Wiktionary:Tea room/2008/September

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September 2008

forboding / foreboding

forebode lists present participle as forboding rather than foreboding. Can we confirm this? RJFJR 23:17, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

It would be a good bet that forbode had forboding and forebode had foreboding as their respective present participles. bgc search confirms that both forms exist and that the relative hit ratios of the inflected forms are not "too" far off from the relative hit ratios of the lemmas. The only OneLook dictionary that shows forbode in MWOnline, which does not show inflected forms. (I'm not sure that they ever show regular inflected forms.) DCDuring TALK 23:41, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

I changed the template at forebode to use fore- instead of for-. RJFJR 00:16, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

mythic inversion

Looks like a viable entry but I can't quite get a clear definition from the mentions on wikipedia- anyone? Nadando 01:47, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

It looks like a coinage from w:Roland Barthes, possibly as "mythical inversion" in translation. Good luck to whoever takes this on. DCDuring TALK 02:38, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

abbreviation: "Armor."

I've just formatted the etymology at funnel, which looks like it originally came from Websters 1913, removing most of the abbreviations. The abbreviations in compare are not ones I'd come accross before, or are in Wiktionary:Abbreviations in Webster, "W." I've presumed is "Welsh" as I recognise the orthography of the following word (ffynel).

However, "compare Armor. founil (funnel)" has me stumped. The goolge hits on the word founil (excluding a very large number scannos of found) bring up what looks mostly to be French (although the translations section at funnel doesn't support it having the meaning ascribed to it. A couple of hits suggest it might be Provençal or Breton, but "Armor." is not a logical abbreviation for either of these. Googling "Armor." has proved fruitless due to the existence of armor (the US spelling of armour), and the countless abbreviations used by the military for various pieces and types of armour. Webster being the originator of the armour/armor spelling difference does not help matters either. Thryduulf 14:44, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

By going to w:Special:PrefixIndex/Armor and Ctrl+F-ing for "language", I find exactly one: w:Armorican language is a redirect to w:Breton language. Dictionary.com confirms that "Breton", "Armoric", and "Armorican" are all names for the same Celtic language of Brittany. (Granted, sometimes dictionaries don't draw distinctions that experts do, but then, the same would likely be true of Webster 1913's etymology.) —RuakhTALK 15:52, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, I'll update funnel. Should we have entries for Armorican and Armoric? Thryduulf 21:14, 1 September 2008 (UTC)


Do you know what this means? Part of a text message...-- 19:17, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

This is the ONLY hit for this word on google. I suspect a spelling error has occurred somewhere. RJFJR 13:58, 2 September 2008 (UTC)


The definition for the word "bastard" says "born to unmarried parents". Does this mean that birth rather than the point of conception is the determining factor or can people have sex before marriage and the female gets pregnant and then they get married and the baby after it is born is not a bastard or do the have to be married to have sex first? Benighted 03:34, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

I believe "born out of wedlock" is a synonym and that definitely states it is the time of birth. RJFJR 13:54, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I do believe that the big issue was being born outside of a marriage, which is what led to the idea shotgun weddings. The idea being the father of the bride ensuring, by any means necessary, that the groom was available to give a name to his daughter's child. I have no research on this, but it's what I had always heard. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 16:55, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
Bastardy, back when it really mattered, was first and foremost a legal status, such that the details depended on time and place; but yes, that's the usual definition. You may be interested in the articles “Legitimacy (law)” and “Bastard (Law of England and Wales)” in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (one of our sister projects). —RuakhTALK 17:16, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

labour union

I just added the 'US' label to labor union as this is usually known as a 'trade union' in the UK. However, should labour union be labelled as 'US' according to the usage of the term or 'UK' according to its spelling? I am focussing on 'US' and 'UK' in this question as I am unsure of Canadian, Oz and other spellings and usage. Pistachio 23:03, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Label it UK. This term is commonly used in the British media. Donek 08:11, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Used in Canada, too. Michael Z. 2008-09-03 14:17 z


Hi. Can any of you left-ponders confirm a definition of a boomer as a person who catches rides on freight trains. Something similar to a hobo? -- ALGRIF talk 14:18, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

I think boomer in railroading refers to a recently hired worker, who would get the low-paying jobs, bad shifts, irregular assignments, and might be prone to making mistakes. Recently hired might mean recently fired from another railroad or just new to the industry, following changing seasonal job opportunities at different railroads, or just trying to gain seniority on the job. Etymology might relate to many of them being hired in "boom" times.
A ne'er-do-well railroader might be inclined to "ride the rails" to another railroad where he might get hired. There might be some transfer of meaning between railroad worker and hobo, in either direction. DCDuring TALK 15:14, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes. According to Green 1998, it's a US term for "a transient worker, a migrant" – from "S[tandard]E[nglish] boom, an economic upswing; the US boomers moved from one boom oil camp to the next during the 1920s-30s". Ƿidsiþ 07:28, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I've added an entry. I'll try to find a quote to back it up. -- ALGRIF talk 10:55, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

needing little

How do I call a person who has low spending, low material needs, but also no savings, so frugal does not seem to do? Prototypes coming to mind are a lone monk or an older person used not to spend. --Daniel Polansky 16:26, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't think frugal implies that a person has savings. google books:"had to be frugal" gets 199 hits, and google books:"had to live frugally" gets 149; and in most of these, I think it's because the subject lacks money, rather than because (s)he needs to save. (But I don't think frugal implies that a person doesn't have savings, either.) —RuakhTALK 01:47, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
I see. I guess I have mispercieved frugal. Thanks for the Google books links. --Daniel Polansky 05:48, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

From the New Oxford America Dictionary (probably copyrighted): If you don't like to spend money unnecessarily, you may simply be economical, which means that you manage your finances wisely and avoid any unnecessary expenses. If you're thrifty, you're both industrious and clever in managing your resources (: a thrifty shopper who never leaves home without her coupons). Frugal, on the other hand, means that you tend to be sparing with money—sometimes getting a little carried away in your efforts—by avoiding any form of luxury or lavishness (: too frugal to take a taxi, even at night). If you're sparing, you exercise such restraint in your spending that you sometimes deprive yourself (: sparing to the point where she allowed herself only one new item of clothing a season). If you're provident, however, you're focused on providing for the future (: never one to be provident, she spent her allowance the day she received it). Miserly and parsimonious are both used to describe frugality in its most extreme form. But while being frugal might be considered a virtue, being parsimonious is usually considered to be a fault or even a vice (: they could have been generous with their wealth, but they chose to lead a parsimonious life). And no one wants to be called miserly, which implies being stingy out of greed rather than need (: so miserly that he reveled in his riches while those around him were starving). Asmeurer 03:23, 25 November 2008 (UTC)


Found on Brian0918's hotlist. I looked it up, and there were only hits for some obsolete dictionaries, mentions but no context. Sso does this merit inclusion here? It may even be Middle English, but I don't know much about that. --Jackofclubs 07:35, 4 September 2008 (UTC)


I added PP and pp and peepee as homophones here, but I'm not sure about which syllable is the strong/weak/hard/soft one? --Borganised 10:54, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

The translingual abbreviation pp is not a homophone, since it's pronounced "pages" in English. For peepy, the first syllable has the primary stress, but for PP and peepee, both syllables are stressed, so they're not pure homophones, and in the UK the final vowel is different for peepy. --EncycloPetey 20:02, 4 September 2008 (UTC)


I just split this into the two etymologies. Questions arise:

  1. To which etymology belongs the verb sense “to wet the end of a joint?”
  2. To which etymology belongs the noun sense “a drinking spree?”
  3. Does the adjective sense really have attested comparatives bummer and bummest?

Thanks. Michael Z. 2008-09-04 19:48 z

Regarding the comparative/superlative: yes, a search of Google books will turn up many print citations for both forms. In fact, I'd be more suprised to see "more bum"/"most bum". --EncycloPetey 20:00, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
Geeze, I should have tried the search myself and saved you the trouble. Thanks. Michael Z. 2008-09-04 21:36 z

And now for some fun with English

In case you haven't heard of it, Engrish refers to the wonderful "dialect" of English spoken in Japan. I recently got my hands on a whole treasure-trove of Engrish. Behold as English words assume strange and wondrous formations we never realized possible!

Goldmine of Engrish

Hope you enjoy :) Language Lover 05:27, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

If you like that then check out Wikipedia and YouTube for Keitai Denjuu Telefang, better known as the (FAKE) Pokemon Diamond for GBC.50 Xylophone Players talk 21:34, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
If that qualifies then here's a sample:

Apparently said by some sort of "boss" character before you battle him "I'll use the power to let you shut up!" XD Funny, don't you think? 50 Xylophone Players talk 16:22, 6 December 2008 (UTC)


This entry was made by a bot as "plural form of fashion". I'm not a native speaker of English, but plural seems very unlikely :-) So, could someone please correct this? Thanks, SPQRobin 15:17, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Done DCDuring TALK 15:30, 5 September 2008 (UTC)


Aside from the noun sense already mentioned at the entry, I've seen this used quite a bit as a present participle and also astroturfed as the past participle. The problem is I haven't seen it used in the infinitive verb (astroturf), so how should I format the entries? Should astroturfing be the 'lemma' article in this neologistic case? --Bequw¢τ 03:36, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

See Astroturf which I have added with 2 cites for the verb in the not so figurative sense. I can't find much for astroturf as a verb. One thing for sure: astroturfing isn't an adjective (no comparative, no predicate use). DCDuring TALK 04:17, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Completely different sense/idea. See astroturfing which is political jargon for a PR campaign that shows fake "grass roots" support for an idea (heance the play on a word for "fake grass"). Astroturf is a very regular verb (infinitive, past, participles, etc.), whereas the question remains about astroturfing. --Bequw¢τ 19:19, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
The figurative sense of the verb will certainly be identical to the literal sense in its inflection. Whether "astroturfing" in the political sense is a noun (forms a plural, etc.), I don't know. DCDuring TALK 19:27, 7 September 2008 (UTC)


I'm frustrated at the current definition, despite being from Webster 1913, in that it doesn't adequately convey what a pandiculation really is. I find that the Wikipedia article w:Yawn gives a better description than our definition from which I cannot exegete the actual phenomenon as one immediately grasps when seeing the image that I now added to the article. Do others agree that the Webster definition is inferior in this case? __meco

That picture certainly helps...a lot. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 20:24, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Excellent image. No text can replace it. Existing text is adequate, not easily improved, IMHO. DCDuring TALK 18:28, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

As today's Word of the day is pandiculate, it is rather unfortunate that the definition hasn't undergone a revision based upon the one at pandiculation. Also, the highly illuminating image could very well have gone onto the front page as well __meco 09:39, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

Hey Meco, I don't understand what do you want from the definition, it's an excellent definition. You could also just say, "stretching oneself". by the way, can you actually use, "exegete", as a verb? —This comment was unsigned.

Picture is better. Google books gives 679 raw hits "exegeted" and "exegeting". DCDuring Holiday Greetings! 16:10, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

Well, you learn something new every day. Thanks Meco. Thanks DCDuring. —This comment was unsigned.

Thanks for mentioning exegete#Verb. Never occurred to me that it could be a verb; don't remember ever saying or writing "exegesis" or any related term thereof. Barely knew what it meant. I find I usually learn something new at least every hour here. DCDuring Holiday Greetings! 18:43, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

Emoticons in parentheses

It seems like noone quite knows what to do with emoticons in parentheses. If the emoticon is a smily and at the end, many people will make the smily face double as the closing parenthesis, like this: (blah:) But another possibility is to insert space after the emoticon, and then a regular closed parenthesis, like this: (blah :) ) It seems the former is preferred, from my limited experience...

What do you guys think? Language Lover 20:08, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Personally, I always use the "(blah :) )" construction, but I have seen "(blah :)" and even "(blah :))". In my subjective experience, the last of the three forms is clearly the least common, but I wouldn't say either of the first two is more common than the other. None of them look "right" to me though! Thryduulf 12:56, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Where do these appear? Michael Z. 2008-09-10 14:36 z
Unfortunately for Wiktionary, I suspect the vast majority are from the non-durable sources such as text messages and instant messaging. There will be occurrences on usenet though. Thryduulf 14:57, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

To be in on

Isn't this an idiom? I was looking it up but we don't have it currently. __meco 15:58, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps better: in on? As has come up before in similar cases, there are words involving "appearance" (seem, appear, etc.) versus "reality" (be) that also can be used with this in the same sense. I think the verbs all take adjectives. "in on X" seems to be adjectival. DCDuring TALK 18:24, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Seems appropriate. I found that the combination English definition had to be given two different Norwegian translations though: one for being part of and another for being privy to. Perhaps it's not possible to make that distinction in the English idiom. __meco 07:07, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
He smiled a little to himself, as he was in on the plan. Yes. It is an idiomatic phrasal verb. Thanks for pointing out the omission, which I shall correct at once. -- ALGRIF talk 14:02, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

pad Hungarian

Hallo. In the Hungarian article of pad is something wrong. My Hungarian grammer is not the best but I think the Possessive of pad under Declension is no good because there is written:
az ő padjuk, padjaik
but right is
az ők (plural) padjaik
I don´t know the singular form but right is az ők padjaik (in plural).
--Magellan 10:30, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Good catch, thanks! I've fixed it now (by editing {{hu-pos}}). —RuakhTALK 17:20, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
It is true that the third-person plural personal pronoun is ők (they), but in a possessive expression when I want to say "their house", the correct form is "az ő házuk". There is no such as "az ők házuk". Please read [4], a Wikipedia article in English. --Panda10 23:23, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Whoops! Thanks for the link. :-) —RuakhTALK 00:17, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, last night I thought about this, I say az ök házuk? No, that can not be sure, in this form it is me very unknown. But this too. :) Thank you. --Magellan 06:41, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

potable pronounce

(Copied from talk page RJFJR 15:04, 8 September 2008 (UTC)) I think the phonetic description and the sound file are wrong on this: according to all the dictionaries I have, it has a long o, not as not pot-able, as in "able to put into a pot", but as in poh-table, as in the latin potare to drink. —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

Can someone better at IPA check and fix this, please. RJFJR 00:11, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
  • The audio file is wrong; I'll clean up the IPA. --EncycloPetey 06:46, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Huh? EncycloPetey, you haven’t corrected it; according to the anon., it should be: (UK) /ˈpɒtəbl/ and (US) /ˈpɑːɾəbl/. (Nota that the US pronunciatory transcription may not be 100% correct and that I’ve removed the non-phonemic [ɫ] from both transcriptions.)  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 08:12, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Actually the anon says that it should have a long o (UK: /ɘʊ/), and that is what my dead tree dictionary says. However, I have added /ˈpɒt.ə.bəl/ as a second UK pronunciation as this is the only way I've ever heard it pronounced on this side of the Atlantic, and Wiktionary is descriptive rather than prescriptive. If the short "o" is how the US audio is pronounced (I can't listen to audio atm due to hardware issues) then I suggest that a short "o" option is added to the US transcription also. Thryduulf 12:47, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Oh, sorry. Right you are; I misread what he wrote. I’m not so sure about the argument for adding a “descriptive” pronunciation; however, if you can somehow reference an audio recording (such as an archived news video or YouTube clip) to back it up, that would be great.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 09:59, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Other than recording my speech and that of other people I know (which I do not have the technical capacity to do, otherwise there would be many more UK audio pronunciations than we currently have!) I have no idea how I would go about finding such an audio clip. To me someone pronouncing the word with a long "o" would sound incredibly pretentious! Thryduulf 12:50, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
(... too late to be a useful contribution, I know, but) surely the 'o' is pronounced as in potion (same root). I've never heard it pronounced with a short 'o' in the UK (I would think it a different word - able to be put in a pot). My pronunciation (general northern England) (fwiw) would be as for the first US pronunciation (i.e. without the RP/Estuary 'ew'), but also without the 't' sounding like a 'd'. Dbfirs 08:48, 27 December 2008 (UTC)


From a news article in Asia Times Online[5]: "A spate of Indian media reports have since appeared based on government "leaks", thumb-sketching behind-the-scene efforts by Chinese diplomats to somehow scuttle a NSG consensus decision on Saturday." I can find this word neither on Merriam-Webster nor Dictionary.com, and a Google search doesn't immediately give me an answer either other than that it may be connected to a software application. __meco 22:58, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

The set phrase thumbnail sketch dates from 1852.[6] I think thumb-sketching may just be a nonce-word variation influenced by the habit of using thumbnail or sometimes thumb for a digital thumbnail. Michael Z. 2008-09-13 17:55 z
[[thumb sketch]] or [[thumb-sketch]] seems to exist as noun and possibly as verb. Both thumb-sketched and thumb-sketching can be found as adjective and noun respectively, but possibly also as true verb forms. [[thumbsketch]] also seems to exist as a noun at least, although not so common in bgc. DCDuring TALK 21:39, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

please help with a word to best complete the sentence?

"• Can our technical expertise outweigh that of the competition? - looking for a word that could replace this - meaning "better than" - please help? —This comment was unsigned.

exceed? —RuakhTALK 19:39, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
beat? Language Lover 03:06, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps pwn, if you’re looking for incongruous informality…   ;-)    (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 10:02, 11 September 2008 (UTC)


Please check Talk:\ for a question. Language Lover 03:06, 11 September 2008 (UTC)


I added a new section at congee for an Asian food. Quick internet research gave me a simple definition, and Wikipedia has lots of information about etymologies and local names, but it is mostly in Asian languages which I daren't tackle. Could someone else have a quick look at it? --Jackofclubs 09:55, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Chinese restaurants here serve congee as a dish of rice porridge, containing bits of meat or seafood, often accompanied by a long doughnut. Michael Z. 2008-09-14 19:38 z


A lot of senses seem to be missing. See M-W and OED. H. (talk) 10:43, 11 September 2008 (UTC)


When the plural form of a word is overwhelmingly more common (and indeed often used instead of) its singular, do we still just define metadata as "Plural of metadatum"? same goes with normal data/datum too I suppose. Conrad.Irwin 17:47, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

I'd say that metadata was used as an uncountable collective noun primarily. I'm not certain I've ever heard metadatum used, although it does get bgc hits. Thryduulf 13:45, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Metadatum is extremely rare—I count about 15 English-language G-books hits, earliest published 1993.
It appears that Metadata was first registered as a product name in 1974, and metadata hadn't been used before at least 1969.[7] I presume that data was already used as a singular noun by this time, but I'd like to see a citation supporting that. NOAD defines it as “a set of data...”, neatly accounting for its singular number.
I believe metadatum could be considered a singular back-formation based on the presumption that metadata is plural and following the example of datum, although I don't know what kind of evidence we have without citing a lexicographer's opinion. Perhaps this presumption could be considered a hyper-correction, or pedantic view that data is always plural. Michael Z. 2008-09-13 17:38 z
It’s true that metadatum is rare; it’s a little over four-and-a-half thousand times rarer than metadata. Use of data in the singular seems to have been fairly uncommon before the late-1980s, but such usage did exist quite a bit before then, as evidenced by this 1908 publication; I can’t say whether this usage would have been considered standard back then (I’m guessing not). As for evidence of the etymology of metadatum, we have the strength of your theory, which seems pretty likely; we often have to make assertions that cannot be referenced, by virtue of the fact that we can and do add many words that professional paid lexicographers don’t bother with or that they take far longer to treat. Lastly, I don’t think that the back-formation could be considered pædantic or a hypercorrection — data may be a lot more common as a mass noun than as a plural, but that doesn’t make the plural use (or the use of its singular, datum) at all a hypercorrection.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 23:15, 15 September 2008 (UTC)


Etymology: Swahili just seems unlikely to me. Other online sources agree it's from Swahili (etymonline doesn't have the word), but I haven't access to good offline sources. See also World Wide Words, which agrees boma in Swahili means a place of concealment, but doesn't like it in the etymology of gossypiboma, so suggests "+ -oma" and uses hand-waving to explain the b. (See also the tangentially related boma.) Does anyone know the etymology for certain?—msh210 19:47, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Incidentally, is our pronunciation with /z/ correct?—msh210 19:47, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
It does seem to be a whimsical coinage. Obviously, some of its appeal -oma is a standard medical suffix. "Gossypioma" might have been morphed into "gossypiboma" intentionally by a clever student of medical error or medical professional, but the here-hypothesized early form has left no trace on the web AFAICT. The use of "gossypiboma" dates from 1986 on bgc, mostly citations of articles beginning that year. DCDuring TALK 20:25, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Very unlikely. "concealment" is a very minor connotation of Swahili boma, if at all. It means fortification, or a defensive structure, and thus the house of a chief or administrator, or similar. (our present senses 1, 2, 5 for English) Why this would be used to coin the instant word I have no idea, -oma makes a great deal more sense: "cotton disease". I think the Swahili connection is entirely spurious. (Oh, and 6, 7 at boma are wrong, they are just uses of boma=enclosure ...) Robert Ullmann 14:07, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

As to my question about pronunciation, I wonder whether it is correct and was influenced by gauze.—msh210 16:56, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

With the coinage so recent apparently, we should just ask the coiners what was on their minds. DCDuring TALK 18:41, 15 September 2008 (UTC)


Should the legal senses be moved to Bar or the Bar? Is the first legal sense UK only (all the others are marked as being)? Thryduulf 13:38, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

In the U.S. we definitely refer to the exam as "the Bar". And I'm not sure the other senses are actually UK-only, either — we have "bar associations", which are typically just called "the Bar" — but we don't have barristers per se (as in, we don't distinguish barristers from solicitors), so maybe our uses should just get their own sense lines. —RuakhTALK 13:50, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm confident that lower case use would be more common than the upper case use in the US, though upper case use would not be rare. The following illustrates a fairly common usage without "the":
  • 2003, Philip Hamburger Matters of State: A Political Excursion, page 132
    Tricia was married in New York, and Eddie passed his bars there. And not the sort of bars you have been passing this evening!
Also, the wording of the UK senses excludes the US only because of the term barrister. The phrase "admitted to the bar" is common in the US, meaning that an attorney is allowed to practice in a state or at the Federal bar. DCDuring TALK 15:17, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Bar is used in Canada too, but not exactly as in Britain (outside Quebec, all lawyers are both barristers and solicitors, but barrister doesn't appear that much in popular use). Per my paper dictionary, in North America the bar means lawyers or the legal profession, in Britain the Bar (capped) means barristers. I think a separate sense is simply an abbreviation of bar examMichael Z. 2008-09-12 17:58 z
IMHO: No, don't move to the Bar; but if necessary, move the legal senses to "Proper noun" heading, otherwise just keep it the way it is now, which seems clear enough. Or, copy the legal senses to "the Bar" or "the bar" but keep them under "bar" so they wouldn't be missed by a reader looking up "bar"; but the thought of having articles starting with 'the' doesn't seem attractive, because there could be lots of proper nouns preceded by 'the', such as "the Great Lakes" or "the Supreme Court"... —AugPi 05:03, 7 November 2008 (UTC)


monolog is listed as (US). Is it standard or nonstandard? Is the pres. part. monologing, monologging or both? RJFJR 17:36, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Presumably it's listed as US as the standard British spelling is monologue. Thryduulf 17:54, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
It's monologue in Canada. Perhaps monolog should be tagged nonstandard? I'd definitely tag the verb sense as a nonstandard form of monologize/monologiseMichael Z. 2008-09-12 18:03 z
Is catalog a non-standard form of "catalogising"? DCDuring TALK 18:17, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Catalog(ue) has been used as a verb since 1598.[8] The monolog spelling and the verb form to monologue appear to be neologisms, absent from many dictionaries (monolog(u)ize/-ise seem to be more common in a few dictionaries). Michael Z. 2008-09-12 21:14 z
I guess I mussa missed da monologize/ise joke. I's jes' a simpul 'murcan. DCDuring TALK 22:32, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Aw bugger, I completely misunderstandified. Michael Z. 2008-09-13 01:14 z
The noun is a standard alternative form I think. As to the verb, I don't find much usage of monologing or monomologging or monologged or monologed at news, bgc, or scholar. I inserted an rfv-sense tag at the verb, though the absence of explicit standards or procedure for distinguishing among standard main spellings, alternative spellings, common misspellings, and uncommon misspellings makes it less than rewarding to pursue citations. DCDuring TALK 18:14, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

medical school & medical degree

Hello all. Greeting from an encyclopedist at Wikipedia. I have just created the medical student entry on Wiktionary and others, including; EncycloPetey and Nadanado were kind enough to welcome me and show me a couple of things and add a couple of things to it.

I've just finished mediating a dispute on Wikipedia that has brought up some interesting possible terms that may need inclusion here at Wiktionary . They are medical school and medical degree. These terms stem from discussions held recently at w:Talk:Medical degree. The questions for here really are; 1) should their definitions exist here, 2) if they do, does the use of the terms indicate some unseen usage of the term medical, and 3) are their meanings modified at all by the inclusion of new professions such as naturopathy and chiropratic etcetera within the "medical profession"?

I think that it's an interesting little problem for us.

There is some discussion between myself and EncycloPetey here and to gain a deeper understanding of how this topic has come up, you could observe the discussion here. :-)

Thanks! :-)

Fr33kmantalk APW 03:15, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

In the discussion at your talk-page, EncycloPetey argues for the inclusion of [[medical student]], making the comment that "The term medical student is unusual because the descriptor is the adjective 'medical', but this adjective describes the field of study for the student, rather than the student directly." However, I'm less convinced; quoting Dr. Arnold Zwicky on the topic of “non-dual citizen” and “transformational grammarian”, “There are many different sorts of non-predicating modification — including things like electrical engineer, Vietnamese war, indigenous language, marital bliss, and daily prayers — and there is a gigantic literature on their analysis, in a number of languages.” This doesn't mean that no non-predicating modifications warrant inclusion, only that it's a regular feature of English grammar that a prenominal adjective may not be predicating, so not all non-predicating modifications warrant inclusion, and therefore non-predicating–ness of a modification is not (by itself) grounds for inclusion. (I suspect that not all editors will agree with me, however.) —RuakhTALK 15:13, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I would think that Zwicky's authority would make us look for other warrants for the inclusion of phrases involving the use of [[medical]]. How could such criterion or criteria be operationalized? Would the use of [[medical student]] or others attributively be evidence of idiomaticity of some kind? DCDuring TALK 16:59, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
(starting a new comment, so people can reply to each separately) As for the problem that you describe — the question of whether a student of non-allopathic medicine (or perhaps of neither-allopathic-nor-osteopathic medicine) counts as a medical student — I don't see that as a problem. If we do include [[medical student]], we should define it as it's used; this means we'll certainly have either an allopathic-specific sense or an allopathic+osteopathic-specific sense (or both), since at least one of those is definitely a specific sense that people use, and might mean that we'll also have a catch-all sense. —RuakhTALK 15:13, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree and expect that we will find a catch-all sense and a sense limiting the term to "real" medicine, harkening back to the late 19th century (in the US) battles to restrict the profession of medicine to exclude quackery and some fields deemed quackery. There is a chance that a current inclusiveness trend in medical education may force us to rely on older citations for the restrictive sense. I don't see any difference between [[medical student]], [[medical degree]], [[medical education]], [[medical practice]], and possibly others in this regard, which makes me wonder whether any of these warrant inclusion. Can't the battle be fought once/twice at [[medical]] and/or [[medicine]]? DCDuring TALK 16:59, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
If it is "fought" there, then it also has to be fought at student. Consider "biology student", but not "biological student", yet "biological education" and "biological degree" (although rare and a bit awkward) do make sense. Now, it may be that this is more a property of the adjectives and descriptors involved, but in this case the modified noun plays a role as well. The same noun may sometimes take an adjectival descriptor, but other times use an attributive noun. The expectation, then, is for "medicine student", using the otherwise common pattern of attributive noun to describe the field in which the person is a student, just as for "enginerring student", "art student", "communications student". --EncycloPetey 18:07, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
The "fighting" I was thinking about was whether the field defined by the word "medicine" did or did not include fields like homeopathy, osteopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, etc. We are much too polite to fight over RfD matters. DCDuring TALK 21:47, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Exactly the discussion that led to the dispute on Wikipedia. After a while we "negotiatied" that it did, but only if the profession provided "hands-on" clinical healing to the level that the average Joe would condier to be a "doctor" :-) Fr33kmantalk APW 23:57, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
These still devolve to a SOP argument: is [[medical student]] intrinsically different from [[medical]] [[student]]? I submit it is not. - Amgine/talk 21:31, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I hadn't considered that perspective before. If medical student is merely sum of parts, then a person studying pharmacology would be a "medical student", but that is not usually the case. So, the word seems not to be merely the sum of its parts and merits an entry on that basis. --EncycloPetey 00:02, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm not totally sold on that. I think a pharmacology student who says "I study medicine" is either lying, joking, or not a native speaker; medicine is a specific field, and while pharmacologists deal with medicines, that's not the same thing. Now, you can ask why medicine→medical but not medicines→medical, but that quirk isn't specific to "medical student"; the same applies to "medical intern", "medical doctor", "medical textbook", "medical practice", and so on, and therefore needs to be documented at [[medical]]. —RuakhTALK 00:32, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I'd only say that a pharmacy student in my hospital has "student pharmacist" on their IDs; a nursing student has "Student Nurse" and a physiotherapy student's ID has "student physiotherapist". In each case it is the intention of the hospital to convey a "title" upon the student: preliminary though it might be. Student doctor, is not used because its use is controversial. Whilst its use is permitted by the individual student and many students are introduced to patients and addressed by doctors as such. Patients, and thus the public perhaps, know students as "medical students". Indeed further argument could be gained by the fact that the government address them as "medical students", their professional associations address them thus, and the regulatory bodies do likewise. However, Oxford doesn't directly have an entry for the term, but does recognize its usage as
'"2. a. A person who is undergoing a course of study and instruction at a university or other place of higher education or technical training. Also const. of, in (a subject); often with defining word prefixed, as art, law, medical student."[1] (If that link doesn't work or if my use of a quotation is not allowed or incorrect, would someone kindly remove it?)
Fr33kmantalk APW 01:31, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I'd submit that it is different. The term medical student denotes a student doctor and no other possible person whatsoever. I'm not an expert in "words" but the fact that these people are addressed and introduced to patients and colleagues as such makes me wonder if this has become essentially, "a word". It's irrelevant to the discussion really (I am still UNINVOLVED and it's only come up because of the dispute), but on my hospital ID card it entitles me as a "medical student" as does every other ID for student doctors in the UK. Every piece of paper I get from professional sources calls me a "medical student" Fr33kmantalk APW 23:52, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
The special organizational status of "medical student" would not, in itself, lead us have an entry. We would need three citations from durably archived sources that illustrate the usage, but I'd bet they would be found. I wonder whether there will be/already has been a time when a "medical student" could be studying "alternative medicine". DCDuring TALK 00:14, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
You know? Discussion here is much more intelligent, ahh, interesting! I've not done the research, but I'd say that medical student has almost always been associated with the schools of allopathy and osteopathy: DOs in the US and a few locations elsewhere that is. I'd say that it has always held the meaning of a person training to be a physician (even if they later become a surgeon). I'd also say (given my study of the history of alternative medicine), that there may have been a time during the late 18th century or early 19th century where students of alternative medicine (as we entitle it today) might have been referred to as medical students. I'd have to do the research. Fr33kmantalk APW 01:31, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
1, 2,3... these each are referring to students of Ayurvedic medicine as medical students. It seems to me that any student of any traditional healthcare philosophy other than holistic care models tends to be called a "medical student" - at least in English texts. - Amgine/talk 18:58, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Don't we theoretically have a cooccurent/coordinate terms section accounted for in WT:ELE that can deal with this in a clean and simple way?? Circeus 23:12, 16 September 2008 (UTC)


Hello, sir. I need to translate the word Smith into Ukrainian.--Chris Wattson 14:10, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

коваль (kovál’), m. noun. A popular surname, Коваль, common English spellings Koval, Kowal. I've added it to smith#TranslationsMichael Z. 2008-09-14 19:27 z

Pollyannaish / pollyannaish

Is this properly capitalized as currently done? It comes from a name but is it being used commonly? RJFJR 14:41, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

They are capitalized in the NOADMichael Z. 2008-09-13 17:02 z


I posted this comment below on the word "atheism":

"1. Absence of belief in 'the existence' of God or gods.

I think the emphasized text above could imply actual existence of God or gods which would represent a bias and is inappropriate for the definition.

I propose "the" be changed to "a" or "an". Which ever is gramatically correct.

'1. Absence of belief in an existence of God or gods.' "

and I received response:

I'm not sure exactly why, but "an" simply seems incorrect, to say nothing of value neutral. The wording should stay. If you'd like a wider audience, you may want to bring this up at our Tea room; almost no one here reads talk pages. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 17:55, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

I disagree and feel that the current wording should not stay. A look at the definition and usage of the article "an" [9] would contradict both arguments presented above by the responder. Firmends 18:24, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

I see where you're coming from, but I agree with Atelaes. It's always the existence of a thing, not an existence of it (since it has at most one existence, making its existence a unique entity); and "I don't believe in the existence of" gets tens of thousands of hits on Google (whereas "I don't believe in an existence of" gets only one as of this writing). —RuakhTALK 19:57, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I think the "a" would be better placed before god, that way it does not assume which God the person does not believe in. Conrad.Irwin
Ah, yes, I think you're right. —RuakhTALK 20:34, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree that would do well to solve the problem. In such case, should "god" be capitalized? Firmends 23:01, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't think so, god is any generic god. God is the one true/false god. Conrad.Irwin 23:04, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. Firmends 23:09, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Why was a third definition added to this page? It represents my initial argument and may imply actual existsence of god. I propose the third definition be removed.Firmends 23:22, 30 September 2008 (UTC)


Is this an adjective? Same questions for three-quarters. Conrad.Irwin 19:19, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

The both seem like nouns, but SoP nouns: three + - + fourths. I'm less certain about it in "three-fourths part", where it seems like an adjective or some more recent grammatical category. I haven't even looked to see whether there's supposed to be an apostrophe in this last. DCDuring TALK 04:20, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

When hyphenated they are typically used as adjectives. I'd agree that such constructions are SoP in English. However, I think we might want to make an exception and include one-fourth and three-fourths (and the associated "-quarters") as entries because of their extremely high frequency in English relative to all other such fractions. --EncycloPetey 05:18, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Emprically, based on the first 100 visible usages on bgc, "three fourths" is always a noun, as expected. "three-fourths" is used both as adjective and noun. Of the noun usage, "three-fouirths" is more common than "three fourths". High frequency seems like a meaningful consideration, but is not part of WT:CFI. It probably should be. Vote? DCDuring TALK 12:18, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Wouldn't it be an adverb too, as in “three-fourths full of water”?
Should we set some arbitrary limit on fractions, or find attributions for each one? Carpenters and mechanics might regularly use thirteen thirty-seconds and twelve one hundreths.
I'd be in favor of using a slight modification the same standards we have for cardinal numerals. That is, allow all one-unit fractions from half to hundredth (half, third, fourth, fifth, .. ninety-ninth, hundredth) and allow their plurals as well. For fractions smaller than hundredth, allow thousandth, millionth, etc. Note that all of these words (except half) will also be ordinal numbers in addition to being fractional numbers. The biggest differences in grammar between the fractions and ordinals are: (1) fractions have common plural forms, whereas the plurals of ordinals are rarely encountered (except "firsts", which is reasonably common), (2) fractions can be used adverbially to modify adjectives (as noted above), in addition to having the ordinal numerical properties of functioning as either a noun or adjective, and functioning adverbially with a verb (He finished second in the race).
I also think we should allow two-thirds and three-fourths / three-quarters, but no other multiples of unit fractions. --EncycloPetey 04:48, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Young Aunties

(copied from Talk:aunt) I'm going to be an aunty soon but im not even 15.What could I be called except from Aunt or Aunty? —This comment was unsigned.

Whatever you want! My first thoughts are perhaps just your name, or if you (or your future neice/nephew's parents (presumably your sibling and their partner)) want something a bit more, perhaps you can use a word from another language you like the sound of. Thryduulf 02:21, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
It's not technically accurate but you could use the term cousin (in a sense, you are cousins once removed, but that would be a zeroth cousin once removed and there is no such degree). RJFJR 14:11, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Just a quick note: One of my first cousins is younger than his nephew (or niece, I forget which now). I don't know what they call each other.—msh210 16:22, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Instead of Aunt Given Name, try Miss Given Name. --Una Smith 03:55, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
There's always "tante" (pronounced like "want-tuh" Amina (sack36) 11:41, 4 October 2008 (UTC)


Unlike our definition implies, fatigues can be worn when doing other things than menial labour. However I'm not certain whether we need to expand the existing sense or add additional ones. See these bgc searches for example - wearing fatigues and wearing fatigues -"wearing fatigues".

You're right. I was thinking of the idea of one so clad being ready for "dirty work", but it is just "relaxed" clothing, intended to "save" fancier uniforms, I suppose. DCDuring TALK 17:24, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

I'm also not certain whether terms such as battle fatigues and combat fatigues should get separate entries or not. I don't think that "jungle fatigues" should, although again I'm not completely certain of this. Thryduulf 16:31, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

My inclination would be to let usage examples and/or citations carry the water for those expressions. Both terms might well have had two valid sense, at least when "fatigues" was more commonly used for instances of "fatigue". I wonder, has there been some long-term drift toward uncountability and abstraction in terms like "fatigue"? DCDuring TALK 17:24, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
My own impression has always been that fatigues is a synonym for combat dress or battledress. I presume that the “relaxed uniform for fatigue work” definition comes from 1836, when combat dress looked more like a parade uniform.[10]
Does any military service still have different uniforms for manual labour and combat? (A few years ago the Canadian Forces had work dress, for the office, classroom, or casual parades.) Michael Z. 2008-09-14 19:15 z
The camo that US troops wear seems like it might be more expensive than what you would want for, say, basic training. DCDuring TALK 20:48, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Re: "I wonder, has there been some long-term drift toward uncountability and abstraction in terms like 'fatigue'?": I don't know, but I haven't had that impression. And in the specific case of fatigue, b.g.c. finds uncountable use going back centuries. (Going by the OED Online's entry, it seems like its original use was uncountable, meaning "tiredness", and it developed an extended countable use, meaning "thing that causes tiredness", with this latter use being the origin of the military uses.) I think the long-term trend is that different words change differently over time — gaining uses, losing uses, etc. — and when we read old works, we mostly only notice the usages that we no longer have. (I think this is the same reason that many French people think Quebeckers speak a more conservative, Molière-like form of the language: they notice usages that are shared by Quebec and Molière, but not by France, whereas they don't notice (or don't have the knowledge to recognize) usages that are unique to Quebec, or that are shared by France and Molière but not by Quebec.) —RuakhTALK 20:12, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Going off the topic, I've heard the same said about the Welsh spoken in Patagonia (that it's an older, more conservative version). Thryduulf 23:15, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I haven't researched it, but I suspect "fatigues" is plural because of its specific clothing meaning, just like "clothes" and the slang term "togs" and "duds" are all pluralia tantum. It probably started as something like "fatigue dress" (with fatigue having its meaning "menial labor in the military"), which was then shortened to colloquial "fatigues", which then stopped being colloquial, and stopped being applied only to clothes worn for menial/manual labor. That's my guess. Angr 15:15, 8 October 2008 (UTC)


The current definition for sense 5, "being achromatic in subject" is rather self-referential. I think that it means, "dull, uninspiring, grey", but I'm not certain. The etymology is also in need of some attention. Thryduulf 00:54, 15 September 2008 (UTC)


There seem to be a few more sense kicking around. This is mainly a reminder to me to come back and define them, but anyone else is free to. Conrad.Irwin 23:44, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

There's the sense of foolish that's easy to see. Added, with King James Bible quote. --Jackofclubs 17:47, 16 September 2008 (UTC)


I was looking for a Latinate æquivalent of psychosomatic used in English, but all I found were three books that used the Spanish term corporomental. Now, I don’t speak Spanish at all, but I decided to give it a shot nonetheless, so I created an entry for a word, guessing the meaning from the etymology. I could very likely be totally wrong; I’m curious to know. I hope the fact that I added three citations outweighs the effort that must now be expended in cleaning up the mess I’ve made…   :-S    (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 23:53, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

It's not in either of my Spanish-English dictionaries, nor in the Spanish and Spanish-English dictionaries I usually turn to online (DRAE, wordreference.com Spanish, wordreference.com Spanish-English). Going from the quotations, I don't think it means "psychosomatic"; I think you've identified the right components, but semantically they seem to fit together a bit differently somehow. I've added translations of the quotations (which other editors will hopefully improve), so you can judge for yourself. —RuakhTALK 02:28, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree. The 2007 cite kinda fits, but the other two don’t support the meaning of psychosomatic. Glad to know I got the etymology pretty much right (not that it was a particularly difficult challenge). Thanks for seeing to this; I didn’t know you could speak Spanish…  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 02:54, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I’ve just now added a pronunciation too; I gave it as: /corporoˈmental/, seeing as I read that [a], [e], [i], [o], and [u] were based on the pronunciations of their Spanish counterparts. Is this correct, or is Spanish phonology nowhere near as straight-forward as I thought it was?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 03:00, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
It's more accurately transcribed as IPA(key): /(ˌ)koɾpoɾomen̪ˈt̪al/. I put the secondary stress in parentheses because I'm not sure if it in fact ought to be there. Note that dental /n/ may not be phonemic but rather allophonic, but I included it in the transcription all the same. I'll make the changes to the IPA on the entry page, as well. Anyone who would like to remove the secondary stress may do so there.--El aprendelenguas 03:29, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • It doesn't mean "psychosomatic" (the usual word for that is psicosomático). From the citations it just seems to mean "mental", or more specifically "having bodily presence in the mind", but I'm having trouble thinking of a good English translation.. Ƿidsiþ 07:04, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • On second thoughts, perhaps these quotations are quasi-nonces more indicative of a general "body and mind" conjunction, best translated into English with something like physico-mental. Ƿidsiþ 07:13, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes, I think you're right. —RuakhTALK 13:22, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Nota that I have created an entry for its plural form, corporomentales, as well; it may need attention.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 00:16, 17 September 2008 (UTC)


I've added fortyish here - dictionary.com said it was an adjective, but I am not sure. I'd put it as a simple cardinal number and possible even a noun. Also the word fortysomething could also be used as the same part of speech --Jackofclubs 17:52, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Also, clearly, there's scope for twentyish, thirtyish, fiftyish, sixtyish, seventyish, eightyish, ninetyish etc. ... in theory oneish, twoish, threeish....two-hundredish etc. --Jackofclubs 17:52, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Re: Above "(i.e. there are fortysomething people in the room)": I'm unfamiliar with the likes of "fortysomething" as an adjective preceeding its object like this, 'though as a noun (see entry fortysomething) it rings true. "Fortysome" as an adjective and its ilk are more common in my hometown speech (Appalachian SW Virginia Blue Ridge Mts.). Twentyish, thirtyish, etc. sound familiar to me. As an aside: An art professor at Virginia Tech (ca. 1963) decried words like "yellowish" or "redish brown", the "ish" being imprecise. Wayne Roberson, Austin, Texas 01:12, 17 September 2008 (UTC) (9-16-08, 8:11pm CDT)

Can't we just make do with the various suffixes that go with numbers, like -ish, -odd, -some, and -something? I'm not sure that they are worthwhile as headwords, though it would be nice if a seach for the terms found a relevant related entry thirtysomething et al. as "Derived terms" of thirty. DCDuring TALK 02:07, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Enjoy this amusing comment I got at my language blog

I got this amusing comment at my language blog concerning criteria/criterion, and thought some of the more cynical contributers here might get a chuckle from it.

Anonymous: Nouns are not conjugated, they are declined.

Anonymous: (same anonymous as above) The plural form of the English word "criteria" is not "criteria," it's criterion.

I came to this blog from a thread I saw on Steve Pavlina's website. Don't you think you should learn English well before you start a blog instructing people on learning a foreign language? I stopped reading after the "criteria" error. In my opinion, based on what I've read in the beginning of this article, you don't have credibility in this topic and, as a blogger and a linguist who takes writing seriously, I would not network with you.

My Response: Thanks for the comment, anonymous. You have criterion/criteria backwards, criteria is the plural and criterion is the singular. See: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/criterion

As for learning English, I'm a native of the United States, therefore anything I speak is perfect native English *BY DEFINITION*, and if it disagrees with a rule, then the rule is wrong.

Thanks for the conjugation/declension correction. I appreciate corrections like this from people who are so well-studied in linguistics and I hope you'll keep reading the blog.

I guess this anonymous commenter was a very serious blogger and linguist, huh! Too bad he won't network with me!

From Studying Foreign Language Proper Nouns. Language Lover 20:23, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

If you want to fry him, point out criterium, plural criteriums. Robert Ullmann 12:43, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Double-drat ... or dratted single? (or is that 'drated'?)

Got a question from someone which I answered with "Well, one is supposed to be English English and the other is supposed to be American English, but I always use ..."

No, not the dreaded 'Jewellery' gem, but rather the 'ellish 'l's, as seen in 'cancelled' vs. 'canceled' and 'labeled' vs. 'labelled'.

Now I'd rather not get into which form is correct (it's always obvious) but... why don't entries like this have links to ... 'somewhere' that discuss the common variants of words with respect to just this kind of issue. That is, is there a place in enwikt for meta-entries? Not usage prescriptions, but usage descriptions in a neutral tone, with the odd Strine for humor.

If there is can someone point out examples? Shenme 00:27, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Sounds like a good idea, maybe an Appendix or something? Language Lover 00:54, 17 September 2008 (UTC)


Should this be capitalised at Hants (or even Hants.)? --Borganised 11:42, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Indeed. I moved it. It had been converted to lower case by a bot long ago. I couldn't find evidence of its use in lower case. Perhaps it is spelled that way, too. We left-ponders need the upper case entry for snail mail, though the entry needs at least a link to Hampshire or w:Hampshire.
I think we have adopted the standard of not necessarily having the period following an abbreviation, in line with more modern European practice. It would make like simpler for us not to have "alternative spelling" entries for abbreviations that differed only by the presence or absence of a period. DCDuring TALK 12:25, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Not famine

I need a word to describe a situation where there is plenty of food in a country but the majority of the poor cannot afford to buy it, such as the situation during the Great Irish "Famine". Is there such a word? Donek 15:55, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

The other name for the Great Irish Famine, the "Potato Famine", focuses the attention on the idea that it was a shortage of a particular food that was involved. Most people who have bought produce in the last 150 years would realize that potatoes are cheap and that problems with that crop would have the major effect on the poor. I cannot think of a single word that summarizes the idea of the differential effect of a commodity shortage or price rise on those who have an inelastic demand for the commodity. It would also be applicable to France at the time of the Revolution. (Was it the wheat crop there?) DCDuring TALK 16:46, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

I understand very well the Irish (regional) potato famine, being Irish myself. However, in some parts of the country, the potatoes were fine. Potatoes were not the only food grown in Ireland at the time. So if the was a potato famine in the parts of the country where the potatoes were suffering a "blight", what was happening in the other areas where the potatoes were fine and the shops were full but the people couldn't afford to eat? Donek 17:51, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

High prices (extending beyond Ireland to elsewhere in the British Isles and perhaps beyond), due to the blight, for potatoes, previously the cheapest food available. What I was trying to say is that one word will not provide a substitute for knowledge of and empathy for the economic and social consequences of a shortage of a critical food. DCDuring TALK 18:01, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

I also understand that you don't know of one. Does anyone else know if there is one? Donek 18:17, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I would be amazed if there was a single word for such an complicated concept as it is probably summed up most basically as "famine among the poorest people caused by the staple food(s) being too expensive". Now I could imagine that being one word in an agglutinative language such as Finnish or German, but not in an analytical language like English. Thryduulf 18:34, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
How can this be? If the shops were full, then either (1) they were well-frequented or (2) there was some sort of monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel that was capable of suppressing competition and keeping up the price or (3) shopkeepers would lower prices to the equilibrium price whereat the quantity supplied and quantity demanded are equal. There have been situations where food has been left to rot on farms because demand (in the economics sense) wasn't sufficient for prices to be high enough for it to be logistically worthwhile to transport the food to where the people are; but if there's enough food on store shelves, then by and large, people will be able to buy it. (There will always be some people who are too poor even for that, and there will always be some food that gets thrown away, because competition is never perfect — shopkeepers would rather throw away some food than lower prices too far — but in an economy like the hypothetical one you're describing, shopkeepers would presumably sell old potatoes (undesirable, but still edible) at severely reduced prices.) —RuakhTALK 19:12, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
You are forgetting exports. In the recent crisis in Burma/Myanmar, the generals were exporting rice on existing contracts to further add to their own bank accounts; similar things have happened in Ethiopia (1973, IIRC) and many others. The food in the shops does sell, to the 0.1% of the political/economic elite, and in smaller amounts to people using large proportions of their income. Ordinary people may be spending 100% of income to buy substantially less than their minimum needs; the food in the shops sells, but there is a famine.
In all the cases I've seen and studied, this is still called "famine", even though the primary cause may be economic distribution rather than drought and crop failure. Robert Ullmann 19:24, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm aware of exports; I was referring exclusively to Donek's description of the erstwhile situation in Ireland, where he claimed the shops were full. —RuakhTALK 19:35, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I totally agree with Robert's assessment. A number of short phrases are easy to coin to describe this particular type of famine. The general situation is fairly well covered by food insecurity. The general economic situation is referred to with a different point of view as a "food price crisis", which nonetheless clearly implies what we are talking about. "Prices-induced famine" is a fairly short descriptor that is not difficult to analyse into the concept we are discussing. I wouldn't be surprised if a term WAS in use amongst NGOs or economists already, but we just don't know about it. Circeus 19:31, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I can't agree with "price-induced famine", because the implication would be that the prices caused the blight. "Price-induced starvation" or "food-price crisis" are better, but exogeny is usually where one looks for causality. The exogenous factor was the blight caused by the near mono-culture of potatoes (from a gene pool of limited variety). One's choice of terms will certainly be influenced by one's PoV. "Institutional factors" that contributed to the lack of relief efforts (ethnic discrimination, religious conflict} made the Great Famine particularly devastating compared to others of the time and more recently. DCDuring TALK 21:10, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Potatoes weren't being sold in the shop, other food was being sold. The poor had no money so lower prices wouldn't make a difference. Anyone who worked was paid in potatoes until the blight. When it happened, they were evicted and couldn't buy the plentiful food. The surplus was subsequently exported leading many (not me) to say it was not a famine. I think, from my own analysis of my history lectures, some regions had a famine, some had plenty of food being exported. I'm looking for a word or a clever term to describe this. Donek 20:51, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

I did not read Robert's post when I wrote my last one and he sums it up nicely. Maybe the wikt definition should be extended to include a certain group of people and a certain type of food to address this circumstance. Donek 23:26, 18 September 2008 (UTC)


As an adjective, it has about the same meaning as [[rapt]]. The phrase "wrapt attention" has 650 raw bgc hits, nearly a third as many as "rapt attention". Although we could certainly call it a common misspelling of "rapt" or as a misconstruction, to me it appears as if it might also be considered as its own word with an etymology based on "wrap", "influenced by" "rapt". DCDuring TALK 15:18, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

  • To me it's a misspelling. Ƿidsiþ 10:58, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Translation of fonosimbolo (Italian)

I'm struggling to translate the Italian word fonosimbolo. It is roughly an interjection e.g. one dictionary describes brr as a fonosimbolo. Its Italian definition translates (also with difficulty) as "A phonic event that may be formed by sounds outside of the phonetic or morphic language to which it belongs and that is able to evoke its meaning in a relatively immediate manner to speakers of a language community". Any ideas? SemperBlotto 10:11, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Onomatopoeia? --Una Smith 03:36, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
Italian Wikipedia has fonosimbolismo, which links to sound symbolism on English Wikipedia. --Una Smith 03:40, 4 October 2008 (UTC)


I can cite that both abductors and abductores are plurals of abductor. But I can't determine if abductores is solely the plural in anatomy. RJFJR 12:22, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Heath Robinson

I would like to make some kind of entry for Heath Robinson There are a lot of examples out there, but they are mainly in the form Heath Robinson-style contraption or Heath Robinson-esque and so on. Although I did come across:- I like the discipline of harvesting the rainwater, Heath Robinson fashion. The sheet of corrugated plastic I have used to catch the rain is not an aesthetic arrangement, but you can get away with murder in the line of growing to eat. Any suggestions for a good way to treat this one? -- ALGRIF talk 14:51, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

I think it's an idiom implying quickly hacked together. I use it as in "Isn't that a bit Heath Robinson?". Not sure exactly how to format the entry. Conrad.Irwin 14:57, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
I've given it a go. SemperBlotto 15:24, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Hey, there's no Rube Goldberg, or GoldbergianMichael Z. 2008-09-21 15:49 z

Oldtimer's disease

On English Wikipedia, today's Featured Article is Alzheimer's disease. One of the questions that has come up concerns the eggcorn "oldtimer's disease". I am wondering if Wiktionary folks would be interested to search for early uses of that phrase? --Una Smith 02:59, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Seems to have first wandered into print around 1985, becoming popular in the late 80s and 90s. [11] [12]. -- Visviva 07:30, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for that. It doesn't occur in any folk etymology studies? --Una Smith 03:15, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
Not that I can find, although it would seem like a logical target for any linguist studying eggcorns. It's OR or No-R, I'm afraid. -- Visviva 08:14, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
Please explain "OR or No-R". --Una Smith 04:54, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
Sorry... "original research" or "no research" (i.e. nothing). As you probably know, original research is anathema on Wikipedia, but we are compelled to allow a certain limited amount of it here. Of course, it is possible that there is a scholarly treatment of this phrase somewhere; I wouldn't be surprised if there was, but my cursory check didn't show any sign of one. -- Visviva 08:38, 19 October 2008 (UTC)


I was wondering whether the etymology of the child's toy - marble - is in fact a corruption of marvel? If so, then the entry needs to be split. -- ALGRIF talk 14:19, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

  • No, they're so-called because they used to be made of actual marble. Ƿidsiþ 16:26, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Thx for the info- -- ALGRIF talk 18:49, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

more potential redlinks

Just a note to inform you for the existence (thanks to w:User:R'n'B) of a list of redlinks, some of which will meet our CFI, at User:Msh210/R'n'B.—msh210 16:33, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't think that page is very useful. There's lots of rubbish in there that maybe could be filtered out somehow...too much for humans to manually sort, IMHO. --Jackofclubs 16:58, 23 September 2008 (UTC)


Is -aĉ- a circumfix or infix? The circumfix header is non-standard. --Jackofclubs 09:13, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Definitely suffix. It is, quite obviously, missing a matching prefix to be a circumfix... Circeus 15:47, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
As currently described, it's an infix. On the other hand, it could also be a suffix masquerading as an infix. It can't be a circumfix, though, since that would have the form X-Y rather than -X-.
How do Esperanto grammars treat this one? -- Visviva 14:53, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
Based on the examples given, it's a suffix, not an infix, as it is attached to right edge of a root, not inserted into the middle of a root. The fact that it's inserted between the root and the ending doesn't make it an infix. In skribi, the root is skrib- and the ending is -i. When the suffix is added, you get skrib-acx-i. If it were an infix, it would be something like skr-acx-ib-i. And if it were a circumfix, it would be something like a-skrib-cx-i. It's just a suffix. Angr 15:26, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Nevertheless, there are languages with circumfixes, so the bot should stop tagging ===Circumfix=== as being a nonstandard header. Angr 15:29, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

thank one's lucky stars

A few things on this one: First, concerning the move I did, is the current title correct? Secondly, and relatedly, is the inflection correct? It all seems to work except for the third person bit....what should be done there? Finally the etymology. Does anyone know about this, or have some sources they could check? I have no idea, nor do I have usable sources, but it does seem plausible. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 01:37, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Ancient and primitive peoples didn't speak English; and belief (or nominal belief) in astrology is still fairly widespread even today. If Shakespeare can write of a "pair of star-cross'd lovers", then I think the etymology is too vague. —RuakhTALK 02:17, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

The Geordie Word Netty

(Please note I put a reference section on this piece as the text has cites.)

Hello, we have a two party disagreement on the Geordie page between me (toasty874) and [the dragon slayor] (Sigurd the Dragon Slayor if my link fails [13]). You can see a detailed discussion on Sigurds page[14], look for the toilet talk sub heading, as a Netty is a toilet. (It is of note that there is even more discussion about the netty on his page, but this is from earlier edits -7. His Sig, and downward- that were done weeks before this one.)

I requested a third party, and a third party suggested I come here as you specialise in etymology.

He (Sigmund) recently put in an edit to this text,

However gabbinetto is the Romanic modern Italian diminutive of gabbia, which actually derives from the Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure") the root of the loanwords that became the Modern English cave, cage, and gaol.

Over five edits on the Geordie page.[15] [16] [17] [18] [19]

So the text would look like this

The geordie word netty,[2] meaning a toilet and place of need and necessity for relief[3][2][4] or bathroom,[3][2][4] has an uncertain origin,[5]though some have theorised that it may come from slang used by Roman soldiers on Hadrian's Wall,[6] which may have later become gabinetti in the Romanic Italian language[6] (Such as this article about the Westoe Netty, the subject of a famous painting from Bob Olley[6]. Another article about the Westoe Netty is featured here [7]). However gabbinetto is the Modern Italian diminutive of gabbia, which actually derives from the Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure") the root of the loanwords that became the Modern English cave, cage, and gaol. Thus, another explanation would be that it comes from a Modern Romanic Italian form of the word gabinetti.[5] Though only a, relatively, small number of Italians have migrated to the North of England, mostly during the 19th century.[8]

Some etymologists connect the word netty to the Modern English word needy. John Trotter Brockett, writing in 1829 in his A glossary of north country words...[4], claims that the etymon[9] of netty (and it's related form neddy) is the Modern English needy and need

Bill Griffiths, in A Dictionary of North East Dialect points to the earlier form, the Old English níd; he writes thusly "MS locates a possible early ex. "Robert Hovyngham sall make... at the other end of his house a knyttyng" York 1419, in which case the root could be OE níd 'neccesary'". [3]

Another related word, nessy is thought (by Griffiths) to derive from the Modern English "neccesary".[3]

Using the material he put in (that is concerned with Gabbi) I edited the text even more, he had a problem with it and reverted [20].

I reedited with more detail and restructured the piece, kept my detail in he took out and reordered the piece into three thinking points [21], and Sigurd reverted. (The article has three thinking points: Thinking point one is the O.E origin from necassary. Thinking point two is from an italian migration where netty is a contamination of gabinetti. Thinking point three is about a shared latin root between Gabi-netti and Geordie Netty, which highlights a latin parent route that is not contaminated)

To baby feed my restructuring I will put in bold how I reorganised the thinking points, though note I’m not using this Baby feed term to insult anyone here:

The geordie word netty,[2] meaning a toilet[6][7][3][2][4], a place of need and necessity for relief,[6][7][3][2][4] bathroom, [6][7][3][2][4] has an uncertain origin,[5]

Thinking point 1: Some etymologists connect the word netty to the Modern English word needy. John Trotter Brockett, writing in 1829 in his A glossary of north country words...[4], suggests that the etymon[22] of netty (and it's related form neddy) is the Modern English needyand need

Bill Griffiths, in A Dictionary of North East Dialect points to an earlier form, the Old English níd, he writes thusly "MS locates a possible early ex. "Robert Hovyngham sall make... at the other end of his house a knyttyng" York 1419, in which case the root could be OE níd 'neccesary'". [3]

Another related word, nessy is thought (by Griffiths) to derive from the Modern English "neccesary".[3]

Thinking point 2: However gabbinetto is the Romanic modern Italian diminutive of gabbia, which actually derives from the Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure") the root of the loanwords that became the Modern English cave, cage, and gaol. So an explanation could be that the term netty comes directly from the Romanic Italian form of the word gabinetti.[5] Though only a, relatively, small number of Italians have migrated to the North of England, mostly during the 19th century.[8]. Making this possibility more inert, and keeping the roots of the Geordie Netty and Italian gabinetti separated on different descending paths from what can only be the shared Latin parent.

Thinking point 3: It is theorised, Netty, using the passage of Latin roots that it may have come from Latin slang used by Roman soldiers on Hadrian's Wall,[6] which may have later in a separate root become gabinetti in the descending Romanic Italian language[6][5] after the Roman occupation from AD 43 to 410 (Such as this article about the Westoe Netty, the subject of a famous painting from Bob Olley.[6] and this article on the famous Westoe Netty origin and restoration.[7]) and which may have become the adjective netti in Italian and the verb nettoyer in French.

Concentrating on the two roots in gabi-netti/gabi-netto(Toilet/toilets) separate root passage, with the Italian migration thinking inert,[8] thus making the Geordie netty' and gabinetti roots separated. We can see a shared meaning, that happened, "despite" root separation through lack of regional Romanic migration[8] since AD 410.

Gabbi: in gabi-netti/gabi-netto (toilet/toilets), is the Romanic Italian diminutive of gabbia, which derives from the Roman Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure") the root of the loanwords that also became the Modern English cave, cage, and gaol

Nett: In French, another later Romanic language, like Italian et al, the verb nettoyer means to wipe. And in Romanic Italian the adjective netti, means to clean. Signifying the root of Nett, in gabi-netti, nettoyer, Roman slang Netti/Netty and Geordie netty, goes back to Roman times. If weighting using separated Roman Latin roots; Nett/Net it can be argued ‘ "Nett" been historically used as a place and a process for basic human hygiene, refreshment and relief, to wipe clean since at least the Roman times.

It is off interest the Italian netto/ netti, the French word net, the English word neat, the Spanish word nítido are all share phonographic sounding, similar to netty and all these words are root related to the Latin niti-dus which also means to clean, shine and polish.

Putting Gabbi, which is derived from the Roman Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure"), and putting it with with the Latin Root of nett, (found in nettoyer, netty and gabinetti et al) we can elucidate more using the Romanic Gabi-netti. Using its Roman Latin roots we can see highlighted an outside Roman toilet, with a cavity, hollow, and convenience to refresh away from the dwellings for hygiene, which later became an inside toilet enclosure when the technology became available. The same way the Geordie netty, which came from a separate root, came from Latin following AD 410.

He (Sigmund) reverted the above using vague reasoning, and ignoring the fact I used his recent edited text about Gabbia to partially help expand thinking point three (which might actually invalidate his reasoning, and his original edit, for thinking point two seen here:[23] [24] [25] [26] [27]). Now when he reverted I knew this might lead to an edit war. So rather than go for an edit war I went for a third opinion, and they sent me here.

Now I see nothing wrong with my reediting. I respected his recent edit of:

However gabbinetto is the Romanic modern Italian diminutive of gabbia, which actually derives from the Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure") the root of the loanwords that became the Modern English cave, cage, and gaol..[28] [29] [30] [31] [32]

His (Sigurds) edit which is concerned with thinking point 2.

My reedit, which revolves around point three, and a little touch up of point two using a cite, does not conclude anything, it merely expands on the etymology, adds more logic, adding more links and even adds dates, it uses one more cite (that highlights root separation since 410AD), than his recent reedit of concern[33] [34] [35] [36] [37].

I was wondering what you lot think of the differences in edits? What should be done here? Is my edit wrong? Does something need restructured etc?

Thank you to all who suggest and look into this.

Again for reference you can go to Sigurds talk page [38]

--Toasted874 08:32, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Netty References

  1. ^ "Oxford English Dictionary Online lookup of word "medical student"",
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 (November 1986), Frank Graham, The Geordie Netty: A Short History and Guide[1], Butler Publishing; New Ed edition, ISBN 0946928088:
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 2005 December 1, Bill Griffiths, A Dictionary of North East Dialect, Northumbria University Press, ISBN 1904794165, page p. 122:
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 1829 October 25, John Trotter Brockett, A glossary of north country words, in use. From an original manuscript, with additions.[2], Oxford University, page 214:
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "Netty",
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 "Urinal finds museum home", URL accessed on 2007-10-08.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "Famed Geordie netty is museum attraction", 2007-03-31.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Saunders, Rod, "Italian Migration to Nineteenth Century Britain: Why and Where, Why?", www.anglo-italianfhs.org.uk. URL accessed on 2008-09-03.
  9. ^ (*et•y•mon Pronunciation (t-mn)
    • n. pl. et•y•mons or et•y•ma (-m)
    • 1. An earlier form of a word in the same language or in an ancestor language. For example, Indo-European *duwo and Old English tw are etymons of Modern English two.
    • 2. A word or morpheme from which compounds and derivatives are formed.
    • 3. A foreign word from which a particular loan word is derived. For example, Latin duo, "two," is an etymon of English duodecimal.[3])

aggravated assault

Should we have a list of senses, one for each different definition used in some jurisdiction?—msh210 22:35, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps a separate subpage for statutory definitions? I would find this to be a dubious proposition in the main entry, as there are many words which are defined in statutes for particular purposes. I can think of a half dozen federal statutes offhand that have distinct definitions of "employee", whether it be for tax purposes, labor relations, ownership of intellectual property generated in the line of work, etc. Doubtless state statutes are legion on this point. bd2412 T 23:13, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Black's doesn't give an exhaustive list or table of definitions, but has one main definition and a select few definitions from statute or case. An appendix would seem the right place for anything that was trying to be more comprehensive or particular. It would provide a good basis for the main definition or definitions if there were clear classes of definitions. DCDuring TALK 23:35, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Are the legal definitions so diverse that different senses are required? Doesn't it mean “assault with wounding or endangerment of life” everywhere? “Varying in definition by jurisdiction” is redundant, because it applies to every single legal term in the world.
If the everyday meaning substantially differs regionally, then yes we should provide different senses.
But isn't legal dictionary out of scope for Wiktionary? I don't think we should be duplicating or summarizing statute, or writing encyclopedic articles about it. Michael Z. 2008-09-25 00:29 z
"Law" is one of the contexts that we support, like "computing" or "finance" or "physics". Existing definition seems SoP, though we do not have the right sense of aggravated (but see aggravation). It is incomplete, however, omitting situations where the assault is committed in the course of another crime or is especially heinous. A more complete definition would seem not so SoP. DCDuring TALK 00:47, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
I suppose the thing to do would be to use the definition in the Model Penal Code, which is the collective work of a group of top experts in criminal law and is fairly widely adopted. The MPC states as follows:
(2) Aggravated Assault. A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he:
(a) attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; or
(b) attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.
That would be the best "legal" definition to use, in my opinion. Cheers! bd2412 T 04:20, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. I've changed it to that and added a usage note. Comments/reversion welcome.—msh210 16:47, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
It's left out the serious injury clause. If that is added, then it ought to apply in Canada, too. Michael Z. 2008-09-25 17:34 z


Sense #1 is currently One who attends to the slightest desire of hotel guests. Is this a good definition? RJFJR 13:27, 25 September 2008 (UTC)


[39] has sense two as "To be kno". Looks like it should be "To be known" but I don't know Chinese so how can I be sure? RJFJR 00:44, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

lamb chop sum of parts?

Is lamb chop sum of parts? It's a chop from a lamb. (I'm never sure about these things.) RJFJR 01:19, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

I'd say yes, along with pork chop and veal chop, considering the definition of chop (1). We just happen to say steak instead of beef chopMichael Z. 2008-09-26 06:33 z


Obviously a complicated one....I am looking at senses 5, 7 and 9 of this verb. Is there really a meaningful difference between them, and, if so, can we find some better example sentences to make this more clear? Ƿidsiþ 10:42, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

5 and 9 seem to be the same, linking the subject to an adjectival description. But 7 might be different as it links the subject to a noun. Descriptions could be improved, possibly / probably. -- ALGRIF talk 14:00, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
They look different to me:
Sense 5 describes actual identity: "He is my older brother." That is, the referent and the predicate describe the same unique entity. (If "ignorance is bliss" is actually meant in this fashion, that would imply that there is no bliss apart from ignorance, and no ignorance which is not blissful.)
Sense 9 attributes properties (sky != deep blue): "My older brother is a tall man." "Ignorance is a blissful state." There are many tall men, but only one is my older brother; likewise, there may be many blissful states apart from ignorance.
Quite distinctly from these, sense 7 describes playing a role: "I'm being your mother now." Obviously the "president of France" example could equally be sense 9, so this should be replaced.
At any rate, this is messy stuff and IMO how one draws lines between senses of "to be" has more to do with philosophy than with actual word usage. Suggest a survey of other dictionaries as a starting point. -- Visviva 14:49, 26 September 2008 (UTC)


not sure what it means and i don't have a good context to use it in....

See malarkey. --Una Smith 03:29, 4 October 2008 (UTC)


There is currently a dispute concerning one particular sense of this word at Talk:back#Adjective, the question being whether to classify it as an adjective or an adverb. Anyone ready to give an opinion is welcome to do so. Duncan MacCall 04:48, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

I would appreciate clarification on this point because it has general applicability. "Back" in "He went back." is not disputed as an adverb. "Back" in "He is back" is in discussion. As a predicate is seems like an adjective to me. DCDuring TALK 11:23, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

I consulted my printed dictionaries: (1) Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (2000) says: " adj [only before noun] 1situated behind or at the back of something 2 of or from a past time 3 owed for a time in the past" for the adjective, and within its seven senses for the adverb includes " 4 to or into the place, condition, situation or activity where sb/sth was before", giving among other examples also "He'll be back (=will return) on Monday" and "We were right back where we started, only this time without any money. (2) Webster's Universal Dictionary and Thesaurus (1993) says "adj at the rear; (streets, etc) remote or inferior; (pay, etc) of or for the past; backward. * adv at or toward the rear; to or toward a former condition, time, etc; in return or requital; in reverse or concealment." (Italics and bold type given as they appear in the dictionaries.) In my opinion these corroborate the view that back in He is back is and adverb rather than an adjective. Duncan MacCall 15:05, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

We are only talking about the sense back as "returned". I'm wondering whether this is a UK/US difference. Merriam Webster shows that sense as an adjective, as does cambridge Dictionary of American English. It seems wrong to exclude either the analysis as an adjective or as an adverb, both being used by reasonable authorities. OTOH, Wiktionary usually gives the back of its hand to US users (as reflected in its relative share of users by country), so have at it. DCDuring TALK 19:19, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
What about changing the adjective definition 2 to "{{context|US|after a change|lang=und}} In the previous state or position." and the adverb definition 1 to "(Not comparable) To or in a [[previous]] condition or place." then? Would that be a satisfactory compromise? As a non-native speaker I certainly don't want to pretend I know English better than Webster or Cambridge... frankly, I don't even know what have at it means - have it your way? go ahead? I'm still unconvinced? --Duncan MacCall 19:58, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Never compromise. Find the creative, unifying solution. We all want Wiktionary to be a comprehensive, useful description of languages. I am dismayed that what thought I knew may not be universally accepted. I cannot see an obvious solution, because I am unaware of how we have resolved such matters in the past. Regional preferences for one PoS over another? Do users care? As to [[have at it]] or [[have]] [[at it]], you correctly identified the senses included. DCDuring TALK 20:40, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

I think life is all about when to compromise and when not to, but never mind... I've been mulling it over and in the end resolved to edit the page the way I consider the best, namely removing sense 2 of adjective and moving the examples to sense 1 at adverb. If anyone reverts me, so be it. Nevertheless I left there the Tea room box as it would be arrogant of me to remove it, consensus having been by no means achieved. --Duncan MacCall 14:34, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

I think this is reasonable. Of the nine dictionaries I surveyed when starting Appendix:Dictionary notes/back, only the OED and MW3 had this adjective sense, and both give examples that seem very distant from "I'm back" ("back action," "back shad"). On the other hand, all seven dictionaries that acknowledged the existence of adverbial senses included this as an adverb. Be back probably requires its own entry. -- Visviva 17:16, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
  • While we're having our tea here, I'd like to raise another issue for back#Adjective: comparability. The section is currently labeled "not comparable," but most spatiotemporal senses seem to be comparable using further/furthest:
    His house is further back than mine.
    I look back on my youth, and further back to my childhood.
On the other hand, the more abstract senses -- e.g. in arrears, as "back rent" -- are not comparable. And just to uglify the situation a bit, the phonetic sense ("back vowel") can be compared using "more back" or "backer," but only very rarely "further back" AFAICT. Guess we need to give this info for each sense individually... Is there any elegant solution here? -- Visviva 17:16, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
As regards the phonetic sense, could it have a definition of its own with the comparative and superlative mentioned? After all, the definitions as they are at the moment hardly match this meaning so as to enlighten anybody who doesn't already know what a "back vowel" is. But as for the other two examples you're giving, I can't help it but I see there "back" as an adverb again (and the comparative & superlative with further & furthest resp. are there all right). --Duncan MacCall 14:52, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
The way to handle a mixture of comparable and noncomparable senses is with {{not comparable}} or {{comparable}} on the appropriate sense lines. There is no policy as whether each sense line needs the appropriate tag (too cluttered, IMO), just the noncomparable senses (my choice, because of the common "prejudice" against comparablility among some contributors), or just the less common among the senses (bad for editor learning-by-example). DCDuring TALK 16:16, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
The problem here, though, is in addition to some senses being non-comparable, different senses are comparable in different ways: "further back" vs. "backer." -- Visviva 16:28, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm sure I've said this before, but I think it's misleading to describe “further ~” as a comparative of “~”, even if semantically it's similar to one. “Further ~” is a comparative of “far ~”; it's not *“how back in history are the days of Sumer?”, but rather “how far back [] ?”, and not *“Ancient Rome is less back in history than the days of Sumer”, but rather “ [] less far back [] ”. You seem to be acknowledging this by using “far back” in your first clause. Also, this is a secondary concern, but it seems arbitrary to choose “further back” over “farther back”; the former is slightly more common on Google Books (6480 vs. 5410), but way less common on Google Web (1.7m vs. 11.6m). —RuakhTALK 18:18, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
It probably isn't such a good idea for inflection-line purposes because of the unfamiliarity of the terminology, but the notion of "gradability" is a useful generalisation of comparability, for example to test for whether something is an adjective (vs. attributive use of noun}. From an ordinary-user perspective semantic comparability is probably more meaningful than a stricter sense. DCDuring TALK 19:57, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
“Meaningful” can be a bad thing; I'd rather say something meaningless but true than something meaningful but false, because the former is useless while the latter is actively harmful. (Of course, my top choice would be to say something meaningful and true, and my #2 would be to say nothing at all.) These “further ~” constructions don't behave like comparatives of “~”; for example, you can say “back room” and “back door”, but not *“further back room” and *“further back door”, which makes sense, because they're really comparatives of “far ~” (*“far back room”, *“far back door”). As for “test[ing] for whether something is an adjective (vs. attributive use of noun}”: well, there are other possibilities. In this case, I think modern linguists would consider back a preposition. For a similar example, would you consider “higher up” to be the comparative of “up”? We follow the traditional dictionary practice of listing objectless prepositions as adjectives and/or adverbs, and I think that's fine, but we shouldn't let ourselves be deceived about what we're really dealing with. —RuakhTALK 21:00, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I was thinking more of gradable as a substitute for or addition to comparable or of something in usage notes or a usage appendix. I remembered your prior mention of similar points. DCDuring TALK 21:21, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I misunderstood. Yes, I think usage notes would be good. —RuakhTALK 22:05, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Oops, you're right, the second example is adverbial (I sure think the first one is an adjective, though). How about this: The days of Sumer are far back in history, even further back than ancient Rome. -- Visviva 16:28, 4 November 2008 (UTC)


I've gotta make this fast, as AutoFormat is probably only seconds away from undoing my work. Take a look at how I've arranged the definitions on ἐξίστημι (eksístēmi). Pretty weird, huh? Now, take a look at the usage note. Now, I realize this arrangement is really not kosher, and, honestly, I'm not really happy with it myself. I used a more standard approach on εἴδω (eídō), and it works. However, the contags for ἐξίστημι (eksístēmi) ((active of present, imperfect, future, aorist 1), (middle, passive, perfect, pluperfect, aorist 2)) would be enormous, and would just look silly in front of all the defs. I can't really divide the defs by etymology, as the ety does not differ between them. This is not an isolated incident in Ancient Greek, and so I'm hoping to figure out a practical solution which I can use in this and other entries. Thoughts? -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 05:19, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

If the second group of definitions do not apply to the entry form, then shouldn't there be another lemma? In Latin, this would be a deponent / no-passive pair of verbs, and each would get a separate lemma page. I'm not sure I could locate an example quickly, but I know I came across some similar verb pairs recently. --EncycloPetey 05:57, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
I guess I'm a little hesitant to split them up, perhaps for no other reason than the fact that there is not a nice even split. This is not a matter of active vs passive (or at least, not simply). -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 06:49, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

I am looking at my Greek edition of Liddell-Scott dictionary and I see that the entry is divided into two main sections. The first one includes the transitive meanings and it relates them to Present, Imperfect, Future and first Aorist. The second section includes the intransitive meanings which are related to the middle/passive tenses, the second Aorist (ἐξέστην) and active the Perfect-Pluperfect. So, I don't see any sign of middle/passive Perfect-Pluperfect. --flyax 07:51, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Weird. Both my LSJ and my BDAG agree, perfect and pluperfect active, with no mention of their middle/passives. However, some of their quotes have them, so they exist...... Oh, also, I've got a ἐξίσταμαι (don't know where it's from), so it looks like the perfect can have both an alpha and eta linking vowel. And if you think that ἐξέσταμαι also exists, then we've got that as well. *sigh* As if ἵστημι (hístēmi) didn't have a complex enough inflection, we have to deal with compound craziness as well (such as the fact that the initial epsilon can't take an accent, even though it should, or the κσ weirdness. Is that because τ has no aspiration, and ξ does?). Note, if you're reading this and have no idea what this and the preceding comment mean, don't worry about it. You do not need to understand them in order to discuss the initial issue. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 08:16, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
Since it looks so complicated, I suggest that we stick to what seems to be clear and safe and be very careful about anything else. The only thing we can do in addition is to find quotes with different tenses and write them down. I've started doing it and I intend to go on for a little while. Another thing: this middle Aorist 2 «ἐξεστάμην», where does it come from? It looks to me more like a pluperfect. Also «ἐξίσταμαι» is the middle present and doesn't look like perfect at all. --flyax 14:58, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

dry eye

Is there scope for an entry like not a dry eye or to not be a dry eye, because it is quite a common expression e.g. in "there wasn't a dry eye in the theatre, because she made such an emotional performance." (i.e. everybody was weeping). I started one up at dry eye, but it could do with improvement. --Jackofclubs 18:26, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

It is a troublesome variable expression. ("-n't" or "not" or "not [verb phrase]" or "scarcely" or "hardly", etc.) ("a dry eye in the") ("house" or "theater" or "room", etc.). There are also forms with the plural "dry eyes". Usage notes and examples of the main variants at dry eye might be the best we can do. DCDuring TALK 12:28, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it seems to be a negative polarity item. —RuakhTALK 15:23, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
I wonder whether that concept would be helpful in cleaning up some of our entries that include the word "not", though other negative words are commonly substituted. DCDuring TALK 17:02, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

the#Usage notes

I added a section about usage notes for [[the]] for proper nouns, as it can be quite confusing. I'm sure I've missed out lots from that section, but I put in all I could think of. I may have repeated some of Appendix:English proper nouns, which I'll link to from [[the]]. --Jackofclubs 08:32, 28 September 2008 (UTC)


The English section of this, referring to an obsolete word claims that some 40 terms are derived from it. Most of the terms seem much more likely to be descendants of Latin words that are in their turn derived from Latin manus. Some have French spellings suggesting a derivation from "main". I am uncertain as to whether any of the terms shown are actually derived from English manus. DCDuring TALK 00:07, 29 September 2008 (UTC)


It states this is a comparative of little. Surely a superlative? --Jackofclubs 10:42, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

superlative, yes. The whole bunch of little, littler, lesser, less, littlest, and least could do with an overhaul, to say the least ;-) -- ALGRIF talk 13:15, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

inquiry for collective term

-- 03:36, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

Hi all,

What is the collective term for coffee, sugar, milk, milo and candies. I served these stuff for our trainings and during requisition of payment for expenses I find it long to write all names of these items.

Would love to know your idea.