Recently I've heard words like ただただ and ゆっくりゆっくり showing up. I guessed that saying adverbs one more time over again puts more emphasis on them, but I'm not at all sure if that's true. (Always means something else entirely?)

Besides the meaning, can you do this with any adverb? Or is it like the "verb form" り (例え 楽しみ 飲み) where which verbs you can make into it vary greatly?

I know that words like 時々 and 色々 Have completely different meanings from 時 and 色 of course, that repeating verbs has its own separate meaning (休み休み)、

Is there any rules to follow with repetition? Or can you you make anything 畳語? Please outline any rules.

  • JFYI 例え means "metaphor" rather than "example".
    – naruto
    Jul 19, 2022 at 4:35

1 Answer 1


As you already understand, there are many lexicalized ones (まずまず, わくわく, いっぱいいっぱい), and you have to remember their meanings individually. ゆっくりゆっくり is not a lexicalized phrase but ゆっくり said twice simply for emphasis. Unfortunately, you cannot tell if it's a lexicalized word just by looking at its appearance. You cannot do this with any adverb, either. ゆっくりゆっくり or 慎重に慎重に ("carefully and carefully") makes sense but 一番一番 ("most and most"?) or がっかりがっかり ("disappointedly and disappointedly") sounds very funny to me.

Many onomatopoeias have a reduplicated version (usually for a continuous state) and a single version (usually for a one-time event). See: How are the giongo/gitaigo double form and tto form related (きらきら vs. きらっと)).

Reduplication has usages that are unique to Japanese (or at least more common in Japanese than in English):

  • Reduplication meaning "varying from X to X": 時代時代で異なる ("varies from age to age"), その時その時に応じた対応 ("response according to each situation")
  • Reduplication meaning "every single X": 一人一人に声をかける ("to talk to every single person"), 彼の一言一言が気に障る ("every single word of his annoys me")
  • Reduplication meaning "typical-looking X": 子供子供した仕草 ("typical childish behavior"), ピンクピンクしたピンク ("typical vivid pink", "pink pink")

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