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Serving a dual purpose, or having two aspects. The term alludes to the double-barreled firearm, invented to overcome the handicap of a gun that had to be reloaded after each shot. The term began to be used figuratively in the late 1700s. It is frequently attached to the noun “question,” as in, “How would you rate the dealer’s price and service,” that is, basically asking two questions at once. A surname that combines two parts, such as “Geoffrey Mott-Smith,” is called a double-barreled name. The term also has given rise to the phrase “with both barrels,” used for an assault of some kind. For example, “He’s pilfered office supplies too many times; we’ll give it to him with both barrels.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer