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Updated: May 15, 2022

Have you noticed expressions like 'bread and butter', 'high and low' in English? These pairs of words linked by a conjunction (usually and) or a preposition are called binomials. Most of these pairs are irreversible which means that it would sound strange to say for example 'low and high' (i.e. the order of words is fixed).

There are similar expressions consisting of three words, called trinomials: beg, borrow and steal; sex, drugs and rock 'n roll; blood, sweat and tears; could've, would've, should've; here, there and everywhere.

Examples of irreversible pairs:

  1. aches and pains

  2. again and again

  3. alive and well

  4. all in all

  5. back to front

  6. bigger and better

  7. bits and pieces

  8. black and white

  9. bread and butter

  10. by and large

  11. cease and desist

  12. checks and balances

  13. dead or alive

  14. dos and don'ts

  15. fair and square

  16. fun and games

  17. goods and services

  18. give or take

  19. ham and eggs

  20. high and low

  21. high and dry

  22. hot and cold

  23. hugs and kisses

  24. knife and fork

  25. life and death

  26. loud and clear

  27. little by little

  28. meat and greet

  29. mix and match

  30. more or less

  31. now and then

  32. neat and tidy

  33. now or never

  34. nuts and bolts

  35. odds and ends

  36. old and grey

  37. on and off

  38. out and about

  39. peace and quiet

  40. pins and needles

  41. plain and simple

  42. pots and pans

  43. pros and cons

  44. rags to riches

  45. rise and fall

  46. rise and shine

  47. rock 'n roll

  48. safe and sound

  49. sick and tired

  50. sooner or later

  51. step by step

  52. take it or leave it

  53. ups and downs

  54. wear and tear

  55. wine and dine

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