Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: treble; triple.

treble; triple. These words are distinguishable though sometimes interchangeable. Outside baseball contexts {he tripled to deep right field}, “trebled” is a common term — e.g.: o “The last time Congress ‘reformed’ campaign finance, it trebled the amount of money that is taken out of the Treasury (your money) and given to presidential candidates.” Theo Lippman Jr., “What Political Campaigns Need Is Lots More Money,” Baltimore Sun, 26 Nov. 1996, at A13. o “The Company’s . . . American depositary receipts have trebled in value.” Jonathan Friedland, “Latin American Retailer Fights Giants,” Wall Street J., 19 Sept. 1997, at A10. But in general, the baseball habits have permeated the language as a whole, and people are likely to talk about the “tripling” of costs, revenues, etc., as opposed to “trebling.” As an adjective, “treble” usually means “three times as much or as many” {treble damages}, whereas “triple” means “having three parts” {a triple bookshelf} {triple bypass surgery}. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “View your reader as a companionable friend — someone with a warm sense of humor and a love of simple directness. Write like you’re actually talking to that friend, but talking with enough leisure to frame your thoughts concisely and interestingly.” John R. Trimble, Writing with Style 73 (2d ed. 2000).

1 thought on “Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: treble; triple.”

  1. Another point about “triple/treble”: Although I have seen the verb “treble” used in writing, I don’t think I’ve ever heard it spoken. It’s just way too formal and stuffy for colloquial use.

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