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Idiomatic Doublets
Doubles Troubles
I'll have an assonant hendiadys to go, please --
and hold the mayo...

Category 4 Turkish Doublets --
According to word order

In Turkey - Türkiye'de

Tüm kitap fırsatları için tıklayın !

Category 4 -- ikilemeler according to word order

The sequence of words in an ikilemeler (usually) follows rather logical rules -- which may be summarized as follows:

1) words with the least number of syllables come first...

The ikilemeler

Literal Meaning

Plain English Meaning

Example usage and English translation

çekip çevirmek

to pull and turn

to run (manage) a place or business

Bu mağazayı çekip çevirecek senin gibi birine gerçekten ihtiyacımız vardı.

We really needed someone like you to manage this store.

Küçücük kız kocaman evi çekip çeviriyor.

That tiny girl manages a whole big house [by herself].

dal budak (salmak)

branch knot

  • (for a tree) to develop branches
  • to grow
  • to become established
  • to become widespread
Adamın ünü o yörede dal budak salmış.

The fame of that fellow is spreading around these parts.

kol kanat (olmak/germek)

(to be) arm wing

to take someone under protective care, under ones 'wing'

Sağ olun, kötü günümde kol kanat oldunuz bana.

Is this an example of devrik cümle?
You betcha!

Thanks, you took me under your wing during my bad times.

kör kütük

blind, tree trunk

dead blind drunk

Kör kütük sarhoş adamla çocuklar alay ettiler.

The kids teased the man who was blind drunk.

kör topal

blind lame

  • after a fashion
  • in a half-assed way
Evliliğimiz fena değil; kör topal; yürütüyoruz.

Our marriage is not bad; were carrying on after a fashion.

2) Words starting with a vowel come first:

The ikilemeler

Literal Meaning

Plain English Meaning

Example usage and English translation

açık saçık

('saçık' has no meaning independent of this two-word phrase, see Lewis's Category 2 above)

open --

  • being something too liberal (as to language or anatomy). Off-color, risqué, bawdy.
  • being something rude, indecent, immodest (as with clothing).
  • being something that is found disgraceful by everyone.
O sinemada açık saçık filmler gösterilirdi.

They used to show soft-porn films at that cinema house.

abuk sabuk (konuşmak)

(abuk has no independent meaning and sabuks independent meaning is questionable. So abuk sabuk may fall either into Lewis's Category 2 or Category 3, see above.)

(to talk) ...

(to talk) nonsensically

Susmasını bilmiyor, abuk sabuk konuşmasını sürdürüyordu.

He doesn't know when to shut up, he continued talking nonsense.

See another example of abuk sabuk konuşmak on the Turkish Idioms page.

abur cubur

(Neither word has meaning except in this phrase -- see Lewis's Category 3.)

  • food eaten in casual snacks.
  • haphazard, confused speech.
  • ordinary, common-place (person).


Abur cubur şeylerle karın doyurmak doğru değildir.

It's not right to fill up your stomach with junk food.

açık seçik

open clear.

  • definitely, clearly.
  • definite, clear.
  • quite/very clear.
Yazının açık seçik bir anlatımı var.

The meaning of the article is very clear.

allak bullak

(Neither word has meaning except in this phrase -- see Lewis's Category 3.)

... ...

topsy turvy

(Is topsy turvy an example of a commonly used Category 3 English-language ikilemeler? Then what about... mumbo jumbo [Category 3], hill and dale [Category 1], pots and pans [Category 1], and foot loose and fancy free [Category 1]? )

Çocuklar evin içini allak bullak etmişler.

The children turned the house upside down!

apar topar

(Neither word has meaning except in this phrase -- see Lewis's Category 3.)

... ...

headlong, in a panic, stampeding

Sabahleyin uyanamadım; apar topar evden çıktım.

I didnt wake up on time this morning, I left the house in a stampede.

az buz (olmamak)

(not to be) small ice

to be of no small matter.

Az buz değil, bilmem kaç milyonmuş alacağı.

Thats no minor deal, I don't know just how many millions he'll get (out of it).

el ayak

Note: Since both words start with a vowel, the one with the least syllables comes first...

hand foot

el ayak has many situational meanings. El ayak çekilince bekçi düdüğü duyuldu.

When no ones around, the watchman's whistle is heard.

eli ayağı bağlı.

not free to act as you want, having your hands tied.

eli ayağı buz kesilmek.

to be very cold.

er geç

early late

  • one of these days
  • sooner or later
Er geç bir ev alacağım.

One of these days I'll buy a house.

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