April 03, 2009

Siamese Twins in English Language

Siam was the ancient name of the country that we now know as Thailand. You might have heard about two children joined together from birth. They are called Siamese Twins.

In the context of the English language, this word was first used and popularized by H. W. Fowler, a renowned lexicographer. English language is replete with pair words that we know as Siamese Twins. They are also known as Irreversible Binomials, Binomial Pairs and Freezes. These pairs forge a bonding or partnership that we use as an idiomatic expression. You might be using one in your day to day speaking or writing. Expressions like Hard and Fast or Live and let live are examples of Siamese Twins.

The ordering of Siamese Twins is important. Should you change the order then you will be spoiling the meaning and essence of the expression.


Live and let live: Live and let live should be the motto or our lives.
Sick and tired: Aniya never feels sick and tired of her multi-tasking activities. 
Back and forth: Annie watched the waiter going back and forth and doing nothing.
To and Fro: The to and fro traffic of Indian Railways is impressive.
Be all and end all: My service is the be all and end all of my live.
Black and white: It is written black and white in the wall.
Black and blue: He was beaten black and blue by some goons.
By and large: By and large we enjoyed our trip to Las Vegas.
Cat and mouse: She was embarrassed by her boss for his cat and mouse game.
Cats and dogs: It rained cats and dogs and outside movement was restricted.
Greek and Latin: The Spanish language is Greek and Latin to me.


There are so many examples of Siamese Twins and with consistent reading and scouring through the pages of Dictionaries and internet you can collect a lot. But remember don’t try to reverse the order of the two entities or words as in that case the essence and meaning of the said expression will be lost and you will be misunderstood.

For more detailed knowledge and findings you can browse the following link.


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1 comment:

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