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I know that masu-stem+まくる usually means to do a verb with reckless abandon, but on a radio show I heard a phrase that went something like masu-stem+に+Same verb masu-stem+まくる.

Search results reveal plenty of usage of

  • 食べに食べまくる

A small amount of

  • 食いに食いまくる and 買いに買いまくる

Even some more obscure usage like

  • ハードルを下げに下げまくる

This probably means something like "to do (verb) as much as possible", but what I am confused with is how に is used here.
I get that masu-stem+に+verb is a pattern but the verb on the end is always different and I associate it with a directional verb (commonly 行く or 来る). What does it mean here/is this a set pattern?

EDIT: It seems that this pattern without the まくる is also common and does mean what I think it does generally, but I am still curious about the use of に here.

2 Answers 2

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Vi (masu-stem) + に + Vi is an idiom.

According to 現代日本語の同一動詞反復表現「VにV」について:

長時間・期間にわたってVし続けた結果、程度・量が極端である
V (repeatedly) for a long duration or period so that its extent or amount is extreme

Here the に is not case particle but coordinator (並立助詞) like ~や~ and ~と~. Among them ~(だ)の~ and ~とか~ can also come directly after verb but only に is used in this set phrase.

Also, as a conspicuous restriction, this idiom refuses to be created from a suru-verb, whose stem is a noun. In that case you need to fall back to NにNを重ねる.

~まくる also means "do for extreme repetition", but I'm not sure if it is used just as a redundant intensifier or adding another layer of repetition on top.

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~に~する is a common pattern used to express "doing something repeatedly/aggressively". It can be used without まくる. This pattern has been asked on this site several times:

ハードルを下げに下げる (or 下げまくる, 下げに下げまくる) means "to lower the bar again and again", which implies lowering expectations or criteria so that achieving the goal becomes easier and easier. Like, "Can you do it? No? Then how about this? No? Then can you do at least this one? No? Then..."

This pattern should be memorized without worrying about the meaning of に too much, but it may be worth noting that に can be a listing particle.

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