Is "lefty loosey, righty tighty" a clause?

Or what is "lefty loosey, righty tighty"?

Or what part of speech is "lefty loosey, righty tighty"?

Or what part of speech is each word in "lefty loosey, righty tighty"?

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  • 1
    It's a mnemonic motto, like Spring forward, Fall back. When we put together words to help us remember, they don't have to follow the same rules as ordinary talk. It's not part of an English sentence and thus has little or no grammar; in any event it's got no verb and no subject, so it's certainly not a clause.
    – jlawler
    Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 19:19
  • I think I've known or seen that it's a mnemonic but I think I was thinking or wondering if it is a phrase or a clause or a set phrase or a part of speech or I was thinking what it might be. Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


One explanation is all of the words in the mnemonic are adjectives, then this would be adjective phrases and certainly not a clause.

But my first instinct was to interpret this as the following:

  • The words "lefty" and "righty" are diminutive nouns;
  • The words "loosey" and "tighty" are adjectives;
  • Since English usually tends to have an Adjective-Noun order, these are probably not just noun phrases;
  • These could be two clauses, with zero copula/linking verb... which is not super usual for Standard English, but could still be permissible: lefty (is) loosey, righty (is) tighty.

This is my analysis of this, but it's the first time I see this mnemonic.

  • I was also thinking that "lefty loosey, righty tighty" might be or show "when it goes lefty, it gets loosey and when it goes righty, it gets tighty" or "when it goes to lefty, it gets loosey and when it goes to righty, it gets tighty". What might you think? Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 23:26
  • Do you think "lefty loosey, righty tighty" might be a clause, a phrase, a set phrase, an expression, a minor sentence, a clipped clause or a clause clipping? Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 3:01
  • What might you think? Or what might you think "lefty loosey, righty tighty" is? Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 3:01
  • The phonology is overwhelming. Righty and tighty rhyme, whereas lefty and loosy share assonance and final syllable, though they don't rhyme. They're just different enough to indicate a difference (the point of the mnemonic) and just similar enough to memorize effortlessly.
    – jlawler
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 15:26

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