Talk:marriage

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Confusion between religious marriage and the NPOV definition[edit]

As a lexicographer I believe I have a say in this. Marriage can not have had an "original" definition on the basis that we don't know it's origins. What we do know in terms of the contention we're seeing here is that religion *Did Not Create or Originate* the word marriage, it not only predates Christianity, but also goes further back than most of the Pagan religions that we know of. Whether we're ready to admit to it or not, simply asserting that marriage "has always been between one man and one woman" is incorrect, it also included polygamy, usually limited to endogamy, dowry played a huge role as well. Please remember, this is not a religious encyclopedia, this is a worldwide encyclopedia that doesn't simply refer to one religion's definition of a particular term.

Perhaps I should parallel this with another example, should the word God be limited to "The Triune embellishment of Jesus of Nazerth, The Father, and The Holy Ghost"? Should we define "God" as the Hindu deity Moksha...after all, could the argument not be made that it was there "first"?

Including same-sex couples is not a change in definition to marriage, just as adding monogamous relationships to "marriage" (normally endowed with bigamy, polygamy, etc) does not change the it's concept either. What we decide as a society is completely up to us, but to take "ownership" of a definition is hypocritical to the institution that encyclopedias were built on.


Leaving aside the controversies raging in Wikepedia, this is not a particularly well-formed definition. I would suggest at least splitting the various interpretations in to separate definitions.

It's a perfect definition. Marriage varies all over the world. There is only one thing that remains identical in the entire world is that Marriage is a legally binding union. Only part of the world consider it a religious union.

EmporerBMA - Please stop altering terms for religious purposes. You may two changes to this term that are not proper worldly definitions.

1. Addition "between two persons" - This is not true as not all societies consider a marriage between two people. This is why the definition contains a disclaimer about the terms of the union. Please do not alter this

2. Addition "theology - between God and one man and one woman" - This is also false. You are speaking only of the christian biblical definition but listed it under "theology" as if this definition meets the standards of all theologies. This is patently false.

Please understand this is a world-wide dictionary and definitions can not become entrapped in your personal religion.

To sterilize a definition of its religious significance seems to suffer under the same criticizm as advocating the personal religion of atheism. It is also a fair-minded observation that roughly one third of the world's population is Christian. With the purpose of a dictionary as a means to define the language used by the people, it is not at all unreasonable to include references to the conventions of a popular religion.


Defining marriage as "A permanent, legally binding union between a man and a woman as husband and wife," is the proper dictionary and historical definition of the term. Deleting "between a man and a woman as husband and wife" is an attempt to redefine marriage to suit one's personal views.


I hate to disillusion you, but the legal definition of "marriage" in many parts of the world does not distinguish the sex of the participants. Most jurisdictions do not mandate that marriage is permanently binding. Divorce has been recognized since the pre-Christian era.

Please note that languages, most notably English, are constantly changing and evolving. Historical precedent is insufficient to justify limitations on the current definition of a word. The definition "A permanent, legally binding union between a man and a woman as husband and wife" will likely eventually have to changed, marked archaic, or altogether removed, since, as noted in the Wikipedia entries "Marriage" and "Same-sex marriage", some English-speaking countries have passed laws removing the differentiation between opposite and same-sex marriages. Also note that most print dictionaries are not subjet to the Wikipedia and Wiktionary NPOV policies, and often reflect either the perpectives of their compilers or only majority perspetives.

I would also like to point out the following: The American Heritage Dictionary also defines "marriage" as "A close union." Traditionally, this definition is applied to marriages of concepts or inanimate objects. However, this definition can also be interpreted to include civil and religeous marriages in any form, regardless of the number of participants or their sexes, or even the legal status of the relationship.

Splinting the definition[edit]

I wish to proposes splinting the definition into segments. This would make it simpler while preserving an NPOV approach. In this version (see below) the traditional definition of marriage is kept as the 1st one, while dealing with polygyny and polyandry and giving a place to minority views such a same-sex unions in #2.

Same-sex "marriage" is an extremely hot political issue and one of the tactics being used by its proponents is trying to the change the dictionary definition of marriage, to be favorable to their political goals. As such adding same-sex and group "marriage" to definition #1 is supporting those goals and as such is POV. Keeping them present but separate is the best way to uphold NPOV.

With regards to polygyny and polyandry they are where a person has multiple marriages each to a different person. In polygyny the man is married to multiple women, but they are not married to each other, but only to the man and vise versa with polyandry. So nether polygyny nor polyandry violate the union between a man and a woman concept, being are actually cases of multiple unions.


  1. A social, religious and/or legal union between a man and a woman, as husband and wife, that usually forms the nucleus of a family.
    a) In Western cultures this is generally only between one husband and one wife. (monogamy)
    b) In most other societies a man may have multiple wives (polygyny).
    c) In some other societies a woman may have multiple husbands. (polyandry).
    Examples
    • Conservative Western Christians believe that marriage should be limited to the union of one man and one woman.
    • The king of Swaziland recently entered into marriage with his thirteenth wife.
  2. Some include same-sex unions between two women or two men, or unions among multiple men and multiple women (group marriage) as marriages.
    • The Netherlands allows marriage between same-sex couples.
  3. A wedding.
    • You are cordially invited to the marriage of John Smith and Jane Doe.
  4. A close union.
  5. A joining of two parts.

I must entirely disagree: these are not at all different senses. What you are doing is confusing different applications of the institution of marriage with different senses of the word marriage. I will try and give a parallel example... suffrage is a civil right, giving a person (any person) a right to vote. In the USA, in former times, the right of people to vote was quite limited ('white land-owning males' is the familiar designation of the original holders of the franchise). Suffrage did not change its definition when it was extended to the poor, women, and the black. It only changed its application.
For perhaps a more cogent example, miscegenation used to be widely illegal and regarded as immoral. What you are trying to do is the parallel of:
  1. A social, religious and/or legal union between a man and a woman of the same race as husband and wife, that usually forms the nucleus of a family.
  2. Some include miscegenous unions between a white man and a black woman, or a white woman and a black man as marriages.
You cannot seriouly mean to do this. The definition of marriage as an institution is not under dispute, though it is often being framed in terms of the "definition" of marriage. What is being so heavily politicized is the applicability of marriage: the set of people who may enter into it. —Muke Tever 00:42, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

Your suffrage analogy is wrong, since including same-sex or group unions as marriage does requirer a redefinition of marriage as an institution. Those who are opposed to same-sex or group "marriage" see it as trying to call marriage, unions that are not marriages. An example would be trying to call slaves, employees. With regards to mix race marriages, as far as I know there was never a question that they were marriages. The nature of the dispute is clearly the definition of marriage as an institution, since it seeks to include relationships that historically have not been considered marriage.

However, since you made a good point about this being different applications and not different senses. I will propose the following corrected version.

---****************---

  1. A social, religious and/or legal union between a man and a woman, as husband and wife, that usually forms the nucleus of a family.
    a) In Western cultures this is generally only between one husband and one wife. (monogamy)
    b) In most other societies a man may have multiple wives (polygyny).
    c) In some other societies a woman may have multiple husbands. (polyandry).
    d) Some include same-sex unions between two women or two men, or unions among multiple men and multiple women (group marriage) as marriages.
    Examples
    • Conservative Western Christians believe that marriage should be limited to the union of one man and one woman.
    • The king of Swaziland recently entered into marriage with his thirteenth wife.
    • The Netherlands allows marriage between same-sex couples.
  2. A wedding.
    • You are cordially invited to the marriage of John Smith and Jane Doe.
  3. A close union.
  4. A joining of two parts.

---****************---

This is close, but still not quite it. (As for miscegenation, see the wikipedia article — the marriages were illegalized and those who would participate charged with adultery or fornication, often on religious grounds. As for what has been 'historically' considered marriage, see the History section of same-sex marriage — unless you'd like to limit your remark to 'historically in Christian societies,' in which case you seem to wish to duplicate sense 1a as the main definition.) I would emend thus:
  1. A social, religious and/or legal union between a man and a woman, as husband and wife, persons that usually forms the nucleus of a family.
    a) In Western cultures this is generally only between one husband and one wife. (monogamy)
    b) In most other societies a man may have multiple wives (polygyny).
    c) In some other societies a woman may have multiple husbands. (polyandry).
    d) Some include In some societies and subcultures, same-sex unions between two women or two men (same-sex marriage), or unions among multiple men and multiple women (group marriage) as marriages are recognized.
Notes:
  1. a man and a woman, as husband and wife, persons
    There are places where marriage is not limited to man and woman, husband and wife, and the definition has to recognize this. (again, "the customs of your tribe are not laws of nature".) The 'default' in our culture being the one-man–one-woman marriage is specified next, in subsense a).
  2. Some include In some societies and subcultures,
    Given that marriage (of whatever kind) is a social, religious, and/or legal union, I would rephrase to show that this should be held on a societal level—"some include" makes it sound like it is the opinion of a few individuals only, not of larger social institutions.
  3. (w:same-sex marriage)
    minor change - if all the other kinds of marriage get links, this one should as well :p
  4. multiple
    stylistic change - 'multiple men and women' reads better than 'multiple men and multiple women' [IMHO].
  5. as marriages are recognized
    To match the change at the beginning of the sentence (from 'some include ... as marriages' to 'in some societies ... are recognized'). I use 'recognize' here to also suggest that outside of these areas these unions are not recognized as marriages (and in other places perhaps not recognized at all). [For those that don't recognize same-sex or group marriages, the definition is thus limited to the less controversial monogamy, polygamy, and polyandry, without explicitly excluding anything in the main definition.] —Muke Tever 03:25, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

As for miscegenation, ... the marriages were illegalized and those who would participate charged with adultery or fornication, often on religious grounds.

Correction, based on the article the marriages were sometimes illegalized on religious grounds, but the charges of adultery or fornication seem to have been based on the fact that such couples were not illegally married and as such the legal charge of adultery or fornication could be made if no direct punishment to was applied for the marriages. This is a purely legal mater, does not seem to really question the institutional definition of marriage.

As for what has been 'historically' considered marriage, see the History section of same-sex marriage.

While this article does refer a few historical apparent cases of same sex "marriage" they clearly not the norm for humanity as a whole and even then most of the examples given seem to based on misinterpretations and some clearly are.

There are places where marriage is not limited to man and woman, husband and wife, and the definition has to recognize this.

It is recognized in subsense d) and should be relegated to that level because it it is clearly a minority position. In fact there are far more places in the world where homosexuality is illegal than that recognize same sex "marriage." Most places do not recognize same sex "marriage" while not actually out lawing homosexuality. So the human norm does limit marriage to a man and woman, as husband and wife and this fact requires that it be stated as the primary definition. The fact that a minority wants it to be otherwise does not entitl them to dictate the definition. In this case same sex "marriage" activists want dictionaries to define marriage in a manner freindly to their agenda, because of this fact substituting "persons" for "a man and a woman, as husband and wife" is taking the pro same sex "marriage" side and as such it is POV.

(again, "the customs of your tribe are not laws of nature".) The 'default' in our culture being the one-man one-woman marriage is specified next, in subsense a).

The problem with this argument is that marriage between a man and woman, as husband and wife is the universal default, not just the default in our culture. Polygyny and polyandry are cases where a person has multiple marriages, but each to a different person. In polygyny the man is married to multiple women, but they are not married to each other, but only to the man and vise versa with polyandry. So nether polygyny nor polyandry violate the union between a man and a woman concept, being actually cases of multiple unions. As such even in cultures that allow multiple marriages the default definition of "a marriage" is still between a man and woman, as husband and wife.

Furthermore defining marriage as between a man and woman is based on the laws of nature. Human reproduction involves a union between a man and woman. Our physiology is designed for this process, as such any thing else is going against the laws of nature.

By the way your wording of subsense d) is better than mine so lets keep it, but the main sence should reflect the human cultural and bilolgical norm and not the desiers of an activist minority as such it should read:

  1. A social, religious and/or legal union between a man and a woman, as husband and wife, that usually forms the nucleus of a family.

It is untenable for a subsense to be contrary to its supersense, as you are writing it. The supersense must be phrased as generally as the word is applied: when more specific definitions contain contradictory criteria, they are put in the subsenses; that's what subsenses are for. —Muke Tever 17:06, 10 September 2005 (UTC)

If this is case then the only NPOV rendering is to not mention same-sex or group "marriage" at all. If they can not be considered a separate sense of the word and can not be a subsense of the legitimate primary sense then it must be eliminated.

The fact is that defining marriage as: "A social, religious and/or legal union between a man and a woman, as husband and wife, that usually forms the nucleus of a family." is based on human cultural, historical and biological norms. So if same-sex or group "marriage" can not be either a separate sense or a subsense of with the above as its supersense, then making the changes needed to include them is taking the pro same sex "marriage" side and as such it is POV.

Therefor unless there is a way to include a reference to same-sex or group "marriage" with out changing the primary supersense to accommodate them, they should not be included. I have tried to find a way to be accommodate to these minority views but you seem determined to refuse any such effort and insist on pushing the POV of same sex "marriage" activists.

If one day this view becomes the majority then changing the definition would be appropriate, but since part of the same sex "marriage" agenda is trying to get dictionaries to define marriage in a manner friendly to that agenda, your changes are taking the pro same sex "marriage" side and as such it is POV.

Don't go thinking you're NPOV either — your anti-same-sex marriage bias itself is a powerful POV. (In fact, the most NPOV way out I can see at the moment would be to remove any mention of who may participate in a marriage.) My comment was not that same-sex marriage can't be a subsense of "marriage" proper, but that it wasn't a subsense of "marriage" as you were defining it. But I looked over the definition after I posted my comment, and I find that those weren't really subsenses as I thought they were, but really explanatory notes, and that's why I reformatted the definition the way I did.
"Norms" are fine if you are talking about institutions or averages or history, but we're talking about language which doesn't follow the rules of logic (language is frequently illogical) or prescriptivism (language frequently bends the rules) or even reality (fiction is widespread). If the "absolute" definition of marriage, the supersense as it were, included in itself some concept of a man and a woman, same-sex couples wouldn't campaign to be eligible for marriage any more than they would campaign to be recognized as a pair of scissors: it wouldn't make any sense. The fact that same-sex couples find it reasonable to campaign for eligibility for marriage, and that it is being granted to them in places, and that people speaking English can still refer to these unions with the word "marriage"—and in the same sense, e.g. John and Jack's marriage is stronger than Jeff and Jane's—indicates that this basic sense of the word marriage does not encode any concept of one man and one woman being participants, and that the idea that it might do so is merely an extraneous accretion inherited from traditions of the institution of marriage and these "norms" you keep going on about: perhaps a historical detail of marriage, but not a defining one.
A good definition must be predictive: Plato's example was defining a human as "a featherless biped" — it may sound reasonable, and apply generally, but the word 'human' is nevertheless applied to one-legged or otherwise non-bipedal people (and incidentally not applied to, say, featherless bipedal dinosaurs); thus it is a bad definition. In the same wise your definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman as husband and wife can't account for the word marriage being applied outside of this definition, which is why I had participants (heteromonogamous, polygamous, homomonogamous, and otherwise) listed in, again, an explanatory way: the definition itself needs to have the predictive power to be applied to those things which may be called marriage with the same sense: for example I am certain examples could be found in science fiction of the word marriage applied to unions between humans and aliens, or even among aliens, where the ideas of 'man' and 'woman' may be meaningless, and the fact that we are a dictionary, the job of which is to describe words as they are used, demands that our definition be broad enough to contain this.Muke Tever 20:05, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

Is this really a question of "either or"? As lexicographers we abserve and report; we don't prescribe. The traditional definition is still historically accurate, and is still legal in a great many countries, so it needs to be shown. The expansion of the definition to include same-sex relations is part of the law in some countries. At least four now legally recognize same-sex marriages, so that definition also needs to be included. (I haven't yet considered the various polygamal permutations.) For a lexicographer including one definition does not imply that you must exclude the other. Eclecticology 20:32:53, 2005-09-11 (UTC)

Older versions of the def did explain both "traditional" and "nontraditional" marriages existed, and (increasingly) that nontraditional marriage is less common and less recognized. (diffs between my revisions [1] [2] [3]). The number has been giving Western traditional marriage special prominence (even over the otherwise uncontested polygamous marriage) and (increasingly) wants to remove any acknowledgment of and even logically nullify [vide supra] the existence of nontraditional marriages. (diffs between its revisions [4] [5] [6]) —Muke Tever 20:54, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

new def explanation[edit]

I put in a simpler def, one based basically on etymology and throwing its weight on the verb, as, well, that's the verb's job, to support the words that derive from it. Since we can't seem to satisfactorily explain the institution of marriage without verging on becoming encyclopedic, I figured it might be better to let the encyclopedia itself do the being encylopedic, and put a prominent reference to the article there. Mr. or Mrs. number, I hope this is an acceptable compromise. —Muke Tever 02:37, 12 September 2005 (UTC)


This is absolutely perfect. It totally avoids this a extremely contentious issue with nether side getting its way. Absolutely nothing could be more NPOV. Given the nature and strong passions of this debate is probably the only way to end this battle once and for all. The root problem is that both sides have a mutually contradictory notion of what marriage and there is no practical way of mentioning both in a mutually agreeable way, as such this is a perfect solution.

By the way the name is Mr Charles Creager Jr. I want you to know that I was not trying to hide my identity. I just did not see the since registering over a single word.

--- Charles Creager Jr.

This doesn't solve anything because it has created a circular definition. "Marriage" depends on "marry", and "marry" depends on "marriage". Eclecticology 17:48:23, 2005-09-12 (UTC)
A fault in marry -- I will fix that now. —Muke Tever 18:56, 12 September 2005 (UTC)
Okay, I imported some slightly-cleaned-up defs from Webster 1913, none of which referenced the word 'marriage'. If Charles is still around he might want to check them for POV issues. —Muke Tever 19:31, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

Marriage (antiques)[edit]

Marriage is a piece of furniture etc. which is made up two or more other pieces joined together. —This unsigned comment was added by 89.240.193.147 (talkcontribs) at 23:30, 9 November 2008.

Pronunciation[edit]

Shoudn't be there /ˈmæɹɪdʒ/ for UK? Maro 22:50, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

  • Yes, and it's already there. Presumably added by someone between your comment and mine. I'll add SAMPA momentarily. Thryduulf 19:23, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

using subsenses and fixing other problems[edit]

Currently, there are several things wrong with our entry on marriage, which I suggest we fix like this.

  1. Marriage is not always entered into voluntarily.
  2. Marriage is not always entered into for life.
  3. Having "the union of two persons of the same sex" as a sense implies there is somewhere that marriage means only "the union of two persons of the same sex". This is not the case: there are places where "marriage" means only opposite-sex couples, and there are places where "marriage" includes both same- and opposite-sex couples.
  4. I'm not all that sure what "A union that legitimizes sexual and intimate relations between two or more than two partners" is talking about... maybe it's a clumsy attempt to handle the fact that "marriage" in jurisdictions that allow polygamy and polyandry can involve more than two people? If so, my overarching sense (which includes more than two people, and then has 'two people' as a subsense) is a better way of handling that.

- -sche (discuss) 02:28, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

Beware of well-meaning prescriptivism. DCDuring TALK 08:36, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
Do you think there's something prescriptive in my changes? I think they're all descriptive: I can find citations of "marriage" as a union one or more parties were forced into, and I can find citations of marriage of a union that has ended while its former members still live. I don't think citations can be found in which "marriage" is a term meaning "a union of two people of the same sex" that cannot also be applied to "a union of any two people". Citations can clearly be found in which marriage is "a union of any two people". And I've just added a citation of "marriage to his * wives" (a marriage with more than two people in it). - -sche (discuss) 16:47, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

"to the exclusion of all others"[edit]

"to the exclusion of all others" - is that really always true? Some people have open marriages, but an open marriage is still a marriage. Consider a married couple that are swingers or polyamorists - their marriage is not "to the exclusion of all others", but it is still a marriage. Maybe that clause should be deleted, or changed to something like "usually to the exclusion of all others" 60.225.114.230 21:25, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

what kind of "union"?[edit]

"The union of two (or sometimes more) people, to the exclusion of all others." The term "union" here is too vague, because it literally could refer to things that no one would think of as marriage. My friend and I may unite together in a business partnership, and we could even add a clause to the contract prohibiting us from entering into similar business partnerships with others. That would be "The union of two (or sometimes more) people, to the exclusion of all others", but no one would call that a marriage.

We should clarify that the "union" specifically involves a sexual element, a romantic element, an element of cohabitation, an element of mingling of personal finances and assets, the shared raising of children. I'm not sure any one of these is essential to marriage, but a union which lacks all of these elements would not be called a marriage (or it would be called a marriage of convenience). 60.225.114.230 21:29, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

BP discussion of the definition[edit]

The following discussion has been copied from Wiktionary:Beer_parlour/2012/December#NY_Times_op-ed_article_spills_the_beans_about_lexicography because a lot of it concerns marriage. The discussion also remains in the BP archives.

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The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Tea room.

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, though feel free to discuss its conclusions.


NY Times op-ed article spills the beans about lexicography

FLASH! See this article from the 3 December 2012 NY Times for shocking revelations on press coverage of dictionary goings-on. DCDuring TALK 14:10, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

I looked at out entry for marriage after reading this. It’s pretty good and non-POV eh? — Ungoliant (Falai) 20:12, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
In definition 2, the separation of marriage into the two definitions of "one man and one woman" and "any two people" is written on the basis of how laws work in local jurisdictions. But while pretending to follow those laws, the definitions ignore the facts that such laws sometimes prohibit the marriage of first cousins (sometimes not), and usually (or perhaps always) have age prohibitions as well. Also, the main meaning of definition 2 allows more than two people, but the sub-definitions do not, which seems to be a contradiction. --BB12 (talk) 20:47, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
@BB: the sub-senses are (and are labelled as) more specific/narrow uses of the general sense. How is that contradictory? - -sche (discuss) 21:42, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
@-sche: Because the reader is left wondering what happened to three or more people in the sub-senses. If the meanings of the sub-senses depend on the jurisdictions, the reader can only scratch their head, wondering why three or more people is also not dependent on the jurisdiction. --BB12 (talk) 23:31, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
It seems we just have different "senses of logic" (for lack of a better way of putting it), then, since I think this is how subsenses normally work: they narrow the general sense. Compare "war", where the general sense "a conflict, or anything resembling a conflict" narrows to "a campaign", or "god", where "a deity" narrows to "a male deity". - -sche (discuss) 23:50, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
The war and god sub-senses seem fine to me in that they illustrate the main sense. But with marriage, I'm left wondering what happened to multiple people and the "usually to the exception of all others" parts. --BB12 (talk) 00:01, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
And you aren't left wondering what happened to female deities when you read the "male deity" subsense of "god"? - -sche (discuss) 01:03, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
No. Female deities are in sub-senses 1 and 3. Sub-sense 2 simply points out that there is a super-specific meaning of male deity. In the case of marriage, though, the reader is left clueless on marriages with multiple people and the "usually to the exception of all others" part. --BB12 (talk) 06:47, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Left clueless? No, citations which use "marriage" to refer to the union of multiple people or to the union between people who agree to have an open relationship, etc, are covered by the broad sense. Many people also use the term only with one of two "super-specific meaning"s, to use your phrase, so those are also spelt out the entry. All citations of the narrow senses are by definition also covered by the broad sense, though. Or do you disagree that "unions of two people" are a subset of "unions of two or more people"? (As I commented below, the "one man, one woman" sense should be a sub-sub-sense of the "any two people" sense if we want to be really logical, but the current state of things is OK, like the current state of "god".) Or is it that you disagree with the idea that if one sense refers to a subset of what another sense refers to, the one should be formatted as a subsense of the other?
Compare "gook" and "tupelo" (which I also formatted): "Koreans" are a subset of "Asians", "trees of the species Nyssa multiflora" are a subset of "trees of the genus Nyssa". - -sche (discuss) 07:38, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
In my opinion, the union of man and woman should be the primary sense with the union of any two people being a subsense with the {{by extension}}. Subsenses don't necessarily have to have an "is a" relationship with the parent sense. Also, what do you mean by more than two people? If you are talking about polygamy, polygamy is covered by the "union of two people" sense because it is just a set of unions-of-two-people where one person in each union-of-two-people happens to be the same person, as evidenced by the fact that there is usually a separate wedding for each union-of-two-people. Also, I think the simplest and best solution is to just define it as "union of two people, usually a man and a woman". --WikiTiki89 09:15, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Re "by extension": That would be inaccurate, because the broad sense is not an extension of a narrow sense. Re "set of unions-of-two-people": some polygamous relationships—especially those involving deception, with one person not telling their second partner about their ongoing first marriage, often because polygamy is not allowed in the society they are in—are sets of two-person unions. But history has plenty of examples of "marriage" being, and the word "marriage" being used for, the direct union of (3|4|etc) people. - -sche (discuss) 16:57, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Re "by extension": How is a "union of any two people" not an extension of a "union of a man and a woman"? Re polygamy: Take a classic example of polygamy: A man has four wives. In this case, each wife has a union with the man, however the wives have no union with each other, they just happen to each have a union with the same man. If you find an example of marriage being used in the sense that the man and his wives are all in one union, then I would consider that a separate sense, or possibly a subsense (which would be an extension of the primary sense of "union of a man and a woman"). --WikiTiki89 20:01, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
┌─────────────────────────────────┘
The Germanic languages, including the predecessors of modern English, used "marriage" to refer to the union of multiple people, including the union of one man and one woman. From its inception (traditionally the year 1500), modern English continued to use the word this way; examples can be found in texts describing polygamous Biblical figures. The narrowing of the sense to refer only to the union of one man and one woman is precisely that: a narrowing. Calling the broad sense an "extension" is historically and linguistically counterfactual, directly the opposite of the actual development of the senses. The fact that, after Christianization, marriages in Germanic and English society were typically only concluded between one man and one woman never stopped the term "marriage" from being used of other marriages, such as polygamous marriages. - -sche (discuss) 20:38, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
1. The Germanic languages didn't have the word "marriage" as "marriage" is derived from Latin through French. 2. Can you give some examples of this usage, regardless whether the word is "marriage" or a Germanic equivalent? --WikiTiki89 21:06, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps if I could understand the broader definition, it would not be a problem. The two most frustrating parts of the broad definition to me are: what does "usually to the exclusion of all others" mean when the "usually" does not apply, and what happens when there are more than two and the usually of "usually to the exclusion of all others" does not apply? I simply don't understand these implications and expect the sub-senses to lay the issues out. --BB12 (talk) 09:18, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Re "when the "usually" does not apply": The omission of "usually" from the narrow senses means that an open marriage of one man and one woman, or of two men or of two women, is only covered by the broad sense that also covers three-person marriage, etc. The entry is laid out that way because when I overhauled the senses, formatting them into a broad sense and a narrow sense, I retained the "to the exclusion of all others" aspect of the narrow senses, and an IP then expanded only the broad sense. That didn't seem like a problem to me at the time, but you've persuaded me that it should be changed: if the current layout of entries is kept (which it may not be, given this discussion), would you find it clearer to add "usually" to the narrow senses, or to drop "to the exclusion of all others" from the narrow senses?
Re "when there are more than two": Consider a marriage of one man to two women (multi-person marriage), in which the spouses agree that they can take other partners (open marriage). The spouses do not induct their other partners into the marriage, yet they have other partners. Thus, there is a marriage of more than two people, which is also not exclusive. - -sche (discuss) 16:57, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
I think you're now talking about sexual relations, something that is not at all clear from the definition. I honestly thought "to the exclusion" referred to the marriage, not their sexual relations. If that is what you are talking about, there is yet another can of worms. Infidelity is often legal grounds for a divorce, though I don't know if it always is. --BB12 (talk) 18:56, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Our entry actually seems to me to take a pretty liberal POV, and implies (by invoking "jurisdictions") that the specifically-one-man-one-woman use is a legal definition. Which I don't think is a huge deal; I can't imagine anyone looking up this term and being led astray by a POV definition, as long as it's not over-the-top. But I wouldn't describe our entry as "non-POV". A more fully NPOV definition might be something like "Any of various similar social practices found in many cultures, whereby two or more people enter into a personal union", followed by a listing of typical defining features (usually it's just two people; usually one is a man and one is a woman; usually both are considered adults, either as a prerequisite or as a consequence of the marriage; usually it's a long-term union, intended or even required to continue until death of one or both members; usually there is a legal and/or religious component; usually there is an economic component; frequently there is an expectation of having children; frequently the social position of one or the other member, and/or of children, is defined by the marriage (cf. "widow", "bastard", etc.); etc., etc., etc.). —RuakhTALK 20:52, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
If you want to strip out the reference to "jurisdictions", be my guest; I incorporated it not only because it is accurate, but also so that "the union of one man and one woman" and "the union of two people" would be on the same level, which seemed to me less likely to provoke objections than listing the senses by the increasing specificity of their {{context|specifically}}:
  1. The union of two (or sometimes more) people, usually to the exclusion of all others. [from 14th c.]
    1. The union of any two people, to the exclusion of all others.
      1. The union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others.
- -sche (discuss) 21:39, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
I think that removing "jurisdictions", without making other major changes, would be a non-improvement. More generally, I think the entry is more or less O.K. the way it is, even though it's less-than-ideal from an NPOV perspective. This is a very difficult entry to write in an NPOV fashion, for a lot of reasons. For example, interracial marriage was illegal in many U.S. states until 1967; does that mean that in some jurisdictions the term "marriage" implied "same-race", or does it mean that in some jurisdictions there were some marriages that were legal and some that (while still "marriage") were illegal, or what? Is there an NPOV way to tackle that question? I think that most people in the U.S. (and probably elsewhere in the Anglosphere) actually would use the word "marriage" in almost exactly the same way, despite great differences in political views on the subject, if not that the political debate itself distorts usage. That same debate makes it hard to describe the usage in a way that everyone would accept. —RuakhTALK 22:23, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
I still think it is non-POV, but your suggestion is better anyway, Ruakh. But I’d add that it is an officially recognised personal union (otherwise dating would fit the description). I’d also only keep the following “usuallies”:
  • usually it's a long-term union, intended or even required to continue until death of one or both members
  • usually there is a legal and/or religious component
And add something along the lines of “in some jurisdictions, only a union between one man and one woman is considered a marriage”. — Ungoliant (Falai) 22:13, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
I think "officially recognized" is getting much closer. How about "officially or socially recognized"? I think that's what marriage is really about. That, by the way, takes care of the strangeness of including which sexes qualify for marriage but not the number or age of the people married. --BB12 (talk) 23:31, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Dating is a "socially recognised" union. I still think "officially or socially recognised union" is an improvement over bare "union", and I think including "or socially" is better than leaving it out, I'm just pointing that out. Perhaps Ruakh's suggestion of "usually [having] a legal and/or religious component" is better for that reason. I don't have a preference. But we should pick one or the other; I think "an officially or socially recognised union, usually having a legal and/or religious component" would be a lot of semi-redundant verbiage. I also support adding "usually intended to be long term". - -sche (discuss) 17:27, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
How about this: "A union of two or more people that creates a family tie and carries legal and/or social rights and responsibilities."
If the sub-senses have same-sex marriage, opposite-sex marriage, polygamous marriage, polyandrous marriage and common law marriage, so much the better. --BB12 (talk) 20:46, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
If by "the sub-senses have same-sex marriage" you mean "one of the subsenses includes the union of any two people, including those of the same sex": yes, that should continue to be the case (as it is the case now). But if you mean one of the definitions of "marriage" should be "same-sex marriage, the union of two people of the same sex", I oppose that for reasons I gave on Talk:marriage some time ago, namely that there is no jurisdiction or body of literature I am aware of in which unions of two people of the same sex are the only unions which are considered to be appropriately described as "marriages".
I'm not sure about "creates a family tie", I'll wait for others to comment on it. I like the rest as a broad sense. Actually, I would really like Ruakh's wording ("Any of various similar social practices found in many cultures, whereby two or more people enter into a personal union...") as an intro except that it doesn't match up grammatically: I feel the definition needs to start "a union...", not "a practice whereby people enter into a union...", because if "Edna's marriage is disintegrating", it isn't her practice of entering into a union that is falling apart, it's the union she actually entered into and is now in. - -sche (discuss) 21:29, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree that the sub-senses should not have one meaning exclusively same-sex marriage. AFAIK, all marriages in all cultures create a family tie, and I suspect that is the true essence of marriage. --BB12 (talk) 22:27, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Speaking of things we should check the N/POV-ness of: [[traditional marriage]] (should perhaps be re-RFDed), [[companionate marriage]] (also needs formatting), [[mixed marriage]] and [[intermarriage]] (also need to be edited to reflect that a "mixed marriage" is a union, but "intermarriage" refers to the act/state of being married across group lines), [[gay marriage]] and [[same-sex marriage]], [[marriage lite]] and [[remarriage]] (for which it's not a question of POV so much as a question of whether the definition is accurate or could be improved). Discussion should probably take place on the talk pages of the entries, to avoid having a massive multi-facet discussion here. - -sche (discuss) 23:50, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Mostly we need to keep a focus on having citations and be accurate about the context/usage of each definition, preferably based on citations and corpus evidence. DCDuring TALK 00:55, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Is there a "cabal" of "semi-divine" lexicographers? The line "It’s exciting to think of dictionaries in more dramatic terms: as battlegrounds where the fate of the language is decided, or as shadowy enterprises with secret, back-room meetings over what does and does not count as a word." made me think of WT:RFD and WT:RFDO, which seem to fit those descriptions perfectly :) —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 05:50, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

MK shhhhh! We can’t let other people know there is a cabal! That’s the point of that article. Now everyone, repeat after me: there is no cabal, there is no cabal, there is no cabal... ♕ The Wiktionary Cabal ♕ 14:53, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Cabal, what cabal? The article clearly shows there is no cabal. Now move along to the article talk pages. Nothing to see here. Certainly no cabal. Move along. DCDuring TALK 00:55, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
At least we're more honest about it than Wikipedia. Compare the following: w:WP:TINC and WT:TINC. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 04:14, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
I have two objections:
  1. There IS no cabal.
  2. Did I miss the vote appointing him? DCDuring TALK 12:39, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Of course you did. That's the point. MWAHAHAHA!!!! Chuck Entz (talk) 14:36, 5 December 2012 (UTC)