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Freebie means free things. Why is there a post-fix -bie? Does it have meaning itself?

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OED: "-bie, apparently an arbitrary rhyming extension" –  Gareth Rees Aug 27 '12 at 21:26
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So it is meaningless, isn't it? What are some other examples? –  Tim Aug 27 '12 at 21:29
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newbie is the first one off the top of my head. Doubtless more I can't think of at the moment. –  Sysyphus Aug 27 '12 at 21:37
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Some more meaningless reduplications: airy-fairy, chit-chat, easy-peasy, namby-pamby, higgledy-piggledy –  Gareth Rees Aug 27 '12 at 21:41
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Note you need SOMETHING to turn the adjective "free" into a noun. You could, of course, say "free product" or some such, but given that someone wanted to make a short, colloquial word, it's not hard to see how they would tack some suffix onto the end of "free". The idea of something that rhymes with "free" isn't a great mental leap. –  Jay Aug 28 '12 at 4:45

1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The slang word freebie is an example of a rhyming reduplication, which is the term for a word that repeats (possibly with modification) a part of the word stem at another place in the word. English rhyming reduplication often places the reduplicated part at the end of the word. That part does not generally have any real meaning. Other examples of rhyming reduplication include:

  • okey-dokey
  • helter-skelter
  • wingding
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