“Prescription Painkillers Kill More Than Heroin and Cocaine … Combined” [Liberty Voice]
“The U.S. spent more on defense in 2012 than the countries with the next 10 highest budgets … combined.” [NBC News]
“Apple Now Worth More Than Microsoft, Google … Combined” [Time Business]1
Just when you’ve been impressed by how much bigger something is than two other things we already think are big, there’s a short pause, then: “combined!”
We love the “more than ___ … combined” trope. How could we not? It exists to surprise us. Are you impressed that the U.S. solar industry employs more people than the gas industry? You are? How about that it employs more than the coal industry? Even more surprised? Excellent! But wait’ll you hear this: It’s bigger than the coal and gas industries combined! Combined!! I bet you didn’t see that coming! Boom!
“More than … combined” is structured like a joke. No wonder we love it so.
1Three dots added to each for comic timing.