Tweedledum and Tweedledee

[tweed-l-duhm uh n tweed-l-dee]

plural noun

two persons or things nominally different but practically the same; a nearly identical pair.

Origin of Tweedledum and Tweedledee

1715–25; humorous coinage, apparently first applied as nicknames to Giovanni Bononcini and Handel, with reference to their musical rivalry; see tweedle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for tweedledum and tweedledee

Tweedledum and Tweedledee


any two persons or things that differ only slightly from each other; two of a kind

Word Origin for Tweedledum and Tweedledee

C19: from the proverbial names of Handel and the musician Buononcini, who were supported by rival factions though it was thought by some that there was nothing to choose between them. The names were popularized by Lewis Carroll's use of them in Through the Looking Glass (1872)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

tweedledum and tweedledee in Culture

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Fictional characters from Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll. They are pictured as fat twins who are identical in speech, attitude, and appearance.


Figuratively, any two people or positions that have no real differences are said to be “like Tweedledum and Tweedledee.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with tweedledum and tweedledee

tweedledum and tweedledee

Two matters, persons, or groups that are very much alike, as in Bob says he's not voting in this election because the candidates are tweedledum and tweedledee. This term was invented by John Byrom, who in 1725 made fun of two quarreling composers, Handel and Bononcini, and said there was little difference between their music, since one went “tweedledum” and the other “tweedledee.” The term gained further currency when Lewis Carroll used it for two fat little men in Through the Looking-Glass (1872). For a synonym, see six of one, half dozen of the other.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.