I am referring to phrases such as: "Do you like her, or do you like like her." Can someone provide an explanation of this? There are many more examples but none come to mind at the moment.

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    Perhaps my favourite of these is hot hot, as opposed to spicy hot. – Stuart Cook Sep 27 '11 at 10:59
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    I don't think this phenomenon always involves the doubling of words - sometimes a phrase is just repeated with extra emphasis the second time... "Do you like her, or do you LIKE her?" – Waggers Sep 27 '11 at 11:20
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    I agree Waggers. I think the extra emphasis would imply the same thing as the doubled word with extra emphasis. – Mark Sep 27 '11 at 11:27

The doubling of the word implies that both the reader and writer (or speaker and listener) understand that there are two different meanings for the word in question. It's something that is far more often used in speech than writing as it's possible to put a much more subtle emphasis on each word. In the case you mention, of course, the first meaning of like is "do you like her as a person" and the second "do you find her attractive". Other examples that spring to mind (in addition to the hot (temperature) and hot (spicy) that Stuart mentioned) are funny (either amusing or strange), see (literally or in a romantic sense) and the verb "to take out" (to take on a date or to kill/execute). The latter was used to great comic effect in the film "Pulp Fiction" where John Travolta's character is asked to "take out" the boss' wife.

  • great answer. do you know a term that describes this? – Mark Sep 27 '11 at 11:59
  • I don't, but I wouldn't argue with JoseK's word 'antanaclasis' - it seems to describe it well – Matt Sep 27 '11 at 12:18
  • @Matt: +1 for a great answer; but I’m not sure I’d agree that antanaclasis describes this. There, both the meanings are actually being used. Here, the doubling is used to pick out which one of the meanings is actually intended. – PLL Nov 17 '11 at 22:44
  • @Mark - the specific term for this patten is Contrastive Reduplication, asked and answered here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/119134/… – JoshDM Jul 15 '13 at 19:43

This is known as epizeuxis (also called diacope), a process of joining words in immediate succession for vehemence or emphasis.

In the examples provided by the wiki link, it was used by William Shakespeare. Whether it dates back prior to that, for example, Homer is unknown. Being a Greek word, you would think so but, I would have to check my literature.

  • Great info, though I think my posted example is different. I wasn't referring to doubling for emphasis, like "really really cold," or "cold cold cold," I was referring to the doubled word implying a different meaning. "Do you like like her?" means do you like her in a special way as opposed to in the normal way. – Mark Sep 27 '11 at 9:01
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    Fair enough. I thought that I'd just try, try my luck.... ;-) – Bill Sep 27 '11 at 9:04
  • P.S. You may also try this link. You may have better luck there. – Bill Sep 27 '11 at 9:06
  • Didn't find what I was looking for but learned a lot. – Mark Sep 27 '11 at 9:13
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    @Mark - I think this is just a special case of emphasis. It could be emphasised in other ways - stressing the word etc. - that would all in that case change the meaning. I guess "like like" is being used to mean "really like" which in a sentence like that is implying like in a romantic/sexual manner. – neil Sep 27 '11 at 10:04

I'm going for antanaclasis

Antanaclasis is when a single word is repeated multiple times, but each time with a different meaning

Some examples similar to the manner you're using it in

"If you don't get it, you don't get it." —The Washington Post slogan

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." - attributed to Groucho Marx

  • Very interesting but you're talking about a type of pun, and I'm referring to adding stress to imply a similar, yet slightly altered meaning. – Mark Sep 27 '11 at 11:57

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