Almost forty years ago, William E. Cooper and John Robert Ross wrote a paper called “World Order” that starts “We began the present study by asking, as some linguists have asked before us, why the ordering of certain conjoined elements is fixed.” Why do we say “bigger and better,” “fore and aft,” “kit and caboodle,” in that fixed order? (The paper calls such expressions “freezes.”) It is available online as a pdf, and I commend it to your attention if the topic intrigues you. I got the link from this excellent MetaFilter post, which includes various other interesting items like this Idibon post about how “both X and Y” constructions have changed over the last century:
During the 1800s we really only said ‘both father and mother’. Throughout the 1900s the mothers staged a comeback, and now we’re at the point of equality where ‘both father and mother’ and ‘both mother and father’ appear equally. This trend is also seen with ‘both maternal and paternal’, showing that the pattern is broader than simply the words themselves, and really is an indicator of social change. We used to almost exclusively say ‘both going and coming’, which sounds odd to me, but now we can see that ‘both coming and going’ is more popular. Another construction that sounds odd, ‘both able and willing’ was once more popular than ‘both willing and able’. I was surprised to see that people actually use the ‘able and willing’ variation about 40% of the time—is this just my perception or do you use this?
They give the top 30 such constructions, ordered by how much they have changed over time. Amazing what you can do with the Google Books Ngram dataset.