A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia, Page 7

Last revision: April 20, 2014


UNCOMMON DOUBLE LETTERS (ENGLISH WORDS AND PLACE NAMES ONLY)

HH is found in withhold, bathhouse, beachhead, bushhammer, fishhawk, fishhook, highhanded, hitchhike, roughhouse, washhouse, watchhouse, aarrghh, hashhead, roughhew, fleshhood, roughhewn, touchhole, youthhood, youthhead, sleuthhound, Pochhammer symbol, arghhood, birthhood, dervishhood, feythhed, fishhood, freshhood, highhede, hochheimer, kahht, melshhead, muchhead, neshhead, pariahhood, plihht, soothhead, stalworthhead, tachhydrite, truthhead, unworthhead, whighhie, withhilden, wrathhead, wretchhead, the German cities Forchheim and Lauchhammer, Hohhot in eastern Inner Mongolia, and the Machhu River in India. The OED has whhi-hhee, a 17th-century form of "wehee", a whinny or neigh [Andrew Bremner]. Machhapuchhre is a mountain in central Nepal with two double H’s [Stuart Kidd].

JJ is found in ZU'L-HIJJAH or DHU'L-HIJJAH (the twelfth month of the Muslim calendar), AVIJJA (ignorance of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism), HAJJ (the Muslim pilgrimage), HAJJI, UJJAIN (one of the holy cities of India), CRIGLER-NAJJAR SYNDROME, KUUJJUAQ (Canadian place name), AD-DAJJAL (a term in Islamic eschatology), HAJJAJ (an Arab governor in India), KUUJJUARAPIK (or Great Whale River, village in Quebec), MAJJHIMA, PUTHUJJANA and PABBAJJA (Pali/Buddhist terms), MURAJJIH (a term in Islam), TAHAJJUD (an Islamic prayer), UJJAYI (ujaya, ujaya breathing, ujjayi breathing: an audible form of pranayama), and KANGIQSUALUJJUAQ (an Inuit village in Quebec). The OED2 has JJ COUPLING SCHEME in a citation for another word, although in other places the OED2 uses the spelling j-j [Philip Bennett, Stuart Kidd].

QQ appears in AHL-E HAQQ (a religion which originated in Iran, meaning “People of Truth”), BAQQARA (a cattle-breeding Arab people of Sudan, OED), BURUQQU (town in India), HALUQQAH (a variant of "chalukah," Jewish relief funds, OED), HOOQQA (variant of hookah in the OED), HUQQA (a water pipe for smoking tobacco), MAQQEPH (a variant of "maccaph," a Hebrew diacritic, similar to a hyphen, OED), MUWAQQIT (timekeeper in a mosque), QQUEA and QQUERO (place names in Peru), RIQQ (an Egyptian tambourine), SAQQ (a style of Islamic document), SAQQARA (a village in Egypt), ZAQQUM (a tree with bitter fruit, mentioned in the Koran), and ZIQQURAT (an alternate spelling of zikkurat or ziggurat used in past editions of Guinness) [Juozas Rimas, Jonathan Hoefler, Stuart Kidd, Paul Wright].

UU occurs in carduus, continuum, duumvir, duumviral, duumvirate, Equuleus (a constellation), Equus, ignis fatuus, individuum, in perpetuum, intermenstruum, kere perpetuum, lituus, menstruum, mutuum, muumuu, obliquus, perpetuum mobile, praecipuum, Puuc, residuum, sadalsuud, semicontinuum, Shuvuuia (a Mongolian dinosaur), Smectymnuus, squush(y), triduum, vacuum, weltanschauung, zuurveldt. The OED2 has bauude, bestuur, bustuus, couuienales, dyluuye, huus, inaniloquution, intervacuum, kouuuele, kuuant, neuu, paramenstruum, plentuuste, premenstruum, postmenstruum, pruu, puukko, quuik, quurt, riuulet, sleuuol, spuugslang, squuncke, suuel, suuen, suum, truu, tuum, uuen, ventriloquus, and yuu. Nuku pu'u is a group of very rare Hawaiian honeycreepers. Suuwassea emilieae is a newly-named dinosaur. Congruus congruus is a wallaby. [Charles Turner, Philip Bennett]

UU is very common in Dutch and in Polynesian place names.

VV. The complete list from the UKACD: civvy, divvy, navvy, savvy, bovver, chivvy, luvvie, revved, skivvy, spivvy, chivved, civvies, divvied, divvies, flivver, luvvies, navvied, navvies, revving, savvied, savvies, shivved, chivvied, chivvies, chivving, divvying, flivvers, navvying, savvying, shivving, skivvies, bovver boy, chivvying, bovver boys, steam-navvy, bovver boots, civvy street, improvvisatore. Other words with a double V not in that dictionary are bivvy (slang for bivouac) and bivver (a variant of bever). Chambers has devvel, bevvy, bivvy, and crivvens. The OED2 has bruvver, evviva, javver, lavvy, mivvy, muvver, pavvy, scavvy, and sivvens. [Philip Bennett]

WW occurs in arrowweed, arrowwood, arrowworm, bawways, bowwoman, bowwood, bowwow, cowweed, cowwheat, dewworm, glowworm, hollowware, hollowwort, lowwood, mallowwort, mawworm, meadowwort, pillowwork, plowwise, plowwoman, plowwright, powwow, powwower, powwowism, qawwal, qawwali, rainbowweed, sawway, sawworker, sawwort, screwwise, screwworm, shawwal, showworm, showworthy, skewwhiff, skewwise, slowworm, sparrowwort, squawweed, strawwalker, strawweight, strawworm, swallowwort, tallowweed, throwwort, viewworthy, whitlowwort, willowware, willowweed, willowworm, willowwort, windowward, windowwards, windowwise, yawweed, yellowware, yellowweed, yellowwood, yellowwort, Cirkewwa (place name in Malta), and Tsawwassen (place name in Canada), Oewwgger (island in Indonesia), Mutawwa (the religious police of Saudi Arabia) Qarat el-Muzawwaqa (Egyptian town) [Pertti Malo, Paul Wright, Charles Turner].

XX does not occur in any words found in ordinary dictionaries. However, W3 has XX-DISEASE and the OED has WAXXENN (an old form of the verb, to wax, to increase in size). Proper nouns containing xx include EXXON, FOXX, MAXXAM, BEXXAR (a therapeutic antibody), and LEXXEL and VIOXX (prescription drugs). ZAXXON was a popular arcade game in the 1980s [Fred Schneider]. LEXX is a science-fiction TV series [Philip Bennett]. OXXO is the designation of a four-panel sliding glass door with the two center panels operable [Philip Bennett]. REXX is an acronym for Restructured EXtended eXecutor, and thus there are AREXX, FREEREXX, and REXXWARE [Philip Bennett]. The AXXENT FlexiShield Mini by iCAD is a medical product.

According to an article in Time, the name Exxon was chosen partly because it meant nothing in any language and the article reported researchers concluded that XX occurs in no language. However, the double X is common in the Maltese language. For example, JGHAXXAQ is the Maltese word for "enchanting," according to Lorie Church. Paul Wright provides these six Maltese words with XX: JIXXABBAT (climbing), JIRNEXXILEK (get you), KEXXUN (drawer), JIXXENNAQ (?), JITKIXXEF (enquire), and TISTABBILIXXI (establish)

YY occurs in AL FAYYUM, AL-UBAYYID, AYYUBID (Kurdish dynasty founded by Saladin in the 12th century), CUBBYYEW (large oceanic fish), DUBAYY (Dubai), GAYYOU, GROZNYY (variant of Grozny), HAYYAN, IYYAR (an alternate spelling of Iyar, a month in the Jewish calendar), JABIR IBN HAYYAN, KHAYYAM, KRYVYY RIH, KRYVYY ROG (a city in Ukraine), MAYYALI, NABEREZHNYYE CHELNY (an alternate spelling for the name of a Russian port), OMAYYAD or UMAYYAD, PIYYUT (a liturgical poem in Judaism), SAYYID (a descendant of Muhammad through Hussein), SNARLEYYOW (slang for "dog"; found in W2), YABLONOVYY (a Russian mountain range), ZAKIYYA (an alternate spelling for a female given name), POLYYNE (an organic compound), SKYY (a brand name of vodka), ABU SAYYAF (a Muslim extremist group), and AYYAVAZHI (a religion that started in South India). The OED2 has byyond, cyyn, deyyte, dyyss, eyyr, gyylde, gyyste, lyyf, lyyn, myyld, myys, pryys, pyynte, ryyf, ryynse, ryyt, schyyd, syyk, teryynge, twyys, tyyn, wyyfe, wyys, yye, yyeve, yyldyd, yynge, yyoked, yyrne, and yys. [Paul Wright, Philip Bennett]

According to Paul Wright, FYYRYRYN is Middle English for fire-iron. Not only does it have the unusual YY but it also has 4 Y's altogether.

In 2003 RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN became Prime Minister of Turkey.

In addition, in an early American Heritage Dictionary on CD-ROM, BODYBUILDER was misspelled as BODYYBUILDER.


TRIPLE LETTERS

In this section, triple letters separated by a space or hyphen are excluded.

AAA. FAAA is a city in Tahiti. NÄÄTÄAAPA is a marsh in Finland. However, Mikko Jokelainen reports that "in the Finnish language a and ä are considered separate letters. The name itself is a combination of the words näätä (weasel) and aapa (marsh). If the last letter of the first word was a normal a, there would be a hyphen between the two words." In Estonian, OUEAIAAARE means "edge of a fence surrounding a yard." Tagalog has several verb forms with triple a’, such as: HANGGA'T MAAARI (as much as possible) and NAAALALA (I think of). In Finnish, VAA'AN is the genitive form of "vaaka" (scales), although there is an intervening apostrophe. Cavaticovelia aaa is a Hawaiian bug (a troglobitic mesoveliid); "aaa" is Hawaiian for lava tube. AAADONTA is a genus of snails, AAAGES, of ladybird beetles, and AAATA, of sponges. Place names include AAAMAR (Lebanon), AAARDA (Syria), and KAAAWA (Hawaii), FAAA (Tahiti), NAAA (Mozambique), TAAA (Morocco), HAAAN (Norway), MALAAAPA (Finland), SHAAAT (Libya), VASSBRAAA (Norway), RAAAN (Norway), WAAA (Egypt). AAAB was an Egyptian, the son of Kherab-cad. MAAA is Thai for dog. MJAAA is a Dutch word. [Juozas Rimas, Scott Oglesby, Mikko Jokelainen, Arnold Menke, Stuart Kidd, Paul Wright]

The page previously listed KAAAWA, a city in Hawaii. However, Ricky Bennett writes, “The proper spelling of Kaaawa is actually Ka‘a‘awa. The ‘ is an ‘okina, which is a guttural stop in the Hawaiian language, and is considered a consonant. Therefore, Ka‘a‘awa probably shouldn't be considered for this category. The ‘okina is usually omitted from English maps of Hawaii.”

BBB. In 1752, Chambers Cyclopaedia has FLYING JIBBBOOM, although the word is normally now spelled "flying jib-boom." The OED2 has BBB, meaning "treble-black pencil lead." [Philip Bennett]

EEE. The OED has PEEENT as an alternate spelling for "peent," defined as "a representation of the high whistling sound emitted by a woodcock." The OED has SEEËR as a rare spelling for "one who sees or beholds," the spelling designed to avoid the negative connotations that attach to a seer. While watching TV news, Ted Clarke saw the name TELEEEL on a road sign in the vicinity of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Clarke also mentions that as the result of a spelling error POSTEEEN appears in Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary 1976 reprint of its 1972 Edition. In Russian, long-necked (animal) is DLINOSHEEE (zhivotnoe). According to Alain Kradolfer, créée is a form of the French verb "créer" (to create). Juli VEEE is the name of a former soccer player. Place names include REEENBERG (Netherlands), SEEENDE (Germany), and SKEEEREE (Hodge). [Paul Wright]

A search of the OED for triple E’ which occur in citations but not as vocabulary entries found quite a few examples including: WEEEST (a superlative of "wee"), AGREEETH (in a 1598 citation), two early citations in which "eel" is spelled EEEL and citations which have the words FREEER and FREEEST.

W3 on CD (version 2.5) has LICENSEEE, but this seems to be an error because the word is spelled LICENSEE in the printed dictionary.

FFF. SCHIFFFRACHT and SCHIFFFAHRT are found in German, according to Oscar van Vlijmen. The German word FLUSSSCHIFFFAHRT (with two triplets) means "navigation on a river" and appears in The Pocket Oxford-Duden German Dictionary [Gerd Baron].

SAUERSTOFFFLASCHE is the German word for "oxygen tank," according to typeface designer Jonathan Hoefler, who notes that, typographically speaking, the word calls for not only three f’ but an f-f-f-l ligature.

This website received an e-mail from Heike Wunschmann, who wrote that the rules of German grammar say that triple letters are only allowed if the following letter is a consonant. If it is a vowel the triple letters will be double letters only, e. g. SCHIFFAHRT, WETTURNEN.

However, Craig Rowland writes, "German spelling reform now permits SCHIFFFAHRT. The old rule, stated at your site, no longer applies. Schiff + Fahrt = Schifffahrt; even though the second letter in Fahrt is a vowel, the tripling occurs. This reform results in possibly hundreds of words suddenly being tripled, such as BETTTISCH (bed table). Even cases where there was hyphenation, there is now elision: ZOOORGANISATION instead of Zoo-Organisation. All German spelling reform is outlined in the new Duden. It is still permissible for the time being to spell the words in the 'old' way."

III. Some scientific names formed by latinizing the Japanese name Ishii are Tudicla ishiii (a species of fossil mollusk), Coccophagus ishiii (a Japanese wasp), and Semicytherura miii (an ostracod). PAIONIIIYA-TSURO is a marine channel in Micronesia. With hyphens removed, Yli-Ii, a village in Finland, becomes YLIII. NSNTISIII CHAUNG is a place name in Burma. In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, a physician suggested WIIITIS as a term for shoulder pain caused by excessive playing of the Nintendo video game Wii. [Gary Rosenberg, Charles Turner, Juozas Rimas, Paul Wright]

In Romanian, some plurals are formed with an ending i. The same letter is also used as a particle that means “of the.” As a result, words like “copil” (child) and “fiu” (son) can result in words like COPIII (of the children, or children’s) and FIII (of the sons) [Rodrigo Perez].

KKK. PIKKKULA is a village in Estonia, literally "long village" [Juozas Rimas].

LLL. FRILLLESS (having no frill) is in the OED2 and WALLLESS is in W2 [Stuart Kidd]. At least two scientific papers refer to a WELLLESS microarray platform in the context of microarray experiments where the compounds to be tested are not segregated into wells [Jason Leith]. CHURCHILLLAAN (Churchill Lane) is the name of a street in Amsterdam and some other Dutch cites. SOLLLEISTUNG is not easily found in a German dictionary because it is attributed to Eastern Germany and probably not an official word. Its meaning is "the amount of work or exertion dictated in advance" [Oscar van Vlijmen]. STILLLEBEN is a German word for "still life." Heinz Lueneburg provided this as an example of words with triple letters made possible by a recent spelling reform. He writes that triple letters occur only in compound words, as Still-leben, Schiff-fahrt, Fett-troepfchen. CHILLLOSS has been suggested, although it is not in any dictionary. Gary Rosenberg says SHELLLESS is "a word that I keep trying to slip into professional papers (I'm a malacologist by trade), but so far no editor has let it stand."

MMM. In German, KAMMMACHER means "a person producing combs" [Gerd Baron]. In the OED2, MMM and MMMM are in citations, meaning "expressing satisfaction" [Philip Bennett].

According to Jesse Kellerman, in Hebrew MMMON (pronounced "mimamon") means "from money." It appears in a medieval commentary to the Talmud, tractate Gittin (and probably elsewhere).

NNN. According to Gerd Baron, in German KENNNUMMER means "a marking number." In the OED2, CONNNINGE is a variant spelling of cunning [Philip Bennett]. BRENNNESSEL is German for “stinging nettle,” according to Roger Fenton, who says he has seen BRENNNESSELSENF on the label for a specialty mustard.

OOO. LAPAROHYSTEROSALPINGOOOPHORECTOMY (removal of the female reproductive organs) appears in Mrs. Byrne’ Dictionary. With hyphens removed, Kaansoo-Oja, an Estonian populated place, becomes KAANSOOOJA. SOOOTSA is a village in Estonia, literally "end of a bog. Other place names are BOOON (Somalia), NGOOOLO (South Africa), and OOOLBOOL (Russia). [Juozas Rimas, Paul Wright]

PPP. Kit Senior writes, "In German, KREPPPAPIER (meaning 'crepe paper') is admissible in the new spelling reform. For those Germans who still feel uncomfortable with triple letters, it can also be spelled 'Krepp-Papier'. The old spelling would have been 'Kreppapier'." In the OED2, PPP is an abbreviation "pianissimo."

RRR. BRRR (an interjection expressive of shivering) is in the OED2. GRRRL is in the Macquarie Dictionary, as an alternate spelling of GRRL [Charles Turner].

SSS. GODDESSSHIP is the only word in RHUD2 with a triple letter (this word is spelled goddess-ship in W3). The OED2 has BOSSSHIP, COUNTESSSHIP, DUCHESSSHIP, GOVERNESSSHIP, HOSTESSSHIP, and POSTMISTRESSSHIP. W2 has GODDESSSHIP, HEADMISTRESSSHIP, and PATRONESSSHIP. Shakespeare used HOSTESSSHIP in Act IV, scene iv of The Winter’ Tale. BRASSSMITH has been suggested, although it is not in any dictionary [Stuart Kidd]. The mathematician J. H. Conway has suggested the term UNLESSS meaning "precisely unless," the opposite of IFF [Mark Brader].

Maßstab (German for "scale of a map") in all caps is MASSSTAB. FLUSSSTRECKE and FLUSSSENKE are found in German, as are FLUSSSCHIFFFAHRT ("navigation on a river"; two triplets in one word), GROSSSTADT, and HEISSSPORN ("a person with a and HEISSSPORN ("a person with a quick temper") [Gerd Baron, Paul Wright]. In Dutch there is POSTTRAUMATISCH STRESSSYNDROOM although this can also be spelled stress-syndroom [Benjamin Kloër]. In The Hague, Holland, there are two streets called the 1ST MESSSTRAAT and the 2ND MESSSTRAAT. (Mess = the kitchen on board of a ship; straat = street) [Richard Eisenberger]. Ross-shire, Scotland, is sometimes spelled ROSSSHIRE.

TTT. FETTTRIEFEND, SCHRITTTEMPO, FETTTROPFEN, and WETTTURNEN are found in German [Oscar van Vlijmen, Paul Wright]. Also in German, BETTTUCH means "a sheet for the bed" [Gerd Baron].

The OED2 has the misprint TODDY-CUTTTER, as the citations of the word show it spelled toddy-cutter. (The triple-T appears at least in the OED2 CD, version 1.14 and the printed OED2. The print version of OED1 has double-T [Philip Bennett, Stuart Kidd].

UUU. WUNUUUNEN WUNNUFA is a point in Micronesia [Juozas Rimas]. VERTUUUS and UUULA are early spellings of virtuous and uvula in the OED [Stuart Kidd].

YYY. YAYYY is given as a a variant spelling of yay! in the OED. YYYEZU appears in the Official Standard Names Gazetteer, USSR, as does KYYYY, a variant of KYYY [Stuart Kidd].

ZZZ. In Dutch JAZZZANGER means "jazz singer," although the word can also be spelled jazz-zanger [Benjamin Kloër]. ZZZQUIL is an over-the-counter sleep aid.


QUADRUPLE (AND BEYOND) LETTERS

The Swedish village of Råå, not far from Helsingborg north of Malmö, has a river running through it, called Rååån (å means small river, and -n is the definite article). Eels fished out of this river are called Råååål, usually with a hyphen, Rååå-ål [Jan Wiklund].

The first citation for "iiwi" in the OED is from 1779: "The birds of these islands are as beautiful as any we have seen... Another is of an exceeding bright scarlet colour;..its native name is eeeeve.

ESSSSE (an obsolete form of ashes) is in the OED2.

LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGOGERYCHWYRNDROBWLLLLANTYSILIOGOGOGOCH, a town in North Wales, has been described here as having 4 consecutive L’. However, Alex Willcox writes: "I've just been looking through the article on multiple letters, and as a Welshman, I'm afraid I must take exception to the assertion that the name 'Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch' contains four consecutive 'L’. In the Welsh alphabet, 'Ll' is one letter, completely separate, and pronounced differently to 'L'. (Other examples are 'Ch', 'Dd', 'Ff', 'Ng' and 'Th'.) As such, there are not four consecutive 'L’, but rather a double 'Ll'."

Roger Fenton writes, “Alex Willcox is quite right about the so-called quadruple L. In the same vein, Welsh has BLAIDDDDYN (or BLAIDD-DDYN), = “werewolf”. Under normal circumstances double letters are forbidden in Welsh, except for ‘N’ and ‘R’, but they can occur at the boundaries between elements of a compound (BLAIDD-DDYN) or the boundaries between an affix and the main word (CYNORTHWY-YDD = “assistant”). It’s only in these cases that Welsh has what seem to foreigners to be triple or quadruple consonants. When apparently double (except ‘N’ and ‘R’), triple or quadruple letters appear, spelling rule require a hyphen to separate them (e.g., AD-DREFNI = “rearrange”; AD-DDOSBARTHIAD = “redistribution”). In the case of doubled vowels, there is the alternative of a diaeresis over the second vowel (CYNORTHWYŸDD).”

JÄÄÄÄRNE is an Estonian word meaning "the edge of the ice." It has four Ä’ in a row [Guinness]. KUUUURIJA is an Estonian word meaning "moon explorer." However, the words are usually hyphenated as jää-äärne and kuu-uurija [Mikko Jokelainen, Juozas Rimas].

BRRRR (an interjection expressive of shivering) is in the OED2.

According to Scott Oglesby, Japanese has a word for princess that can be romanized JOOOO. [Shaney Crawford suggests JOOO is more commonly accepted, however.]

COOKKOOOOSE are the tribes of the Kusan Indian family in the F.W. Hodge Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. [Paul Wright]

ZEE-EEND is the newer spelling of a Dutch word meaning "sea duck." Under the older spelling it was ZEEËEND.

Pot-8-Os or POTOOOOOOOO was a famous 18th century thoroughbred racehorse.


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