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The only riddance is “good riddance”, the only way to hunker is to “hunker down”, and the only way to be “amok” is to “run amok”. These are words which in essence are used only in a set phrase. You might call them “one-trick-pony words”.

This week we’ll look at one-trick-pony words that were once more general, but have now become forgotten; the phrases preserve them as fossils. There are surprisingly many of them, so for the sake of cutting the list we’ll examine those used in “and” phrases.

kith [as in kith and kin] –familiar persons, taken collectively; one's friends, neighbors, acquaintances

You’ll sometimes find “kith” standing alone, especially in the press of India. Here’s another example, which discusses the 2000 presidential and senatorial candidacies of Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. Query whether it applies to Ms. Clinton's current candidacy for president.
    The demography-crossing thing that undergirds this election year, I think, is a strong, broad desire to punish Clinton and his kith with a denial of further power.
    – Washington Post, Aug. 2, 2000, and elsewhere.
 
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Though I do recall a Star Trek episode "Amok Time..."


RJA
 
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And here I thought "kith" was what Sylvester was trying to do to Tweety Bird – although with ulterior motives, of course.
 
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Vanderhoof, when I searched for a quote to illustrate "kith", I had to wade through a whole lot of google-hits that had exactly the meaning you suggest! Smile
 
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hem and haw (alternate forms are ~ and hawk; ~ and ha; and hum and ~) –
1. to make an inarticulate murmur in a pause of speaking, from hesitation, embarrassment, etc.
2. to repeatedly pause or digress in order to evade saying something directly; or, to repeatedly delay and discuss to avoid acting

Definition 2. is generally not found in the dictionaries, but I think it’s the more common meaning. See quote.
    City officials were notified, but because of bureaucratic hemming and hawing, nothing was done.
    – Chicago Tribune, Apr. 13, 1992
heminterjection: a slight half-cough to get attention, warn, or express doubt or hesitation (also [noun and verb]: the sound itself; to make this sound)
hawinterjection and noun: an utterance marking hesitation
 
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In the familiar phrase hue and cry (a clamor of pursuit; a cry of alarm; outcry), what is a hue?

hue – outcry, shouting, clamor, esp. one raised by a multitude in war or the chase

1779 is the most recent example I can find of this hue without a cry:
    As soon as M. Lally appeared, a hue was set up by the whole assembly, hisses, pointing, threats and every abusive name
“Hue and cry” started as a legal term. “A hue … is the old common-law process of pursuing, with horn and with voices, all felons, and such as have dangerously wounded another." (Blackstone, 1875). Anyone witnessing a felony was required make hue and cry, and all able bodied men, hearing the shouts, were obliged to assist in the pursuit of the felon. (wikipedia)
    There's an ancient common law principle called "hue and cry." When you see someone commit a crime, you're supposed to raise a hue and cry -- "Stop, thief!" -- so bystanders will pursue the wrongdoer.
    – CNN.com, Aug. 2, 2002

    1502: "Ony persone … that wyll not helpe constable, sergeauntis and other officers … when hue and crye is made."
 
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Originally posted by wordcrafter:
“Hue and cry” started as a legal term.


Not too surprising. So did "null and void". Legal transcriptionists were once paid by the word. Therefore, why use one word when two words with identical meanings pay twice as much? Roll Eyes
 
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There are many such repetitiously redundant and periphrastic pleonasms in the law:
* cease and desist
* breaking and entering
* to have and to hold
* aid and abet
* terms and conditions
* assault and battery
* last will and testament

I suspect it is driven more by a desire to leave no loophole, than by fee per word.

Correlating with that desire, I found a few suggestions that it might be related to the use of both Norman and Saxon terms in emerging English law.


RJA
 
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"In dribs and drabs" means “in small and intermittent sums or amounts”, but you rarely hear separately of a drib or a drab.

drib (verb): to fall in drops; to dribble; later, noun: a drop, a petty or inconsiderable quantity
drab (noun): 1. a slattern (a dirty and untidy woman); or, a harlot; 2. later: a small or petty sum (of money)
    … the supply of reliable, objective information about the war's progress has been scant. Most of the dribs that have been released are coming from -- or have been carefully screened by -- Pentagon officials or their coalition equivalents.
    – Time Magazine, Feb. 4, 1991

    Even if it improved schools, it would do so in drabs, not in a big splash.
    – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 28, 2001
 
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spick and span – neat, trim, and smart, as if quite new

This term comes from wood and nails.

A chip of wood is called a ‘spoon’, from Old English spôn and the ancient root *spænu-. (Yes, this spoon = woodchip is the same word as our spoon = eating-utensil; the eating sense of spôn evolved later, in Middle English.)

Many other languages used the same *spænu- root for ‘woodchip’. The relevant one is Old Norse, where a woodchip was a spánn (and that word, by the way, also evolved into mean the eating utensil). A spann-nyr was a new chip, recently cut, fresh from the ax, and this came to mean anything brand new. English adopted that term from Old Norse, and from the 14th through 19th centuries span-new was used as a term meaning ‘brand new’.

So much for the wood; what about nails? A spike-nail is a spick. The Dutch term was similar, and if a ship was brand new they called it spiksplinternieuw (“spikes and splinters new”; new nails and wood). English, inspired by that lovely Dutch combination, combined spick with span-new to create spick-and-span-new. Within less than a century this shortened to spick and span.
 
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kit and caboodle – a miscellaneous assortment

The usual phrase is whole kit and caboodle, but the ‘whole’ is not necessary.
    The poodle, the pit bull and a kit and caboodle of creatures eagerly awaiting their next casting call …
    – New York Times, Sit, Stay, Fetch, and Don't Chew the Scenery, Jan. 9, 2006
kit and caboodle is an exuberant version of kit and boodle. The word kit (and to a lesser degree, caboodle) can also appear without its partner in the phrase: you can refer to a “kit”, a “caboodle”, a “whole kit” or “whole caboodle”.

kit – a number of things or persons taken as a whole
kit is especially used for clothing (as in our second quote, dealing with the dread dilemma of formal attire becoming wrinkled [horrors!] when packed for travel).
    The single best idea Nissan had … was to perform a manic spring-clean on its dashboard. Buttons and clocks got trimmed to the minimum and the whole kit was shipped aside on to the centre console.
    – The Guardian, Jan. 14, 2003

    How to pack a dinner jacket … keep all your kit - including black socks, shirt studs, tie and cummerbund - in one place. … Fold the bottom half of the jacket over shirt and then the bottom half of the trousers over the folded jacket. This protects the shirt and stops the whole kit moving around and becoming creased.
    – Telegraph, Feb. 19, 2002
caboodle – a crowd or collection
    Imagine a movie where every character is more self-centered than Ted Baxter in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" of old, add a caboodle of idiotic jokes, and you have some idea of this ugly, unfunny farce.
    – Christian Science Monitor, July 16, 2004
 
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Just out of curiosity, any idea of which movie they were reviewing in that last quote? Smile
 
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Kit on its own is frequently used in non-US English to mean clothing, generally, but not always, that used for a particular purpose, as in the Telegraph quote. What would be a football player's uniform in the US would be called his kit in the rest of the world.

It can also be used to mean a set of articles for a specified purpose: a shaving kit would be the impedimentia used for shaving, a tool kit is a set of tools, and so on.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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quote:
Just out of curiosity, any idea of which movie they were reviewing in that last quote?
It was a TV series, Bob. Ted Baxter was quite a jerk, to say the least. Here are a few quotes from the series.
 
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the movie being reviewed was Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy xxx
 
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cranny – a small narrow opening or hole; a chink, crevice, crack, fissure
nook – a secluded, sheltered spot; or, in the same vein, a small, separate section of a larger room (also, the inner corner formed by two meeting walls)

As in the familiar phrase:

every nook and cranny – every part of something.

You’ll sometimes see a nook without a cranny ("a breakfast nook"), but has anyone ever seen a cranny without a nook?
    I felt like a man who awakens in his own house and finds all the furniture rearranged, so that every familiar nook and cranny looks foreign now.
    – Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
 
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Jonathan Swift was quite fond of cranny, alone.

to wit, from Gulliver's Travels: "I saw the water ooze in at several crannies, although the leaks were not considerable, and I endeavoured to stop them as well as I could."
 
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has anyone ever seen a cranny without a nook?

It's not common, but it's not all that unusual in British English. Here's a rather esoteric link: The Bath Crafting Cranny.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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