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"wacky" means "strange odd". What does wicky mean in the phrase 'wicky wacky day'?

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    As a 50-year-old native English speaker (from England), I've never heard the phrase in my life. It would be wrong for English learners to assume that this is something English people would say or even understand normally. It sounds like it's come from some children's rhyme, perhaps - or maybe it's something in American or Australian slang which isn't more widely known. Please could you edit your question to say where you found this phrase?
    – Graham
    Apr 15 at 10:45
  • @Graham Agreed. It's entirely plausible and unremarkable to my ears, but also unfamiliar. Apr 15 at 11:11

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It's a kind of reduplication. It has no meaning in itself; it's sound-play that only serves to intensify, to make it wackier.

Why "wicky"? This is a vowel-shift reduplication, and many of these have a tense-lax sequence. Mishmash, pitter-patter, riffraff, crisscross are given in that article. Another in the same spirit is splish splash.

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  • 'splish spash', is vowel shifting, but both "sing song" and "tip top" comprise valid words with appropriate meanings.
    – Astralbee
    Apr 14 at 13:11
  • @Astralbee True, but arguably motivated by the same phenomenon. Still, to avoid confusion, I'll edit them out. Apr 14 at 13:39
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    @Astralbee No worries, I read it as helpful critique. Thanks for adding more examples :) Also: jimjams, snicker-snack (Jabberwocky), click-clack... Apr 14 at 14:04
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    Other schools seem to use rhyming reduplication, Wachy-Tacky day, even though “tacky” means gaudy or out-of-style.
    – Davislor
    Apr 14 at 17:00
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    More specifically, this is ablaut reduplication, a particularly common type of vowel-shift reduplication in English which likely originated as a mirror of the apophonic inflection found in a number of common English-native words. The same phenomena influences word ordering in some cases as well (such as in ‘big bad wolf’, which would be ‘bad big wolf’ if it followed the normal adjectival ordering rules for English). Apr 14 at 23:45

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