Reduplication is rare in English AFAIK. However, we do have phrasal terms that consist of rhyming words: hanky-panky, hokey-pokey, hotsy-totsy, hoity-toity, itty-bitty, teenie-weenie, and itsy-bitsy stand among them.

Are these examples of a sub-type of reduplication, or does this phenomenon have another name that can be used to denote it in the grammars of a variety of languages?


  • The short answer is yes, these are described as a kind of reduplication. For example, see "Hasan, H. (2002). Reduplication in English and Arabic: A Contrastive Study. A Supplement to the Journal of the Faculty of Education (Literary Section), Ain Shams University Cairo, Egypt, 179.” (via Google Scholar) Jul 11, 2020 at 0:22
  • Rhyming Reduplication as suggested by user6726. Jul 11, 2020 at 10:20
  • These frozen form idioms (note: *panky-hanky is impossible) are called freezes in Cooper and Ross's famous paper "World Order", which demonstrates both phonological and semantic aspects of such reduplication.
    – jlawler
    Jul 11, 2020 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


As a general rule, any copying of a part of a morpheme is classified as a kind of reduplication, as long as the operation is not purely phonologically conditioned (total vowel harmony across laryngeals is not treated as reduplication). This is treated as partial reduplication with fixed segmentism; it is also known as rhyming reduplication (to indicate which part is the same).

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