Please do not modify this conversation, though feel free to discuss its conclusions.
Rfv-sense (humorous) “The answer to life, the universe, and everything.” Previous discussion at Wiktionary:Tea_room#42.
It's the subject of a well-known joke but it is not a word, and that isn't its definition. You wouldn't say “I went to the guru to find 42.” —MichaelZ. 2012-04-06 05:49 z
You make an excellent point in the Tea Room that this is no more a word than "to get to the other side (of the road)" is, but it seems reasonable that someone wanting to know what the sentence "In reality, the answer is 42" (last citation) means would come looking for it here. Perhaps an even stronger argument is that if we decide to delete that meaning, this discussion will come up again and again and again :). I suggested that perhaps "the answer is 42" is perhaps better (as an idiom). BenjaminBarrett12 (talk) 06:14, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
Well, you might, but it would be an inside joke for those who've read the book. ;)
I'll certainly grant you that this is a troublesome entry, but at the same time, if someone unfamiliar with the work were to wonder, "what the heck does 42 mean?", and decided to look up the meaning of the term on Wiktionary, not including the HHGTTG meaning would seem somehow ... incomplete. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 06:19, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
So a Romeo isn't a lover because those uses allude to Shakespeare's work? It does say something, though, to have the only durable citation be from Usenet.
As to your slippery slope argument, what would get to the other side mean, apart from getting to the other side? If there is another meaning, then yes, we should have it. DAVilla 22:33, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
No, words like Romeo and Machiavellian have become part of the language,because people who haven't read Shakespeare or Machiavelli know what they mean. 42, apart from not having any such meaning, is still an in-joke for fans of Adams's work. There's a grey area, but this is not in it. —MichaelZ. 2012-04-09 22:44 z
I very much doubt that everyone who uses 42 has read Douglas Adams. It seems much too widespread for that. On the other hand, its use seems more meme-like than anything else. —CodeCat 22:46, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
FWIW, I have never read the book. Before this thread, I actually thought the answer was some other number, but I knew the joke well enough to understand the reference. BenjaminBarrett12 (talk) 00:09, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
But we still don't have a proper definition, and not one quotation using the term. Only several referring to the term and saying what the question is. —MichaelZ. 2012-04-10 03:58 z
I honestly don't understand why there isn't one quotation using the term. Can you explain how, "So here it is, the answer is 42... told you that you wouldn't like it. No, that was the computer's answer; my answer is joy, fun, feeling good" doesn't qualify? BenjaminBarrett12 (talk) 05:58, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
For one thing, that quotation isn't independent, it is quoting or closely paraphrasing Adams, in a direct reference to his book. For another, it doesn't indicate any meaning of 42 other than the number 42.
I'm trying to remind you that we don't have a valid definition of this term for any quotations to support. 42 is also the answer to the questions “what is 29 plus 13,” “what is 50 minus eight,” and “how many beers in seven six packs,” but none of these is a definition of 42. [Updated.] —MichaelZ. 2012-04-10 14:03 z
I still don't understand it. If I say, "He's as mean as Darth Vadar" or "He's a Darth Vadar," the reference is clearly from the Darth Vadar of Star Wars whether or not the people speaking have seen the movie or read the books. Your reasoning does not convince me this shouldn't be in Wiktionary. BenjaminBarrett12 (talk) 03:33, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, those could be independent uses of Darth Vader. But a quotation that says “Darth Vader said ‘I am your father’ after he cut his hand off with his lightsabre in the Empire Strikes Back” is not “independent,” because it quotes the original source, nor is it “independent of reference to that universe”, because it has other references like Luke Skywalker and light sabres, and cites its source for good measure. The 2008 Rasmussen quotation is like this.
But when I say that not one quotation uses the term, I mean that they mention it but don't use it. They all say “the answer is 42,” which is simply stating the number. They don't indicate any other meaning. They are just repeating Adams's joke. —MichaelZ. 2012-04-11 06:51 z
I appreciate the kind follow-up. I think I follow you now :) BenjaminBarrett12 (talk) 19:32, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
It's the answer to the question "why did the chicken cross the road?", which might be described as a "meta-joke", since it relies for humor solely on violating the unwritten rules of joke-telling- so it would have no lexicographically-interesting content whatsoever. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:52, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
I have done as I suggested and removed the sense but left a usage note. The note is unambiguously supported by the citations, so I propose it as a way of accounting for the "answer to life" uses without attempting to make them a sense. - -sche(discuss) 07:08, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
Should the usage note be in the Translingual section or moved into the English section? I note that all the cites for it are in English. --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 01:33, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
Citations can almost certainly be found in other languages. Notice also that the usage note is currently placed by the relevant sense: it isn't "the card game Texas 42" that is often used as a joke, it's "the number between 41 and 43". - -sche(discuss) 03:05, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
I basically disagree with your notice, but I was overruled, so that's okay. If you're sure there are citations in other languages, then I'm fine with it. Thanks --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 03:58, 20 July 2012 (UTC)