Wiktionary:Tea room/2007/December

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December 2007[edit]

Double contractions[edit]

Just to keep this separate from that'un's above, although closely related.
It seems to be unconfirmed policy, or something like that, to avoid double contractions. I wonder if this can be clarified? What exactly is wrong with can't've, that'll've, and other doubles that an Eng L2 might come across in a text? - Algrif 10:40, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

If in print, I don't see any problem with double contractions. See 'tisn't, 'twasn't, 'tweren't, I'd've, it'sn't, shouldn't've, and wouldn't've. Why would they be avoided if in use, no matter how much people may dislike them? I'm sure there are many more. sewnmouthsecret 04:53, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Are there any more of these that could be added to Category:English double contractions?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 14:19, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Of course there are. You don't even have fo'c'sle yet! Robert Ullmann 14:33, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Now added. Feel free to add any others you can think of to the category.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 17:05, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
'Tisn't hard to find them. Make a game of it. The young'uns'll find plenty that we old'uns've already forgotten. The real question is whether they deserve the be entered here if they are eye-dialect. You for'em or 'gin'em? Gotta go now. Be back in an hour if my car'll get me there'n'back. If mine won't, maybe my neighbor's'll do the trick. DCDuring 17:13, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
If they’re attested, they should be listed. BTW, most of the examples you gave are not double contractions, being instead for ‛em (minus the space), ‛gin ‛em (ditto), there ‛n’ back (same again), and neighbo(u)r’s’ll (where the ’s is not a contraction, but rather the English possessive enclitic).  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 18:05, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, I'm just an impatient amateur. Thanks for the feedback. DCDuring 18:40, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm... why are you using the opening quotation mark instead of an apostrophe? DAVilla 11:38, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
I’m not — «  » is the leading apostrophe, whereas «  » is the opening quotation mark — both are distinct from «  », the apostrophe-cum-closing quotation mark.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 16:00, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
What about triple contractions? fo'c's'le Cynewulf 00:56, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Hmm… Thinking about it, I’m not sure that fo’c’sle and fo’c’s’le count as double contractions, being as they’re both single words, simply split in two/three places. All the others listed in Category:English double contractions contain contractions of two words as clitics (it‛t; notn’t; would or should’d; have’ve; is’s; and, will or shall’ll).  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 15:16, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Depends how you define "contraction". If "contraction" means that the "'" indicates missing letter(s), then fo’c’sle is a double contraction of forecastle. Algrif 11:50, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
I defined a double contraction in Category:English double contractions; whereatop is written “Double contractions are those words which contain two contractional clitics, such as n’t and ’ve. Both contractions are marked with apostrophes.” — under that definition, fo’c’sle is a contraction, but not a double contraction.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 13:52, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Where d'you get that definition from? fo'c'sle is contracted twice - it's a double contraction. The OED defines the relevant sense of contraction as shortening "by omitting or combining some elements". fo'c'le is shortened in this way twice. The amount of actual words involved is not relevant (or how do you view o'clock which cuts an entire word out of "of the clock"?). PS, I'm pretty sure whereatop isn't a word, but if it is I suspect you're the first person in 200 years to try and get away with it! Widsith 14:25, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, I did some checking: both hereatop and whereatop are vanishingly rare (though I did find one person who’s used whereatop — not two centuries ago, but only last year), whereas, bizarrely enough, thereatop is rather common (in patents no less). BTW, I should be genuinely interested to hear on what grounds you state whether something is or is not a word…  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 22:32, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
I think that if fo'c'sle is neither a single nor a double contraction, then what is it? A multiple contraction? But that would be pointless hair-splitting IMHO. I've put bo's'n in catagory double contraction, and I think fo'c'sle and fo'c's'le should be there also. - Algrif 10:32, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
The OED’s pertinent definition of contraction doesn’t actually conflict with the one I gave — it says nowhere that the “omitt[ed] or combin[ed] … elements” must be adjacent. However, perhaps that really would be hair-splitting. I’m unsure what to call o’clock — perhaps it is indeed a double contraction. To twist the “rules” a bit — bo’s’n could be viewed as “boatbo’* ” + “swains’n* ”, whilst fo’c’sle and fo’c’s’le could be viewed as “forefo’* ” + “castlec’sle* or c’s’le* ”. Otherwise, we’d need Category:English triple contractions just for fo’c’s’le (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 22:58, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm trying to think of any more examples of o' = of the apart from o'clock and jack o'lantern. Also, are there any other examples where the apostrophe indicates the loss of an entire word? - Algrif 12:41, 9 December 2007 (UTC)


I am looking for information on the word tohubohu. I was told that it means chaos. If there is any info out there in the great wide web, please send it out. tohubohu sounds like something sad or crying;I know that it is more than what it sounds like, I find myself thinking about what it could mean.

boohoo sounds more like some one is crying or sad... and thus one is easily mislead into thinking that tohubohu could mean that aswell... but it is not, it comes from Hebrew tohu wa-bhohu, from tohu (formlessness) and bhohu (emptiness), so a formless emptiness. Reference: New York Times Letter to the Editor March 26, 1995 --BigBadBen 21:17, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
For what it's worth, the Hebrew is תהו ובהו (tohu vavohu), from the second verse in Genesis. It means "תהו (tohu) and בהו (bohu)", but what those are beats me. If I recall correctly, major classical Bible commentators differ about them.—msh210 20:22, 6 December 2007 (UTC)


I have often wondered about how one should pronounce the word "Shinola", which was as though carved in stone when the famous slang/colloquial phrase appeared and spread.))) Not for use in my speech, personally, but just for knowing, because eventually I have to read it aloud from books. Is the shoe-polish named [ʃɪ`nəʊlə]? [`ʃɪnələ]? [ʃaɪ`nəʊlə]? Eate 15:16, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't know the notation, but first syllable rhymes with "shine", accent is on second syllable, as I've heard it. The commercial logic of the rhyme with "shine" would make me willing to bet a lot of money at long odds that that part of the pronunciation was encouraged by the manufacturer as well. I'm not as sure about the accent. DCDuring 15:24, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Aha...So it is probably "Shy-NO-la". The analogy with the slang word "payola", which I know to bear stress on the second syllable, encourages me to think that the stress falls indeed on the second one. The slang suffix "-ola" is generally stressed in words that include it. Thanks. Eate 16:20, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

яблочко от яблоньки недалеко падает [edit]

Is currently categorised as English idioms and English proverbs. Can s/o who knows change to the correct cats, please? - Algrif 16:16, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

It's now in Category:Russian idioms and Category:Russian proverbs. To change the {{idiom}} template, you had to add |lang=ru : {{idiom|lang=ru}}. — Beobach972 00:09, 1 December 2007 (UTC)


Anyone know where the conversation for this went? This should be listed as an alternative spelling, not a misspelling, right? --Connel MacKenzie 00:30, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

I think of it as a Freudian misspelling. It reflects the deep-seated hostility of many of those forced to encumber themselves with such "monkey suits". MW3 doesn't include this spelling. DCDuring 00:54, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, I do recall it being discussed previously, but I can't seem to find which spelling variant it was WT:TR listed under. --Connel MacKenzie 06:00, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Wiktionary:Tea room/2006#cumberbund Robert Ullmann 07:37, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Thank you. Rats. I didn't realize that conversation died out before it began. (I wasn't asking what the OED says...I was asking for confirmation of the American pronunciation that I've always used. Do other Americans share that experience, or have I simply mispronounced (and misheard it) all my life?) --Connel MacKenzie 15:59, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Totally common mispronunciation and misspelling. I just answered someone last month in "real life" who was wondering which was which. But indeed, completely an outright mispronunciation and misspelling. An older actual spelling variant in use was kummerbund. The commonness of cumberbund, i believe, is influenced phonetically by Cumberland and cumbersome (by phonetics, not Freudian hostility, DC) :) -- Thisis0 19:23, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Not having seen the word in writing often (ever?), I didn't have strong expectatons about its spelling. "Cumberbund" didn't strike me as obviously wrong when I saw it. Because (1) I associate formal dress with England, (2) the English have the habit of not pronouncing certain consonants and syllables, and (3) I was not aware of the Asian etymology, I might have writen "cumberbund" if asked. DCDuring 20:04, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Serbian translation change[edit]

An anon recently changed the Serbian translation of thither from тамо (tamo) to otale. Though Serbian can be written in both the Cyrillic script and the Latin script, these two translations are not transliterations of each other. Is this correction, vandalism, POV-pushing, or what?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 16:33, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

The same user has made many similar edits to other pages, including blanking some pages. Ivan and Dijan ought to have a look at the contributions form this user. --EncycloPetey 01:43, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Basic word list ALMOST done[edit]

The basic word list of 18,000 words is all but done. There are less than 100 words left, all beginning with 'N' (in fact, they all begin 'non'.) If we all grab a couple of words we can have this DONE. The remaining few words are at Wiktionary:Requested_articles:English/DictList/N. RJFJR 02:25, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Precisely sixty-five remain.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 15:22, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
They have all now been added. The last word on the list to be added was nonstriking.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 17:31, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Done. I probably missed the point of nonredeemable and some other law-related words, and there's an atomic physics sense of nonsecular I can't figure out (which may just belong on secular), so I'd appreciate additional viewpoints here. Cynewulf 17:31, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Well done everyone. As for nonsecular, it seems to be used as non-secular more often, and I can't get a handle on the mathematical meaning (nothing in Mathworld). SemperBlotto 17:52, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Secular in econometrics always refers to longer-term, usually non-cyclical phenomena, contrary to the RfVd sense of secular as meaning short-term. I'd be amazed if any of the sciences used the word too differently, although what constitutes longer term is always relative to the context, which, in physics, could be femtoseconds. DCDuring 18:05, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
The OED has (in a long entry) the following - 7. In scientific use, of processes of change: Having a period of enormous length; continuing through long ages. a. Astr. Chiefly of changes in the orbits or the periods of revolution of the planets, as in secular acceleration, equation, inequality, variation. The terms secular acceleration, secular variation were formerly also used (with reference to the sense ‘century’ of L. sæculum) for the amount of change per 100 years; similarly secular precession (see quot. 1812). secular equation is also used more widely to designate any equation of the form |aij-bij| = 0 (i,j = 1,2, . . ., n), in which the left-hand side is a determinant and which arises in quantum mechanics. SemperBlotto 18:11, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Now that the basic list is complete - maybe it would be a good idea to rebuild Index:English. Kipmaster automated this well over a year ago, but is too busy in the real world to repeat the process. SemperBlotto 18:15, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, he resurfaced on IRC this week... --Connel MacKenzie 15:56, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

X of Xes[edit]

What's the proper place, if any, to note this pattern in English? as in "Lord of lords", "code of codes", "lie of lies", etc. DAVilla 11:28, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

I don't know - but there is a similar (just as troublesome) pattern - as in "cricketer's cricketer", "editor's editor", "pianist's pianist" - i.e. a professional admired by his peers. SemperBlotto 11:31, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Are these a form of reduplication? (And should we have entries for food food, car car, and house house?) DAVilla 11:49, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Which of those have sufficient use (e.g. b.g.c.) to merit entries? --Connel MacKenzie 16:03, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Also man's man, and gentleman's gentleman, which don't quite fit that pattern. (of professional admired by peers) Robert Ullmann 12:11, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
What about reduplication across part of speech? I think of the forms "X y an X" or "X y no Xes". "[F]ind me a find, catch me a catch" from Fiddler on the Roof. "Joke us no jokes". "Riddle me a riddle, riddler." It doesn't seem to work at the WT entry level. WP? DCDuring 16:41, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
I made a theme entry on this at Wikiquote:X me no X's quite a while ago. If a list of quotes containing such themes can be generated with proper citation, it can go there. Cheers! bd2412 T 16:58, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Cool. Well, name me a name. Construct me a construct. Are there names for these constructions? The "X me no Xes" construction is referred to in Pinker (2007), The Stuff of Thought. DCDuring 17:48, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
The word you are looking for is snowclone. bd2412 T 16:40, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
I think having pattern entries is unwarranted. If you are trying to describe reduplication then link reduplication. If you'd like to make an entry for Lord of Lords then make that entry - the list is not infinite. --Connel MacKenzie 16:02, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
There could be a nice appendix, though. Perhaps only if there were good specific terms (Sorry, BD, not snowclone) for the constructs so that someone might actually find them. Maybe it is more for Wikipedia? DCDuring 19:15, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Not forgetting tautological phrases such as folks are folks, life is life, sure as eggs is eggs, and any other that might warrant an entry. - Algrif 10:38, 8 December 2007 (UTC)


S.v. working, adjective, we have the following definitions, inter alia:

  1. That suffices but requires additional work.
    a working copy of the script
  2. Enough to allow one to use something.
    a working knowledge of computers

The first of these is not how I understand the phrase "working copy of the script" (or "working script"). I have always understood that phrase to mean "a copy of the script that we will accept for the sake of [something: [[for the sake of argument|argument], peacemaking, whatever] (even though it's not ideal)". That is, the stress on "requires additional work", which seems to relate this definition to the headword, seems misplaced: working means, the way I understand it, "that works (suffices) well enough to be used". (Whether I'm right or the current entry is, the same sense of working is found in "working hypothesis" and "working definition".) What think you all?—msh210 17:22, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Also, if I'm right, then is the second sense I quoted to be merged with the first? They both seem to mean "sufficient to be used".—msh210 17:22, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

I wouldn't combine senses.
  • One sense (2) seems to mean that further efforts are not required, that the knowledge or the voting margin is enough for practical purposes, for some other project, or perhaps that the means are sufficient to accomplish ends.
  • The other sense (1) seems to suggest that the prototype or draft is sufficient in some aspect(s) to allow further work on other aspect(s) of the same project.
This vocabulary of work has never struck me as having been very well done in dictionaries. So I'm not so sure that you will find very precise help from other dictionaries. I looked at MW3. They have 2 senses.
  • Is there a third sense, that just means functional, or is that the same as sense 1 or is that the present participle of the verb (which needs no definition)? DCDuring 19:53, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
That (your reason not to combine) seems eminently reasonable to me. Since you asked, there are other senses, yes, including the one you mention; I didn't quote them all. My main question, incidentally, which you did not really address, was whether the first sense I quoted needs rewriting, though.—msh210 20:14, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
I think it does. I think it refers to a thing which maintains its identity but itself needs successive and/or parallel work. The thing being worked in is an "end". That does not come across. The other sense implies that the thing does not itself need work, it functions well enough to be used as a tool, a "means". DCDuring 20:43, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Neither do I see any definition like working temperature, working speed etc. - Algrif 10:44, 8 December 2007 (UTC)


I was researcing a requested new entry "ablings" and came upon the following:

The New English - Page 15 by T[homas] L[aurence] Kington Oliphant - English language - 1886 There is the curious Scotch adverb ablings, aiblins (fortasse) ; compounded of able to be, and the adverbial ending ling.

I do not know my way around these parts and would offer this for others to complete. DCDuring 20:30, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

I know that as a Scot - Google finds "aiblins" in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.-- 12:59, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

man up[edit]

Can you guys help me comprehend all the senses of man up. It has a verb sense, as in... "A lot of people are expecting me to provide for them, I'd better man up". And I have a vague notion it has an interjection sense in sports ("Man up!") or something. Looking at b.g.c. it's difficult to research. A little easier to research "manning up" but that confuses me more because it seems to have LOTS of distinct unrelated meanings. Language Lover 09:05, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Sounds more like an oblique figurative use, not a set phrase, to me. --Connel MacKenzie 19:13, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

It is a set phrase, attributive verb use of the word "man", as in "doing the things a good man is traditionally expected to do". In use since at least the 50's, often in military circles. Search BGC "have to man up" for some examples. Used with influence from "own up" and "buck up" (for the want of a stronger emphatic) in situations such as this: one who impregnates a girl out of wedlock will be told to "man up" and marry the girl or otherwise provide for her; one can "man up" and finally confront his abusive coach or employer; one can "man up" and quit crying about a particular tragedy. To "be a man about it". I'll try to find some good cites for the entry. -- Thisis0 00:38, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

  • Also I should note the team-sports, macro-economics/staffing, and procedural-military uses:
    (Am. football, basketball, etc.; rare) Man up! -- "Get on your man!" (Each of you, guard the opponent to whom you were assigned and stay on him vigorously.)
    (of personnel - industrial, etc.) to man up -- to staff adequately; to staff up; to successfully fill all needed labor positions.
    -...it will become even more difficult to man up industrial occupations to which outmoded conceptions of status...[1]
    -To man up the last batch of capital goods produced, entrepreneurs are scraping up the remnants of the reserve of unemployed labour...[2]
    -...it will be impossible to find the labour to man up all the available capital equipment for productive use. [3]
    (of military personnel in a unit) to man up -- to assemble, each person manning (attending to) his station, prepared for departure of an aircraft, ship, etc. [4] [5]
  • It is now my opinion that other uses arose from the military-assembling use. The sports use is rare, and most players would more readily recognize "Get on your man!". If a player is told to Man up! on the field, in context it may be, for example, a hunched-over out-of-breath player being told to "buck up", "stay in the game", "be a man" -- precisely the first sense we discussed. Further, the staffing use has become outdated, while politically correct society no longer favors referring to "manpower", "manning" a position, etc. -- Thisis0 18:34, 8 December 2007 (UTC)


“A big row or argument.” –That is how I interpreted this word when it was used in the episode of Heroes I recently watched. I’m unfamiliar with this term, so I’d like some confirmation or correction. The quotation can be read in the entry, and the original programme can be watched here.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 20:09, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

While we’re discussing this, the verb throw down could also use a little attention. The definition seems incompatible with the use in the phrase throw down the gauntlet (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 20:13, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Does the verb throw down look a bit better now? - Algrif 17:48, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
I've only said it/heard it as an invitation/threat to fight, e.g. "Yo, I'll throw down, right now!" but I assume that form is not hyphenated. The literal definition really doesn't help much. The idiomatic sense is of dropping whatever you are doing/holding, to engage violently (no holds barred.) I've never heard it said so mildly/sweetly, as in that TV show. So anyhow, yes, I can confirm that I've heard/used that meaning, but don't have any idea what other confirmation you're looking for. --Connel MacKenzie 19:08, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Defining it as "A big row or argument" has certain problems. First, Americans don't usually say "row", plus that's a awfully nice sideline commentary for what a "throw-down", "throw down", or "throwdown" implies. I believe the modern term did evolve from the idiom throw down the gauntlet, and implies that an unrestricted violent clash is possible, with one's honor at stake. Because of the fear in such a "you don't know how far I'm willing to take this" animalistic clash, the usage of the term doesn't always necessarily result in such actual violence, but is often an effective form of puffing the mane or fanning the tail feathers. The Heroes use was in hyperbole to this violent possibility -- not saying "Well, we'll discuss this when I get back," but rather, "Even though I'm forced to leave right now, when I can address this, you should know I view your transgression with ultimate seriousness, and you should sit here and be anxious for my return when I will visit my wrath upon you." -- Thisis0 20:30, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Can anyone identify this word?[edit]

The word is in some song lyrics which go like this: "Hold up, hold up, check my linguistics, let me break it down to you ______________" It sounds like "abalistic" but that doesn't seem to be a word.

You can hear the lyrics in question starting at 0:48 at this video: [6] Language Lover 02:30, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

I would have guessed cannabalistic or catabolistic, but lyrics.com says it's "Afrolistic". [tumbleweed moment] --EncycloPetey 02:55, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

From the artist's own lyric page, it's "afrolistic". (You might have to click on "Give Me All Your Love"; their HTML is buggy). There is at least one other rap artist who goes by "Afrolistic", and Run-D.M.C. once used the word in their 1990 song Party Time. The Run-D.M.C. sense (adjective) seems to be something like "psychedelically funky and hip-hop infused", but the unrelated Afrolistic Barber Shop may be combining "Afro" with "holistic" -- (only a guess). I can't really get A.K.-S.W.I.F.T.'s adverb use (Let me break it down to you afrolistically?), though lyrics.com seems to think it's more of an interjection. If I were forced to analyze, I would say the most encompassing definition would be "in a black way" or "reflecting the self-celebrated aspects of black art, worldview, and lifestyle". -- Thisis0 21:01, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

That makes sense, it's an interesting word and I appreciate your analysis. I've found that some rappers are incredibly brilliant linguists, their command of practical English is sublime. Language Lover 21:47, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

it's on the tip of my toungue[edit]

what's the word for a period of time where you work. I really need to know. —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) at 22:37, 7 December 2007.

In some types of occupations, shift (or the dialectical variant trick, as in I'm tired lately because I'm working third trick.) describes the period of time when someone works in a particular position. Is that the word you seek? Rod (A. Smith) 22:52, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Possibly tenure?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 23:47, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

catachresis + -phobia = ?[edit]

I need a word meaning “fear of the misuse of words”; I assume that the word and suffix linked in the title would do the trick. If so, how would they combine? The COED states that the adjectival form is catachrestic, and that the noun derives from Latin, from (Ancient?) Greek katakhrēsis, from katakhrēsthai — if any of that helps. I can’t figure it out — maybe catachresophobia, or catachrestophobia, or catachretophobia perhaps?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 00:16, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

further as comparative[edit]

Following from part of the discussion above in atop: the question was never resolved of whether further and furthest can be classified equally as more / most and less / least to form comparative and superlatives of certain adjectives and adverbs with a particularly spacial frame of reference. For instance there is quite a long list in the section above at atop.
My personal point of view is that an adverb such as upstairs is a better entry stating a comparative form as further upstairs than stating (not comparable), particularly as this is plainly not true. Comments invited. - Algrif 16:32, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

U-usage notes. Def'nally u-u-usage notes. -- Thisis0 17:22, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Can the en-adv template be forced to display "See Usage notes." without messing up anything else? DCDuring 18:00, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
If this is needed in only a scant few (read: one) entries, why mess with templates? Just write it in. -- Thisis0 19:40, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
One reason would be in order to allow it to show up inside the parentheses that are generated by the template. Mike Dillon 20:22, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
It's not just a single entry. This applies to dozens of adverbs derived from (or related to) prepositions of place, incuding afield, along, apart, away, down, in, left, out, right, up... So it would be very useful to be able to set the template to show further/furthest instead of more/most. --EncycloPetey 21:47, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I'm sold. I get it now. How do we do it? -- Thisis0 21:55, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
I've modified the template entry at upstairs. If everyone agrees, perhaps we could draw up a list and I'll go through them modifying them as appropriate similarly. - Algrif 13:26, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I think it would be nice to have a parameter option akin to the "|er" that would do this. Is that an easy adjustment to the template, or a difficult adjustment to the template? In any case, that format doesn't match the norm, which would put further and furthest in bold as part of the form. --EncycloPetey 15:00, 12 December 2007 (UTC)


Please see Citations:katus. Anyone know what this word means? Or are the quotations simply of someone’s name and a scanno, respectively?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 17:43, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

I don't know about the second, but the first appears to be a surname, since the same source has: "Mr. Katus was duly qualified, and entered on the discharge of his duties as a judge or inspector of election, and continued so to act until the poll closed." --EncycloPetey 21:52, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Noun or adjective[edit]

I stumbled upon a Wikipedia category, the name of which doesn't sound quite right in my ears. Category:Municipal owned companies of Norway. Shouldn't it be municipality here? __meco 21:53, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Either that, "municipal-owned", or municipally. --EncycloPetey 22:23, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

plural proper nouns[edit]

Names can be pluralised, right? It is clear they can because saying "there are three Davids in my class, two Samanthas, a couple of Simpsons and five Joneses." If that's the case all entries in Category:Given names should take the template {{en-proper noun|s|-}} or {{en-proper noun|s|-}}. Firstly; this is grammatically correct, right? Secondly; could a bot, like our Cheatbot, be adapted to auto-add entries such as {{plural of|Simpson}}, {{plural of|David}}? I'm beginning to appreciate 'bot work a lot more. --Keene 16:20, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

No, proper nouns cannot be made plural. A proper noun in its "plural" form is no longer a proper noun (in most cases, that is; Alps is an exception). So, a proper noun changes its part of speech to a common noun when it's pluralized. We're not at all equipped to handle or explain this phenomenon on Wiktionary, and we certainly should not go around adding plural forms to all the proper nouns. Please wait for me to finish Appendix:English proper nouns so that I don't have to give all this explanation over and over. (This is, I think, the fifth or sixth time this issue has come up this year.) I would rather we simply link all English proper nouns to the Appendix when it's completed. --EncycloPetey 16:43, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
I was unaware of previous discussions on this subject. Could you point them out? As for plurals, I'm aware they become common nouns in the pluralised form, but it would make sense to link e.g. Simpsons from Simpson. As for this proper nouns appendix, what do you have in mind for it. Maybe I'll help out with the appendix. --Keene 16:56, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Having a proper noun linked to a common noun, and vice versa doesn't make sense in the usual ways that we handle it. Every user will think it's a mistake and try to "fix" it unless we come up with an alternative way to handle it. I'd point you to the discussions, but they've occurred over several months under several names in multiple locations. I haven't tried to keep track of all of them, though I do know that one concerned the word multiverse, so you might follow the "what links here" to find a very metaphysical (and lengthy) conversation on what constitutes a proper noun. As I say, I don't recall where the others are located. They involved the days of the week, names of games, wines, awards, and I forget what else.
While I would like help with the Appendix, it's not feasible yet to coordinate that. I have several pages of notes in tiny cramped handwriting which have not yet been entered. What I do have typed is in an incomplete draft of just the introductory material, not the evidence and patern description. My aim is to make a go at finishing the first draft over my Christmas holiday, so if you check back around the end of December, I might be ready to have the second mind and pair of eyes help with the missing information and necessary polishing. --EncycloPetey 17:12, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Just so you know; I've added Potteries as another real plural proper noun. - Algrif 14:23, 10 December 2007 (UTC)


I have entered hmph as an interjection, which seems OK. G.b.c. has revealed usage of "hmphs" as noun and as verb. I would expect "hmphing" and "hmphed". "ah" and "ahem", as well as other onomatopoietic [sp?] entries would have the same usage. Should these be accepted as entries if attestable? If these are all accepted, what should be done with variants with repetitions of the constituent letters: "hmmph", "aaaahhhh", etc. Keep the basic ones and put everything else in usage notes for the related entry? DCDuring 16:37, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

See ah and aah, which actually aren't synonymous. --EncycloPetey 17:12, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Guilty as charged[edit]

can anyone help me with the meaning of "Guilty as charged", please? —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) at 02:48, 12 December 2007 (UTC).

See guilty and charge verb sense 3 (To formally accuse of a crime.) . as often means exactly equal. So the whole phrase means guilty of the exact crime one was accused of. Ciao - Algrif 13:13, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

דבר / לדבר / מדבר[edit]

At first glace דבר means "thing", לדבר means "to speak", and מדבר means "desert".

At a closer look מדבר can also be the masculine singular present of "to speak".

How about מדבר as "of/from the thing" and לדבר as "to/for the thing"? — Hippietrail 03:29, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

דבר is davar, "thing", and is one way of spelling diber, "he spoke", the third-person, masc., sing., past tense of "speak", which Ruakh will tell you is the lemma form.
לדבר is l'daber, "to speak", infinitive form of that same verb. Yes, it's also ladavar, "to the thing", which is davar plus prefixes. I suppose it can also be l'davar, "to a thing", again davar plus a prefix.
מדבר is m'daber, "he speaks/is speaking", the masc., sing., present tense of that same verb again. It's also (seemingly unrelatedly) midbar, "desert", noun, barren area. And I suppose it can also be midavar, "from a thing", again davar plus a prefix.
But "from the thing" would have to be mehadavar, מהדבר.
There's an old paal-construction verb davar, "speak", too, though, which would open uo possibilities for other meanings of all three words.
And in Talmudic Aramaic, at least, דבר is a way of writing di bar, "who/that the son of" (as in John, di bar William ihu,, "John, who is the son of William,"), or "that the son of" (as in kevan di bar William ihu, "because he is the son of William"). (The Hebrew counterpart incidentally is sheben, שבן.) But Aramaic, of course, is a whole other story.
I hope that this helps.—msh210 05:53, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I might just add that it's not at all unusual (though I have no stats) to find homographs in Hebrew when one ignores vowels.—msh210 06:01, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I think you're splitting hairs about מהדבר (meihaddavar, from the thing), since מדבר (middavár, from (a) thing) and מדבר (midd'vár, from (a/the) thing of) both exist. —RuakhTALK 05:36, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't know what you mean. All I said was that מהדבר was a word, and that it's the way to say "from the thing".—msh210 03:19, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
He was making a point about identically spelled words/phrases; you're right that he slightly mistranslated one of said phrases, but that didn't really diminish his point at all. —RuakhTALK 06:19, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
I might also add some forms I left out. Ruakh mentioned d'var, "thing of", which is also spelled דבר, but with yet different vowelization; it, too can take the prefixes that make it לדבר or מדבר. And in Aramaic, the same word di bar can also mean "that outside" or "that besides"; the Hebrew counterpart is שחוץ.msh210 03:19, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Oh, and another: dever, "plague" and "plague of", each of which also can become לדבר or מדבר.—msh210 19:57, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
This is a thorny issue. From a syntactic standpoint, לדבר (laddavár, to the thing) is really two words in traditional Hebrew, and perhaps two-and-a-half in ordinary modern Hebrew. The French Wiktionary does attempt to include such compounds (and does a bad job of it, but don't tell it I said so), but I don't know if we should. One of the most annoying things about looking up Hebrew words in a paper dictionary is trying to figure out what letter the lemma starts with; we aim to avoid this issue by including pages for non-lemmata (and as y'all know by now, I advocate having non-lemma pages link to lemmata so that our readers can actually learn something instead of being completely dependent on the crumbs we give them), but if we don't include these clitic compounds, we haven't completely solved the problem (though granted, it's a lot easier for a Wiktionary reader to try both the with- and without-clitic versions to see which is right than it would be for a paper-dictionary reader). On the other hand, are we really going to include a separate entry for each series of words where all but the last is a one-letter word? Would the phrase ושמהפה (v'shemmeihappéh, and that from the mouth) get an entry? I think that for now we should bar such entries (except in the case of idioms and fixed expressions, obviously, just as we'd do if the phrases were written with spaces as in English), but perhaps we should revisit this question once we have decent coverage of actual words. (That said, things like הפה (happéh, the mouth) are probably worth allowing even now, since while in one sense they're sum-of-parts, in another sense they're words in their own right, at least in traditional Hebrew.) —RuakhTALK 05:36, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
What do you mean by being two (or 2.5) words syntactically?—msh210 03:19, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
I mean just that: syntactically, it's the preposition ל- (l'-, to, for) plus the nominal הדבר (haddavár, the thing). (The .5 thing is because it's kind of debatable whether ה- (ha-, the) is syntactically a word or an affix in Modern Hebrew. In colloquial Hebrew it's very word-y, e.g. in always going at the beginning of the noun phrase or adjective phrase it's attached to, but formal Hebrew still obeys the traditional rule that mandates e.g. בית הספר (beit hasséfer, the school), so it seems to be a bit blurry, depending on register and whatnot.) —RuakhTALK 06:19, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
I must disagree with barring entries such as ושמהפה for now. (As most people can't read that, let me explain that it consists of the two-letter word meaning mouth, preceded by four one-letter prefixes.) I think such entries, while clearly far from being a priority, are words, and, as we seek to include all words in all languages, should be included if someone has the (admittedly odd) urge to add them. Certainly we should not delete them. (But I know I differ with Ruakh on this. He, for example, has taken Tbot-created Hebrew infinitive verb entries, moved them to the lemma form, rewritten them, and deleted the redirect. I would never do that. I might or might not add the lemma form, but would not delete the infinitive. It is a word, after all.) What do you all think?—msh210 19:55, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
I disagree with your explanation: in Modern Hebrew it's a two-letter word "mouth", preceded by four clitics — one-letter words, really — two conjunctions, a preposition, and the definite article. (In older forms of Hebrew, I guess it's a three-letter word "the mouth" and three clitics.) Hence, until we expand our mandate to "all strings of characters in all languages", I don't think it warrants inclusion. ;-)   (To see that it's not a word, consider ושמהפה שלו יצא שקר "and that out from his mouth came a lie", which is ו{ש{מ{הפה שלו}} יצא שקר}): the five words, though written together without spaces, don't even form a constituent in the larger structure of the sentence.) I certainly agree with you that to-infinitives should have some sort of entry, but the redirects are bad, because they're essentially redlinks, but aren't instantly recognizable as such. —RuakhTALK 20:27, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
Maybe a linguist would consider each of those one-letter prefixes "words", but your typical person looking up a Hebrew word in the English Wiktionary will consider a word to end with whitespace. (Or a hyphen, perhaps, but whatever.) That's why we need these entries. Here's an experiment you can try at home: open a fairly simple Hebrew book (say, a book for little kids), and ask your favorite seven-year-old who can read Hebrew — or, for that matter, your favorite thirty-year-old who can read Hebrew and has never read any linguistics — to count the number of words on a given page.—msh210 06:02, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Subjunctive after estimate (verb)?[edit]

Does estimate take a subjunctive in the subordinate clause? Would it be "I estimate that the target arrive ..." or "I estimate that the target arrives ..."? I know that the latter is allowed since subjunctives are optional in English, but would the former be valid usage? --MathiasRav 17:50, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Opinion verbs, such as think, reckon, guess, suppose, etc, including estimate, normally take a modal such as will, might, could, etc. No hard and fast rules (as usual in English) but the suggested subjunctive form above sounds odd to me. I don't remember using it or seeing it. (Which doesn't mean it can't be found, of course.) - Algrif 18:56, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Stroke count for[edit]


Reference page: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%BE%A1

By my understanding, the stroke count for this word (at least in Japanese) is 12, not 11 as listed on Wiktionary.

Does anyone else agree?

Character: 御

Kind regards, Kevin —This unsigned comment was added by Kevinarpe (talkcontribs).

Indeed, fixed. The different stroke count was not in the Unihan database 4 years ago, and still is not! Robert Ullmann 03:40, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

that is to say[edit]

I was about to add this phrase, but I'm not sure of the POS. Is it an adverb? - Algrif 15:19, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

By analogy: "namely" is deemed an adverb. The phrase functions almost identically, like for example, that is, to wit. We're better off to have it entered and get it corrected. Isn't this adverb month? DCDuring 16:18, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Thanks. That was my reasoning exactly for asking if adverb was a correct assessment. Perhaps you might be able to improve the basic entry I've made. - Algrif 17:05, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Looks good. A usage example is always nice, even when it seems trivial. Maybe I'll put in a basic usage note. DCDuring 18:04, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

A name used to sign documents?[edit]

What is the word to describe the special name that certain dignitaries use to sign documents instead of their actual name? e.g. The Bishop of Durham signs as Dunelm (or Dunelmensis). nom de plume or pen name don't seem right. SemperBlotto 23:13, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

"Latin signature" would seem to do fine, that's what these usually are. Robert Ullmann 10:43, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

phonoaudiologist or phonotherapist[edit]

As a matter of fact, I just want to know whether people have seen or heard one of the above written words or, if not, they have the proper word to define the matter.

Perhaps "speech language pathologist" is what you are looking for?

Similes and idioms[edit]

Could similes be categorised as idioms? I've just made the category Category:Similes and wondered if it should be asubcategory of Category:Idioms. I assume so, because e.g. blind as a bat doesn't mean blind as a bat. Also, lpease take a look at Template:simile, which should probably be tweaked. --Keene 13:56, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

I've often thought about adding this cat. My personal thought is that it should be a sub of Category:Idioms. I'm all for using this database in as many constructive ways as possible. I think this is a useful addition. - Algrif 11:26, 27 December 2007 (UTC)


I would like to see how you spell erica in Greek

Έρικα —SaltmarshTalk 09:59, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Indonesian translations of hair[edit]

I was doing the Translations of the Week when I noticed that the Indonesian translations for hair looked a bit off. In Malay, rambut refers to hair from the human head; whereas bulu is from anywhere else on the human body, as well as animals, plants and anything else. The Indonesian translations seem to be in reverse.

I've learnt from experience that I'm not qualified to meddle in Indonesian affairs, so could somebody take a look at this? Nestum82 18:50, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

[7] & [8] say bulu = feather. [9] says rambut = hair (head/facial/body). Here are some others thrown in for good measure. [10] & [11] say botak = bald. [12] says tanduk = horn. [13] & [14] say kuku = claw (nail). [15] & [16] say kulit = hide (skin, leather). [17] says gigi = tooth. A Rambutan is a "hairy" fruit. I can't find my Indo dictionary & I'm not a native speaker so I can't explain why it's different from Malaysian. --Thecurran 06:32, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Security Clearance[edit]

The initials SAR stand for what in reference to a secret security clearance?

Special Access Required; e.g. the information is compartmented, and only available if someone is "read into" a SAP (Special Access Program), it is more specific than levels 5-6-7 etc. (this is all in reference to the U.S. DoD). Robert Ullmann 10:12, 23 December 2007 (UTC)


I defined it as "The reflexive pronoun for God." but this could be tweaked. Any suggestions? --Keene 10:49, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

just in case[edit]

See talk:just in case. --Connel MacKenzie 20:11, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Comments posted. --EncycloPetey 01:56, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

what is a free verse[edit]

help what is a free verse!?

See free verse and w:Free verse. --EncycloPetey 01:48, 18 December 2007 (UTC)


How is this a plural (plus Oaxacan says that it is not countable...)? Nadando 02:31, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

My template-substitution emulator had a bug. I've added code to skip {{en-adj|-}} (which replaced {{en-adj|-|-}} some time ago.) --Connel MacKenzie 04:01, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Note that the heading ===Noun===, (not the result of the template substitution,) seems to have caused the bot confusion. --Connel MacKenzie 04:06, 18 December 2007 (UTC)


I'd never heard of this, and would have put it down to slang or ignorance if I'd seen it somewhere. But there are plenty of reputable-looking b.google hits, so is this acceptable in the States or should we mark it as {{slang}} or what? It's not in any of my dictionaries either... Widsith 18:39, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Judging by the nature of the g.b.c. hits it can't be slang. It has too wide a range of usage to be jargon. It's not informal, looking at the kind of hits. I don't think it's very common in spoken English in the US. It's also not in MW3, a good source for US usage. If it means someting different from equate (and it might), it might just be a not-too-common word with increasing usage. Equate may imply a more exact correspondence of multiple attributes, where equivalate implies some kind of single all-encompassing dimension of value on which things are equal despite lack of equality on various attributes. Are there other single words that have this meaning. The first cite I found was art historian/critic Bernard Berenson in 1954, but I wasn't looking that hard. DCDuring 15:32, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
It's in MW Online. We might want to think through the five senses we have and see whether they all would pass RfV. DCDuring 15:41, 23 December 2007 (UTC)


Kurundu is a sinhalese ( main language of the sri lankans)term for cinnamon

Synonym for bathroom attendant?[edit]

The guys who hang out in the restrooms at fancy restaurants and country clubs with hand towels and the like, is there another word or name for that profession? Even tho we don't yet have an entry for it, Wikipedia has it .- TheDaveRoss 00:04, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Standard name in the US is restroom attendant. "bathroom" (usually) isn't standard, unless it is an athletics club. Is amusing to watch tourists from the US ask in a restaurant "where is the bathroom"? (you want to take a bath?) They are afraid apparently of the word "toilet". (and "napkin" is even funnier! You want WHAT?!) Oh, and I really like "bog troll". Robert Ullmann 14:16, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
Are you saying that "bathroom" isn't standard in the US? That's news to me. In my experience, the room is called a "bathroom" (and "restroom" is slightly more polite). The "toilet" is the thing you do your business on; I've never heard an American call the room a "toilet", unless it's a portable toilet (more commonly called a portapotty). Mike Dillon 21:16, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
From England: standard term would be cloakroom attendant, both bathroom~ and restroom~ would be rarities here. —SaltmarshTalk 10:05, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
Not "loo lurker"? Pity! LeadSongDog 23:41, 30 January 2008 (UTC)


I would like to merge the two definitions. Although Collins (2005) seeks to differentiate quay as parallel to water's edge (cf pier), others (SOED, Webster, Chambers) do not. —SaltmarshTalk 10:10, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Go ahead, this is (yet another) case of user CORNELIUSSEON adding in a definition from a US military text, entirely ignoring the fact that the definition is already there. Look at the last version < CORNELIUSSEON's edits. Robert Ullmann 10:16, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
done —SaltmarshTalk 11:45, 23 December 2007 (UTC)


This entry seems to need at the very least a sense that does not require intent on an entity's part. As it is, it is guilty of POV: animism. The application of the a word derived from the idea of intent to futurity is possibly an indication of our animist past. In any event, I couldn't find simple futurity without actor and intent. Perhaps I'm missing something. The entry looks like it could stand a look in general. It is too basic a word for me to trust myself to do it properly. DCDuring 12:30, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

It's on my "to do" list. The modal verb form is in fact much more complex than the entry currently given. Also I'm dubious about the willing entry nº2. Is that really from the verb root? We are lacking such items as "moment of decision", "promise", "future event that is beyond one's control", and much more besides. I'll (promise) get a round tuit soon. - Algrif 21:41, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

posh git[edit]

I read the term Posh Git in a book. What does it mean? —This comment was unsigned.

Did you consider looking at the definitions for posh and git? SemperBlotto 15:05, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Tibeaten word[edit]

Dzogchen should be added.

meaning: the natural great perfection

Entitled. Most dictionaries, including this one, define "entitled" as the past tense of "entitle," which means "to own, demand or receive something," or, alternatively, "to give a title to."

Titled is defined as the past tense of the word "title," which has a definition of "the name of a book, movie, etc."

I do not think the word "entitled" is synonymous with the word "titled." Yet most speakers and writers seem to use them as if they are synonymous.

For example, I think the sentence, "Mark Twain is the author of a book entitled 'Tom Sawyer,'" is more correctly, "Mark Twain is the author of a book titled 'Tom Sawyer.'"

Which is correct?

entitle also means to give a title to a book, film, play, etc.. I shall add that definition now. Thanks for pointing out the omission. - Algrif 11:13, 27 December 2007 (UTC)


Marked {{US|UK}}. Is that correct? Not elsewhere?—msh210 22:50, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

  • I have never even heard it in the UK - bullshit (or just bull) is quite common. SemperBlotto 23:01, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I've heard it in the UK, but mainly from Americans. Maybe change to {{mostly|US}} --Keene 19:52, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

common misuse of the word "at"[edit]

Can someone describe the technical reason why use of the preposition at is incorrect and redundant in a sentence such as "where is he at?" I find that more and more Americans are using this syntax, which sounds so very wrong. Thank you. Diane

I thought that using a preposition at the end of a sentence was incorrect, but when I tried to find that rule in a book on English grammar, I just couldn't. My English teacher, however, did say that it's incorrect to say "Where is he at", but I don't remember if she gave the reason. — [ ric ] opiaterein — 16:39, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
There are no technical reasons why any particular usage is "wrong". Language is continually evolving and any syntactical structure is valid if it communicates what the user means to say. Specifically, Wiktionary is supposed to be descriptive rather than prescriptive, so this may not be the place to ask. SemperBlotto 16:44, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
This is the kind of error up with which I will not put. - To quote Churchill. There is no rule as such. In fact nearly all preposition containing quetions in English place the preposition at the end. E.g. Where are you going to? rather than To where are you going? The Churchill quote was really about breaking up phrasal verbs incorrectly. Personally, I see no problem at all with "where is he at?" - Algrif 16:49, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
IMHO, it depends on whom you are talking with or writing for. "Where is he at?" is not a part of high-class, "educated" English. It would often be disadvantageous to say in class at school, in many job interviews, in court, and in writing. One very useful thing to learn is how to communicate in the way appropriate to the situation you are in. Because there are many habitual elements of speech, it can be risky to establish a habit of using "Where is he at?" if you hope to operate in the world where people look down on such a trun of phrase. Some people are very good at switching in and out of such different styles of speech. DCDuring 17:09, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Diane's point is not that the preposition is stranded, but that it's redundant. Since He is where? is more proper than *He is at where?, the preposition in *Where is he at? is unnecessary, leaving Where is he? as the proper form of the question. We should probably add a usage note to at or where to explain that the commonly used collocation *where ... at is inappropriate in contexts requiring proper English. Rod (A. Smith) 18:04, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Sorry. I assumed this was a standard US usage. In UK it would be an informal question, not about physical position, rather something like What is he thinking about?. As DCDuring points out, certainly not to be used in a formal situation. - Algrif 18:21, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Interesting. The "what are you thinking" sense was common in the 60s and 70s in the US, has certianly declined, and may be "dated" here now. Knowing that makes me feel old: that's where I'm at. DCDuring 22:23, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
In the U.S. also, "where is he at?" can be metaphorical, like in "where is he at in the process?" or "where is he at in the book?". The "what is he thinking about?" sense is news to me, but I'm only 23, so given DCDuring's comment, I guess it just predates me. :-) —RuakhTALK 00:26, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure it's redundant, per se, since "where" doesn't always imply "at". In modern-day English, "where" can mean "[at] where" ("where is he?"), "[to] where" ("where is he going?"), or neither ("where is he from?"), and for speakers without the "where … at" and "where … to" constructions, it's entirely up to context to distinguish. I'll grant that context is usually sufficient, but there are plenty of constructions where it's so-called "proper English" that objects to context-based determination (e.g. mandating "Are you new here?" instead of "You new here?"); we can hardly pretend that the rules of "proper English" are determined by logic. I do think we should have a usage note, but I think it should be more neutral than what you describe, essentially saying that many speakers have one or both of these constructions, but that many others find them objectionable, considering the prepositions redundant or unnecessary. —RuakhTALK 00:26, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
In slang, "Where's he?" allows for a vague answer: "He gone.". "Where he at?" is more insistent on a specific location. DCDuring 01:19, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
In traditional Newfoundland English usage we find the delightful phrase "Stay where yer to, I'll where yer at" LeadSongDog 23:44, 30 January 2008 (UTC)


  1. Are the two senses really different?
  2. The last example contains "they" not "them". Does this example belong here?

Panda10 21:42, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

I would say (1) yes (2) no. --EncycloPetey 23:52, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Galápagos [edit]

Do we prefer Galápagos or Galapagos? Wikipedia likes Galápagos, others dicitonaire prefer the latter to the former.

I would prefer the accent for Spanish, but without for English. Wikipedia tends to preserve original language spelling of proper nouns, whenever possible. --EncycloPetey 20:23, 29 December 2007 (UTC)


Can anyone add any history of the word mought. A past tense of may perhaps, or just archaic might? --Keene 02:10, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

It seems to be an archaic or dialectical form of might:
  • 1883 - Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, part I chapter 1
    What you mought call me? You mought call me captain. Oh, I see what you're at--there"; and he threw down three or four gold pieces on the threshold.
  • 1917 - Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Oakdale Affair, chapter VI
    Then he scratched his head and looked admiringly at the youth. "What mought yer name be?" he asked.
--EncycloPetey 02:57, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I suspect this is eye-dialect rather than archaic. Then again, it could be both. You can still hear this in the north-west UK. - Algrif 13:47, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

It's a past-tense of may (which also makes it a form of might). Interestingly the OED tags it as "now only US dialect". Widsith 19:36, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

manoeuvre and maneuver[edit]

There is an instruction in manoeuvre that if you edit this page, add the same modifications to maneuver to keep the two in sync. Can we just point one to the other without duplicating the work? Panda10 03:08, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Not really, no. There is an ongoing debate about how best to handle this, but must editors here agree that we can't simply redirect one to the other, and there are many reasons for this, including the fact that usage of one spelling may be regional, the quotes will be different, etc. --EncycloPetey 03:32, 30 December 2007 (UTC)


Citations in this entry point to a different page. Is this a current standard? Panda10 13:59, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

It is, as I understand it, a possible placement of citations. It seems to be almost essential in some of the really long pages where citing multiple senses could really make the page hard to use. I suppose that in some cases the only available citations for RfV don't provide very good usage examples, too. In this particular case, I would argue for bringing the citations back to the main page because the above considerations don't apply. DCDuring 14:24, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
To add to what DCDuring has said: see Wiktionary:Quotations#Subpages. —RuakhTALK 15:45, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
We have recently voted for a new namespace Citations:, and the plan is to shift to a new system of citations placement. This changeover has stalled, but the general idea is that all citations should appear on the related citations subpage, with selected examples remaining on the main entry. However, there should always be a Quotations section header on the main entry, and not just a link as on the brusque page. See parrot for an example that is well-formatted under the old way of doing things. The only change that will need to happen is shifting the Citations page into the new namespace (which needs to happen to all such pages). --EncycloPetey 16:28, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. I noticed you added the Quotations section. Another thing: it seems that the brusque/Citations page cannot be edited. If I compare it to parrot/Citations, there should be another edit button for the subsection. Panda10 17:00, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't have that problem. Could it be something in your preferences, or caching? DCDuring 17:43, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Not sure. I have not really changed the default preferences. When I click the edit link that is on the same level as the head word "Citations of brusque", I get this: "No such section. You tried to edit a section that doesn't exist. Since there is no section 1, there's no place to save your edit. Return to Template:Citation". Panda10 17:53, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, we need to fix that. (It's a consequence of putting the header in a template: the edit-link tries to edit the template, and finds the template doesn't actually have sections.) —RuakhTALK 17:59, 30 December 2007 (UTC)


I don't really see a difference between the first two senses at apparent; at least, I can't imagine a use of apparent in the first sense that's not also in the second sense.

Also, I just added a usage note; input/corrections/tweaks/whatnot would be nice, if anyone has any. :-)

RuakhTALK 17:57, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

The first sense is "physically or tangibly visible", the second sense is "figuratively apparent, perceivable by the mind". A motive can be "apparent" in the second sense without being physically seen by the eye. --EncycloPetey 19:18, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
O.K., I think I see what you're saying, thanks. But then, the Milton quote seems to be mis-sorted, as it's the mind that perceives the moon to be queen. (I don't think Milton is trying to say, "Oh yeah, and the moon? A queen. And not invisible. Imagine that!") I'm not sure it's actually worth separating the two senses. —RuakhTALK 19:41, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
The Milton quote is iffy. He could mean that the moon is currently visible (sense 1) or is obvious ruler (sense 2). It's always worthwhile to sort a literal sense from a figurative one, sense those will often have different synonyms or translations, and will mean different things to English learners. --EncycloPetey 19:47, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps I should RFV sense 1? If we can find any quotes that clearly belong to sense 1 and not sense 2, perhaps those quotes will make the situation more clear. —RuakhTALK 20:37, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I've added a quote from the Encyclopaedia Brittanica for sense 1. - Algrif 13:40, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, but that's actually a cite for sense 3. :-/ —RuakhTALK 14:54, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
How about something like It became more apparent to everyone that he was crying. ? - Algrif 12:46, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Reading Roman numerals[edit]

How does one read Roman numerals? As for example Henry VIII - is he Henry the Eighth or Henry Eight? Is the rule always the same or does it depend? It would be nice, if someone found the time to write a usage note about this e.g. in the article Roman numeral. Hekaheka 21:44, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

No, there isn't a standard way to read them, because sometimes they stand for a cardinal number like 2007 (A.D. MMVII) or 17 (page xvii), and other times they represent an ordinal number like eighth (Henry VIII) or second (John Paul II). --EncycloPetey 21:58, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Compare primus versus unum. LeadSongDog 23:48, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Lombard rate[edit]

There are 165 g.b.c. hits for Lombard rates in the plural. I have been instructed that this is a proper noun and that there are no plurals. How should I interpret that mass of evidence? "The Lombard rate" is the single rate that is quoted at any one point in time, but authors compare them. DCDuring 23:02, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Can you give examples of its use in the plural? The definition will need to be changed if this is not a proper noun, because the current definition is suitable only for a proper noun. --EncycloPetey 23:05, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I have changed the def. to reflect its being a generic term for the rate charged on loans to banks backed by approved collateral. The German rate might deserve special mention because of its influence. I find it hard to swallow that any such rates deserve to be deemed proper nouns. They may be capitalized by convention, but they are discussed in the plural regularly, esp. by economists and financial writers. The capital L in Lombard is only attributable to the historical importance of an Italian banking family in the Renaissance, just as the capital F in Fed funds rate is atributable the US Federal Reserve Bank. One thing I thought I had learned here is the weak connection between something being capitalized and being used as a proper noun. I will pursue what other references say about the term in current financial practice. DCDuring 23:39, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Did some research and edited the article accordingly adding specific reference to Bundesbank and noting that the rate has been discontinued after introduction of euro and Bundesbank becoming a branch of the European Central Bank. I did not (at least yet) have the energy to find out the names of corresponding central bank rates in UK and US. The existence of plural seems evident to me. Other languages do not capitalize Lombard as it seems to be derived from the Italian province of Lombardia and not from a single banking family. Hekaheka 06:15, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I haven't checked, but surely one can compare the Lombard rates between different months or years, etc. - Algrif 14:07, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Ah, but there you're comparing temporally, and all bets are off that a plural implies anything. You can talk about all the Vaticans through the ages, but that doesn't mean Vatican isn't a proper noun. The existence of a possible plural form doesn't tell you whether or not a noun is proper; though the lack or rarity can be a tantalizing hint. --EncycloPetey 17:03, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, of course. "Lombard rates" yields almost 4000 Google hits, relevant-looking stuff. Hekaheka 14:37, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
That's what some of the books on g.b.c. do. They also mention broad trends that involved multiple central banks all raising their Lombard rates. To me it seems obvious that such a thing would be countable, even if there were only one rate at a particular point in time.
I'm also not sure that the singular Bundesbank Lombard rate ever could have been characterized as a proper noun, even if it might have been entirely capitalized in a Bundesbank press release. But the question of plurals of proper names is only a matter of degree. I also think it would be useful if Wiktionary could inform people how to pluralize names {Cathys or Cathies?, Marys or Maries?). As with ordinary noun plurals, it is really only important where the plural can be irregular. DCDuring 14:51, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I think that is best handled through an Appendix (already in progress), since the "plural" of a proper noun (1) is relatively rare, and (2) isn't itself a proper noun. --EncycloPetey 17:05, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm stil not too clear about these assertions. If I make a Google map search for London, USA I get 9 Londons. Should this read "9 londons" then? - Algrif 14:10, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand your question, but you could say that "I searched on Google and found nine Londons." This does not mean that "Londons" should be given as the "plural" on the London entry. Especially since London is a proper noun, but in the sentence above "Londons" is a plural common noun. Proper nouns typically do not have plurals that are proper nouns, and the plural form is typically rare as well. The reason for suggestion an Appendix, then, is to avoid having this kind of confusion on every single entry page for a proper noun, with constant questions from people who've found a "plural" proper noun and can't quite figure it out. Making proper nouns "plural" is a general phenomenon in English, but a relatively rare and grammatically odd phenomenon. --EncycloPetey 16:11, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, EP. You understood me correctly. OK, so this is a grammatical nomenclature problem. In that case, I'm all for the appendix if it will help to avoid confusion on main entry pages. - Algrif 13:26, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

FYI: Lombard rate is just another name for a "short-term lending rate applied by a central bank to other financial institutions". Some central banks have used it, and the best known of them was the Bundesbank. Other central banks have chosen to use other names. Currently at least the Swiss and Czech still use the term Lombard rate. IMHO, in this context Lombard is like "French" in "French kiss". French kiss is not a proper noun and there are French kisses, aren't there? Hekaheka 17:02, 9 January 2008 (UTC) PS. I just noticed that french kiss is not capitalized in Wiktionary although in many other dictionaries it is. Maybe we should decapitalize lombard? Hekaheka 17:07, 9 January 2008 (UTC)


Etymology 2 reads: "Intentionally incorrect". I was not aware of intention being part of etymology. Beneath are:

  1. Noun: "fault", as in "sorry, my bad." This seems to me to be a simple use of an adj as a noun within the same general sense as the basic adjective "bad".
  2. Adj: "slang; fantastic", i.e., very good. The conversion of the meaning of a word to its opposite in slang isn't all that unusual, is it? Is there a name for this phenomenon?

The noun seems to belong in Etymology 1. I would have thought that the slang adj does too. Is there anything marker used for that kind of reversal of sense? DCDuring 12:19, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

It's fun when you see an etymology and instantly know which editor wrote it. :-)   I think "Intentionally incorrect" could be part of an etymology — e.g. at O.K. — but I don't know if it applies here. (The editor did not supply any evidence or references for his claim.) Even if these are in fact "[originally] intentionally incorrect" usages, though, I think they warrant separate etymology sections, as they're clearly separate incorrections. —RuakhTALK 16:35, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Because our format for "Etymology 2" (and 3...) puts potentially common senses so far down the page, I wish we would avoid separating them unless absolutely necessary. These senses could clearly be worked in under the first Etymology, and if needed, an extra couple words added to accomodate any new information. Similar reconstituting needs to happen at cracker and font (etym. 3), among others. -- Thisis0 14:34, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
So the idea would be reflect the "branching" from the original ety of "bad" as a separate ety, presumably referring to the original unknown ety of "bad". Is there a name for the reversal of meaning from "bad" (std., bad) to "bad" (slang, very good)? It certainly isn't irony. It seems to reflect a deliberate attempt to create a way of communicating that doesn't allow members of the white and/or adult culture to understand. This can't be the only instance of it. Is there a name for the use of an adjective as a noun? That would seem also seem a fairly likely occurence. DCDuring 17:49, 31 December 2007 (UTC)


This entry contains a Hungarian section which is not correct. The word is written with small case in Hungarian (arab). I would like to start a new entry for that. I discovered this when I tried to add the new hu-adj and hu-noun templates to Arab, but that immediately displayed the words with a capital. --Panda10 16:42, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

  • Try it again under arab (was an old redirect). SemperBlotto 16:45, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I have just created arab for the Hungarian entry. It did not exist before even after your change. How can I delete the Hungarian section from Arab? Also, maybe a redirect should be added to arab pointing to Arab. I've seen that in other entries. I don't think I can add redirects. --Panda10 16:54, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
We just add the {{see}} template to the top of the page, and list it in the translations. The Hungarian section of Arab should simply de deleted with an edit summary of "content moved to arab". --EncycloPetey 16:59, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Done it already. SemperBlotto 17:08, 31 December 2007 (UTC)


Are these two senses really distinct?

  1. Having the power of seeing or understanding clearly; quick-sighted; sharp-sighted.
  2. (figuratively) Of acute discernment; keen; mentally perceptive.

I can't perceive any real difference betwen them. --EncycloPetey 21:12, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps "or understanding" was a late addition to the 1st sense. If so, it might have once been sense 1 relating to vision, sense to relating to figurative vision or understanding. That would be a nice way of expressing a possible drift in meaning from literal to figurative meaning, though that might have already happened in Old French or in Latin. DCDuring 22:38, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Yup, 2.3 years old edit made just that change. I will correct it. DCDuring 23:36, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. --EncycloPetey 17:02, 1 January 2008 (UTC)