Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

“it’s the put-er-on-er-er”

When I was brought up in England we used to say things like “it’s the put-er-on-er-er” for the brush used to put the polish on, and the “taker-off-er-er”. Or later, the “mover-out-er-er” for the spouse who must move out. 

Is this “real” English? Why don’t we use it in writing? Why are there two “er” at the end? Is there any description of this in any grammar? How widespread is this construction?

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It a quick and dirty way of adding emphasis to what you are saying. Like italicizing ing ing (that would be looking at something slanted three time normal italics) or Underling ing ing (Word with three lines under it) Have you got that all straightened out better-er-er now?

Liverwort Apr-17-2014

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There are a couple of videos at YouTube, both American - the pants-put-er-on-er, and the armor-put-er-on-er, and a few Google hits for taker-off-er. A single 'er' after the preposition makes some sense, but I think the double 'er' was maybe a local variation.

There's also a zipper-up-er, and there's one of these with a double er on Facebook. Others in Google - 'bringer downer', 'setter upper', 'putter downer'. It's just another example of how people, especially children, like to play with language.

There are lots words we use in informal speech we don't use in formal writing. I see no reason not to use them in conversational emails, but they tend to lend themselves more to speech than writing. Some of them are in the dictionary, some not - a thingy, a thingumajig, a whatsit, a whatchacallit, a doodah. There's also a doofah, which I've just seen listed as being similar to thingy, i.e. when you can't remember something's name, but in Scotland at least, it was short for 'do for later', for example a cigarette you put behind your ear 'for later'.

Is it real English? Well the fact that some people say it and other people understand it, and it's not localised to one small group suggests it is real English, if not exactly Standard English (I doubt you'll find it in any dictionary). Is slang real English? I would say of course yes.

I can't find anything at Google Books, so I doubt you'll find this particular structure in grammar books, but I'm sure you'll be able to find something about made-up words like this, and especially how people like to play with words.

Warsaw Will Apr-17-2014

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I've always liked 'dubry' or maybe 'doobry' for a thingamajig. Possibly derived from dewberry.

Skeeter Lewis Apr-18-2014

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By golly there IS such a thing as a "pants-putter-downer" on YouTube!
https://www.youtube.com/embed/BDQ0UUZ0k50

Liverwort Apr-18-2014

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@Liverwort - Oh, ye of little faith! :) And here's the one for armor-putter-on-er, with multiple '-er's. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsXZjZL5UrA

I suggest we make a collection of these thingies here:

do-er up-er - mainly Oz and NZ by the look of it - a house (or other thing) that needs doing up
- http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=do-upper#hl=en&q=%22do-er-up-er%22

The Marysville Gazette was talking about a "pick-er up- er and pull-er down-er" in 1955, but what it is, I have no idea.

The following each have several Google hits:
throw-er-away-er
break-er-up-er
pick-er-up-er
doer-without-er
talker-downer
jumper-talker-downer (or ledge-talker-downer)
(nose-)looker-downer

You certainly seem to have found a common pattern here, jayles, so I think we can definitely say it's English.

Warsaw Will Apr-18-2014

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More at:
literalminded.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/picker-uppers-and-putter-upper-withers/

google "putter-upper"
"by-stander" and "passer-by" lack the -er on the adverb.

stl.recherche.univ-lille3.fr/sitespersonnels/cappelle/Pdf%20versions%20of%20papers/Doubler-upper%20nouns.pdf

OED has “picker-upper” (1913), “fixer-upper” (1932), “pepper-upper” (1934), “maker-upper” (1936), “builder-upper” (1936), “opener-upper” (1941), “mucker-upper” (1942), and “looker-upper” (1951). But “Ver-up” is actually more frequently attested than “Ver-upper” in the forms collected by the OED.

ablauttime.blogspot.co.nz/2004/09/passers-by-be-damned.html

jayles Apr-18-2014

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books.google.com/books?isbn=0071428933
books.google.com/books?isbn=1419535722

jayles Apr-18-2014

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en.wiktionary.org/wiki/washer-upper

www.definition-of.com/bad+breaker-upper

jayles Apr-19-2014

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@jayles - it's in the OED - so there's your answer. I notice these are all from 'up'. (well done,by the way, I hadn't thought of doubling the p in up), so how about with some other prepositions?

Warsaw Will Apr-19-2014

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@WW "putter-onner" , putter-inner, taker-outer, leaver-outer, - all several have hits on google

urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=leader-onner
urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=picker-onner
urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=checker-upper-onner
urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Awayer
www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pusher-awayer

jayles Apr-19-2014

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dictionary.reference.com/browse/warmerupper
dictionary.reference.com/browse/cheererupper

jayles Apr-19-2014

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Curious how looker(s)-on was overtaken by onlooker(s) toward the end of 19th year-hundred.
Also the difference in meaning between passers-by and by-passers (ie people who take the bypass), and the following:
urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=holder-upper
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/upholder

jayles Apr-20-2014

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I remember hearing "looker-after-er". Gives me 18,000 hits on Google.

Chris B Apr-21-2014

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