Talk:nationality

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Definition of nationality (2009)[edit]

The real definition should be what nation one defines themselves as.—This unsigned comment was added by 67.80.79.101 (talkcontribs).

  • This is getting overly complex and confusing: you say that nationality is "National or ethnic character", "Nationalism or patriotism", "Political existence, independence, or unity". I am sure, it’s copied from another online dictionary, but this lacks some common sense.
“Nationalism or patriotism" is forms of ideology, while “nationality” is a status of affiliation: you can’t mix both. Also "Independence" is a state act. These could be related to "nationality" but they are not synonyms at all. The "ethnic character" is primarily a Russian/Ukrainian meaning of this word.
To put it simple in one word, in English "nationality" generally means "citizenship". There are some nuances, which reflected in Wikipedia, but here in the Wikionary let’s keep it simple and let’s not overload this with inadequate words and translations of these words. Besides, the offered Slavic translations are incorrect, making assumption, that "nationality" is the equal to "ethnicity". Some web quotations on this aubject:


http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=nationality nationality

1) the country that you are a citizen of.
2) the country that you hold a passport of.
3) you can claim nationality of a country by birth, descent (child or grandchild of citizens) or naturalization (marriage)


http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080729000546AAOVrIL

Difference between race/nationality/ethnicity
Nationality generally refers to what country you are a citizen of (Canadian, German, American, Japanese). Ethnicity vaguely refers to what "original" socially and linguistically-coherent group of people one is descended from. This is different from nationality since while most people living in Germany and Austria are citizens of their respective countries claiming their respective nationalities, for the most part, they all belong to one German ethnic group sharing a pretty common culture and language (while many immigrant groups live in these countries and can claim German or Austrian nationality, they aren't ethnically German).


http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1B1-360842.html

nationality (From: Encyclopedia Britannica)
Affiliation with a particular nation or sovereign state. People, business corporations, ships, and aircraft all have nationalities.


http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761559423/nationality.html

Nationality, in law, condition or status of belonging to, or having legal identity with, a nation or state. …See Citizen; Naturalization.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationality

Nationality is a pseudo-relationship between a person and their state of origin, culture, association, affiliation and/or loyalty. Nationality affords the state jurisdiction over the person, and affords the person the protection of the state …The legal sense of nationality, particularly in the English speaking world, may often mean citizenship


http://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=nationality&oldid=3445883 (earlier version)

nationality (plural nationalities)
1. citizenship
I am removing inadequate content. Chelentano 04:28, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

I have added the following other definitions: From Random House (at dictionary.com):

1. the status of belonging to a particular nation, whether by birth or naturalization: the nationality of an immigrant.
2. the relationship of property, holdings, etc., to a particular nation, or to one or more of its members: the nationality of a ship.
Note that both of these definitions include a legal status, that is, citizenship. An ethnic definition of "nationality" cannot include legal status, only a birth status.

From American Heritage (at dictionary.com):

1. The status of belonging to a particular nation by origin, birth, or naturalization.
Once again, the legal status implied by "naturalization" is only appropriate when discussion citizenship, not ethnicity.

For both of these two authoritative dictionaries of American English, the notion of "citizenship" is the first definition of "nationality" and the notion of "ethnicity" is secondary. Websters has citizenship as the last option. Thus, two out of three American dictionaries give citizenship as the first options. (Taivo 11:35, 12 January 2009 (UTC))

The definition has been carefully compared to the definitions in the three major American English dictionaries and includes the primary meanings and variants found therein in a consensus order. Please justify your reversion to an inferior definition. (Taivo 12:32, 12 January 2009 (UTC))

The most common definition found for nationality is "citizenship". That is the primary usage in English sources. The first definition should therefore be citizenship. Subsequent definitions generally involve ethnicity and membership in a "nation". Other definitions include the sovereignty of a "nation" or "region" and patriotism. (Taivo 12:38, 12 January 2009 (UTC))

Tea room discussion[edit]

Note: the below discussion was moved from the Wiktionary:Tea room.

Seeking a consensus on a good, comprehensive arrangement and wording of definitions. See also WT:RFC#nationality, Appendix:Dictionary notes/nationality. The discussion has gotten a bit long and bogged down, so I'm moving it here.

User:Chelentano has made rather ingenious use of the dictionary notes to prepare a sort of consensus ordering of definitions, to wit:

1) Membership of individual or organization in a particular state, by origin, birth, naturalization, ownership, allegiance, etc. See citizenship
2) Membership of individual in a particiular nation by origin or birth. See ethnicity
3) A people sharing a common origin, culture, language, etc.
4) Existence of a region or people as a distinct nation or state
5) An emotional attachment to one's nation; patriotism

Do folks have any further thoughts about how best to order and word these, for maximal clarity and minimal confusion? I'm inclined to think that the last two should at least be labeled {{dated}}. -- Visviva 04:15, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

(Responding to myself :-) A good bit of the earlier discussion turned on the relationship between "nationality" and "citizenship". Turning to Black's, I note that it has definitions 3 and 1 above, followed by the "nationality of a ship" definition. Curiously, it defines #1 above solely in terms of the relationship between a citizen and a state, and also notes that this is sometimes used as a straightforward synonym for citizenship. Unlike some other dictionaries, Black's does not indicate that this term can be used for the relationship between a non-citizen national and a state. This seems odd, but I'm hardly in a position to argue with the dictionary of Anglo-American law. Would anyone with legal training care to weigh in? -- Visviva 04:28, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm not familiar with Black's or US law, so I'm speculating, but it seems to me that general US law would only be concerned with legally-defined nationality and citizenship. Since US justice is blind, ethnicity would be omitted, since any mention of it in legal proceedings might represent prejudice being applied. We could add a specific definition which is restricted to (US law).
This would be country-specific. In Canada, for example, various rights and equity laws recognize visible minorities, Aboriginal and First Nations status, minority languages, and multiculturalism. Michael Z. 2009-01-16 19:54 z
2) Membership of individual in a particiular nation by origin or birth. See ethnicity - Where did you guys get this? This is not a common definition in our Appendix? Besides, the word particiular spelled wrong. The #2 must be removed. I specifically oppose the 'ethnicity' part. "origin or birth" is not the same as ethnicity. Also the 'ethnicity' ranked #9 (the last place) in the Appendix table. We should not accommodate all 9, but pick the top 4 or 5, not more. Chelentano 04:54, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
  1. State or quality of belonging to a nation by origin, birth, or naturalization; citizenship.
  2. Patriotism/nationalism
  3. Race or people; nation; ethnic group; traditions
  4. Relationship of property, holdings, etc., to a particular nation, or to its members: the nationality of a ship.
  5. National integrity/independence
This version does not involve unusual definitions and should be fair for everyone. -Chelentano 02:46, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Actually the "ethnicity" part of the definition is a very important part of the ambiguous meaning of "nationality" in English. It is exactly what is meant by "membership in a nation, ethnic, cultural group, etc." It is the ambiguity of meaning that "nationality" has between citizenship and ethnicity that sparked this discussion in the first place at the Taras Shevchenko page in Wikipedia--one of the adversaries was treating the word "nationality" as citizenship (so that the grumpy mustachioed one was Russian) while the other was treating the word "nationality" as ethnicity (so that he was Ukrainian). BOTH parts of the definition are important components of nationality. (Didn't Taras ever smile? I never saw a statue of him in Ukraine with a smile on his face--except his portait on the banknotes.) Just because no dictionary has divided up the "nationality" pie in this particular way does not mean that the pie isn't divided this way. Every dictionary has citizenship definitions and ethnicity definitions. 1 and 2 above are simply clarifications of the two meanings. (Taivo 05:45, 15 January 2009 (UTC))
Ah, if this is overflow from a 'pedia dispute, the tenor of discussion makes a bit more sense. We tend to be fairly low-key over here. -- Visviva 11:31, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
It was copied verbatim from your posting on RFC. :-) -- Visviva 05:26, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, my comment related to Chelentano's revision where he de-emphasizes the ethnicity component of the definition. It should not be de-emphasized, but citizenship and ethnicity should be equal partners. (Taivo 06:05, 16 January 2009 (UTC))
However, since Mzajac as an administrator has complete control over the editing of the entry at this time, he doesn't seem to be interested in participating in the discussion. It's unfortunate since he is one of the two original parties to the dispute over the relationship of citizenship and ethnicity to the definition of nationality. I will assume that he is just unable to get to a computer and spend time right now. (Taivo 06:08, 16 January 2009 (UTC))
Yeah, I took little break from this. There are lots of other editors who can edit the entry.
I don't think the average rank of each entry is the best way to determine the order. It's skewed because some dictionaries with restricted scope have only one sense, while others appear to have as many as seven or eight subsenses. Someone smarter than me may develop a more complex formula, but I'm not sure if the results would have any meaning at all except as the best possible facsimile of the average dictionary, since different dictionaries seem to order these senses by different criteria.
The table is also rather inexact in lumping together senses without reference to the full text of the original dictionary entries.
Better to use these dictionaries as a guide, identify factors that make individual senses more or less prominent for us, and order them logically on this basis. An order based on any single logical framework would better serve the reader than one mathematically derived from an inexact equation between several orders derived by unknown but obviously different frameworks. Michael Z. 2009-01-16 19:54 z
I think more definitions (than 5) are fine, as long as they are clearly and unambiguously distinguished, and make things more clear rather than less so. I could see a plausible case for at least 10... -- Visviva 11:31, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Subdivision of senses should be done cautiously. Typical use of the word depends on its inclusiveness (or “ambiguity” if you like, without a negative connotation). For example, although a particular nationality (=nation) may be delineated by its religion (e.g. Mennonites), a mention of nationality encompassing this nation is unlikely to be restricted to this definition only. Michael Z. 2009-01-16 19:54 z
I would prefer one of two solutions to the citizenship/ethnicity issue. 1) Divide the senses into two definitions as I did above with cross-references, or 2) Reword the first definition to "nation or state" rather than just "nation". That way we either 1) specify the different senses or 2) make the ambiguity between ethnicity and citizenship clear by using both terms "nation" and "state". Since the article is currently blocked, not everyone can edit this. (Taivo 01:19, 17 January 2009 (UTC))


  • Mr. Taivo, I have to strongly disagree. Citizenship and ethnicity should NOT be equal partners. Ethnicity definition is used rarely while Citizenship used most of the time. The citizenship definition has the highest ranking in the Appendix, while ethnicity is the lowest: number nine, so it would not be fair squeezing it into the second spot. If they are equal, I’d like to see some substation evidence. I agree with you, though, that Mr. Mzajac has complete control and basically blocks the process. The Admin status is abused here. --Chelentano 06:21, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Mr. Mzajac, you scraped the original definition the “Citizenship” while making a reference to a dictionary. Now when Citizenship is ranked number 1 and Ethnicity is number 9 among all dictionaries, you are trying to dismiss inconvenient truth: “less prominent for us”, “restricted scope”, “mathematically derived from an inexact equation”, “rather inexact in lumping together senses “, “nationality may be delineated by its religion“, “senses more or less prominent for us”, bla-bla-bla... You also dismiss examples of real-life usage/meaning of the word Nationality found on collaborative sites, Yahoo answers, and Wiktionary itself. Everything is dismissed: the respected dictionaries as well as real-world examples, and nothing substantial is offered as alternative. To your credit, you did attempt to be fair and invited me to the discussion, but still you are very biased. The ‘ethnicity’ is promoted from the 9th spot to the second, which is an obvious bias and lack of verifiable evidence. And the worst is that you abuse your admin status. --Chelentano 07:50, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
Well then, blah, blah, blah to you, too. Michael Z. 2009-01-17 16:23 z
Actually, Chelentano, the very origins of this dispute illustrate the inherent ambiguity between the citizenship and ethnicity definitions of "nationality". You wanted Taras Shevchenko's nationality to be Russian, Mzajac wanted his nationality to be Ukrainian. In fact, you were both correct and the problem had to be solved by writing his citizenship as Russian and his ethnicity as Ukrainian. That very conflict, in and of itself, should show that the first definition here (or the first two in my original solution) should give equal footing to the two notions of citizenship and ethnicity. My problem with the currently published solution (which Mzajac has complete control over as an admin) is that it does not give equal weight to the citizenship aspect. I have given my proposals for a solution in my previous post. (Taivo 12:52, 17 January 2009 (UTC))
Folks, I didn't protect the article, and I'm not the King of Wiktionary, so please stop implying that I'm responsible for all of your frustrations. I've put as much energy into discussing this entry as anyone. When there's a consensus for changes which improve the entry, I'm sure they can be made without trouble. Michael Z. 2009-01-17 16:23 z
No, you didn't protect the article, Stephen Brown did. Chelentano is off-base for implying that you are somehow abusing your power. I actually think that Brown acted inappropriately for blocking the article without any discussion of what I thought were improvements. His argument was basically, "That's not the way it was and you wrote more than one sentence on the Talk page so I'm not going to bother to read your input". (Taivo 21:33, 17 January 2009 (UTC))
  • Taivo, I agree with you that citizenship aspect is unfairly removed. Mr. Mzajac is ignoring here opinion we both expressed. I disagree however that citizenship and ethnicity should be given equal place in defining nationality. Ethnicity definition is mentioned only in 3 (BTW none are accessible online) out of 16 dictionaries, number 9 ranking overall. The same situation exists when we look into informal, collaborative online sources: no ethnicity definition. There is no equality. The meaning of nationality pretty much straight forward: in English it’s basically a membership in a state or nation, commonly defined as citizenship. If you believe opposite, please offer some evidence in support of your notion that citizenship and ethnicity should be given equal place defining nationality. I have not seen a sufficient evidence yet to dismiss 16 dictionaries. --Chelentano 05:45, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Sometimes nationality is defined as ‘national character’, but never the way it’s offered by Mzajac: ‘National or ethnic character’. This phrase is another attempt to imply that nation and ethnicity are the same concept: they are not. --Chelentano 05:45, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Taivo, I did not say that Mr. Mzajac protected the article, did I? I did say though that he is abusing his admin status: he is the only one, who takes advantage of it being protected: he is making his edits, while ignoring other facts and opinions, and while keeping the article blocked from us. A reasonable admin should revert to the original definition and stop making his own edits until we come to agreement – that’s the way I see it. --Chelentano 05:45, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Mzajac is not abusing his admin status. He has made only minor edits to the definition as it existed before the block was placed on it, and those edits were actually the result of discussion (he moved an archaic definition to the bottom at my suggestion). He is not keeping the article blocked. The block was placed by Stephen Brown until the 26th. (Taivo 08:00, 19 January 2009 (UTC))
  • There are no ANY other online dictionary which use “ethnic” / ”ethnicity” to define "nationality" in any way, and if you find otherwise, please provide a link. For now, let’s not make stuff up artificially extending English. Chelentano 04:24, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
It's in the MW3, definition 5b ("a group of people ... forming one constituent element of a larger group (as a nation ): an ethnic group"), and OED Online definition 3b ("...a nation; an ethnic or racial group"); unfortunately both of these are accessible by subscription only. More to the point, many other dictionaries clearly refer to ethnic/racial groups without using that exact word; since this isn't Wikipedia, we are allowed to exercise a measure of common sense. ;-) -- Visviva 04:45, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
"Subscription only" is not good enough: I'd like to see it. I am not talking about Wikipedia, I am talking about Webster, Collins, Cambridge, Princenton, etc. If "other dictionaries refer to ethnic groups without using that exact word", why we are smarter then all these respected dictionaries? A common sense to me is when we use a real life meaning of this word in the English-speaking world rather in some Slavic country. Trying to bloat and overextend this word by dozens of useless "synonyms" is not a measure of common sense. :-)
http://machaut.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/WEBSTER.sh?WORD=nationality
http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=nationality
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nationality
http://www.collinslanguage.com/results.aspx?context=3&reversed=False&action=define&homonym=-1&text=nationality
http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/nationality
http://www.bartleby.com/61/78/N0027800.html
http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761559423/Nationality.html
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=52976&dict=CALD
http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/nationality.html
Chelentano 04:58, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
  • NOAD nationality
    • 1 b “distinctive national or ethnic character”
    • 2 “an ethnic group forming a part of one or more political nations”
  • CanOD nationality
    • 3 “an ethnic group forming a part of one or more political nations”
  • M–W Online nationality
    • 5 b “an ethnic group constituting one element of a larger unit (as a nation)”
 Michael Z. 2009-02-03 06:50 z
If you'd like to see it, feel free to fork over the subscription fee (quite reasonable for the MW3, somewhat less so for the OED). Or just waltz down to your nearest public library. Or -- here's a thought -- you could try engaging in this discussion as a collaborative effort, instead of a dogfight in which you try to show your own superiority. I'm done with this discussion. There is far too much actual work to be done on Wiktionary for any of us to be wasting our time on this juvenile crap. I have reverted your non-constructive edits to the entry. Ciao, -- Visviva 07:06, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

RfC discussion[edit]

A user has made badly-formatted additions. --EncycloPetey 20:33, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

Now partly cleaned up. I wasn't sure how to handle sense #1; its subsenses don't seem to be actual subsenses, in that (e.g.) "nationalism or patriotism" doesn't seem to be a kind of "membership in a particular nation", and for that matter, I'm not familiar with all of them. (I've never heard "nationality" used to mean "nationalism or patriotism"; is it dated, or regional, or just something I'm not familiar with?) I'm considering removing the {{rfc-sense}} and instead adding {{rfex}}, {{rfquote-sense}} or {{rfv-sense}}, to try and elicit more information about those senses before deciding what to do with them. (BTW, is this approach to subsenses standard now? I remember them being discussed, but I don't remember the conclusion.) —RuakhTALK 22:58, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
The sense of “nationalism” is attested in NOAD, M–W online, and from dictionary.com: Random House Unabridged, AH4, and Webster's Revised Unabridged. The NOAD divides all senses into two types of nouns: one's nationality or status vs a nationality or group, while the others classify them more specifically. Michael Z. 2009-01-11 16:16 z
If it is attested in the NOAD, then perhaps you could share some of their evidence? I don't own the NOAD or have access to a copy to see what evidence they provide. I also don't see how "independence" is a form of "one's nationality". --EncycloPetey 17:25, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I'm not totally sure which of my questions you're replying to. By giving a list of dictionaries that the "nationalism" sense is attested (?) in, I'm guessing you mean to reply to "is it dated, or regional, or just something I'm not familiar with?", and are implying that it's neither dated nor regional, but just something I'm not familiar with; am I guessing right? And by describing other dictionaries' division of senses, I'm guessing you mean … no, I don't have a guess, sorry. Care to rephrase? :-/   —RuakhTALK 18:15, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, I meant it's defined in those dictionaries, not attested. You can see the sources for yourself—the NOAD is the built-in dictionary on every Mac, and Merriam-Webster[1] and Dictionary.com[2] are online.
Regarding “nationalism” or “patriotic sentiment,” Webster's expands on this as “the quality of being national, or strongly attached to one's own nation; patriotism.” I'm not familiar with it being used this way either, so I'm just citing these sources. None marks this dated or regional.
Regarding political independence, this particular one would apply mainly to groups, countries, nations, or members of them. It's not a separate sense in the NOAD, but is in five other sources (I've since looked at the CanOD's entry).
It seems to me that the first four are senses of nationality as a status, a state, or a quality of a thing; they are abstract nouns whose meanings may overlap. In contrast, the fifth is a concrete noun. Only the NOAD establishes these two groups of senses, but I found it helpful in trying to form a mental model of all these—it's like grouping the senses into two families, or two finely-sliced sub-etymologies. Michael Z. 2009-01-12 00:48 z
Do I understand correctly that you're using this structure:
1. foo
1.1. bar
to indicate that "foo" and "bar" are related senses? I find that incredibly confusing; to me, that structure indicates that "bar" is a special case of "foo" — say, a specific figurative use, or a use of "foo" with a specific syntax, or a particularly common instance. If you want to use a subsense structure to indicate that "foo" and "bar" are related senses, I think you should create a meta-sense that covers both of them (likely with a non-gloss definition), and list them both as subsenses, rather than trying to make one into a subsense of the other. Or am I misunderstanding?
RuakhTALK 01:23, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
I used this structure because the NOAD uses it this way. My interpretation is that the first sense is the most general of the first four, and the other three describe more specific nuances of that one. I'm not married to the sub-sense structure, but it works for me. Michael Z. 2009-01-12 06:37 z
So I've explained why I used subsenses this way. It's certainly not common around here, and I'll be fine with it if you'd prefer to flatten the definitions. Go right ahead, because it doesn't look like there will be much other forward motion on this entry real soon. Cheers. Michael Z. 2009-01-12 15:58 z
  • This is getting overly complex and confusing: Michael Z. says that nationality is "National or ethnic character", "Nationalism or patriotism", "Political existence, independence, or unity". I am sure, it’s copied from another online dictionary, but this lacks some common sense.
"Nationalism or patriotism" is forms of ideology, while "nationality" is a status of affiliation: you can’t mix them or use as definition. Also the "Independence" is a state act. These could be related to "nationality" but they are not synonyms at all, nor could be used as definition. The "ethnic character" meaning of the word "nationality" is rarely used in modern English: today it is primarily a Russian/Ukrainian meaning of this word and it it used this way mainly by English speakers with Slavic heritage.
Michael Z. is saying that he is not familiar if these definitions being used this way, so he is just blindly copying it from other sources without complete understanding or experience.
To put it simple in one word, in modern English the word "nationality" generally means "citizenship". There are some nuances, which reflected in Wikipedia, but here in the Wikionary let’s keep it simple and let’s not overload this with inadequate words and translations of these words. Besides, the offered Slavic translations are incorrect, making assumption, that "nationality" is the equal to "ethnicity". Some fresh web quotations on this aubject::


http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=nationality nationality

1) the country that you are a citizen of.
2) the country that you hold a passport of.
3) you can claim nationality of a country by birth, descent (child or grandchild of citizens) or naturalization (marriage)


http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080729000546AAOVrIL

Difference between race/nationality/ethnicity
Nationality generally refers to what country you are a citizen of (Canadian, German, American, Japanese). Ethnicity vaguely refers to what "original" socially and linguistically-coherent group of people one is descended from. This is different from nationality since while most people living in Germany and Austria are citizens of their respective countries claiming their respective nationalities, for the most part, they all belong to one German ethnic group sharing a pretty common culture and language (while many immigrant groups live in these countries and can claim German or Austrian nationality, they aren't ethnically German).

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1B1-360842.html

nationality (From: Encyclopedia Britannica)
Affiliation with a particular nation or sovereign state. People, business corporations, ships, and aircraft all have nationalities.

http://encarta.msn.com/nationality.html

- citizenship of particular nation: the status of belonging to a particular nation by origin, birth, or naturalization

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationality

Nationality is a pseudo-relationship between a person and their state of origin, culture, association, affiliation and/or loyalty. Nationality affords the state jurisdiction over the person, and affords the person the protection of the state …The legal sense of nationality, particularly in the English speaking world, may often mean citizenship

http://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=nationality&oldid=3445883 (earlier version)

nationality (plural nationalities)
1. citizenship

http://www.yourdictionary.com/nationality

nationality synonyms
1. Citizenship
native land, allegiance, adopted country, political home; see country 3, origin 2.

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/nationality.html

nationality
Definition
Alternative term for citizenship.
I would at least revert to this EncycloPetey version 5950283. I could also offer my own one-sentence definition. Nationality: "Membership of individual or organization in a particular nation or state, by citizenship, origin, birth, naturalization, ownership, allegiance, etc." Chelentano 07:28, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I have added the following other definitions (Taivo 11:30, 12 January 2009 (UTC)):

From Random House (at dictionary.com):

1. the status of belonging to a particular nation, whether by birth or naturalization: the nationality of an immigrant.
2. the relationship of property, holdings, etc., to a particular nation, or to one or more of its members: the nationality of a ship.
Note that both of these definitions include a legal status, that is, citizenship. An ethnic definition of "nationality" cannot include legal status, only a birth status.

From American Heritage (at dictionary.com):

1. The status of belonging to a particular nation by origin, birth, or naturalization.
Once again, the legal status implied by "naturalization" is only appropriate when discussion citizenship, not ethnicity.

For both of these two authoritative dictionaries of American English, the notion of "citizenship" is the first definition of "nationality" and the notion of "ethnicity" is secondary. Websters has citizenship as the last option. Thus, two out of three American dictionaries give citizenship as the first options. (Taivo 11:35, 12 January 2009 (UTC))

The definition has been carefully compared to the definitions in the three major American English dictionaries and includes the primary meanings and variants found therein in a consensus order. Please justify your reversion to an inferior definition. (Taivo 12:32, 12 January 2009 (UTC))

The most common definition found for nationality is "citizenship". That is the primary usage in English sources. The first definition should therefore be citizenship. Subsequent definitions generally involve ethnicity and membership in a "nation". Other definitions include the sovereignty of a "nation" or "region" and patriotism. (Taivo 12:38, 12 January 2009 (UTC))

You're making a few leaps in logic.
Perhaps naturalization implies a legal status, but it follows origin and birth, which do not require one. You've also imposed a restricted sense of nation = “country”, which these dictionaries do not do not. And you're saying that since (you suppose) 67% of your references define this with citizenship before ethnicity, then the other 33% is dead wrong—but that isn't true, and I believe these dictionaries' editors intended that all the senses define the word, not just the first.
You haven't shown that the notion of citizenship is first, or even present in these two dictionaries, and you've shown no reason to disqualify the third (Webster's), except it more clearly doesn't support your argument. (And why only consider some U.S. dictionaries?) I haven't even seen a dictionary definition of nationality which even mentions the word “citizenship”, so let's stop jumping through elaborate and tenuous hoops of logic to try to turn these into synonyms. Michael Z. 2009-01-12 20:23 z
Actually, there are two words the are not clearly defined in the speech of native speakers which you seem to be treating as clearly defined. First: "nation". This term has two meanings for native speakers, and this is clearly reflected in the dictionaries--"ethnic group" and "state". The "ethnic group" definition is often used in technical descriptions, but in the common speech, there is not a clear distinction between the two meanings. America and Canada are often called "nations", but they are not in a technical sense since they are multiethnic. Second: "nationality" carries forward this ambiguity between "citizenship" and "ethnicity". There is a clear difference between a legal status--citizenship, and an ethnic status--ethnicity. Both meanings are used for "nationality". For example, ships are often listed by "nationality". This is unequivocally a legal status. The definitions also refer to naturalization. Naturalization is not an issue of ethnicity, but only of citizenship. It is a legal status and legal status only refers to citizenship. You do not gain an ethnic status by naturalization. Indeed, you cannot ever change your ethnic staus. You mention that the use of "birth and origin" seem to unequivocally confer an ethnic meaning for "nationality", but this is not the case. Most people get their legal citizenship status by birth and origin. It is also not unusual for these two issues to contradict ethnicity. For example, a child of Japanese parents born in the U.S.--an American by citizenship/nationality, Japanese by ethnicity/nationality. Because of this ambiguity it is important to separate the disparate meanings of nationality and to accord first place to the meaning most commonly encountered in reliable sources. From my examination of the major American English dictionaries (American Heritage, Random House, Websters), the majority of sources place the citizenship definition first. (Taivo 04:27, 13 January 2009 (UTC))
You're still making several leaps by applying your own restricted meanings to dictionaries' definitions, as well drawing false inferences from what I wrote above.
And as I have written before, citizenship may be inferred to be included in nationality, but the two are not synonyms by a long shot. Naturalization includes several things, including non-legal definitions, as well as residency and landed immigrant status, so, for example, per the US legal definition “nationals” of a country includes people who are not citizens. Barring DNA testing, people's “ethnic status” is not absolute—it is much more commonly self-determined by an individual, or arbitrarily assigned based on outward appearance. And how does your speculation about “native speakers” and “common speech” belong here?
So if your favourite majority of three actually did say that citizenship is primary, then what about Webster's? Are you saying their entry should be discounted as unreliable, or perhaps that the order of senses doesn't convey their importance?
But still, no dictionary mentions “citizenship” in defining nationality. Michael Z. 2009-01-13 16:29 z
That's not true. See my links above. The word "citizenship" is mentioned in Urbandictionary, Encarta, Wikipedia, Wiktionary (until you overwrote it), yourdictionary.com, businessdictionary.com -Chelentano 17:46, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
Excuse me, but I only counted the real dictionaries which we had seen to date. I didn't consider online forums, inadequately-referenced self-published work, and out-of-context quotations from encyclopedia articles which discuss various aspects of the subject. Michael Z. 2009-01-13 18:31 z
Chelentano, your urbandictionary cite was written by “anonymous” and given a thumbs up by ten other anonymous website readers. Your Yahoo answer was the best of three posted on a public forum, as selected by coffeecrazed75. Your encyclopedia.com/Britannica cite is an excerpt from the article “Citizenship”, so it's no wonder the word is mentioned. Your Encarta cite paraphrases the Encarta Dictionary entry, comprising 5 senses (one of them summarized citizenship; hooray!). Your YourDictionary.com cite is from the thesaurus section—it is not a definition, it is one of several synonyms, which means it overlaps some sense of the word to some degree. Your BusinessDictionary.com cite is from an anonymously-published advertising website (but see nation). If my contribution “lacks some common sense”, then I have to give you credit for compensating. Michael Z. 2009-01-13 21:02 z
To muddy the waters a bit further, I've started Appendix:Dictionary notes/nationality. Please revise/expand as appropriate. At the moment, it covers only the 9 dictionaries that I have ready access to; however, data from NOAD and Webster's International, etc., would be most welcome. Since it had just come up, I made a note of which dictionaries mention "citizenship" (Collins Concise and the Longman DCE).
Overall, the lexicography of "nationality" is rather scattershot, and there are wide variations in approach. 7 out of the 9 dictionaries include the "nationalism" sense, but only the OED bothers to mention that this sense is "now rare." (My own earlier check on b.g.c. had brought me to the same conclusion -- one can find a few uses, but they are thin on the ground and most are at least a century old.)
Out of the 10 rows currently in the table, there appears to be broad lexicographic consensus on 5 senses, with 3 additional distinct potential (but very obscure) senses, and 2 possible senses that IMO are unlikely to be distinct.
Only 2 of the 9 dictionaries use subsenses; the fact that the OED and MW3 assign these in completely different ways suggests -- to me -- that we might be better off sticking to a flat list.-- Visviva 17:28, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for this. I added a couple—sorry to add rows, but they differed in substance from the existing table rows. Michael Z. 2009-01-13 20:30 z
You will notice at Appendix:Dictionary notes/nationality that the "citizenship" meaning has the most entries as the number 1 definition ("State or quality of belonging to a nation"). But your attempts to remove "citizenship" as an important component of the "nationality" definition hinges critically on a tight technical definition of the word "nation" as an ethnic group. If you actually compare the definitions of "nation" in these dictionaries you will discover that there is no such tight distinction between "ethnic group" and "state" in the definitions of "nation". (Taivo 21:14, 13 January 2009 (UTC))
BS. “Citizenship” appears in 2 of 11 entries. How am I “attempting to remove it” if it's mostly absent?
Many of these definitions of the sense of “status of belonging to a nation” simply rely on the definition of nation, while some go further and add by origin, birth, and naturalization, and Webster's fills it out as “or being connected with a nation or government by nativity, character, ownership, allegiance, etc.” Obviously, citizenship may be an aspect of some of these, but lumping them all as “citizenship” is a too-big stretch. If it just meant citizenship, why wouldn't it just say “citizenship”?
My point to you and Chelentano is that it is not restricted to only citizenship, nor is it primarily related to citizenship. I have not said that nationality only means ethnicity. I have cited myself as a counter-example for your restrictive thesis: to me it relates mainly to ethnicity, and to others it means an association with a country (which is not necessarily citizenship, either).
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but the sense of nationality as “belonging to a nation” is a broad series of concepts, meaning different things in different contexts and to different people. Only one sub-sub-sense of these is the legal relationship of citizenshipMichael Z. 2009-01-14 01:45 z

Definitions of nationality[edit]

I've flattened the subsenses and add archaic to the sense of nationalism—I think this may satisfy the original request for cleanup. Since it concerned the break-down of senses, I think we should confirm that the important senses from various dictionaries are represented, and the cleanup tag removed.

The proposed definitions by Chelentano and Taivo, and question of citizenship's primacy appear to be an issue of definitions—shall we resolve that here too, or move it to the Tea Room for more opinions? Michael Z. 2009-01-14 02:03 z

I think the TR is the place to go for a fresh start. -- Visviva 02:33, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
Actually, I never stated that "citizenship" was the sole meaning for "nationality". I have always said that both citizenship and ethnicity were equally part of the definition. It was you who were trying to remove citizenship as a component even though it is clearly visible by the terms "naturalization", etc. in the definitions. Here is the definition as I had edited it:
1) Membership of individual or organization in a particular state, by origin, birth, naturalization, ownership, allegiance, etc. See citizenship
2) Membership of individual in a particiular nation by origin or birth. See ethnicity
3) A people sharing a common origin, culture, language, etc.
4) Existence of a region or people as a distinct nation or state
5) An emotional attachment to one's nation; patriotism
You will notice that this definition compasses both the different meanings of nationality of ethnicity and citizenship, but that each is clearly stated. (Taivo 05:42, 14 January 2009 (UTC))
  • "Membership of individual in a particular nation by origin or birth" is not the same as ethnicity. Ethnicity must be removed in any case. Chelentano 02:46, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
In that case, I will say that I agree with you in principal, although I still like the definition as I wrote it. Now we can just work out the details, yes? Michael Z. 2009-01-14 06:17 z
While your currently worded definition and that offered above agree in general, I believe that my list is better for three reasons. First, the order of definitions in my list more closely reflects the order of usages in general found in the dictionaries and in common usage and understanding--1-2) a noun referring to individual membership found not only in general prose, but also as a label for blanks on official forms; 3) a concrete noun to describe a collective; 4) an abstract noun referring to the state of being a collective; and 5) an archaic sense. You have the archaic sense ordered number 3, which implies that it is in more general usage than your 4 and 5. Second, the distinction in usage and meaning between the "citizenship" and "ethnicity" meanings is more clearly delineated in my version. We agree that "nationality" encompasses both of these meanings, but the ambiguity is not clarified in your version. A more precise delineation of the boundaries of the ambiguity is important so that readers can understand the exact nature of the ambiguity. While your version implies ambiguity, the reader is left to deduce this on his or her own. A dictionary should spell out ambiguities explicitly and mark out the boundaries thereof. Third, while your wording replicates the exact phrasing in some dictionaries, that wording is a bit too brief for true clarity. My version, I believe, offers more complete phrasing for each of the definitions so that greater clarity is achieved. (Taivo 08:44, 14 January 2009 (UTC))
This discussion is not about cleanup, and belongs in the Wiktionary:Tea Room, where we can get more input.
The order you suggest is fine. [I updated the entryMichael Z. 2009-01-14 17:53 z]
But your proposal eliminates sense 2 “character”, and splits sense 1 into two distinct and discrete types of “membership in a nation”. I don't think any of the dictionaries does this, and I can see why. I think you are artificially applying a restriction of the sense to one or the other, while the word is often used without this distinction. When asked what is their nationality, one's valid responses can include “United States” (a country), “German” (a nation-state), “Welsh” (an ethnicity within a country), “Ukrainian-Canadian” (an ethnic community in a different country), “Roma” (an ethnicity with no country), or “Mennonite” (a community defined by religion rather than country or ethnicity). One's nationality may mean “either one's country or ethnicity, or both”, or some other similar status. A dictionary definition must capture just what is required to define the meaning, but not restrict it too far.
The sense of “national character or quality” is allied with membership in a nation, but distinct (and it can also is associated with nation as either country, ethnicity, or both, or something else). Michael Z. 2009-01-14 17:40 z
Regarding sense 4: I think it is a bit more specific than “referring to the state of being a collective”. I think it refers to the degree or state of national autonomy or sovereignty, as in “Ukrainians' steps towards full nationality included the adoption of the self-appelation Ukrainian in 1830–1917, their forced unification in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1939, and independence in 1991.” I'm not sure if we're in agreement here or not. Michael Z. 2009-01-14 17:51 z
Concerning the first definition, I would be happy if the wording was "nation or state" instead of just "nation". That way we cover all the potential ambiguity between ethnicity/nation and citizenship/state. We are in agreement on 4. (Taivo 21:38, 14 January 2009 (UTC))
  1. State or quality of belonging to a nation by origin, birth, or naturalization; citizenship.
  2. Patriotism/nationalism
  3. Race or people; nation; ethnic group; traditions
  4. Relationship of property, holdings, etc., to a particular nation, or to its members: the nationality of a ship.
  5. National integrity/independence
-Chelentano 02:46, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Note that "Citizenship" appears in 4 definitions of Appendix, or 5 if we count the original Wiktionary definition before it was removed by Mzajac. -Chelentano 02:54, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
  • ...and some responses to Mzajac from previous section I missed:
  • Nothing wrong when dictionaries created by people: we are creating one. Definitions created by people indicate well what’s the real life usage/meaning. These definitions could be more accurate vs. some archaic dictionaries. When some Russian is trying to modify English in order to fit his language, it’s much worse then dictionaries created by American people. btw UrbanDictionary is listed in Wikipedia as one of few online dictionaries.
  • Yes, Yahoo answer is best of three, so what: you’ve asked for the word “citizen” to be mentioned – you got it mentioned. Now when you’ve got the whole bunch, and you complain that these must be definitions. Can you make up your mind?
  • Encrata’s definition is perfect. It does not summarize, but it expands the meaning of the word “citizenship”.
  • YourDictionary.com cite is not from the thesaurus section, it’s from synonyms section. Yes, it says that synonym for "nationality" is "citizenship" - something you strongly oppose!
  • BusinessDictionary.com cite is NOT from an anonymously-published site. I've seen many Wikipedia articles use this site as reference. BusinessDictionary.com is operated by WebFinance Inc. You can learn about them just by making a few clicks on the BusinessDictionary. Tip: when you’d like to learn about a site, just click ‘’’About Us’’’ button. That’s about “some common sense”. Chelentano 03:45, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
BusinessDictionary.com's “About” page does not say who edits the dictionary or what its source is, or give any indication whether any lexicographical research or expertise went into it at all. It's definition of nationality is far poorer than any other's.
I said that nationality is not exactly equivalent to or restricted to the same meaning as citizenship. Of course the list of possible synonyms in a thesaurus may contain a hundred terms which capture some nuanced or restricted sense of the word, so citizenship should appear in this context. Michael Z. 2009-01-15 18:09 z
BusinessDictionary.com really does not belong in the same class as the other dictionaries under consideration. You're right that it is not published anonymously, but the other dictionaries in Appendix:Dictionary notes/nationality are major, authoritative general-purpose dictionaries, peer-reviewed by a long list of academics and specialists. (Collins is perhaps an exception, in that we currently have only the watered-down, abridged version). I see nothing to suggest that BusinessDictionary.com is anything more or less than a specialized glossary put together by a small company. It may be a valuable resource for sussing out specialized business usages, but it does nothing to illuminate the lexicographic consensus. Encarta is the only other digital-only dictionary on the list, and it's the only such one I can think of that would merit inclusion. -- Visviva 04:16, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
  • There is some great stuff in this discussion, but there is also a bit of ad hominem sniping going on. This is fine, tempers always get frayed on the wiki, but I suggest that we move the constructive parts of this discussion to WT:TR#nationality and leave any personal grudges here. Cheers, -- Visviva 04:16, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Tempers, for sure. But how do you like this? Mr. Mzajac is editing historical English article in Wikipedia using word "nationality" in Ukrainian way. I am telling him the proper meaning of the word "nationality". He insists that "nationality" is not "citizenship" but "ethnicity". Next after I point him to that article in Wiktionary, he jumps to the Wiktionary article and scraps it! It's dangerous how quickly people could to rewrite language and history. - Chelentano 05:46, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, let's clear the air here.
Chelentano, your speculation and innuendo about my own ancestry doesn't belong here. Maybe I've been brusque, but at least I've tried to critique your arguments, and not yourself. Why don't stick to the facts and references instead of trying to imply that I'm the wrong type of person to engage in this discussion? Enough references like “Yes, the Russian meaning of nationality is in fact "ethnicity", but this is an English-language article and we must use this word the English way,” “mainly by English speakers with Slavic heritage,” “primarily a Russian/Ukrainian meaning of this word,” “using word "nationality" in Ukrainian way,” and “some Russian is trying to modify English in order to fit his language, it’s much worse then dictionaries created by American people.”
You don't know a thing about my background and don't consider yourself fit to evaluate it. Just because you encounter a use of English different from your own doesn't make it wrong. And my parentage doesn't give you any right to cast aspersions on my knowledge of English.
It's none of your damned business, but I will indulge you: I am not Russian. I am born, raised, and well educated in Canada. I am a native speaker and literate in both Ukrainian and English. Now how about you shut up about this, we'll move on, and continue improving the dictionary? Michael Z. 2009-01-15 18:09 z
I've never said that you are Russian. It's a figure of speech and actually it was an attempt not to offend a Ukrainian. I could have said "some Polish" or whatever. But you got offended anyway, sorry if that's the case. You are born and well educated in Canada. Very well, it's just odd to me that you are not aware of the primary meaning of the word nationality, and you Ukrainian background certainly explains it. One could disrespect my opinion, but (speaking of facts) the fact is that the citizenship definition has the highest ranking in that Appendix comparo, while ethnicity is the last on the list: number nine! Another example is the use of the word nationality all over the English Wikipedia (not-Slavic biographical articles). You dismiss various web example I offer, while you are unable to offer much sufficient facts. --Chelentano 19:02, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
So you're saying my Ukrainian background explains why I'm wrong and you're right? Did you notice that no one else in Wiktionary agrees with you either—are you going to blame that on their race too?
You should really start writing about the issues in question, and not your opinions about other editors, or you'll continue to waste a lot of time because you'll continue to be ignored. Michael Z. 2009-01-18 18:40 z