In this thread, there's an example based on the dual meaning of the word field.

field = a specialty
field = an area to be filled

Given the above, while still not very intuitively easy to understand, I wonder if it's correct to say:

"Have you seen the field field?"

when referring to a discovery of a text box to be filled out by the actual name of ones professional specialty.


I've noticed several replies trying to help me with the reformulation, which I appreciate. However, and I'm to blame for not being clear enough probably, the question is really whether it's correct or just awkward to use field field.

The reason for this is the following.

  • The first field is a string that a user of a computer program inputs elsewhere. It can be used in a range of various context. So, I have no control of it what so ever. Besides, if we change field for industry, it's possible that somewhere in the program, there's a situation where we get industry industry instead of the current field industry.
  • The second field is called that way per industry standard. When describing it to a human being, we can use synonyms and explanations but in the context of computer programming, one's expected to use the name even if it may sound awkward. So we get something like "it fell of a truck truck truck" (referring The Simpsons).
  • 2
    I would have said I question whether a question about whether it's "correct" to use the same word twice with different meanings in the same utterance is really appropriate for ELU. But in the circumstances I suppose that might lay me open to accusations of having double standards. Aug 1, 2013 at 19:34
  • @FumbleFingers, imagine a field for "field" that appears in red when there is a misspelled word in it. Could you say you read a red field field? And, following that, you read a read red field field? :)
    – JeffSahol
    Aug 1, 2013 at 19:51
  • Why not "field textbox" or "field input"?
    – Charles
    Aug 1, 2013 at 21:05
  • @Charles Please note that the question is not "how to say it more well" but rather "is this well enough". Aug 2, 2013 at 5:27
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    The problem for me is, that "field field" can be a field where you fill in your field or (and that's hard to describe) a specialty in fields (which could be text boxes or acres). So it works, if at all, only in a clear context.
    – skymningen
    Aug 2, 2013 at 6:13

3 Answers 3


It is perfectly normal to say "address field" and "name field"; why would it be incorrect to say "field field?" If you are concerned about clarity, for the specific question asked, this may be a case where one resorts to using quotes or perhaps treating the name of the field as a proper name:

The "field" field.


The Field field.

One can be more expansive than that, but for an error message on a form, real estate is expensive and either of the above would be minimum alterations for clarity.


Sure, you can say that, though it's very awkward.

I'd strongly recommend choosing a different word to describe what kind of field this is, if you want to avoid confusion. Even in your question you used specialty, which seems like a pretty good choice here.

Have you seen the specialty field?

Sounds much more natural.

There are other options listed in the linked question. Industry and sector are both good alternatives.

  • Or use a synonym for the second "field": Have you seen the input for field?
    – JeffSahol
    Aug 1, 2013 at 19:31
  • @JeffSahol That's the standard in my field (hehe, my industry, that is) to use field specifically, so this part can't be rephrased. And the problem is that the first part of the field field is automatically generated based on user input elsewhere so I have no control over it. I'll have to leave with this awkwardness but I needed to know if it's an awkward expression or an incorrect and awkward expression. Aug 2, 2013 at 5:32

There's nothing incorrect about using homonyms together in a sentence. The classic example:

"Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a grammatically correct sentence in American English, used as an example of how homonyms and homophones can be used to create complicated linguistic constructs.

Of course, sentences like this are a novelty at best, unreadable at worst. Reword if you can, or at least find ways to distinguish between the homonyms in writing. In this case, you can take advantage of the use-mention distinction to highlight the field name: the “field” field, or the field field.

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    I don't understand what the bunch of buffalos is supposed to mean. Care to elaborate? I'm guessing that the capitalized one is a city name, while the other is the animal but I'm not getting the meaning... Aug 2, 2013 at 19:23
  • The Wikipedia link explains it in detail. There's a third meaning of buffalo, a verb meaning "to bully." Aug 2, 2013 at 20:16
  • Ah, got it now. I only saw the other link, about the cheese. That was a great answer to my question. Exactly what I meant: "Disregarding that it's incomprehensible and weirdly looking, is it at all correct English expression?" Aug 3, 2013 at 7:51

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