Dynamic Duos

Jenn & I were having a discussion last night and I wondered aloud why no ever says “Dad & Mom”, most people preferring to refer first to their mother, then to their father: “Mom & Dad”.

As a parent, I can definitely understand the maternal bond/relationship, so I think it’s a matter of familial primacy, but it got me thinking about other paired relationships and why we usually say them in a certain order. The first of which, Batman & Robin, spawned the post title. I for one would never put the Boy Wonder ahead of the Caped Crusader, seeing as Bruce Wayne’s ward is the sidekick, so that’s one rule: Leaders lead sidekicks.

Here are a few other examples – feel free to add others in the comments – and my thought process on their organization:

  • Salt & Pepper
  • The spices and the hair color are always referred to in this order.

  • Thunder & Lightning
  • It seems odd that these two are in reverse chronological order. After all, thunder follows lightning in nature so why are they inverted in speech? (See also Sturm & Drang)

  • Bert & Ernie
  • This one is alphabetical, I think, since Ernie is the star.

  • Sonny & Cher
  • Arguably the name of a group, but still always arranged thusly.

  • Oil & Vinegar/Oil & Water
  • Why is Oil always the star?

  • Frick & Frack
  • A great example of how two things/people can become inextricably linked (in order, no less).

This list is far from exhaustive, but I figured it’s a good jumping-off point for further research, discussion and tomfoolery.

Have at it!

UPDATE: Drew hit on the glaringly obvious one we missed: Peanut Butter and Jelly. I’ll add some more via the comments.

8 thoughts on “Dynamic Duos

  1. brody says:

    I haven’t thought about this beyond couples names. Usually, when discussing a couple, I’ll say the name of the person I knew first (Rob and Jane) or the name of the dominant partner if I met them at the same time.

    As far as Mom & Dad, I technically met her first. But in this case, I thinks it’s an issue of flow. The final D in Dad doesn’t flow as well into And, or “en”, as the M from Mom.

    Sonny was about ten years older than Cher when they met and he was the producer who discovered her. I’m sure he came up with that billing.

    Thunder & Lightning is wonky in that respect.

    Interesting post! Now I’m going to be researching all day.

  2. Drew says:

    I forgot one of the best…

    Peanut butter and jelly. No matter the sandwich, if peanut butter is included it becomes the first ingredient mentioned. Is it the sticking power that makes it noteworty? The desire to name the longest ingredient first?

  3. Brush and floss.

    My hang up with this one is that you’re actually supposed to floss before you brush, but the instructions to a pint sized me were always “go brush and floss”.

    As you can imagine, I started pissing my mother off at an early age with my logic v semantics debates.

  4. A few more:

    Vim & Vigor
    Why not the other way around, seeing as no one using them singularly. Vigorous, perhaps, but no one says “I’ve got quite a bit of vigor today”.

    Pork & Beans
    Obvious that Pork is the hero, but it wouldn’t be the same without the beans.

    Gimme more!

  5. Black & White, Black & Blue

    Back & Forth
    You could go forth and then come back

    Odds & Ends
    Ends at the end

    Touch & Go
    Go & Touch sounds like a perverse command

    You can give and take this and that.

  6. Ass!…

    Building off yesterday’s discussion of paired words, I got to thinking about cursing. You know, swearing. Dirty words and such. The kind of thing you say in front of your children while frustrated with traffic and then regret later on when they …

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