Repeat/repeated offender

In legal talk, specifically regarding criminals, it is standard usage to call someone who has broken the law several times a “repeat offender.” However, I don’t understand why such a person wouldn’t be called a “repeated offender.” Indeed, I have found somewources that use “repeated offender,” but these sources appeared to be English-language newspapers from non-anglophone countries, so I don’t find them to be reliable examples.

So, two questions: why “repeat” and not “repeated offender”?–in what other collocations is “repeat” used adjectivally?


The compound noun repeat offender is recognised by the OED, as the below extract will confirm.

Nonetheless to describe someone as a “repeated offender” would also be idiomatic. But it would have a less-official sense, and be used more loosely, in conjecture, or to make a point.

Repeat offender is, inter alia an official categorisation of prisoners and people charged with crimes.

b. Forming compounds denoting a person who does something (implied by
the second element) again or repeatedly, as repeat customer, repeat
offender, repeat viewer, repeat visitor, etc.

1906 Pearson’s Mag. July 108/2 It is your ‘repeat’ customers that
make your business profitable.

1940 Science 16 Aug. 143/2 An immense public, equivalent
numerically—not allowing for repeat visitors—to approximately four per
cent. of the total population of the entire nation.

1952 F. Pohl & C. M. Kornbluth in Galaxy June 33/2 Survey the
book-buyers, the repeat-viewers of O’ Shea’s TV shows.

1978 Washington Post 8 Aug. c4/5 Many juveniles, he adds, are
repeat offenders, ‘recycled’ through the system.

1986 A. Isserman Population Change & Econ. i. 16 Demographers have
noted that a large proportion of migrants are repeat migrants or
return migrants. 1993 Parents June 65/4 (heading) About 80% of
repeat miscarriers suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome.

2003 Philadelphia Inquirer 11 July a14/2 Judges could be ordering
repeat offenders to equip their vehicles with ignition switches that
work only when a driver proves his or her sobriety by blowing into a

Source : Link , Question Author : Flying Face , Answer Author : WS2

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