What is a word called that consists of a repetition of one word?

I came across the word polypoly in one of the other question asked on the site, and it got me thinking whether there are other English words that are made up of a word or part of a word repeated in the same way that polypoly is made up of poly + poly. Can you please provide examples also?

  • 1
    The word was actually polyopoly, if I remember correctly, not polypoly. – Pockets May 21 '14 at 22:53
  • I think both are acceptable spellings, according to the post anyway: english.stackexchange.com/questions/171868/… – Michael Lai May 21 '14 at 23:41
  • This question is not too broad. He said "some" examples, we cannot list all of them obviously. Also, we know what it is called now so more examples can be searched. There are similar list-request questions in the past that is open also. – ermanen May 22 '14 at 0:14
  • @Michael Lai: You may modify the question title and body to ask what this formation is called instead of asking for examples only. And you can ask for some examples in the question body. – ermanen May 22 '14 at 0:27
  • They'll be matched by the regexp ^(.*)-?\1$ – Nate Eldredge May 22 '14 at 1:34

This is called reduplication. If you repeat the whole word (or lexeme), it is called full reduplication. There is usually a hyphen in between. (For example: go-go)

There is a list of English reduplications here:

Full reduplication examples:

  • boo-boo
  • bye-bye
  • cancan
  • chop-chop
  • gee-gee
  • jaw-jaw
  • licky-licky
  • moo-moo
  • murmur
  • nulla-nulla
  • pee-pee
  • pompom
  • poo-poo
  • pooh-pooh
  • rah-rah
  • tartar
  • dodo
  • lulu
  • tutu
  • juju
  • papa
  • couscous
  • tete
  • coco
  • dik-dik
  • beriberi
  • 5
    ... and a look-alike: hotshots – Edwin Ashworth May 21 '14 at 23:14
  • @Edwin: Great example! Maybe we can call it pseudo-reduplication :) – ermanen May 21 '14 at 23:15
  • Tartar is another example of a word that looks superficially like reduplication (tar + tar). – snailcar May 21 '14 at 23:28
  • 1
    @teylyn: Loan words are English also. – ermanen May 22 '14 at 1:05
  • 3
    It may be worth noting that testes is not reduplicated, but rather the plural form of testis. – Anonym May 22 '14 at 1:59

To supplement ermanen's list, I note these from Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003):

ack-ack (n.)

agar-agar (n.)

atlatl (n.)

aye-aye (n.)

Berber (n.)

bonbon (n.)

buddy-buddy (adj.)

bulbul (n.)

caracara (n.)

cha-cha (n.)

chowchow (n.—the relish not the dog, which is spelled chow chow)

dumdum (n.—the bullet)

dum-dum (n.—the nitwit)

gaga (adj.)

go-go (adj.)

goody-goody (adj.)

goo-goo (adj. & n.)

gris-gris (n.)

ha-ha (interj.)

ha-ha (n.—a sunk fence)

lavalava (n.—has nothing to do with volcanic lava)

mau-mau (v.)

meme (n.)

motmot (n.)

mumu (n., from MW's Unabridged dictionary)

no-no (n.)

pawpaw (n.)

so-so (adj. & adv.)

tsetse (n.)

tut-tut (interj. & v.)

For some reason, Merriam-Webster's doesn't acknowledge the reality of hubba-hubba. But I'm sure that there are others in the dictionary that I've missed...

  • +1 Thanks for the help :) I learned some new words also! – ermanen May 22 '14 at 2:14
  • Out of context and just scrolling, these answers are absolutely hilarious. – njboot May 22 '14 at 3:17
  • caca and maybe kaka
  • mama
  • mawmaw
  • dada
  • pawpaw
  • bonbon
  • put-put
  • wawa
  • wee-wee
  • mumu
  • har-har
  • haw-haw
  • chop-chop
  • BB
  • +1 for additions. kaka means poop in some other languages :) – ermanen May 22 '14 at 2:21

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