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It came from an episode of Big Bang Theory; when Penny gets hurt, and asks Sheldon to be more comforting, he starts the conversation with "there, there."

What does that mean?

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The odd thing is that, whereas "there, there" is used as an expression of comfort, "now, now" can be used as a mild remonstrance, and "well, well" and "my, my" to express something equivalent to "how about that?" – Sven Yargs Nov 1 '15 at 5:25
up vote 12 down vote accepted

The Wiktionary explains it in the best way possible:

there, there: (idiomatic) Conveys comfort; used to calm somebody or urge somebody to relax, especially when the person is crying.

There, there. Even though you broke up with her, you'll be fine.

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The point of having Sheldon use the phrase is that it doesn't convey comfort. It's a platitude, but he's too socially awkward to come up with anything that might actually help Penny. – Paul Spangle Nov 30 '11 at 12:08

"There, there" is generally a phrase used while consoling someone. It is usually followed with something that might be able to lift the sad person's spirits. It's similar to "now, now."

There, there, it's okay. We can fix your broken toy.

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The Wiktionary explains it in the best way possible:

there, there: (idiomatic) Conveys comfort; used to calm somebody or urge somebody to relax, especially when the person is crying.

It's Like "Cup Cup" In Indonesia

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Thank you for your interest in English Language & Usage. Unfortunately, except for the mention of an equivalent Indonesian term, your answer repeats a quotation that RiMMER included in his answer back in 2011. To avoid clogging EL&U with duplicate answers, please check other answers before submitting an answer of your own. And if you see an answer that is substantially the same as yours, consider posting the points of difference as a comment (when you have accumulated enough reputation points on this site to leave them) or refraining from responding at all. – Sven Yargs Nov 1 '15 at 5:32

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