Wiktionary:Capitalization in definitions

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Capitalization in definitions[edit]

I have noticed that about 50% of the definitions are capitalized and 50% are not. Should we standardize this now? The proportion of defs ending with a period "." also seems about 50%. Let's make a decision. Hippietrail 22:27, 27 Jan 2004 (UTC)

My preference is for full sentences, with initial capitals and ending in a full stop ("."). Although definitions are not sentences, my feeling is that this format makes for greater readability. Some printed dictionaries prefer the uncapitalised format without full stops to save space and ink - we aren't restricted in this way. Maybe we could have a vote among the sysops or the major contributors. In any case, let's hear what other users think. -- Paul G 12:19, 19 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I have no opinion on initial capitals. I prefer to have the full stop at the end, because occasionally you want to add additional explanatory sentences after the definition, and it becomes necessary in these cases. Ortonmc 15:59, 19 Feb 2004 (UTC)
After only 8 days, I've become acutely aware of this issue. Full sentences with initial capitals, and full stops works for me. I wondered if there was a standard, and maybe there is now? How would we get this moved to the style page where new users can find it? I agree with the earlier comments... Brevity is not our goal here, since the bits are essentially free. Full sentences makes it much easier to transition into unusual situations where you want to make additonal comments about the definition. Semicolons, commas, and phrases can also lead to misunderstandings, since there's not really concensus for interpreting them. -- CoryCohen 03:34, 9 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I'm against capitalization of the first word of a definition simply because wikifying it will for many (most, I suppose) words in many languages (most, I suppose) require piping it to the lower case version. I also prefer semicolons instead of full stops. Ncik 17:00, 03 Jul 2005
I am strongly for capitalization (still, after the switch) mainly for two reasons: 1) lower case sentence fragments look stupid and unprofessional, 2) We don't wikify every word in a sentence, and many definitions are not wikified at all, therefore the first word shouldn't matter most of the time since it is easy to use the pipe syntax on those rare occasions. --Connel MacKenzie 4 July 2005 16:53 (UTC)
As far as the stupid and unprofessional claim is concerned: Most of the definitions are not proper sentences (in most cases because there is no subject), hence don't deserve to be capitalized. Making the definitions proper sentences require them to have a subject, and this means, by the nature of the definitions, that we would have to repeat the word we are defining in each definition. Example "ram": "a male sheep" would become "A ram is a male sheep". Ncik 01:15, 04 Jul 2005
A sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, but not everything that begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop is a sentence. They can be viewed as abbreviated sentences: the definition "D" for a word "W" stands for "W means D". Writing definitions in this way does not therefore make them into sentences, and no one is likely to mistake them for sentences. I don't think there is any harm in this.
I wouldn't go as far as to say that definitions in lower case look "stupid", but they certainly look incomplete, at least to my eye. — Paul G 16:23, 19 July 2005 (UTC)