What Is a Double Superlative and How to Avoid It?

A double superlative is the use of two superlative adjectives to describe something or someone. It is a way of emphasizing that something has the highest quality or degree among many. Dive in to learn more about this concept with clear examples.

Double Superlative: What Is It?

It occurs when you use two superlative adjectives to describe a single thing or concept. You can use this to show the degree or extent of something, either in writing or speech. This is possible by applying two ways of forming a superlative instead of one. 

For example, ‘the most tallest’ rather than just using ‘the tallest’ underscores that certain quality. You can also use the following ways to form them.

  1. One common way to form them is by using the word “most” together with the superlative degree of the adjective. In the example, “stupidest” is the superlative form of stupid. The word “most” is also a superlative form. When you combine the two, you will end up with “most stupidest,” which is a double superlative.
  2. You can create them by combining regular modifiers or adverbs like “extremely” or “very” with an absolute modifier. Absolute modifiers include words such as “total” and “absolute.” An example is “extremely best.” Another example is when you use two-degree modifiers in sequence, such as “most greatest” or “least worst.”
  3. Another way you can create them is by using intensifiers such as “absolutely” or “very” before adjectives. A sentence with “really, really tall” will show the extent.

Double superlatives are common in everyday speech, conversations, literature, and poetry. You can use them to impact readers and listeners emotionally. Apart from expressing admiration and enthusiasm, you can use them to exaggerate for comedic effect. Although they emphasize what you’re saying, it is advisable to use them sparingly.

Fun Fact: Famous poets like Shakespeare use double superlatives. For example, in William Shakespeare’s King Lear, he wrote “To take the basest and most poorest shape.” Charles Dickens also used them- “you are one of the most bare-facedest.” Thom Nicholson also wrote “Well, if I’m not the most dumbest, slab-sided, cream-sucking, thick-headed cigar-store dummy in six states.”

Examples of Double Superlative

  1. Amazon is the most biggest river in the world.
  2. This is an extremely highly sophisticated car.
  3. She is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
  4. He was the most strongest and bravest knight that ever lived.
  5. This is the most interesting book ever.
  6. It’s the most stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. 
  7. She’s the most funniest old lady ever.

Are Double Superlatives Grammatically Correct

You can still use them in your English to provide emphasis and rhetorical force. In most cases, use them in casual conversations, but you are not encouraged to use them in formal writing. This is because adding a second superlative can make it hard for your reader to comprehend. 

Take an example of a sentence that says, “The most beautiful and stunning sight.” This sentence may lead to misinterpretation or misunderstanding of what you are saying. Using such superlatives may weaken their impact since they sound repetitive or redundant.

These superlatives have been used for centuries, although some grammarians and language purists may argue that they are unnecessary or incorrect.

However, no concrete evidence suggests that using double superlatives is wrong. They provide you with more expressive options when communicating ideas. Though strict linguistic standards consider them incorrect, you can continue using them in writing and conversation as long as your reader understands their meaning within your context.

What Are the Rules for Superlatives

When using superlatives to describe a person, place, or thing, there are certain rules, like the number of syllables and final consonants or consonant spelling, that you should follow. These rules include the following:

One-Syllable Adjectives

One-Syllable AdjectiveComparativeSuperlative

You will add -est to the word for a one-syllable adjective to form the superlative. An example of such is “cheap,” which transforms to “cheapest,” and “cold,” which changes to “coldest.” In a sentence, “This is the coldest part in the world.” 

One-Syllable Adjective (ending in a single consonant or vowel)ComparativeSuperlative

For adjectives ending in consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC), you should double the last letter or the final consonant and add -est. For instance, “big” becomes “biggest,” and “sad changes to saddest.” In a sentence, “It is the biggest planet in the solar system.” In a comparative form, adding -er is the correct rule to follow. 

If the word has a single vowel or a single consonant ending, you will add -er or -est. 

Two-Syllable Adjectives

Two-Syllable AdjectiveComparativeSuperlative
PeacefulMore peacefulMost peaceful
CarefulMore carefulMost careful

With two-syllable adjectives like “peaceful,” you will need to use “most” if you are writing the superlative degree of the word. However, if in comparative form, you will need to use “more” instead. This rule also applies to adjectives that have three or more syllables. 

Two-Syllable Adjective (shorter words)ComparativeSuperlative

Keep in mind that there is an exception to this rule. For shorter words like “poor,” add -er to create its comparative word “poorer.” You can change it to its superlative form by adding -est, making it “poorest.” In a sentence, “This is the poorest shape I’ve ever been.

Adjective Ends in -Y

Two-Syllable AdjectiveComparativeSuperlative

For adjectives that end in “y,” drop it and add -iest. For example, “angry” becomes “angriest,” and “busy” becomes “busiest.” A sentence using such a word is, “This will be the busiest week of the month.” Another example is the word “funny.” If in a superlative degree, it will become “funniest.” For example, “It’s the funniest story I’ve ever heard.” 

This rule also applies to adjectives that end with -le and -ow. 

Long Adjectives With Two or More Syllables

Two or More Syllable AdjectiveComparativeSuperlative
DifficultMore difficultMost difficult
CarefulMore carefulMost careful

Adjectives with more than two syllables turn to superlatives with the addition of the word most. “Careful” turns to “most careful” while “difficult” becomes “most difficult.” A sentence using such a word is, “This is the most difficult test I have ever done.”

Irregular Forms

Irregular AdjectiveComparativeSuperlative

You can make exceptions for irregular forms like good/better/best and bad/worse/worst. For this, there are no rules for the formation of superlatives. An example is, “David is the best student in the class,” or, “The team’s performance yesterday was the worst in a long time.”

Bottom Line

A double superlative is a more intensified version of a regular superlative. It is a powerful way to express admiration and enthusiasm for something or someone because it emphasizes the degree of something you describe. 

You can also use it to exaggerate for comedic effect, as long as you use them sparingly and in the proper context. As a rule of thumb, always check whether your sentence still makes sense after using superlatives to maintain clarity.

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