"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Rhyming Reduplications


Rhyming reduplications are words comprised of two parts (usually hyphenated) which rhyme.  

Classic examples are mish-mash, hodgepodge, helter-skelter, mumbo-jumbo, nitty-gritty, willy-nilly, helter-skelter, hocus-pocus, hanky-panky, higgledy-piggledy, rumpy-pumpy, topsy-turvy, shilly-shally, raggle-taggle, namby-pamby, fuddy-duddy and the more recent chick-flick. And, of course, who can forget Brian Hyland’s  “Itsy bitsy, teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini” of 1960? 

Occasionally the words are written separately but on their own are meaningless such as pell mell.


  1. Helter-skelter comes up twice on your list, John.
    And thanks for giving me my earworm for the day - now I have the yellow polka dot bikini running in my head :-D

  2. Fun words to play with, and i wonder if many of them began as "baby talk" that parents used with small children.

  3. Speaking of earworm, there's also the Raggle Taggle Gypsy.....