4
  1. A double number is two identical numbers, e.g. 007 (double O seven)
  2. A double chin is someone who appears to have two chins
  3. A double feature is a program showing two feature-length movies
  4. A double D is a bra with two DD cups
  5. A double standard is a rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups (EOD)
  6. A double yolk is an egg with two yolks

All the nouns listed above are countable but stay singular. On the other hand, if we substituted the word double with two the noun is pluralized e.g.

I cracked open an egg and found two yolks

Why don't we use the plural noun in these cases?

  • I cracked open an egg and found double yolks (NO)
  • I cracked open an egg and found a double yolk (YES)

enter image description here


There appears to be an exception to the rule and it is double doors. According to Ngram, today the plural form compared to its singular counterpart is used 80 times more frequently.
(Hopefully, I didn't mess up the maths, but if I did please correct me)

enter image description here

  • 2
    According to Colin dictionary: "Adj. You use double before a singular noun to refer to two things of the same type that occur together, or that are connected in some way." E.g. an extremely nasty double murder – dan Nov 12 '18 at 7:38
  • @dan post it as an answer and please include the link. I'd upvote it. – Mari-Lou A Nov 12 '18 at 7:42
  • Because it is. Asking why language is the way it is - especially choices that don't seem logical - is sometimes interesting historically, but there is never a meaningful answer to the "why?", only (sometimes) to the "how did it come to be?" – Colin Fine Nov 12 '18 at 10:25
  • @ColinFine there is always an explanation for everything. If we can't find it, it doesn't mean it never existed. Curiously, it's double doors and not double door, why is that? :) – Mari-Lou A Nov 12 '18 at 10:27
  • "a double door": google.com/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 12 '18 at 11:18
3

According to Collins dictionary, double as defined in definition 2:

Adj. You use double before a singular noun to refer to two things of the same type that occur together, or that are connected in some way.

E.g ...an extremely nasty double murder.

2

Because the subject of is in your examples is the name for something. That thing is understood as a single compound entity or thing.

I bought tickets for the double-header but it got rained out.

  • But the double yolks are inside the egg (?!) And in the sentences the subject is "I" and "a double yolk" is the object. – Mari-Lou A Nov 12 '18 at 16:34
  • I am talking about your list of sentences at the top. We don't say She are a triple threat. The reference is to a monad of three. She is a triple threat. A triple threat is what she is. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 12 '18 at 17:47
  • +1 for "monad" I had to look it up, I haven't seen that word in years – Mari-Lou A Nov 12 '18 at 18:21
  • Monads are crepuscular. But you've probably seen plenty of dyads and triads, tetrads and pentads in broad daylight. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 12 '18 at 18:33

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