Wiktionary:Forms and spellings

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Accessories-text-editor.svg This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. This is a draft proposal. It is unofficial, and it is unknown whether it is widely accepted by Wiktionary editors.

Wiktionary denotes two variants of a single word as “alternative forms” in the most general case. This is the level-3 header we use to links such terms to each other.

Designation of a term as an alternative form of another is done for ease of maintenance, so editors don't have to painstakingly keep all the entries in sync. This is most easily accomplished by the {{alternative form of}} template.

In particular, while some editors try to make the “main” entry correspond to the most common form —and some sysops actively encourage this— the official policy is that all the forms are equally valid. Thus, designation of a term as an alternative form of another does not mean it is in any way less valid (although care should be taken to see if the form is regional or obsolete, in which case it should be flagged as such).

Exception: in some very rare cases, “leet” alternative forms meet our inclusion criteria and may be classified as alternative forms. These should not be considered valid in any context except leetspeak. A leet entry will always warn that it is leet.

It is not mandatory to make an alternative form entry's content consist exclusively of an alternative form link; especially in cases when all forms are obscure, a gloss is permitted for each form, although it is usually best to indicate that other forms exist.

Alternative forms[edit]

Wiktionary considers two terms to be alternative forms of each other if the following conditions are met:

  1. they have identical meaning
  2. they each satisfy Wiktionary's Criteria for Inclusion
  3. frequency of usage of either term is within an order of magnitude of that of the other, or two orders of magnitude if either is very common
  4. neither term arises directly from common accidental typos, human errors, scanning errors, etc.

In many cases, the different forms are used equally frequently; in some cases, the so-called "alternate" form may even be the more frequently used one. In the latter case, you can help by switching which entry is the "alternate" and which is the main one.

Region-specific forms[edit]

Wiktionary considers a term to be a region-specific alternative form of another term (with identical meaning), if its usage is overwhelmingly restricted to a specific country, dialect, profession, etc. Both terms must meet Wiktionary's Criteria for Inclusion.

Obsolete forms[edit]

Wiktionary considers a term to be an obsolete form of another (to which it is defined identically) if its usage is overwhelmingly restricted to texts from one hundred years ago or more, or (also) to contemporary work which deliberately attempts to sound archaic.


This category is added by {{misspelling of}}. Please don't manually enter it in entries, as it is likely we may want to remove it after a while.