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Siamese twins (English language)

Siamese twins (also irreversible binomials, binomials, binomial pairs, freezes) in the context of the English language refers to a pair or grouping of words that is used together as an idiomatic expression or collocation, usually conjoined by the words and or or, and the order of elements cannot be reversed. The expression take it or leave it is an example of Siamese twins.

The ordering of Siamese twins is important. If the order is reversed, then the conjoined elements lose their idiomatic meaning. Hence, it is always take it or leave it but never leave it or take it. A Siamese twins phrase has a single, distinctive meaning.

Origin

The term Siamese twins originates with Chang and Eng Bunker, the conjoined twins from Siam. In the context of the English language, this word was first used and popularised by H. W. Fowler, a renowned lexicographer.

Conjunction

The most common conjunctions used in a phrase that constitutes Siamese twins are and or or.

Examples of Siamese twins with "and" as the conjunction

  • airs and graces
  • alive and kicking
  • an arm and a leg
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • back and forth
  • bacon and beans
  • Barbie and Ken
  • be-all and end-all
  • bells and whistles
  • Ben and Jen
  • bit and bridle
  • bits and bobs
  • bitter and twisted
  • black and blue
  • blood and guts
  • bottled beer and oysters
  • bow and arrow
  • boys and girls
  • bubble and squeak
  • by and large
  • cap and gown
  • cat and mouse
  • cats and dogs
  • clean and tidy
  • cocaine and waffles
  • crash and burn
  • crimson and clover
  • Darby and Joan
  • dotting I's and crossing T's
  • down and out

  • drawn and quartered
  • far and away
  • far and wide
  • fast and loose
  • fingers and thumbs
  • fish and chips
  • gismos and gadgets
  • grin and bear it
  • ham and cheese
  • hammer and sickle
  • hammer and tongs
  • hard and fast
  • heaven and hell
  • here and there
  • hide and seek
  • high and dry
  • high and mighty
  • home and dry
  • hot and cold
  • hugs and kisses
  • husband and wife
  • in and out
  • intents and purposes
  • Jack and Jill
  • king and queen
  • knife and fork
  • ladies and gentlemen
  • lavender and old lace
  • law and order

  • live and let live
  • loaves and fishes
  • lock and load
  • lost and found
  • loud and clear
  • love and war
  • make and mend
  • man and boy
  • man and wife
  • meat and potatoes
  • meet and greet
  • men and women
  • mice and men
  • milk and honey
  • mother and father
  • mum and dad
  • night and day
  • nook and cranny
  • nuts and bolts
  • odds and ends
  • off and away
  • old and new
  • once and for all
  • P's and Q's
  • peanut butter and jelly
  • peas and carrots
  • pros and cons
  • rock and roll
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • shake and bake

  • shits and giggles
  • sick and tired
  • skin and bone
  • song and dance
  • Sonny and Cher
  • spick and span
  • spit and polish
  • stop and go
  • Sturm und Drang
  • sweetness and light
  • tea and crumpets
  • then and there
  • there and then
  • thick and thin
  • thunder and lightning
  • time and again
  • time and time again
  • to and fro
  • Tom and Huck
  • tooth and nail
  • touch and go
  • trial and error
  • up and about
  • up and coming
  • up and down
  • warts and all
  • wine and roses
  • yes and no

Examples of Siamese twins with "or" or "nor" or as the conjunction

  • all or nothing
  • day or night
  • do or die
  • (neither) fish nor fowl
  • (neither) hide nor hair
  • kill or cure
  • (neither) love nor money
  • make or break
  • more or less
  • one way or another
  • rain or shine
  • sink or swim
  • sooner or later
  • take it or leave it
  • yes or no
  • (neither) here nor there
  • fight or flight

Structure

The structure of any Siamese twins phrase has words that are related in some way or the other. The words comprising a Siamese twins phrase may be synonyms, antonyms, include alliterations or similar-sounding words. Other varieties of Siamese twins may also be possible.

Examples of Siamese twins employing antonyms

  • back to front
  • beginning to end
  • better or worse
  • black and white
  • cops and robbers
  • coming and going
  • Cowboys and Indians
  • dawn till dusk
  • dead or alive
  • floor to ceiling
  • food and drink
  • give and take
  • give or take
  • heads or tails
  • hide and seek
  • high and low
  • hit and miss
  • in and out
  • inside out
  • life or death
  • near and far
  • now and then
  • pros and cons
  • pirates and ninjas
  • rank and file
  • start to finish
  • sweet and sour
  • to and fro
  • top to bottom
  • up and down
  • upside down
  • wax and wane
  • yes and no

Examples of Siamese twins employing synonyms

  • by hook or by crook (This originally referred to the right to gather firewood only by breaking off dry dead wood by hand, or with a blunt tool such as a crook or a hook; but sharp cutting tools were used so often furtively that the expression got its present meaning of "by any means at all".)
  • cease and desist
  • first and foremost
  • heart and soul
  • leaps and bounds
  • neat and tidy
  • nook and cranny
  • null and void
  • peace and quiet
  • pick and choose
  • prim and proper
  • rant and rave

Examples of Siamese twins employing alliteration

  • bag and baggage
  • belt and braces
  • the birds and the bees
  • black and blue
  • bread and butter
  • cash and carry
  • chalk and cheese (Although figuratively, these two words are used as antonyms)
  • fast and furious
  • fun and frolics
  • fur and feathers
  • hearth and home
  • hem and haw
  • kith and kin
  • part and parcel
  • pillar to post
  • rest and recreation (a.k.a. R'n'R)
  • rest and relaxation (a.k.a. R'n'R)
  • rough and ready
  • safe and sound
  • sixes and sevens
  • spick and span
  • stars and stripes
  • sugar and spice
  • top and tail

Examples of Siamese twins employing similar-sounding words

  • box and cox
  • chalk and talk
  • flotsam and jetsam
  • handy-dandy
  • hither and thither
  • hoi polloi
  • huff and puff
  • hustle and bustle
  • meet and greet
  • namby-pamby
  • pell mell
  • odds and sods
  • onwards and upwards
  • out and about
  • shout and clout
  • time and tide
  • wear and tear
  • willy-nilly
  • wine and dine

Examples of Siamese twins employing the same word twice

  • again and again
  • around and around
  • back to back
  • bumper to bumper
  • cheek to cheek
  • (on the) up and up
  • elbow to elbow
  • eye to eye
  • face to face
  • hand in hand
  • hand to hand
  • head to head
  • heart to heart
  • little by little
  • man to man
  • more and more
  • mouth to mouth
  • neck and neck
  • on and on
  • out and out
  • over and over
  • side by side
  • side to side
  • so and so
  • step by step
  • strength to strength
  • such and such
  • through and through
  • time after time
  • (from) time to time
  • wall to wall
  • woman to woman

Examples of Siamese twins from Rhyming slang

  • Adam and Eve
  • apples and pears
  • bottle and glass
  • Brahms and Liszt
  • dog and bone
  • frog and toad
  • north and south
  • rabbit and pork
  • trouble and strife
  • two and eight
  • whistle and flute

Variants

Siamese twins occurring as a pair (that is, having two words occurring together) are also known as binomials. If the variant has three words occurring together, it is also known as a trinomial.

Examples of trinomials

  • Big, fat, and ugly
  • Blood, sweat and tears
  • Cool, calm and collected
  • Ear, nose and throat (E.N.T.)
  • Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
  • Here, there and everywhere
  • Hook, line and sinker
  • Hop, skip and jump
  • Judge, jury and executioner
  • Lock, stock and barrel
  • Nasty, brutish and short
  • Red, white and blue
  • Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll
  • Tall, dark, and handsome
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly
  • Tom, Dick and Harry
  • Shake, Rattle and Roll
  • Snap, Crackle and Pop

See also

Collocation

References and external links

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