1984″ and refers to his Newspeak Dictionary, which is explained in the story. Sorry about that!

  34. Thomas Chacko -  October 7, 2013 - 10:29 pm

    Reduplication is a universal linguistic phenomenon.

    It works at the level of sound (phonetics), as well as sense (semantics).
    For example, in Hindi, we may say, ‘chaay-shaay’, chaay-waay’, or chaay -paani’ to suggest a snack and some beverage. (chaay is tea, and paani is water, while shaay and waay are non-sense syllables that rhyme with chay.


  35. maya -  October 7, 2013 - 9:52 pm

    Dean Winchester taught me this well in supernatural :D

  36. ZTbhe -  October 7, 2013 - 7:45 pm

    ooooooooooooooooooooooook, my sister thinks I LIKE-like someone and I’ll tell her about this article

  37. Sidra -  October 7, 2013 - 7:08 pm

    Amen Maria M.

    “Children are not lazy adults, and are perfectly capable of understanding real words just like the rest of us.”

    My medical father didn’t dumb down words for me and I benefited greatly in subjects like science and health. I do the same with my daughter. She’s 5 and amazes everyone with her vocabulary. I challenge her. If I say a word I don’t feel she quite knows, I ask her what she thinks it means. Sometimes she’s right, sometimes she’s wrong. But she’s not afraid of asking me what a word is and I always help her find out. Why dumb things down? And I don’t drill her all day every day as if she has no life. No. The best way is to just take it one learning moment at a time.

  38. emily -  October 7, 2013 - 6:46 pm

    My friends and I always ask if they know a person or if the KNOW-know a person

  39. sam -  October 7, 2013 - 5:26 pm

    @ school we say that stuff all the time, its an easier means of describing words and their usage

  40. Bastette -  October 7, 2013 - 4:28 pm

    There are many languages throughout the word that use duplication of words or syllables to denote greater intensity or as a plural form. There is probably something in the linguistic parts of the human brain that recognizes this pattern and understands the meaning, which is probably why so many people understand a reduplication without it needing to be explained. The English language doesn’t officially use this construction for those purposes, but evidently it makes sense to a lot of (American?) English speakers anyway.

    People who start ranting about the de-evololution of English due to “lazy speech” are such killjoys. I enjoy looking at linguistic phenomena because they say a lot about social phenomena and cultural trends or developments. When it comes to examining the roots of a new mode of expression, it makes no sense to make judgements about the people who use it. Understanding the hows and whys of language use is fascinating in itself.

    Jennifer – “That that” as it was used in your example isn’t a reduplication. The word “that” has two different meanings and uses in the sentence. They’re even different parts of speech.

    Abnormal – Same thing with “had had,” which doesn’t push the rules of grammar at all – it’s completely correct. The first “had” is a helping verb that serves to establish the tense of the second “had.” The second “had” is the past tense of “have,” meaning to own or hold.

    Daisy – That’s interesting, that duplications are used to mean the opposite of what they mean when used in the US. Are you talking about English or Tagalog?

    S. Thomas – Is there a figurative way to go bowling? :)

  41. Emily -  October 7, 2013 - 4:24 pm

    I used to say:
    Do you, like, LIKE him, or , like, like-LIKE him?

  42. Larry -  October 7, 2013 - 2:22 pm

    In the bible new testament, the original language of Greek contains examples of reduplication. I wish I could reference them. Often they are not translated because we have words in English to cover the purpose the writers intended. Often, reduplicated words referred to superlatives. For example, good-good might refer to “best.” That is not an actual example but the sort of thing they would do.

  43. Angalyssa -  October 7, 2013 - 9:27 am

    @S. Thomas
    Hahah(: Bowling-Bowling Or ..? ‘ That’s Hella Funny. Its So True Thou(: Ya’ll Really Gonna Go Bowling Or What? Cause You Nver Know About Peole These Days. When I Was Younger I Would Tell My Dad I Was Going To My Room Too Sleep. He Said ‘Sleep-Sleep Or’ …?’ Lol(:

  44. Angalyssa -  October 7, 2013 - 9:23 am

    People Always Ask Me. ‘Do You Like Him Or Do You Like-Like Him?(:’ One Implies That You Like Him As Your Friend. Nothing More Nthing Less. The Other Implies That You Have A Crushh <3 No Language Is Lazy Or Incorrecxt. Language Is Language And As Long As The Person You'ree Speaking To Understands What Youre''e Saying. Good For Youu. Nuff' Saidd(:

  45. T-Wu -  October 7, 2013 - 8:15 am

    so, There is a difference!

  46. E. Green -  October 7, 2013 - 6:45 am

    My friends and I use “drink drink” to show that we are not just talking about juice, water, soda, or milk, but an alcoholic drink. Normal conversation:

    “I want a drink.”
    “Do you want a drink or a DRINK drink?”

  47. Max H -  October 7, 2013 - 6:38 am

    A song from the 70′s, “An itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini”.
    And Orwell’s Newspeak, good-good etc.

  48. Bolshoi -  October 7, 2013 - 4:30 am

    I typically think of the term “LIKE-like” as a precursor to any actual serious emotions. It actually seems less juvenile than the term “crush”, which to me implies the puppiest of loves.

    If I were interested in someone, but I didn’t know if it was a relationship worth pursuing, I would say I “like-liked” them; but I would not say I had a “crush” on them, as I am no longer in grade school.

  49. Mykka -  October 6, 2013 - 9:48 pm

    I use this quite often. I’ll say I’m working but I’m not WORKING-working. I also use the terms HOME-home, as mentioned in previous comments.

  50. Abu Bakar -  October 6, 2013 - 10:21 am

    Boom Boom Afridi

  51. Maria M -  October 6, 2013 - 9:03 am

    I also have to respond to Hebeestie Wallopman, because he seems to perfectly represent my biggest pet peeve, snobs and people that can’t get over themselves.

    Language is a tool to communicate, and so if you use reduplication and people understand what you are saying, then what more could you possibly need? Using a less common, longer word that nobody knows is actually the least successful way to communicate! You are not thinking about purpose!

    Also, never use the term “children’s language”. Children are taught to speak by adults who use the most ridiculous words and phrases for no reason. Children are not lazy adults, and are perfectly capable of understanding real words just like the rest of us.

  52. Just me -  October 5, 2013 - 7:30 pm

    “……you will find no there there.”

  53. Omar Drake -  October 5, 2013 - 7:26 pm

    It’s called reduplication because you are saying the same word three times in a single instance:

    Do you like him or like-like him?

    Also, is that really Tobuscus?

  54. aaa -  October 5, 2013 - 5:51 pm

    when people are to lazy to say happy birthday they say happy b-day

  55. Disciple -  October 5, 2013 - 3:06 pm

    A company called DAZ3D became notorious for announcing upcoming events that would take place “soon”, which would mean an undefined time span up to and including “never”. Customers adopted the term “DAZ-soon” and the contrasting term “soon-soon”. You get the idea.

  56. abnormal -  October 5, 2013 - 3:05 pm

    I get a little thrill every time I write that a character “had had” something. For me it feels like I’m pushing the rules of grammar without exactly breaking them.

  57. Nina -  October 5, 2013 - 9:49 am

    I never knew….. well I never thought about this. Our species is becoming dumber by the decade. People can just say “I really like him” or her instead of “I LIKE-like him.

    We need to get better at grammar.

    Submitted by Nina
    age 12

  58. Anna -  October 5, 2013 - 9:39 am

    Don’t forget happy happy happy from Duck Dynasty.

  59. plat -  October 4, 2013 - 9:33 pm

    This is quite a true issue.

  60. Kimberly -  October 4, 2013 - 3:14 pm

    Hope is having a Hey Day. Hip Hip, Hooray! Give ‘er the ole Hot-n-Tot. Aw, this ‘s gone all Higgledy Piggledy.

  61. S. Thomas -  October 4, 2013 - 12:19 pm

    Hi Hebeestie Wallopman,

    As I’m sure you now know from the other comments, there is no such thing as “childish” or “lazy” or “incorrect” language. Language is language if your audience understands the message, i.e. successful communication. This is the sort of thinking up with which I will not put.

    Oh, and to make this comment relevant, my favorite: “A: I’m going bowling with him tonight. B: Bowling-bowling or…?”

  62. Fraser W. -  October 4, 2013 - 9:12 am

    While doing a volunteer programme when I was younger where I lived with nine other young adults for nine months we would refer to the house we were living in as “home” and our true family homes as “home-home”. I’m not sure how we began using this construction, but it seemed to develop spontaneously. An example would be “Dang, I left my favourite shirt at home” to which another group member might respond “Home or home-home?”

  63. joedonb -  October 4, 2013 - 7:37 am

    A person I work with uses the phrase, “inker-dinker” which I had never heard before. As best I can tell, it means the same thing as “fiddle around with.”

  64. Dan Townsend -  October 4, 2013 - 6:36 am

    In biblical times, repeating a phrase or word exaggerated the meaning. Ex: “holy, holy, holy” in the book of Revelations. Probably not the exact same context, but similar idea.

  65. sushil -  October 4, 2013 - 6:09 am

    this is very funny i like the site

  66. something i just realized -  October 3, 2013 - 11:57 pm

    we use these kinds of words all the time thinking that they dont really exist, but everyone just seems to know what it means. its like we’re reading each others’ minds

  67. Daisy -  October 3, 2013 - 8:01 pm

    I live in the Philippines, and here it means the opposite. For example, mommy-mommy or house-house would mean fake mommys and fake houses, like pretend.

  68. suze -  October 3, 2013 - 7:51 pm

    When I think of reduplication, it reminds me of (no re-) duplication of “is”, as in “The thing is, is……..” Really irritating!

  69. NK -  October 3, 2013 - 7:43 pm

    Usually this behaviour connotes a secondary context of a given word or phrase. Specifically, the primary context is often the plainest, every day use, whereas the secondary context in this case is strongly idiomatic or symbolic, thus the use of the verbal intensifier (“LIKE-like”) as it usually is connected to communication that has some sort of dramatic impact. So I reckon.

  70. Puppies are cute -  October 3, 2013 - 6:35 pm

    I like-like a boy in my class and so does my friend.

  71. Victoria -  October 3, 2013 - 5:00 pm

    I think to some degree it’s just part of the evolution of our language, but it’s true that just finding a synonym with more accurate connotation (which is what thesaurus.com is for anyway!) is more elegant and refined. Sorry. It just is. A reduplicated phrase is fine in casual conversation, but I think we need to know how to express ourselves without them, too.

  72. Louis L. Weintraub lll -  October 3, 2013 - 4:47 pm

    Re-reduplication is common here in the Philippines. Unfortunately, it recently cost that Filipina ‘beauty-queen’ the prized first place in that pageant as a result of her reduplication answer. I’ve seen towns here with double names, such as Bay-Bay, located in Leyte, Ph.

  73. Megan -  October 3, 2013 - 4:28 pm

    It’s a lack of vocabulary, very similar to excessive swearing!

  74. I'm cool with just being anonymous -  October 3, 2013 - 4:24 pm

    ‘Super-Duper loud’ counts right? I would really like to read that paper those guys wrote, it’s probably interesting…

  75. Malvin K -  October 3, 2013 - 2:06 pm

    In Zimbabwe usually when you ask someone ‘how are the levels in your life’ the response is usually ‘low-low’ or ‘high-high’.

  76. uji james -  October 3, 2013 - 1:30 pm

    Follow-follow goes for one who accompanied someone.

  77. Dean B. -  October 3, 2013 - 11:22 am

    From the animated classic series of the Ren & Stimpy Show; Happy-happy Joy-joy..!

  78. Scarlett -  October 3, 2013 - 10:50 am

    When I say I’m up, I mean that I am up and moving. If I say I’m up-up that means I am actually ready for the day and fully awake/vibrant.

  79. Pugilist1 -  October 3, 2013 - 10:06 am

    I never even read or leave comments, but crap, this is one of my biggest pet peeves with the English language. It’s just so annoying, in an idiotic, juvenile way. At least I know it is officially called “reduplication” so I can stop calling it “stupid redundancy”. I HATE hearing people telling their kids (or dogs) “That’s a no-no!” Or, “Do you have to go poo-poo?” I literally feel embarrassed for them, I mean, do you have the IQ of a doorknob?! Just say, “Please don’t do that”, “NO!” or ask, “Do you need to use the bathroom?” No wonder why so many kids today are so dumb-dumb. Remember when Mark Wahlberg used to go by Marky Mark? Notice how he doesn’t use that moniker anymore, I guess he got sick of sounding like an imbecile.

  80. Not a very relevant comment but I wanted to share -  October 3, 2013 - 1:59 am

    I used to read the dictionary for fun. I’d use it as a bathroom reader. I stopped doing that when I was around 9 or 10. I think I should start again.

  81. Dave V. -  October 2, 2013 - 11:20 pm

    Hebeestie Wallopman, it’s not lazy – it’s subtle and it’s fun! Full of the unspoken eloquence and inference that makes English such a joy as well as having a lend.
    I agree that we have a full and vibrant language and we should endeavour to use all of it but come on – reduplication is not just fun: it’s…

  82. A. Eller -  October 2, 2013 - 3:45 pm

    While I’m at it, if “iterate” means to say or do something repeatedly, what’s the sense in “reiterate”? I guess a reiteration is a reduplication. Good grief. Soon we’ll be saying rerepitition.

  83. A. Eller -  October 2, 2013 - 3:42 pm

    What’s the matter with “duplication”? Look it up – in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

    REduplication means duplicating something that has already been duplicated. Think,”SALAD salad-salad, or “LOVE love-love.” Oh, just forget it.

  84. Hope -  October 2, 2013 - 3:27 pm

    As a linguist, I have long been fascinated by reduplication. I especially love rhyming reduplication. I suggest people keep a list of rhyming reduplicated words and other forms of reduplication. One interesting fact I have observed is that many of the rhyming reduplications begin with the letter H. Examples are hocus-pocus, hodge-podge, hoity-toity, hobnob, and many more. Another fact is that with rhyming reduplication there is an automatic humorous, childish quality to the word. So get out your pen and paper and start collecting reduplications. Oh, by the way, what national retail chain’s name is a reduplication? Answer: Hobby Lobby!!!

  85. The duplication complex -  October 2, 2013 - 10:14 am

    “I was looking, just not LOOKING-looking!” Meaning you looked in that direction but just didn’t look at what you were supposed to.

  86. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  October 2, 2013 - 4:51 am

    I’m not thinking of a MAN-man, just man.

  87. Reza -  October 2, 2013 - 2:47 am

    In Persian we use this kind of – still why – REduplication!? for emphasizing on usually adjectives. e.g. It’s not SHARP-sharp, it’s sharp; or EXPENSIVE-expensive, CHEAP-cheap, UP-up, ASLEEP-asleep, … . I haven’t got THINGS-things to do, but i must see someone.

  88. Belinda B. -  October 1, 2013 - 10:57 pm

    Since I work at a university, I often hear students refer to “home” – their dorm or off-campus housing near school – and “home-home,” where they came from. It’s not unusual to hear comments like, “I’m going HOME-home for the weekend to visit my parents.”

  89. aaa -  October 1, 2013 - 9:15 pm

    I read the book but I didn’t read read the book

  90. Janine -  October 1, 2013 - 7:36 pm

    I believe there is a long tradition among the Cajuns in Louisiana of repeating words for emphasis. The gumbo was just good, it was good good. The villain in a story wasn’t just sneaky, he was sneaky sneaky.

  91. Matt McHugh -  October 1, 2013 - 4:10 pm

    Darn it! I should’ve tried to be funny. Like, “Are you BUSY busy reading, and therefore lacking the time to use apostrophes?” Well, that would’ve been an attempt, at least…

  92. Matt McHugh -  October 1, 2013 - 4:04 pm

    Hebeestie Wallopman, are you too busy reading to use apostrophes?

    Hebeestie Wallopman
    This is childrens language, and for adults, lazy language.
    It shows me that this person has not put in the time or effort to learn other ways to express themselves.
    Read more, stop being lazy.

  93. はな -  October 1, 2013 - 3:26 pm

    Annndd, someone just said Panda-Panda to distinguish from a red panda in our school project meeting…

  94. yoloboi -  October 1, 2013 - 2:41 pm

    i like like thus website

  95. joedonb -  October 1, 2013 - 2:31 pm

    I worked with a woman who often went to lunch with a male aquaintance. He would ask her if she wanted to have lunch, meaning go out and get some food, or lunch-lunch which involved them going back to her house for something else…

  96. joedonb -  October 1, 2013 - 2:23 pm

    Jennifer, you can just drop one of the thats.
    “I always felt that TV show was silly, but my sister likes it.”
    Seems OK to me. In fact, it’s okey dokey!

  97. はな -  October 1, 2013 - 2:08 pm

    We use ‘din-din’ in our house to communicate to the cat that it’s dinnertime, and ‘dinner!’ to communicate to the people.

    To Jennifer, I also wonder about the “that-that”s and the “do do”s – speaking of which, I’ll be in big doo-doo if I stay on this page and don’t get a move on with my vocab homework. Too-da-loo!

  98. odelana seyi -  October 1, 2013 - 2:03 pm

    in nigeria ‘now-now’ means immediately. i dont think its lazy language, its just not being too stuck up. also i remember ‘small small’ for saying little by little.

  99. Jennifer -  October 1, 2013 - 8:28 am

    I always wonder what you call the “that that” duplicated words. It doesn’t fit this reduplication example, but is still used. Verbally, it’s easier to follow than when it’s written. As in this sentence: “I always felt that that TV show was silly, but my sister likes it.”

  100. Jacob Webber -  October 1, 2013 - 8:18 am

    This website is for crazy people!

  101. TJ -  October 1, 2013 - 7:33 am

    also there’s Bam Bam from the flintstones

  102. marvin matherson -  October 1, 2013 - 2:18 am

    I used to call my friend fufu because it was short for fun fun!

  103. lori -  October 1, 2013 - 1:57 am

    In Zimbabwe we talk about ‘now-now’ which means imminently and ‘just now’ which is a little like the Spanish manana.

  104. suze -  September 30, 2013 - 6:41 pm

    I consider Texas, where this usage is common in many contexts, to be in the South. But escocesrojo probably means the SOUTH South.

  105. John Skinner -  September 30, 2013 - 2:15 am

    Teeny weeny, out out, hokey pokey. You set my mind thinking!

  106. Hebeestie Wallopman -  September 29, 2013 - 3:35 pm

    This is childrens language, and for adults, lazy language.

    It shows me that this person has not put in the time or effort to learn other ways to express themselves.

    Read more, stop being lazy.

  107. pradeep bahuguna -  September 27, 2013 - 7:42 pm

    In my childhood days we had ,a pet whom we named Tim Tim , the name itself was Like like a music for whole family.

  108. escocesrojo -  September 27, 2013 - 9:40 am

    When we were kids we called the floppy men’s cap a billy-billy cap. Why, I don’t know. We used to describe a person’s long head as a jay-jay head. Back in the 1940s, was this contrastive focus reduplication, or was it mere children’s prattle? Even today, to denote a cute smallness of something or someone we still say itty-bitty, and to characterize something as extremely tiny we used to say tee-ninesy. We used to call a kid Jim-Jim to distinguish him from his father, and we still do so even though he’s now an adult. Even though I was born in the North, some of these expressions seem to have origins in the South.

  109. Eric -  September 27, 2013 - 4:36 am

    What is the difference between duplication and reduplication? How about “That’s reduplication reduplication!”?

  110. Nima -  September 27, 2013 - 2:41 am

    I was listening to her rambling about the vacation during which she enjoyed her summer holidays, but I was not LISTENING-listening!

  111. Emily -  September 26, 2013 - 3:30 pm

    When people understand a basic idea in school but do not completely understand it, they say something to the affect of “I don’t know-KNOW it, I just know it.”
    I’ve also heard “love-love”, “hate-hate”, etc.


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