An advert for BBC iPlayer read [I've dropped the comma]:

Making the unmissable unmissable.

The first 'unmissable' obviously has the sense 'too good to miss', and the second 'always accessible' - but they're polysemes, different senses of the same word.

This is neither the reduplication for emphasis of say 'very, very small', nor that used for establishing the authenticity of a referent as in say 'coffee coffee'. And the use of different polysemes in close proximity is usually best avoided:

?It's odd that all the numbers are odd.

*It's a hurricane but not a hurricane. ['It's a hurricane but not a hurricane hurricane' works.]

'He wears short shorts' is a famous pairing, but here, the polysemes are intercategorial.

Are there any other idiomatic usages of different polysemes?

  • This is a really interesting question. I'd like to know if there's a name for the polyseme pairing unmissable unmissable. – anongoodnurse Sep 29 '14 at 19:49
  • Are you ruling out contrived examples as found in What are some examples of awkward sounding but grammatically correct sentences?, or that we could invent here— Port port to the port port (i.e. transport fortified Douro wine to the harbor to the left of the ship's bow) or flight flight's flight flight (i.e. the disappearance via air travel of a beverage sample intended for airline consumption)? No one would speak or write this way except for effect, but the individual usages are entirely ordinary. – choster Sep 29 '14 at 20:07
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    @EdwinAshworth Are you saying that it's not not a pun? – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 30 '14 at 13:09
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    But these are not distinct polysemes, they're identical (except that the first two show intercategorial, noun-adjective, variation). (And how can the king be appointed king?) – Edwin Ashworth Sep 30 '14 at 16:05
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    I think that that is an excellent question, but that this is not an answer. – Chenmunka Oct 1 '14 at 20:37

JP Morgan Chase has a branch at the side of the river which is extremely reliable. You can bank on the bank bank.

The robbers stole all sorts of garden goods from the store and need someone to sell them. They need a fence fence.

He was short of cash and all he had was an expensive bejeweled chess set. he can't part with it all, and wants it back eventually. So he pawns pawns to get some money.

Elton John wears some really freaky eye wear, but it is just to draw attention to himself. His shows are just spectacles spectacles.

I've tried some new open source spreadsheet programs. No more Microsoft for me. The free ones all excel Excel.

The recording studio makes demos straight to vinyl. The engineer records records.

The sign painter made a mistake. He painted "Bonnie, and, Clyde." But we all know there is no comma between Bonnie and and and and and Clyde.

--- ADDITION ---

With the discussion above on oddness, even-ness and math, I thought I'd add another.

A prime number is a number with only two divisors, 1 and itself. However, one might say that 1 is the prime prime, since it has only one divisor.

  • +1; examples 2 and 4 certainly meet all requirements. I think the 'banks' are homonyms, some are intercategorial, and the last one is a use-mention naughtiness. These things seem very rare. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 6 '14 at 16:09

I am not sure how idiomatic this is, but:

Zero is an odd odd number; it's not even even.

  • Mathematically speaking, it's incorrect: zero is even (residue class zero modulo 2). The two 'even's are different parts of speech (scalar focus particle (!) and adjective). 'Odd odd' is a true example, or would be if one could find a good way to use it. 'Zero is an odd even number' is perhaps true, but 'one is an odd odd number' is probably unjustifiable. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 6 '14 at 14:49
  • Mathematically speaking you are of course correct. Then again, I am sure a number theorist could name any number of odd odd numbers, and perhaps even even odd numbers. – Mark Shovman Oct 6 '14 at 15:01
  • ... perhaps even odd even numbers? – Edwin Ashworth Oct 6 '14 at 16:02

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