A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia, Page 19

Last revision: April 19, 2014


REPEATERS

The longest "repeaters" are BUMPETY-BUMPETY, BUMPITY-BUMPITY, POCKETA-POCKETA (an engine sound, OED).

Some 12-letter "repeaters" are ANGANG-ANGANG (a type of Javanese gong), and ANTINGANTING (a Philippine charm or amulet), CADANG-CADANG (blight of coconut trees), CHIQUICHIQUI (a South American palm), DOUBLE-DOUBLE (MWCD11), KILLEEKILLEE (W2), TANGANTANGAN (the castor oil plant), THIRTY-THIRTY, TRETRETRETRE (the name Malagasy oral tradition gives to a now extinct giant lemur Megaladapis edwardsi), TWENTY-TWENTY. Charles Turner found an alternate spelling for one of these words in Discover magazine, March 2005: "They also hunted the native megafauna to extinction centuries ago, including the tratratratra, a gorilla-sized lemur that weighed up to 400 pounds..."

Some 10-letter "repeaters" are BELLABELLA (a native of western Canada), BLING BLING (used to describe diamonds, jewelry and all forms of showy style), BUDDY-BUDDY, CHIMACHIMA (a South American hawk), CHINACHINA, FIFTY-FIFTY, GIRLY-GIRLY, GOODY-GOODY, HUBBA-HUBBA, ILANG-ILANG (var. spelling of YLANG-YLANG), KERRIKERRI (W2), LINKS-LINKS, NGORONGORO (an extinct volcanic crater in Tanzania), QUINAQUINA (quinine tree), RONGORONGO (the hieroglyphic script of Easter Island), SHABU-SHABU (MWCD11), STRUMSTRUM (a crude musical instrument, W3), WALLAWALLA (natives of the Pacific Northwest), YLANG-YLANG (MWCD11).

Two 9-letter "repeaters" are TAT-TAT-TAT and CHA-CHA-CHA (a variant of cha-cha in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary).

Some 8-letter "repeaters" are AGAR AGAR, ALLAALLA (Hausa), ARRAARRA (U. S. Indian tribe), BANG-BANG, BERIBERI, BLAH-BLAH, CARACARA, CHEE-CHEE, CHIN-CHIN, CHOP-CHOP, CHOWCHOW, CLOP-CLOP, COROCORO, COUSCOUS, DIVIDIVI (tropical American tree), FROUFROU, GANGGANG, GREEGREE, GRISGRIS (African amulet), GUITGUIT, HOTSHOTS, HULA-HULA, HUSH-HUSH, IPILIPIL, KAVAKAVA, KAWAKAWA, KEEK-KEEK (OED), and KHOIKHOI, KHUSKHUS (Indian grass), KINAKINA, KLOP-KLOP, KOHEKOHE, KOUSKOUS, KUKUKUKU (the name of a people in eastern New Guinea), LAPULAPU, LAVALAVA, LOMILOMI (Hawaiian massage), LOSE-LOSE, MAHIMAHI (Hawaiian fish), MAKEMAKE (a type of computer program, or a particular dwarf planet, or a god in the mythology of the South Pacific island of Rapa Nui), MAKOMAKO (New Zealand wine berry), MATAMATA, MURUMURU, NONENONE (a chemical with a nine-carbon chain), and OTTOOTTO (8-8 time in music), PALAPALA (Hawaiian cuneiform writing), PEEPPEEP (OED), PIOUPIOU (French foot soldier), PIRIPIRI, POOH-POOH, POROPORO, PUTT-PUTT, QUIAQUIA (the round scad or cigarfish; a tortoise shell rattle), REWAREWA (New Zealand tree), RIRORIRO, SING SING, SWEESWEE (North American bird), TICKTICK, TIKITIKI (used to treat beriberi), TOOTTOOT (OED), TUCOTUCO, TUKUTUKU, WHO'S WHOS (plural of who's who, which is in MWCD11), WILIWILI, YARIYARI (lancewoods), ZERO-ZERO.

Some 6-letter "repeaters" are ACK-ACK, AKEAKE, ATLATL, AYE-AYE, BEEBEE, BERBER, BONBON, BOOBOO, BOUBOU, BULBUL BYE-BYE, CANCAN, CHA-CHA, CHICHI, CHOCHO, COOCOO, CUSCUS, DIG-DIG, DIKDIK, DOO-DOO, DUGDUG, DUMDUM, FURFUR, GEE-GEE, GOM-GOM, GOO-GOO, GRIGRI, GRUGRU, GUM-GUM, HEE-HEE, HESHES, HUMHUM, IHI'IHI, JIGJIG, KABKAB, KAIKAI, KAKKAK, KASKAS, KIEKIE, KUMKUM, LABLAB, LOGLOG, MAM-MAM, MAU MAU, MOTMOT, MULMUL, MURMUR, MUUMUU, NAGNAG, NAN-NAN, ONE-ONE, PALPAL, PAWPAW, PERPER, PIIPII, PIPIPI, PIP-PIP, PITPIT, PIUPIU, POMPOM, PUT-PUT, RAH-RAH, SAPSAP, SARSAR, SEMSEM, SESSES, TAM-TAM, TARTAR, TAT-TAT, TESTES, TOATOA, TOETOE, TOITOI, TOM-TOM, TOO-TOO, TSETSE, TSKTSK, TUK-TUK, TUMTUM, TUT-TUT, TZATZA, TZETZE, ULAULA, VALVAL, VERVER, WAH-WAH, WAW-WAW, WEEWEE, WIN-WIN, YUM-YUM, ZOOZOO.

Some 4-letter "repeaters" are BABA, BY-BY, CACA, COCO, DADA, DODO, GAGA, GO-GO, HA-HA, HE-HE, HEHE, ISIS, JUJU, KAKA, KOKO, KUKU, LULU, MAMA, MEME, NANA, NENE, NO-NO, PAPA, PIPI, PUPU, RO-RO, SO-SO, SUSU, TETE, TITI, TOTO, TUTU, UH-UH, YO-YO.

Place names with this property include: AKA AKA (rural district near Auckland, New Zealand), BADEN-BADEN (in Germany), BELLA BELLA (coastal town in British Columbia, Canada), BIO-BIO (river in Chile), BOBO-Dioulasso (a town in Burkina Faso), BORA BORA (an island in French Polynesia), BUBUBUBU (a stream in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), BUDGE BUDGE (a suburb of Calcutta), DUM DUM (another suburb of Calcutta), FOFO FOFO (a town in Papua), GOONOO GOONOO (Australia), GRONG GRONG (a town in Australia), ILOILO (city in Philippines), KATIKATI (city in New Zealand), KIRAKIRA (Solomon Islands), KOKO Nor (a lake in China), KURRI KURRI (Australia), LOMALOMA (Fiji), MITTA MITTA(Australia), NENGONENGO (Fr. Polynesia), NGORO NGORO (a crater in Tanzania), PAGO PAGO (Am. Samoa), PAOPAO (Fr. Polynesia), PUAPUA (W. Samoa), PUEPUE (Solomon Islands), PUKAPUKA (Cook Islands), PUYOY-PUYOY (a river in the Phillipines), QWAQWA (a national state or non-independent black homeland in South Africa), RABA RABA (Papua New Guinea), REKAREKA (Fr. Polynesia), SAVUSAVU (Fiji), SOMOSOMO (Fiji), WALLA WALLA (U. S.), WALLAN WALLAN (Australia), WAGGA WAGGA (Australia), and WOY WOY (Australia).

These Australian national parks have repeater names: BAW BAW, BONGIL BONGIL, BOONOO BOONOO, BOOTI BOOTI, MARRAMARRA, NUGA NUGA, TERRICK TERRICK, WILLI WILLI.

John LYLY was a British author. Mobutu SESE Seko is a former president of Zaire. FUIFUI MOIMOI plays for Parramatta in the National Rugby League in Australia. LANG LANG is a concert pianist.

Brian Fone writes, "I noted in a quick glance through part of the word oddities site that there were two names of Australian towns i.e. Wagga Wagga and Grong Grong. I have lived or worked in both places. I also lived 10 miles from the town of Kurri Kurri in New South Wales As a matter of interest these names are of Australian Aboriginal derivation and I am told that the doubling of the names means that the subject is multiple -- so that Wagga Wagga means 'place of many crows' and Kurri is a kookaburra-- hence.... Grong Grong means 'poor camping ground' and is an exception it seems to the doubling. There is a Mitta Mitta too, 'little waters,' a Walla Walla 'lots of rain' and Wallan Wallan 'circular ground covered with rain water.' And there is also Goonoo Goonoo 'plenty of water."

Roger Fenton writes, “Reduplication is a common means of word formation in Polynesian languages, as an intensifier, pluraliser, or to create other derivations. My favourite one is the Maori word WHAKAKAKAKAKA. It's made up of “whaka-“, a verbalising or adjectivising prefix, plus the reduplicated KAKAKAKA. “Kaka” means (among other things) “a single hair, or a major line in a Maori tattoo pattern (moko).” Reduplicated to “kakakaka” it means multiple hairs or lines or stripes or streaks. Hence WHAKAKAKAKAKA, meaning “covered with irregular short stripes or streaks”. Theoretically, “kaka” could itself be a reduplicated “ka”, but I don't know of any meaning of “ka” which would lend itself to that possibility. Simple reduplication is so common that it doesn’t even register on the consciousness; it’s only when you get to triplication (which is not common) and quadruplication that you notice anything going on. Other examples: RERERERE (“to run about”) from “rere” (“to run”). RURURURU is a variant of RURU, a type of owl. HIHIHIHI is a variant of HIHI, a type of cloak. KEKEKEKE is “to make a confused noise”, possibly from “keke” (“to sulk”) MAMAMAMA is “to stammer”. POPOPOPO is a variant of POPO (“rotten”). Some examples of reduplication are accidental, in that they result from selecting one of several possible ways of writing long vowels in Maori: undifferentiated from short (“Maori”), doubled (“Maaori”) or with a macron (“M?ori”). The first is generally preferred by native speakers; the second is generally considered to look odd, but was preferred when computer typography was relatively primitive and couldn’t cope with less common diacritics; the third is more generally accepted now that computers have improved. (You also sometimes see long vowels expressed with a diaeresis [“Mäori”], but that is only an expedient adopted as a substitute for the macron). If the undifferentiated spelling is used, it is possible to get a kind of pseudo-reduplication, where the long vowel of one syllable appears the same as the short vowel of another: RURURU (“To tie up, enclose”). This could also be written RUURURU. This kind of “false triplication” is fairly common, particularly, as in this case, where the first syllable is long. I've never seen a genuine case of quintuplication (as opposed to the accidental quintuplication in WHAKAKAKAKAKA), but if I were a betting man I'd bet a native speaker could construct a compound that at least contained a quintuplicated syllable, if not a stand-alone word. The examples are all taken from A Dictionary of the Maori Language, by H.W. Williams, 7th ed. (Wellington: Government Printer, 1975).”

[The section on repeaters was contributed to by Brian Fone, Byron Davidson, Charles Turner, Chris Cole, David Weston, Eric Brahinsky, Fast Eddie, Glenn (bibliophage), Ivan Zlatarski, Jason Leith, Jeremy Ardley, Jim Lizzi, Jodi Wade, John Haddad, Juozas Rimas, Mark L. Oxner, Mark Milam, Martin Cregg-Guinan, Milos Chlouba, Paul Wright, Pierre Abbat, Stuart Kidd, Willis Johnson, and Wojciech Dragan].

There are many scientific names for which the genus and species are the same; these are called tautonyms. Sam Long writes, “I have nearly 700 of them in my list, from Aaptos aaptos, the meatball sponge, to Zungaro zungaro, the zungaro or giant jello catfish. My listing also includes near-tautonyms like Ajaia ajaja, the roseate spoonbill, all the way to Ziziphus zizyphus, the common jujube.” The shortest tautonym is Loa loa (a species of nematode worm). Long ones are Coccothraustes coccothraustes (the hawfinch) and Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus (the yellow-headed blackbird). Some have a third, subspecies, name as well, ranging from Bufo bufo bufo (the European toad) and Naja naja naja (Sri Lankan cobra) to Crossoptilon crossoptilon crossoptilon (the Szechuan white-eared pheasant) [Susan Thorpe, Stuart Kidd, Charles Turner]. According to Charles Turner, the North American Plains or Prairie bison is Bison (Bison) bison bison; the genus, subgenus, species, and sub-species are all the same word. According to Glenn (bibliophage), the western lowland gorilla is Gorilla gorilla gorilla.

According to Oscar van Vlijmen, repetition is the normal procedure to form plurals of substantives in the Indonesian language. For example, orang = man, orang orang = men.

Some words containing a sequence of letters repeated are: UNUNUNIUM (provisional name for Element 111), the name LEKKERKERKER, Mohottiwatte GUNANANA (a Buddhist High Priest in the late 1800s), and ZENZIZENZIZENZIC (explained elsewhere on this page) [Pierre Abbat, Dan Tilque, Byron Davidson, James E. F. Landau, Juozas Rimas].


WORDS OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN

The following are some of the words which are identified as “origin unknown” in Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary. The dates represent the earliest known usage of the word. If a date is preceded by “ca.,” the earliest known use is in a dictionary.

APPALOOSA (1947), ASKANCE (ca. 1530), AWNING (1582), BALDERDASH (1674), BALLYHOO (1901), BAMBOOZLE (1703), BARF (1956), BLIZZARD (1870), BLOKE (ca. 1829), BOOGIE-WOOGIE (1928), BOZO (1916), BUNGEE CORD (1948), BURLAP (ca. 1696), CAGEY (ca. 1893), CHAD (1944), CODSWALLOP (1963), CONDOM (ca. 1706), CONNIPTION (1833), CONUNDRUM (1645), COPACETIC (1919), CORDUROY (ca. 1791), CULVERT (1773), CURMUDGEON (1568), DAWDLE (ca. 1656), DIDDLE (1786), DILDO (ca. 1593), DINGBAT (1904), DITZY (1973), DONKEY (ca. 1785), DOOBIE (1967), DOODAD (1888), DUDE (1883), DWEEB (1968), DYKE (1931), FAD (1867), FINK (1903), FLOOZY (1911), FLUMMOX (1837), FOGY (1780), FREAK (1563), FRITZ (1902), GALOOT (ca. 1818), GARISH (1545), GEWGAW (ca. 1529), GIMMICK (1922), GIZMO (1943), GREMLIN (1941), G-STRING (1878), HICKEY (pimple) (ca. 1918), HIJACK (1923), HOAGIE (1943), HOOEY (1912), HOOTENANNY (1929), HORNSWOGGLE (ca. 1829), HUZZAH (1573), JALOPY (1928), JAMBOREE (1864), JAZZ (1913), JOEY (1839), KIBOSH (1836), KIKE (1904), KILTER (1628), KLUDGE (1962), LOLLAPALOOZA (1896), LOLLYGAG (1868), LORRY (1900), LUMMOX (ca. 1825), MAHOGANY (1660), MALARKEY (1929), MOSEY (1829), NIFTY (1865), NINCOMPOOP (1676), NITTY-GRITTY (1956), NOGGIN (1630), NUGGET (1852), OFAY (1925), OODLES (ca. 1867), OUCH (interjection) (1838), PALOOKA (1924), PIZZAZZ (1937), POSH (1918), PUDGY (1836), QUALM (ca. 1530), QUANDARY (1579), QUEER (1508), RAUNCHY (1939), REGGAE (1968), RICKETS (1634), RINKY-DINK (1913), ROLLICK (1826), RUMPUS (1764), RUNT (1501), SCALAWAG (ca. 1848), SCHNOOK (1940), SCHOONER (1716), SCOUNDREL (1589), SCRAWL (1612), SCRAWNY (1833), SCUZZY (1969), SEDAN (1635), SHEBANG (1869), SHENANIGAN (1855), SHRIVEL (1565), SIMOLEON (1896), SKANKY (1982), SKIFFLE (1926), SKIT (ca. 1727), SKULDUGGERY (1867), SLEAZY (ca. 1645), SLUM (1825), SNAZZY (ca. 1932), SNIT (1939), SNITCH (noun) (ca. 1785), SNOB (1781), SPREE (1804), SPROCKET (1886), SPRY (1746), SQUIRM (ca. 1691), TAFFY (ca. 1817), TAMARACK (1805), TANTRUM (1714), TARPON (1685), TIZZY (1935), TRINKET (ca. 1527), TROUNCE (1868), TURMOIL (1526), TWAT (1656), TWERP (ca. 1923), WANK (ca. 1950), WAZOO (1961), WILLIES (ca. 1896), WIMP (1920), WONK (1954), WOOZY (1897), WUSS (1976), YEGG (1903), ZILCH (ca. 1966), ZIT (ca. 1966),

Some other dictionaries give likely origins for some of these words. For example CONDOM is supposed to be the name of a doctor in London, although no such doctor has been found. An article in the possible origin of G-STRING is here.


SOME UNUSUAL ITALIAN WORDS

This page was written mostly by Alessandro Maccari and Michele Comerci, with contributions by Barbara Horsley, PierGiorgio Cavallini, Ralph Anzarouth, and Philip Bennett.

AIUOLE, which is the plural of aiuola (flower bed), is the shortest word with all five vowels. Some long words with all 5 vowels are CONTRAPPUNTISTE (contrapuntists) and AUTORIPARAZIONE.

EUFORIA (euphoria) is a short word with five vowels. MYCOBACTERIUM (mycobacterium) is a short word with the six vowels with no repeats.

AUTORIMESSA (garage) has the five vowels in reverse order.

The longest word with no letter repeating is FUNAMBOLESCHI (about funambolists).

INDIVISIBILI (unsplittable) has 6 I's and no other vowels. INDIVISIBILISSIMI (very unsplittable) has 8 I's and no other vowels.

EFFERVESCENTEMENTE (sparklingly) has 7 E's. PRECEDENTEMENTE (precedingly) and ECCELLENTEMENTE (excellently) have 6 E's.

CALAFATATA (caulked) has 5 A's. Other words with 5 A's are ASSATANATA (possessed by the devil), ACCAVALLATA (crossed), SANTABARBARA (powder-magazine), and ACCALAPPIACANI (dog hunters).

The word with the most O's is CONTROPROPONGONO (they counter-propose).

The word with the most U's is CUSCUSSU' or URUBU' (cous-cous and a kind of condor), but HUMULUS LUPPULUS is the Latin scientific name of a plant.

PRECIPITEVOLISSIMEVOLMENTE (as fast as you can) is a word created in 1677 and is traditionally considered the longest word in Italian. Michele Comerci describes it as "quite artificial" but writes that after more than three centuries it's hard to say that is wrong.

SOVRAMAGNIFICENTISSIMAMENTE (in a very very very magnificent way, 27 letters) was used by Dante in "De vulgari eloquentia" in the 14th century but is unknown now.

Chemical names and numbers can be even longer words. In Italian, 444,444 is quattrocentoquarantaquattromilaquattrocentoquarantaquattro and has 58 letters).

ANTICOSTITUZIONALMENTE (anticonstitutionally) is desribed as the longest Italian word in common use.

Other long words:

22 letters: ELETTROENCEFALOGRAFICO, OTORINOLARINGOIATRICHE (about the diseases of ear, nose and throat), INTERNAZIONALIZZAZIONE (internationalization).

23 letters: ELETTROENCEFALOGRAFICHE (-grafico is male-singular, -grafiche is female-plural)

24 letters: INTERNAZIONALIZZEREBBERO (they would internationalize)

26 letters: CONTRORIVOLUZIONARIAMENTE (in counter-revolutionary way) ANTICOSTITUZIONALISSIMAMENTE (very anticostitutionally) has 28 letters but sounds "artificial" (but it's formally correct).

DESALINIFICATO (desalinized) has a succession of seven consonant-vowel groups as does VASODILATATORE (blood-vessel-delater).

The last words in the dictionary are ZWINGLISTA (a follower of Zwingli), ZZZ (sound of sleeping or sound made by the mosquito fly, or sound made by a saw, and ZUZZURULLONE (or ZUZZURELLONE) (playful person).

SOQQUADRO (terrible mess) is sometimes considered the only word with a double Q, although dictionaries have ZIQQURAT (another way to write Ziggurat, the Babel tower).

PALLETTIZZASSE (if he put on pallets) has four double letters.

Some words with three double letters include ATTACCAPANNI (hatstand), PASTA CAPPELLETTI (a kind of pasta), ARROCCHETTATO, ATTACCHEREBBE (he would attack), PASSEGGIASSE (if he walks), ACCATTONAGGIO (begging).

SCIOCCHEZZA (silliness, or a silly thing) has only 3 syllables and 11 letters.

The palindrome ONORARONO (they honoured) has 9 letters. ANILINA (aniline) and INGEGNI (ingenuities) have 7 letters.

CUOIAIO (leather craftsman) has 6 vowels in a row).

GHIACCIO (ice) has 8 letters and only two syllables. Some other such words are CHIOSTRO (cloister), CHIOCCIA (brooding hen), SCIOCCHI (dumb, plural-m), SCIOCCHE (dumb, plural-f), SCHIANTO (shock), and STRONCHI (like "you revile" or "you criticize").

SCHIOCCHI (snaps) has 9 letters and two syllables. Some other such words are the surname CHIOCCHIO (spread mostly in the south), SGHIACCIO (I unfreeze), SGHIACCIA (he/she/it unfreezes), SCHIACCIO (I squeeze), and SCHIACCIA (he/she/it squeezes).

There are 5 A's in AGAMMAGLOBULINAEMIA (blood disorder). There are 5 C's in APPICCICATICCIO (sticky). There are 5 O's in SOTTOPRODOTTO (waste product). There are 3 U's in URUGUAI (Uruguay).

The following sentence consists almost exclusively of vowels in the dialect of La Spezia (spezzino): "Aiei i ea eio aoa i e eio e aigoa" (Yesterday it was oil now it is oil and water). Mark Brader suggests improving this sentence by adding a conjunction: "Aiei i ea eio e aoa i e eio e aigoa" (Yesterday it was oil and now it is oil and water).


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