Wiktionary:Tea room/2007/April

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April Fool's Day...

nonce word

(The below discussion took place at RFV, but I'm moving it here at request of Ruakh, whose advice and counsel I always take most seriously since they are an excellent contributor. The fact is, I don't understand what this word means, despite the definition we have. It seems like it is an attempt at "extreme slang.. protologism.. nonsense", but people use it for words where that reading doesn't make any sense) Language Lover 06:37, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

The reason I'm RFVing this sense is that it seems to me it includes most derived forms. For example, once cat entered the language, the first person to say cats probably made it up on the spot for a specific occasion. Granted, they did so using very regular pluralization rules, but still, they made it up. The definition we currently have is also ambiguous: it could theoretically be read as, "a word invented as a synonym of 'the occasion'". Of course I doubt many people would misread it that way, but we must always strive to give our readers the best possible dictionary in the world :-) Language Lover 00:18, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't mind an ambiguous definition if it has to cover several meanings anyway. But if you want to define it the way we should use it here then I would suggest a second definition tagged Wiktionary jargon. DAVilla 06:55, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
I think if we're going to speak of a Wiktionary-specific sense, then it's probably more appropriate for Wiktionary:Glossary, where I've put a first attempt at a definition; help wanted! —RuakhTALK 21:50, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't quite see what you want verified. This page is where you come when you're looking for verification (in the form of citations) that a word is actually used, or is actually used in one if its listed senses. Are you asking us to look for citations where regularly inflected and productively derived forms are described as nonce-words? If so, we needn't bother: that's not how the word is used, and whoever wrote that definition didn't intend for the definition to be interpreted that way. If you're saying that that definition is poorly worded in that it doesn't accurately reflect how the word is actually used, then appropriate places to discuss it would include Talk:nonce word and Wiktionary:Tea room. If you're saying that you don't like the word because you think it's not a meaningful way to characterize a word, then I don't think there's any place on Wiktionary to discuss that, because Wiktionary is a dictionary project, not a word discussion forum. If you're saying that you don't think Wiktionary project pages should use the term because it's not a meaningful way to characterize a word, then the appropriate place to discuss that would probably be Wiktionary:Beer parlour. —RuakhTALK 21:50, 31 March 2007 (UTC)


How is the word 'espial' used in a sentence?

Espial is countable and uncountable. When it is uncountable it can be used like this:
Espial is an important way for countries to find information.

When it is countable:

His espials gave valuable information to the country. Tim w. 00:19, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Wouldn't that be espionage3? --Joe Webster 04:23, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Not quite the same. An espial is a specific instance of spying, while espionage is the regular practice of spying for a nation of political faction. --EncycloPetey 04:38, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
He was heartbroken by his espial of his betrothed with another.
--EncycloPetey 04:38, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

The given examples above sound like reconnaissance, the third definition, to me. --Joe Webster 04:44, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

No, reconnaissance is a planned continuous activity. An espial is a momentary activity and may be accidental. --EncycloPetey 15:57, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Doesn't this make espial only countable, then? The uncountable use doesn't make any sense. The correct word there would be

espionage is an important way for countries to find information.

Algrif 16:13, 18 April 2007 (UTC)


hello I was wondering when the word "nasty" was coined?and why? was there a story behind it's development?

It first appeared in English in the late fourteenth century, and the original meaning was ‘dirty, filthy’. It's not clear exactly where it came from. The obsolete Dutch word nestig is usually cited as a possible cognate, but there is also an Old French word nastre meaning ‘unusual, low-status’ which may be related. It was originally quite a strong, maybe even offensive, word. Widsith 20:57, 8 April 2007 (UTC)


Verb def. 1 + 3, the same? DAVilla 15:52, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

No, the problem was a misplaced example sentence. I've moved it and provided a better example. --EncycloPetey 15:56, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
Okay, thanks.
You don't like the bullets? The italics is unreadable. DAVilla 16:43, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
No, I don't really like the bullets (they distract from the definition). The italics is a wide-spread norm (I've read it as such recently even); however I see that no specific policy has yet been added to the WT:ELE, so I guess it could go either way. I prefer to make the example sentences look different from the definition text, and don;t have a problem reading them in the browser settings I use, but I suppose they might be a problem in other situations. --EncycloPetey 17:07, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

copper — a type of horse-drawn vehicle

I don't have the citation handy and none of the online dictionaries I've checked has such a sense but Life: A User's Manual by Georges Perec seems to use copper as a term for some type of carriage, coach, or other horse-drawn vehicle. Does this ring a bell with anyone? — Hippietrail 19:55, 3 April 2007 (UTC)


Is amour (a masculine noun) in plural really feminine? It seems unlikely, even for French. I've been studying French for more than 20 years without hearing this - is it me being naive or one of those "exceptions that confirm the rules". --Keene 22:57, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

To quote from Le Trésor de la langue française informatisé:[1]
Amour est normalement masc. au sing.; au sing. et au plur. dans les emplois groupés supra IV D sous le tiret emplois métonymiques. Quand il désigne la passion amoureuse, le fém. se rencontre au sing. (par archaïsme ou affectation littér., et dans la lang. pop. ou fam. par ex. pour le syntagme la grande amour, cf. aussi ex. 241); il est habituel au plur., mais le masc. s'y répand de plus en plus. Souvent les écrivains modernes marquent le genre en choisissant des épithètes ou des adj. pronominaux qui ne font pas la distinction du genre (étranges; vos, tes amours, etc.).
which translates roughly as:
Amour is normally masculine in the singular, and in both the singular and the plural in the uses grouped above in section IV.D under the bullet "metonymic uses". When it denotes loving passion, the feminine is found in the singular (as an archaism or literary affectation, and in popular/familiar language in for example the phrase "la grande amour"; compare also the Flaubert quote above); it's usual in the plural, but the masculine is spreading. Often modern writers mark the gender by choosing modifiers or possessive adjectives that don't make the gender distinction (étranges; vos, tes amours, etc.).
so, broadly speaking that's true, but it's not very hard-and-fast.
RuakhTALK 03:08, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
To make it clear, in current usage, it is normally masculine even in the plural, when it is countable (e.g. deux amours). The same applies to délice and to orgue. The plural of these words is feminine only in some special uses. 20:25, 23 April 2007 (UTC)


hI Today I used the word "legacy" and I may have been incorrect.

A friend lost her great uncle. She said that he had a big family many grandchildren and even great grand children. I said "He left quite a legacy" What I meant was that his love of his kids was his legacy or also I was thinking the kids themselves were the legacy but now I think I am incorrect. ANy opinions would be very welcome.

—This unsigned comment was added by Soodoo (talkcontribs) 03:58, 5 April 2007 (UTC).

I think a legacy can also be what you are remembered for (e.g. a politician's legacy). I could certainly understand that you meant the descendants as a legacy and it made sense to me. RJFJR 13:15, 6 April 2007 (UTC)


Does bowyer refer only to bows and arrows? Who makes violin bows? Ben 11:14, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

The usual term is just bow maker. There's also the old-fashioned word archetier but it's not very well-known now. In theory I suppose there's no reason bowyer shouldn't refer to musical bows; but it's never used that way to my knowledge. Widsith 11:19, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

looking for a word

Hi, I'm from the hebrew wiktionary.
I'm looking for an English translation for the Hebrew word שיבר. You can see a picture of it here, it's a sort of a main faucet for a house or a building. Do you know what's the word for it in English? Thanks, Shai 19:24, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

In England, we call it the stopcock. --Enginear 20:32, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Excellent! Thanks. Shai 22:44, 8 April 2007 (UTC)


Apparently this word is used for some kind of women's shoe. Would somebody in the know like to add a definition? — Hippietrail 19:15, 9 April 2007 (UTC)


do any one know about X-generaion that happend in 1960's —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 05:41, 12 April 2007 (UTC).

You are looking for Generation X but more information is to be found in the wikipedia: w:Generation X Robert Ullmann 19:18, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

depuration, from GP.

I was reading the Wikipedia article on elemental mercury when I encountered the word "depuration" in the text. The Wiktionary doesn't have this listed; clicking on "depure" yields a Spanish result. - (added anonymously by User: @ WT:GP)

The reason by depure didn't yield results was that the verb form is depurate. 'Depurate' means to 'purify', and by extension 'depuration' means 'purification'. - TheDaveRoss 23:11, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Non-Latin script rescue

I've been going through the transwikis off-and-on, but since that's not a very popular task, I thought I'd bring attention to some of the non-English, non-Latin script words that I usually skip over, in hopes that someone who knows the languages will see them and verify them, and especially, write them in the correct script. Here are quite a few, most of them Indic. Dmcdevit·t 03:18, 13 April 2007 (UTC)


I am looking for an etymology for this word. Is that within the scope of the English Wiktionary project (this being a Greek word)? __meco 10:28, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Literally it means ‘someone called to one's aid’, from παρα- + κλητός ‘called out’ (which itself comes from καλεῖν ‘call’). The word also exists in English: paraclete. Widsith 13:09, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
I've added the Ancient Greek counterpart, hopefully that will help. Atelaes 18:20, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Is the comforter sense a calque from English, then? Or does it mean comforter only in the most literal sense of one that comforts? —RuakhTALK 20:56, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm not quite sure I follow your question. Παράκλητος does not mean comforter in the sense of "blanket" if that's what you're asking. If that's not what you're asking, please rephrase your question using smaller words, and I might comprehend it. Sorry. Atelaes 02:42, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Yup, that's what I was asking, thanks. :-)     To me the word comforter refers exclusively to the kind of blanket, even in the extreme case of something like "he was her aide, her consoler, her comforter." I think the definition/translation needs to be fixed. —RuakhTALK 12:25, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm somewhat hesitant about changing it. The thing is, comforter is kind of an age-old traditional translation for this particular Greek word (at least within certain biblical contexts), and I feel it would be irresponsible to not have it in there. Also, based on the other words in the definition, I would think that most users would interpret the correct usage. However, I would assume the same thing of your example sentence as well, so... If you can come up with a discrete way to clarify it without removing the word comforter, by all means feel free to do so. Atelaes 20:35, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Ruakh, it's a semantic shift in Greek. From "one who appears in another's behalf, defender" to "one who gives protection, help, and security, helper, comforter". It is used in this sense in the New Testament, e.g. John 14:16. Shai 02:58, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
To me also, a comforter is always a person (or perhaps pet) who comforts, unless the context clearly shows that it is a scarf, a blanket, or a baby's dummy. OED2 has a few other meanings too (and uses comforter in its definition of paraclete, which is somewhat persuasive). --Enginear 19:01, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Interesting, thanks for the info. I wonder if it might be a regional thing? (I grew up in the Midwestern U.S., if that says anything.) —RuakhTALK 20:34, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Could well be. I certainly think of the usage as a blanket as being an Americanism, and that is borne out by the five cites of that usage in OED2 (all US, and the earliest from 1832, 450 years after first cite as one who comforts and also the first cite as Wyclif's translation of the Biblical παράκλητος. I'm not sure if it's common throughout UK, but in my circles (mainly London) we always refer to the blanket as a security blanket...which I now see is another Americanism...I wonder what my grandparents used. --Enginear 18:36, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Being a midwestern boy myself, I'd have to say that I've certainly heard the term comoforter used as blanket, but I suppose both definitions seem equally prevalent in my mind. Then again, I was a theology major for a couple of years, so that might influence my perception as well. Atelaes 19:24, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, in the U.S. at least, "comforter" and "security blanket" aren't the same thing; I think most middle-class people have comforters (they come standard in bedding sets), but it says something about someone if they have a security blanket, or at least if their security blanket is literally a blanket. (w:Comforter uses the U.S. meaning, if you want to see what I have in mind.) —RuakhTALK 21:01, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, I've misunderstood for at least 25 yrs then! We call that a an eiderdown (archaic), a quilt (perhaps dated), or for the last twenty years or so, a duvet. --Enginear 22:00, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
I don't think duvet is a common term in en-us, but in context, it would mean a special "fancy" comforter (blanket), quite distinct from a regular comforter (blanket.) That is, they are similar, but not synonymous. I agree that the normal use of the en-us term "comforter" is that of a person or thing who comforts, while the blanket is also common, but restricted to contexts where it is obvious that the bedding item is what is meant. --Connel MacKenzie 16:55, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

Araripism, araripismo.

From Oscar Araripe, brazilian painter and poet. www.oscarararipe.com.br www.oscarararipe.com.br/fundacao

A painting or a life style where the art makes life and life makes colors. Pessoalism.

—This unsigned comment was added by Cidinha (talkcontribs) 11:36, 14 April 2007 (UTC).

what is the word for.......

what is the word for "collection of objects as memories" —This unsigned comment was added by Kurronbhatt (talkcontribs).

souvenirs? Widsith 09:13, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
memorabilia? \Mike 19:53, 15 April 2007 (UTC)


I was just wondering if irreversibility was a word. I only ask because I have a quote here from a paper by Alison E. Wheatley, it says "... unrecoverable because of the expenditure of heat, or loss, leading to human freedom and the irreversibility [italics added] of time." (Wheatley, 2004), and my spell check marks it as an incorrect word and i can't find it on wiktionary (i know this doesn't always mean it's not a word). This is just a double check and i think it is a word. Thanks -- 19:40, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, it's a word — and not even a terribly rare one; it gets 1.25 million hits on Google. In general, all adjectives in -able/-ible have regularly derived nouns in -ability/-ibility. The only exception I can think of offhand is unstable, whose noun form is instability, though there might well be other exceptions I'm unaware of or not thinking of. —RuakhTALK 20:47, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

theologian and theologist

These words appear to be somewhat synonymous in a not-too-clear manner. Is there something we could do to clarify their overlapping and/or different meanings? __meco 09:13, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

I had never heard of the second word before now. From what little research I've just done on it, it would appear that theologist has similar connotations to sophist, with some implications of being a sham. Atelaes 20:44, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
I slapped an RfV on theologist. __meco 10:13, 17 April 2007 (UTC)


A reference to this was playfully added to inherit (and removed). However, it seems to have actual use out there (though it is not in the OED). But I can't figure out its true meaning. Most often it seems to be used instead of inheritor but sometimes as the person from whom something is inherited. It also seems to have a meaning in object-oriented programming. Any ideas? SemperBlotto 11:03, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

I've seen it used to mean inheritor most often and probably is similar to words like escapee. In object-oriented programming it seems to mean the qualities inherited by the child (see here). Tim Q. Wells 05:36, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

Weeding out Wikisaurus

I think that the wikisaurus article for the word marijuana is in need of an edit. Its a mess full of needless expletives, but there isn't an option on that page to edit the article. Can someone help me out? —This unsigned comment was added by Raynieday270 (talkcontribs).

I have replied on your Talk page. --Enginear 11:43, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

Sing alongs

Connel: I have tidied up singular and plural of sing along and singalong as best I could. Can you find a moment to tie up loose ends, please? (I'm new at all this, I'm afraid!) Algrif 17:54, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure but I think sing along is the act of singing along, and singalong is a song intended on being sung along with. --Rightomate 23:25, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

In the UK, a singalong is usually an occasion when a group of people sing along to well known tunes, with or without a clear leader or accompaniment, eg while on a coach on a group outing or (more frequent in the past) in pubs or clubs; as in "The singalong was an open group activity. People joined in no matter if, or how, they sang. Well-known songs, ballads, folk songs, hymns, sea shanties,..." at [2]. --Enginear 15:42, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

turn, turning; part, parting

Each of these pairs are synonyms with the -ing versions being the British forms. Not all of the articles reflect this though. Would somebody who knows a bit about it care to fix the articles up? — Hippietrail 18:36, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

Help please....!

I hope im in the right place..I was wondering if anyone could help me out with a question I have..I was wondering if the amygdala in a sociopath is damaged? and if not then what makes them that way?

You may have better luck with such a question at Wikipedia, perhaps in the Neuroscience Portal. This is a dictionary. Atelaes 18:38, 19 April 2007 (UTC)


In David Malouf's Remembering Babylon, topknot seems to be used to refer to a type of bird. I can provide a citation of needed. — Hippietrail 19:11, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Also, Collins Word Exchange says the term is also used for some types of fish. We list neither sense. — Hippietrail 19:18, 19 April 2007 (UTC)


This term is used with the sense potshot by David Malouf in Remembering Babylon but is not among Wiktionary's senses for pot. — Hippietrail 19:31, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Added. Παρατηρητής

Broke your pow

Has anyone ever heard the expression "Broke your pow"(sp?). I had a scottish grandmother who often used it and I am curious to know more about its origin. —This unsigned comment was added by Thewanderer (talkcontribs) 00:28, 20 April 2007 (UTC).

pow is a Scots form of the English word poll, meaning ‘head’. That's probably what you're talking about. Widsith 09:27, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

ethical: How to handle comparable/not comparable usages?

"Ethical" has several usages in which it is not comparable, but I'm pretty sure it also has at least one usage in which it is comparable. I handled this by listing the word twice as an adjective, with slightly different templates and appropriate definitions and examples under each heading, but am uncertain if this is the way this sort of thing is done here. Could someone seasoned in the ways of Wiktionary please take a look at the current entry for ethical? -- WikiPedant 17:31, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

There isn't an absolute consensus, but I believe that last time this was discussed, the majority view was in favour of using the same principle as applies to Verbs (definite consensus) and Nouns (possible consensus), ie use a single entry with the standard template and then gloss each definition as appropriate. So
  • Under the ===Verb=== entry we use {{en-verb}}, and if there are both types, each definition is glossed (transitive) or (intransitive) [definitely policy]
  • Under the ===Noun=== entry we use {{en-noun}}, and if there are both types, each definition is glossed (countable) or (uncountable) [this may be disputed]
  • Under the ===Adjective=== entry we use {{en-adj}}, and if there are both types, each definition is glossed (comparable) or (not comparable) [probable consensus]
--Enginear 19:13, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
Okay, Enginear, thanks. I have now modified the format of the entry for ethical to conform to the information you have provided. -- WikiPedant 21:03, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
FWIW, I thought all three of Enginear's examples had solid consensus. --Connel MacKenzie 16:43, 26 April 2007 (UTC)


The mentions of this word that I found in a quick search were all related to fire apparatus. I am therefore compelled to ask: is the definition, as given, correct? -- Beobach972 00:05, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

What does the word mean in the Cat Stevens song - is not obvious. Παρατηρητής

Must machines have rigid moving parts?

See Talk:machine. Thank you. --kop 04:11, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

I think you might be confusing machine with mechanism. Certainly a mechanism must have rigid moving parts (except as used metaphorically); but heck, even an inclined plane (ramp) is a kind of simple machine. —RuakhTALK 15:50, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I don't think so. Did you consider the arguments and examples on the talk page? IMO you've got it backwards, although I've not thought much about mechanisims seems to me they only need have moving parts, e.g. hydrolics, but the parts need not be rigid. A mechanism would then be something that's "machine-like", or perhaps just a machine component comprised of multiple pieces.
The "simple machine" phrase is a physics venacular and (IMO) does not bear on my point any more than the meaning of e.g. the word engine in physics (a device that transforms non-kenetic into kenetic energy?) has bearing on the regular definition of the word.
--kop 01:24, 24 April 2007 (UTC)


from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Transwiki_log/Archive_6 :

Infovore → wikt:Transwiki:Infovore --CopyToWiktionaryBot 03:33, 7 February 2007 (UTC)deleted

Why was the entry on "Infovore" deleted?

Ed Vessel

It seems as it was deleted on the English Wikipedia only. As of now, it does remain on Transwiki:Infovore, though. \Mike 12:12, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

هاري بوتر al-Harry Potter

Someone added this with a definition in Arabic so I added the English but would an Arabic speaker be kind enough to check it, especially the pronunciation please? thanks. Pistachio 17:25, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

USA – singular or plural

This dilemma receives an extensive discussion on this BBC page. Should not this article and others (the government, the army, the navy are mentioned in the article) reflect this special condition? The police does have a usage note about this. __meco 07:57, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

Either you've linked the wrong page or the page content has changed in the last 24 hours. The page you linked discusses use of the subjunctive.
While I am not certain which point you were making, I assume that you are referring to collective nouns. Rather than place specialized Usage notes on each and every collective noun page (there are many!). It would be better to have a way to note that the noun has a collective sense and link to a section in Appendix:English nouns where the grammar of collective nouns is explained. Of course, someone would have to start writing that page first. --EncycloPetey 15:23, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
I assume you meant to link to this BBC page? —RuakhTALK 15:56, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
Anyone remember who said that the American civil war was fought over whether the United States is or the Untied States are? RJFJR 16:29, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
Historian Shelby Foote in Ken Burns' The Civil War. He didn't say it was what the war was fought over, but that that was the result: after the war, people said "the United States is". Robert Ullmann 16:39, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
From Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Foote: Before the war, it was said "the United States are." Grammatically, it was spoken that way and thought of as a collection of independent states. And after the war, it was always "the United States is," as we say to day without being self-conscious at all. And that's sums up what the war accomplished. It made us an "is." Robert Ullmann 16:42, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
The belief that the Civil War is-ified us is discussed in depth at http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002663.html. That said, this is about something different; the Civil War thing is about whether "United States" is plural (because it refers to a group of states that are united) or singular (because it's the name of a country, and just happens to be plural in form, like The New York Times), while what meco's referring to is the general British tendency to treat group-nouns as plural, irrespective of their form (as in e.g. "the committee are meeting"). The British might treat "USA" as plural because it's many people, but not because it's many states. (Does that make any sense?) —RuakhTALK 17:19, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
In that case it's not a trait general for the word, but a British grammar issue. That should definitely be in an Appendix rather than on each such entry as a Usage note. --EncycloPetey 21:52, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

bitch slap

Do we want to include pronunciation sections for phrases, when no audio for the phrase exists? Normally, we allow the "inflection line" links to refer readers back to the component words, if they need pronunciation, to reduce inconsistencies. Is there any reason not to be redundant? Is there any reason to be redundant? Anyone have strong opinions, one way or the other? --Connel MacKenzie 16:34, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

I think it would be easy enough (for all involved) to have the IPA/audio on the page. -- Beobach972 01:17, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, the pronunciation of words can change depending on their context, so this isn't a terrible idea in principle, but it doesn't seem all that useful either, especially in this case. The one thing that could be of use is the stress, and that isn't indicated at present. I'm not sure how a space is supposed to be interpreted in IPA either. There's no pause or anything between bitch and slap. DAVilla 01:50, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

دست شما درد نکنه

This is an expression in Persian, but I don't know which heading it ought to have. I used "idiom", but I'm not sure if it really is an idiom, because it's just an expression. Is there a better heading to use? Pistachio 16:49, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

Idiom. The point is that the definition is not the literal meaning. Robert Ullmann 16:52, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. Pistachio 17:41, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
I think it would be nice if you could link the individual words within this phrase, as is often done with English phrases. Atelaes 18:36, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
It's a bit complicated because of the direction of Arabic script and its confinement within a template, but you can still do it by manually wikilinking the words. -- Beobach972 01:00, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
I tried to link them, but every time the words would come out in reverse order. Thanks Beobach972. Pistachio 01:05, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
Thank you. Yes, right to left scripts are very difficult to work with. It seems like whenever I work with Hebrew, everything will be going fine, and then I'll add another character and the whole line will go wonky. It is quite infuriating. One tip which Stephen gave me is that if you simply type everything as you intend it, and just ignore the little dance the characters do, and then save (or better yet, show preview), it will often come out correctly, even if it looks bonkers on the edit screen. Atelaes 05:28, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

penultimate defined as best

There exists a question as to if "best" is a valid definition of penultimate. Certainly, the definition is far newer than "second to last" but the word is, never the less, used in this sense. The usage (with the definition "best") I've heard has been verbal. In addition, I offer as evidence the existence of the restaurant, "Riddle's Penultimate Restaurant and Wine Bar" (use a search engine for reviews). There are other examples, and many phrases, when plugged into google in quotes, yield about 10 results. The question is, when does misusage become common enough that it's a proper usage? 04:26, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Wiktionary is not concerned with "proper" usage, we are only concerned with usage. The editors you are arguing with are simply questioning whether penultimate is commonly used in such a manner. What I recommend is to find three instances in print (google books is a good place to check) of the word being used in the "best" manner. Put them on the entry (along with the accompanying sense, if it's been removed) and you'll receive much less resistance. Atelaes 05:31, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
If this reflects current policy, then, if I could muster three occurrances of people using the term sacrilegious to mean "sacred and religious", then this could be listed as a legitimate alternative definition of the term? __meco 14:53, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
That's not really been our policy, though; for example, we don't have an entry for every thrice-cited typo or misspelling. We do seem to have some vague sense of "error", and hold erroneous usages to a significantly elevated (but nowhere expressed) standard for inclusion. Unless we change that policy, I don't think we can add that definition here; I think a person would need a lot of cites, and from reputable writers at that, before editors would accept it as potentially correct. —RuakhTALK 19:44, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
Three cites for inclusion only; it may be still labeled completely and utterly illiterate or the like. I haven't found any number of citations that would brand a word "proper". DAVilla 20:06, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
I think the early attempts at such a concept sadly included ain't as "proper" and therefore were doomed from the start. --Connel MacKenzie 05:18, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, I guess that's true. That's a tough distinction, though, because the line between "misspelling" and "non-standard/illiterate use of one word to mean another" strikes me as a very fine one — especially in these degenerate days, where spell-checkers will happily replace a misspelling with the wrong word. (In this case, spell-checkers are pretty clearly not the problem — if there are people using penultimate this way, it's because they're using words without having a clue what they mean — but in many cases it's won't be so clear.) —RuakhTALK 20:44, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
It seems counter-intuitive for penultimate to mean best - maybe second-best though. Perhaps the restaurant is the last but one on a certain highway, or the owner already had one called "ultimate"? Παρατηρητής
The FAQ at Riddle's Penultimate says the word means "second to last" ... ;-) Robert Ullmann 15:05, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, I know that I've heard "ultimate" to mean best (e.g. "ultimate frisbee", which I don't think means the last game of frisbee you'll ever play, but more along the lines of "extreme frisbee"). I'm not positive, but I do believe I've heard penultimate used in a similar sense, but I'm not drawing up any examples at the moment. I think the English language has a habit of taking words and turning them into a bland expression of "goodness", such as awesome, fantastic, etc. Perhaps a usage note could be included stating that "second to last" is the more "orthodox" meaning or something; that is, if our friend does in fact come up with three cites. Atelaes 16:43, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

I think that using penultimate to mean "best" is going to be almost exclusively in spoken language and rare at that. I hadn't realized that Wiktionary was a dictionary of written language and not spoken. For written English, I doubt someone would type penultimate and that an editor who even agreed with the definition wouldn't cut it down because it's long an inaccessible. The fact that unique appears to have the definition "unusual" just barely hanging in there indicates the standards are tradition over description--which is a fine way for a dictionary to go. I can't remember the last time I heard someone use the word "unique" also using phrases like "more unique" or "really unique" or at least being willing to comment on "how unique" something really was. But I digress. Thanks for all the comments. 12:58, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

The above links by Atelaes bring up new questions for me. When is a colloquialism just accepted use? i.e. look at cool then google book search the word. Why are definitions 3-6 colloquial? 17:27, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

I was the one who originally posed the question, over a year ago. I notice frequent incorrect usage of penultimate to mean "best" - in speech, online, and in printed media. Rather than listing "best" as an alternate definition, I would think it should be included in a usage section explaining common improper usage. --justfred -- 00:43, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Reflexive verbs

On making a new entry under sort out as "sort oneself out" I could not find a template for reflexive verb. What is the correct format please? Thx in advance Algrif 16:32, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

Wiktionary distinguishes between uppercase and lowercase names for templates. In many cases, uppercase names simply point to lowercase names, but I guess {{Reflexive}} was never created to point to {{reflexive}}. —RuakhTALK 16:40, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

Thx. I should have thought of that. —This unsigned comment was added by Algrif (talkcontribs) 11:05, 29 April 2007 (UTC).

You're welcome. :-) —RuakhTALK 15:56, 29 April 2007 (UTC)