From this question,

This is a ship-shipping ship, shipping shipping ships.

enter image description here

The second to last word shipping seems to be redundant. Is it necessary? Does the sentence still preserve the same meaning if it is omitted? Would a general ship be any different than a shipping ship?

  • 3
    Well, a ship could be used for travel, leisure, battle (i.e. a battleship), reconnoissance, etc. But more important is that the reduplication enhances the humor. That's the point. (Absent the humor, the second clause, and in fact the entire meme, is technically "unnecessary").
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 15:06
  • Even if it were redundant, it's still having fun with the language, and that's a legitimate reason for having the word.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 15:15
  • Parsing the sentence are you asking essentially "Aren't all ships made for shipping and therefore 'shipping ships'?"? or "Isn't 'shipping ship' redundant since it is already in the name 'ship' that it does shipping?"? Or "Are there non-shipping ships?"?
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 16:12
  • the last one best describes my question I think. Are there any non-shipping ships? Or, what would be the difference between saying "That is a ship" and "That is a shipping ship" ?
    – user13267
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 16:33
  • 1
    There are, indeed, non-shipping ships: destroyers, cruisers, guided-missile cruisers, submarines, and aircraft carriers. Also, trawlers, seafood processing ships, and ships of any type which have sunk are no longer shipping ships, as they do not move, though some of those may be known as a "former shipping ships". The difference between "that is a ship", and "that is a shipping ship" is that the former includes some naval vessels, and fishing ships, while the latter does not.
    – brasshat
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 18:22

2 Answers 2


Your sentence is

This is a ship-shipping ship, shipping shipping ships.

The last shipping is an adjective, describing what kind of ships are being shipped. The second to the last shipping is the verb of that clause (the present participle of ship). It's not redundant*, as there are other kinds of ships.

It could be rewritten (and keeping the meaning)

This is a ship-carrying ship, shipping cargo ships.

  • 1
    What exactly is a shipping ship? A cargo ship?
    – user13267
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 15:11
  • @user13267 - The one in the picture is a shipping ship for sure. There are cargo ships (they ship carge), there are passenger ships (they ship passengers), etc. Mostly, as Dan Bron stated, this is a humorous use of the words. Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 15:16
  • Why do you say your rewrite changes the meaning? I think they are saying a "shipping" ship to mean cargo ship (as opposed to battleships, cruise ships, etc). A battleship would be a "fighting" ship, a cruise ship might be a "partying" ship and a cargo ship would be a "shipping" ship. Because when we talk about "shipping" stuff we're talking about cargo being moved. Not that anyone ever says "shipping ship", but the meaning is clear as a parallel construction. Or, so I think--do you disagree?
    – msouth
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 23:19
  • 1
    @msouth - I have to agree with you. I must have meant without changing the meaning. :-/ Thanks. Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 23:25

Yes, it's necessary. The whole point of the sentence is to see how many times a form of the word "ship" could occur in a single sentence. In that sense, it's akin to

Where James had had had John had had had had had had had had the teachers approval.

or properly punctuated

Where James had had "had", John had had "had had"; "had had" had had the teacher's approval.

  • 3
    Sure, but that doesn't answer the question about if or how the second to last 'shipping' is meaningful.
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 16:10
  • The meaning of the original sentence is of little consequence to the exercise. Lack of context of the OP limits my opinion on the matter, but if my suspicion is correct, the sentence is an exercise, perhaps for amusement. The second to last "shipping" is meaningful because it adds one more iteration of a form of the base quadrad (ship). Some indication that this is the case can be derived from the original site name, discernable above the last iteration of "ship"--"bigfun.be"
    – brasshat
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 18:18

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