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Jun 13, 2016
This week’s theme
Reduplicatives

This week’s words
hugger-mugger
argle-bargle
hoity-toity
tussie-mussie
hurly-burly

“Words are the small change of thought.” ~Jules Renard
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Some call them ricochet words, others clone words, but linguists call them reduplicatives. I’m talking about terms such as blah-blah or mishmash. Sometimes a word is repeated exactly (pooh-pooh, blah-blah), other times with a change in a letter (itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie).

From chit-chat to flip-flop and bye-bye to zig-zag, we use such terms every day. This week we’ll look at some of the more uncommon reduplicatives.

hugger-mugger

PRONUNCIATION:
(HUHG-uhr MUHG-uhr)

MEANING:
noun: 1. Confusion. 2. Secrecy.
adjective: 1. Confused. 2. Secret.
verb tr., intr.: To keep secret or act in a secretive manner.
adverb: 1. Secretly. 2. Confusingly.

ETYMOLOGY:
Of uncertain origin. Perhaps from reduplication of Middle English mokeren (to hoard or conceal). Earliest documented use: 1529.

USAGE:
“The ancient mud-brick flanks of the Red Fort rose from a hugger-mugger of chai stalls, around which cycle rickshaws and tuk-tuks jockeyed for a functionally useless position.”
Will Self; Real Meals; New Statesman (London, UK); Jan 22, 2016.

“Mark Rylance [is] a Russian spy at the center of all the Cold War hugger-mugger in ‘Bridge of Spies’.”
Steven Rea; So, Who Did Get the Nod?; Philadelphia Daily News (Pennsylvania); Jan 15, 2016.

See more usage examples of hugger-mugger in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. -William Butler Yeats, writer, Nobel laureate (13 Jun 1865-1939)

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