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For example, someone might say "That happens to me every single time I go there," when they could say "That happens to me every time I go there." Is it just a way of emphasizing the word "every"?

When spoken with anger or frustration, the first syllables are emphasized. It can be spoken as "ev'ery sing'le time" in a syncopated rhythm, like pounding a table with a fist.

But does the word "single" carry any extra meaning, or is it just a way of underlining "every" (and "single" is redundant)?

Edit: The same question goes for "every last", even though it isn't as rhythmic. Thanks to V.V. for finding this similar idiom.

  • Just emphasis, as though the speaker had counted each time and is recounting them with every (single?) blow of his fist on the table. Kinda like "each and every time." – deadrat Oct 20 '15 at 0:17
  • If you're a writer and paid by the word, and each word is one dollar, then the difference would be one dollar. Otherwise, just a little extra emphasis, completely useless and rather in bad taste. – Ricky Oct 20 '15 at 0:35
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"Every single"means ' everyone without exception ' Oxford Guide to English Grammar J.Eastwood.Every single child was given a medal.

  • +1 for the reference, but Merriam-Webster gives the same definition for the word "every": being each individual or part of a group without exception. So isn't the word "single" redundant? – Brent Washburne Oct 21 '15 at 15:52
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    Dictionary of American Idioms.Every single(last) used for emphasis. – V.V. Oct 21 '15 at 19:32
  • I am not quite sure what your meaning of "redundant " includes.I wouldn't use the word because though there seems to be no additional meaning an additional usage is obvious. – V.V. Oct 22 '15 at 5:03
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Since 'every' is a singular quantifier, 'single' is redundant. Redundant words are used for emphasis. 'Every', 'all', 'any', and sometimes 'each' are universal quantifiers. They specify all members of a set. 'No' is also universal because it specifies all members of the set formed by the inverse of a certain set. The following are equivalent: All Xs are Y. {ex: All cats are mammals.} Any X is Y. Each X is Y. {assuming no subset of Xs was recently mentioned} Every X is Y. No X is not Y. Redundant combinations, such as 'each and every single ...' merely emphasize that the reference is to all members.

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    Any source or reference for your answer? – Brent Washburne Oct 21 '15 at 21:40

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