I'm referring to constructions like полным-полна. They appear to be the same word, but different parts of speech, something like the French, "comme ci, comme ca". What is the significance of this construction? Or am I "seeing" something that isn't there?

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    It's a way of intensifying a quality. Like great big sth. in English.
    – Elena
    Jan 6, 2019 at 18:22
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    It might be worth mentioning that on the other end of the spectrum, there are also words like "точь-в-точь", "чуть-чуть", in which the same word is repeated. Jan 6, 2019 at 19:12
  • @Elena:What about "Polyusko, Pole? (Meadowlands Song). Or my latest construction based on it, Иннушка, Инна? Would that mean something like, "Inna to the highest degree?" –
    – Tom Au
    Jan 16, 2019 at 6:13
  • No, it is not the same. It is a repetition with a diminutive. It's like calling Inna twice to get her attention, and calling her gently or tenderly to express your attitude.
    – Elena
    Jan 16, 2019 at 6:25

2 Answers 2


Actually, all those phrases are idiomatic, and their list is restricted. Белым-бело is about snow outdoors, темным-темно and черным-черно are about the darkness in the night, or just in a dark place, полным-полно has already been mentioned. Maybe, there exist something else, but it doesn't come to my mind. Светлым-светло. These phrases are used as either adverbs or short adjectives (you couldn't have said полным-полна коробушка if it were an adverb).

But, you can duplicate most adjectives following the pattern

А рассвет приходит синий-синий, в белых клочьях тумана. Он дует на Ёжика, и Ёжик шевелит иголками. — Спит… — шепчет рассвет... И начинает улыбаться. И чем шире он улыбается, тем светлее становится вокруг. (С.Козлов, "Как Ёжик ходил встречать рассвет")

Besides, there exist numerous noun phrases like that. They are written without a hyphen, mostly consist of epithets and look like

Дурак дураком

Стоял дурак дураком и слушал means He was standing like a fool and listening.


This means the highest degree of a quality denoted by an adverb.

To use an awkward equivalent just for the sake of illustration полным-полнО is full to the fullest.

давным-давно - a very long time ago

черным-черно - pitch black

темным-темно - extremely/completely/totally dark

  • So умныйм умно would mean "very intelligent," right? How about for a woman? Same form or a feminine form?
    – Tom Au
    Jan 6, 2019 at 18:23
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    @Tom Au no, for two reasons 1) this form only applies for adverbs, but intelligent (умный) is an adjective 2) there's only so many such adverbs in the vocabulary and normally they can't be devised ad-hoc, for example the adverb просто is used very often, however the adverb простым-просто doesn't exist, instead there's проще простого which is not exactly equivalent in terms of degree, but this is what we have, same for легко and легким-легко, instead we have легче лёгкого Jan 6, 2019 at 18:56
  • @Tom Au the pattern seems to require both words to have two syllables each with the stress falling on the last syllable in both and not every word in the language can comply with this requirement Jan 6, 2019 at 18:57

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