Doubled Letters:

In English, of course, many words contain the same letter in two consecutive positions, as in beer or asset. But while some doubled letters are common, others are rarer. Can you identify words that contain a doubled a, h, i, j, k, q, u, w, x, and y? If you can't find them all, list one word each for as many of these letters as you can. Here are the rules; please read them and adhere to them carefully:

  1. You may not do wildcard searches through dictionaries or other reference sources, or consult any preexisting lists that are tailored to this particular question.

  2. Major English dictionaries that include the words must list them entirely in lowercase, with no periods. (This is a good way of filtering out proper nouns and initialisms that still maintain a chief identity as initial.)

  3. The doubled letters may not have a mark (such as a hyphen or an apostrophe) between them. That some odd ducks may write one of the letters with a dieresis above it doesn't matter.

Please post your answers in the comments.

Evelyn Blaine (mail):
Vacuum, pukka, hajj come immediately to mind.
9.5.2006 4:44am
Mike G in Corvallisrvallis (mail):
Hmmm. I suspect that most examples will turn out to be either compound words or words adopted from foreign languages. Let's see ...

a: aardvark (too easy!)
i: skiing (which always looks odd when I see it written)
j: hajji (anyone else remember Jonny Quest's sidekick?)
k: bookkeeper (three doubled letters in one word!)
u: vacuum (or quux, if the Hacker's Dictionary can be cited)

I had candidates for h and w, but cited only sources that hyphenated them. Dang ...
9.5.2006 4:54am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
W: bowward
9.5.2006 5:00am
Uncle Kracker (mail):
aardvark, fishhook, skiing, hajj, jackknife, vacuum, powwow. Q, X, and Y, whatever you have in mind (suqq?, Vioxx?, Khayyam?) are b.s.

Don't F with me, Volokh!
9.5.2006 5:05am
David Smallberg:
MikeG: I understand that some Native Americans who were conferring about how to keep the IRS from keeping a portion of their paychecks have decided to tackle "w" and "h".
9.5.2006 5:08am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
David --

"Withholding" is a good one!
9.5.2006 5:16am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Someone needs to invent a percussion musical instrument whose notes are sounded by tuned bars made of of smoked salmon. I have the perfect name for it ...
9.5.2006 5:24am
DNL (mail):
My 10 month old son has all sorts of words with a double-a in it.
9.5.2006 8:16am
Nobody special:
9.5.2006 8:59am
John Armstrong (mail):
9.5.2006 9:11am
John Armstrong (mail):
9.5.2006 9:13am
Khayyam reminds me that I've seen sayyid used as a common noun.
9.5.2006 9:16am
John Armstrong (mail):
Khayyam is really a name, so I don't think it counts (point 2), however, I'm not sure if loanwords should count either.

Are month names proper nouns? If not: Iyyar

What about obsolete forms? The old participle of "tarry" would have been "taryynge"

There are a few clear loanwoards that come to mind from Arabic: sayyid and umayyad.

But the only one that I'm completely comfortable with is a rather particular architectural term: mashrabiyya
9.5.2006 9:20am
sacroiliitis (ow ow ow)
9.5.2006 9:47am
Frank J. (mail) (www):

Has three sets of double letters... though only one of those we're looking for.
9.5.2006 10:07am
Frank Smith:
9.5.2006 10:08am

Hawaii and Wahhabi... too bad they are excluded.
9.5.2006 10:14am
Nick P.:
kraal. Same origin as "aardvark."

I suspect that most examples will turn out to be either compound words or words adopted from foreign languages.

That's what makes English so great.

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."
- James Nicoll
9.5.2006 10:16am
Rich B. (mail):
I believe that ever since the Abominable Snowman left the monastary, he is now considered only a layyeti.
9.5.2006 10:19am
Peder (mail) (www):
Probably out on language rules, but 'eqqus'.
9.5.2006 10:27am
Speedwell (mail):
That's equus. All the good combinations have been taken, drat.
9.5.2006 11:21am
Speedwell (mail):
For yy: "playyard," apparently the new term for playpen.
9.5.2006 11:22am
A. Dent:
9.5.2006 11:27am
W. J. J. Hoge:
An insect's leg joint.
9.5.2006 11:48am
aa - some sort of lava or something. I see it used in Scrabble frequently.
9.5.2006 11:54am
GMS (mail):
I believe that, technically, Foxxy Cleopatra's first name was really an adjective, and not a proper noun.
9.5.2006 11:55am
godfodder (mail):
If I recall my Tolkien correctly, there was something called a "barrowwight" in there... a spirit in a barrow.
9.5.2006 12:27pm
Nobody (mail):
I read somewhere a long time ago that the only three words with a double-u are vacuum, continuum, and residuum, but I have since seen more (can't think of them right now).
9.5.2006 12:29pm
Also duumvir / duumvirate, menstruum, and muumuu!
9.5.2006 12:52pm
nyejm (mail) (www):
Bookkeeper and continuum are the only two I can come up with. Bookkeeper, as far as I know, is the only word that has three consecutive sets of doubles.
9.5.2006 1:11pm
Mike1830 (mail):
9.5.2006 1:12pm
Jason Fliegel (mail):
9.5.2006 1:13pm
John Armstrong (mail):
godfodder: Tolkein spelled it "barrow-wight".
9.5.2006 1:19pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Speedwell --

I considered "playyard," but wouldn't give me a citation in non-hyphenated form! I didn't think to search for it with Google. 8-( Are dictionaries up to speed on this one yet?

With "playyard" and "coxxa," the only word we need now is something -- probably stolen from Arabic -- with "qq."
9.5.2006 1:37pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
And "mashrabiyya" is a great one, definitely a legitimate word ... but once again, doesn't know about it. I'm gonna have to pop for a subscription to the online OED one of these days.
9.5.2006 1:45pm
Syd (mail):
a: aardwolf
k: knickknack
w: bowwow
9.5.2006 2:10pm
Speedwell (mail):
I "gave up" and went looking--hard!--for an arguably English word (that is, not an ad hoc borrowing) with QQ. I'm not going to tell you my results, but let's say you're doing pretty darn good if you get this one and your results are not actually Hebrew, Inuit, Hopi, or Arabic.
9.5.2006 2:20pm
Speedwell (mail):
Actually, Mike G, I'm really surprised it hasn't been picked up by a dictionary. It seems to have a specialized usage, describing the sort of bottomless outdoor baby and dog pen you make out of temporarily-snapped-together panels.
9.5.2006 2:23pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
I don't see coxxa in,, or google's "define:" function.
9.5.2006 2:49pm
Jason P:
9.5.2006 2:49pm
W. J. J. Hoge:
For coxxa see Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913), p. 337.
9.5.2006 2:57pm
David Speyer (mail):
My best attempt, without reading the rest of the thread:

aa, aardvark
knickknack ???
9.5.2006 2:57pm
Speedwell (mail):
Best dictionary search tool ever:
9.5.2006 3:08pm
Silicon Valley Jim:

Nope. It's spelled with only one 'h'. On the rare occasions when I type the word, I always hesitate because of this.
9.5.2006 3:45pm
Silicon Valley Jim:
Or, more accurately, two 'h's, neither of them following the other :-)
9.5.2006 3:48pm
Silicon Valley Jim:
not immediately following the other, that is. I'll get this right yet.
9.5.2006 3:50pm
Harry Eagar (mail):

Though I'm not sure that has ever been used as a real-life word. But if the position existed, the language would accept the word.
9.5.2006 3:53pm
Nick P.:
Actually, Mike G, I'm really surprised it hasn't been picked up by a dictionary. It seems to have a specialized usage, describing the sort of bottomless outdoor baby and dog pen you make out of temporarily-snapped-together panels.

The more common spelling is "playard" (330,000 hits on google) rather than "playyard" (46,000 hits).
9.5.2006 4:30pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Aha! This might even be the word that prompted Professor Volokh's little challenge. If it hasn't made it into dictionaries yet, I suspect it soon will:


(Other transliterations may win in the end, but this seems to be a common one.)
9.5.2006 4:52pm
DrTony (mail) (www):
9.5.2006 4:56pm
gst (mail):
Landsraad, for all you libertarian science fiction dorks.
9.5.2006 5:31pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Mike G in Corvallis: It's spelled taqueria.
9.5.2006 6:11pm
Harvey Mosley (mail):
Beekkeeper is another that has three sets of doubles, but still only one of those on the list.
9.5.2006 6:24pm
Harvey Mosley (mail):
I promise to learn to type someday. I meant bookkeeper.
9.5.2006 6:26pm
word geek:
9.5.2006 6:40pm
Speedwell (mail):
The more common spelling is "playard" (330,000 hits on google) rather than "playyard" (46,000 hits).

I didn't see where variant spellings were disallowed, Nick. Apparently it's a correct spelling, since several of the manufacturers spell it this way. My sister-in-law has a three-month-old, so believe me, I'm reasonably certain of this.
9.5.2006 6:49pm
Kristian Holvoet (mail):
haas is a kind of avacado.
9.5.2006 7:26pm
Nony Mouse:
The one I'm stuck on is Q. Souq (or is that suq?) qandrants or souq quarters just seem to be two words, not one long one. Even a line to get into a souq wouldn't be suqqueue. If a woman got really good with a tranq gun, would that make her a tranqqueen? If you put a tranquilizer in a feather, would that make it a tranqquill?
Oh, I've got it! If you're insane on the subject of the middle east, you must be an Iraqquack, right?
9.5.2006 7:37pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I have always seen it as Hass avocado, and a quick search shows it have been named for a mailman named Rudolph Hass.
9.5.2006 7:53pm

Mike G in Corvallis: It's spelled taqueria.
Sasha Volokh: unless you actually think it is the same word as taqqiyah you should put a smiley next to it.

DrTony: Fasciitis
Might as well just go to the bottom of it: fascii
9.5.2006 8:14pm
Doug Sundseth (mail):
Rules question:

For the purposes of this puzzle, is an abbreviation to be construed as a word?

For example, if "ibid" were to fit the form of an answer here, would it be acceptable, even though it is an abbreviation of "ibidem"? ("ibid" is shown in the abbreviations section of MW Collegiate Dict., 10th Ed., without periods or capitalization.)
9.5.2006 9:13pm
Henry Schaffer (mail):
Mike G,
mashrabiyya is in the OED with two similar meanings, both referring to balconies.
9.5.2006 11:02pm
W. J. J. Hoge:
There's a type of tambourine called a riqq.
9.5.2006 11:42pm
Allen Garvin:
Double-u is easy, if you were around in the arpanet days: uucp.
9.6.2006 1:51am
Eugene Volokh (www):
ys: Some jokes, we like to think, are obvious enough not to require smileys.
9.6.2006 2:51am
Syd (mail):
Another double-i is genii the plural of genius (the spirit not the exceptionally bright person).

There are a bunch of ii's in biology, like the crossopterygii (one of the names for the group the coelocanths are the last survivors of) and elasmobranchii (sharks and relatives).

Although I suppose it doesn't count, the genitive of nouns ending in -ius or -ium often ends in -ii, so you have stars named things like zeta Aquarii, eta Scorpii, alpha Telescopii, theta Sagittarii, etc. Not to mention the double u in the constellation Equuleus.
9.6.2006 3:37am
john dickinson (mail) (www):
Wikipedia thinks there are no "qq" words in english.
9.6.2006 7:35am
Randy R. (mail):
9.6.2006 11:37am
W. J. J. Hoge:
When you do a search on "riqq" at wikipedia, you get an article with the following opening sentence:
"The riq (also spelled riqq or rik) is a type of tambourine ..."
9.6.2006 1:42pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
Might as well just go to the bottom of it: fascii
9.6.2006 9:01pm