Wiktionary:Tea room/2009/June

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June 2009


Anybody willing to have a stab at confirming my judgement regarding this word, which appears to be a textbook example of dictionary zombie? As far as I can tell, it is not in any current use except as a back-derivative from sphenic number (for which, oddly, I can hardly find a usable citation in google books, a call for the ambitious!) or in words like tribosphenic (a type of teeth). Circeus 04:11, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

The related term sphenoid is one I've encountered quite a bit, both in botany and anatomy. However, I've never seen the word sphenic, and it doesn't seem to be in the botanical dictionaries (you'd think it would be there, if it was anywhere). I can find spheno- as a prefix in current anatomical texts, but not sphenic (not even in Gray's Anatomy). --EncycloPetey 04:36, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Interesting. As I said, I can find several 19th century quotations, and a few from the 1900s, but it stops there (and even then a fair few are artifacts and in fact the word scanned was splenic). It does not appear at all in COCA, nor in the BYU OED corpus—whether it is in OED itself is another question; maybe, maybe not.
Not in OED 2nd ed. kwami 21:21, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
"Sphenic" is not in Webster's Third - however, strangely, it does appear in my Microsoft Word dictionary meaning "wedge-shaped". Now why does it not appear in major dictionaries but in Word's minor dictionary?? Who knows . . . . Logomaniac 23:16, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Probably because it appears in some out-of-copyright dictionary(ies) (it was not unheard of for 19th century dictionaries to contain many words that were not in actual broad use), which might be the same wiktionary and Word's are based on. (Word doe snot have any sort of requirement to keep its dictionary current by removing older words). Circeus 15:00, 7 June 2009 (UTC)


Saw this created today. Do we bother with these hyphenated attributive forms where they are only an obvious application of the noun? Equinox 19:41, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Assuming chopped meat is not SoP, neither is this. Assuming, then, that it's attested, I don't see what's wrong with it as far as the CFI are concerned. Do we bother creating them? You needn't, Equinox, but I like to. (I made the one under discussion.) People may look them up and be stymied.—msh210 19:52, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
I just queried it as a member of a potentially infinite set, since any noun can be hyphenated when used in this fashion. It's rather like having separate entries for every word capitalised, because, you know, those are attestable, if the word has been used to start a sentence! I see you've deleted it now, but I don't know why... ah, the non-hyphenated form is gone too. Equinox 00:01, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

Oslo person

What do you call someone from Oslo? Osloer, Oslon and Oslan aren't attestable. --Jackofclubs 19:54, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Osloites is attested. Lmaltier 20:25, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

And how about from Vilnius? --Jackofclubs 19:59, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Yep, Osloite (i.e. Oslo + -ite) seems ok according to Google Books. 50 Xylophone Players talk 22:03, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Seems the same suffix is okay for Vilnius too. :) 50 Xylophone Players talk 22:07, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
I've noted that about 10 of these "resident of" entries have shown up with translation table problems (no gloss, bad treq format). Is a bot or template involved? DCDuring TALK 00:22, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
No bots (too complicated), no templates, just your old-fashioned copy-paste. I'm correcting them--Jackofclubs 11:08, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
I think you misunderstood something, Jack. DCDuring, there is a bot involved in the sense I think you are referring to, i.e. AFAIK AutoFormat is tagging the entries for the category. 50 Xylophone Players talk 20:38, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
I meant in the production of them. There was a quick burst of them that AutoFormat marked. The problems may have arisen in the course of subsequent translation rather than the original entry. I think they've been fixed. DCDuring TALK 23:42, 4 June 2009 (UTC)


Recently I created the entry for باذنجان which means eggplant in Arabic. I entered eggplant as a translation, but it has been modified to aubergine, and the eggplant entry tagged as {{US}}. Not being a native speaker and having learnt english mainly in the US and Canada I had never heard aubergine, but from what I understand eggplant is used also in Australia and New Zealand. So shouldn't it be aubergine that should be tagged as a british regionalism ? And what should be done with باذنجان ? Should we indicate both eggplant and aubergine as translations ? Beru7 15:37, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Right. Few Americans recognize the word aubergine at all. It doesn’t seem like a food at all; to us it looks like a girl’s name (the beautiful and talented Lady Aubergine Boleyn of Pembroke). We only know the vegetable as the eggplant. —Stephen 16:36, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
Eggplant is common in Australia as mentioned above. I suggest defaulting to eggplant and don't use any regional tags as the two main ones (US/UK) are both used. Aubergine is just another name used in most areas.--Dmol 23:57, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree, on the grounds that Brits are probably more likely to know what eggplant is than non-Brits are to know what aubergine is. But this is a bit of a hunch. Equinox 23:58, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
Not all Brits will know "eggplant" - only those who have heard the word used in American TV shows. 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Aubergine is French for eggplant. That`s why the Brits recognize this word. Eggplant is English

This doesn't seem to be born out by its entymology. A lot of words created in the US were usually two words joined together-sidewalk, slingshot, raincoat. Brits or English don't use these (well maybe raincoat). Whether aubergine is French or not is irrevelant, some French words Brits use, some they don't. 19:57, 29 October 2009 (UTC)


Should the noun senses 1 and 3 be merged? Equinox 20:55, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

I don't really see that much of a difference between the two... not being all that experienced in Wiktionary technical things I don't want to do it, but I think sense 1 sould be merged into sense 3, because at least I (not being an engineer or architect) usually think of the current sense 2 when I hear the word plan. Also that may be because I am an author.  :) --Logomaniac 18:07, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
I see them as distinct senses: Plans for a building include drawings of both plan and elevation (but I'm neither an architect nor an engineer either). Perhaps sense 3 should have an (architecture) tag? Dbfirs 09:11, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Definitely different sense. we seem to be missing some of the nine senses and subsenses that MWOnline presents. DCDuring TALK 11:51, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Definitely different. The third sense is basically a horizontal cross section, it's a synonym for floor plan. As Dbfirs points out, the first sense covers also elevations, vertical cross sections, w:circuit diagrams &c. - and it's not necessarily related to building (after all it does mention machines). (However, a label "architectural" for the 3rd sense seems misleading to me; I'd prefer "civil engineering" or, better still, both). And yes, we're obviously missing other senses, as in eg "street plan" or "plan of the furniture layout" etc. --Duncan 17:10, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

pentakis and similar

The term pentakis is red-linked from pentakis dodecahedron. Now the OED only has entries for such terms as hexakis- (with a hyphen). These terms are used as combining forms in chemistry and maths in much the same way as penta- and hexa- etc, but not always with the hyphen, and sometimes as separate words, sometimes physically attached to another. How should we define them? Where does the "kis" come from? SemperBlotto 21:44, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

I looked up "kis" in Webster's Third in words ending in "hedron", and found things like "dyakisdodecahedron", "hexakisoctahedron", "hexakistetrahedron", "triakisoctahedron", and "triakistetrahedron". In the etymology section of each of these, it was from a Greek root (dyakis, hexakis, triakis) which meant, respectively, twice, six times, and three times. However, I didn't find anything with "pentakis", but the root "kis" must add something to the number meaning "(so many) times". Does this answer the question at all? --Logomaniac 18:03, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
My memory-lag has finally caught up. I added tetrakis and tetrakis- sometime ago (with no etymology). I'll add the others in the same way. As an explanation:- Organic chemists use e.g. tetra where four simple groups are attached to something but tetrakis where four complex groups, often already containing di-, tri- etc are involved. So tetramethylbenzene but tetrakis-(trichloromethyl)-benzene. SemperBlotto 21:40, 4 June 2009 (UTC) p.s. bis- and tris- are used for the equivalent terms involving 2 and 3.
OK, if you say so...... I'm not sure exactly what you're talking about, since I never was good at science, but will take your word for it.  :) Logomaniac 15:46, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Added entries for bis-, tris-, pentakis-, hexakis-, in case s.o. has better examples. kwami 20:46, 5 June 2009 (UTC)


Someone added this sense to RT. It seems to be a verb meaning something along the lines of saying something verbatim. Not much turns up in books but I think groups might help. Also it seems to have some affiliation with Twitter. 50 Xylophone Players talk 20:46, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

A very recent protologism. I'm removing it. Interestingly, the word does appear (uncapitalised) in two 2009 books on Google Books, but we definitely wouldn't be able to span a year as CFI mandates. Equinox 20:48, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
P.S. Before anyone goes ahead with your red link there, it's verbatim :) Equinox 20:52, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
Okay, thanks i knew that after posting but just got lazy since I was off to play my MMO. 50 Xylophone Players talk 01:14, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

drole, drôle

Annoyingly the Scrabble Dictionary SOWPODS always ignores accents on words like café and aperçu, but it gives "drole" which either means that drole exists in English, or it's drôle without the usual accent, in which case drôle needs an entry in English. Any thoughts? Mglovesfun 21:20, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

I know the Scrabble book is Collins these days, but Chambers has "drôle, n. a rogue or knave; adj. amusing, odd". It isn't glossed as French. Equinox 21:54, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
It's "sort of Collins" - they initially wanted to delete an enormous number of words which would have meant players using loads of invalid words without evening know it; so Collins relented and added a load of Chambers stuff. Mglovesfun 22:02, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
Oh, interesting! I did find it strange when I glanced at the 2007 changes that there were so few of them. Does that mean they had to add definitions (presumably original ones, to avoid infringement) to their dictionary for all those kooky Spenser and Scots words, or only to the Scrabble list? (Er, sorry to hijack the subsection!) Equinox 22:07, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't have much detail, apart from that the original Collins word list came out and the ABSP basically said "no" and carried on with the old list, even though the Collins list was out in the shops. I was an admin on the Internet Scrabble Club at the time, which is how I know this. Mglovesfun 22:11, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
This is an aspect of English-language scrabble competition that I never quite understood, but then in French the Frenchmen have always maintained a ridiculous stranglehold on the dictionary market. Circeus 22:34, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
Ditto! Mglovesfun 22:37, 4 June 2009 (UTC)


Firstly, do we need to split this by etymology? I can't believe that the meat-and-cheese sandwich and the do-gooder come from the same root. (Isn't the sandwich from Spanish?) Secondly, and especially if it is from Spanish, isn't the plural heros rather than heroes for that word? Equinox 22:04, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Hmm, having just stumbled upon w:Hero_sandwich#Hero, I seem to be entirely wrong. Equinox 22:10, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
Maybe, but the WP ety does have the flavor of a folk etymology. Maybe we can get evidence. DCDuring TALK 00:13, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
  • 1955 Feb 3, Jet‎, volume 7, no. 13, page 29:
    Called an Italian "Hero" sandwich, the delicacy, says Williams, "will separate the men from the boys."
See this article on the names of this class of sandwiches. Author is not supportive of the Herald Tribune food-writer claim, but associates the name with the "heroic" proportions. DCDuring TALK 00:33, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Every time I hear it, I think of the Spanish pronunciation of gyro. But that's probably coincidence. kwami 19:45, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
"meatball heroes" outnumbers "meatball heros" by 55-8 on b.g.c. and 64-21 on News, providing some weak linguistic evidence against the "gyros" theory. The mid-1950s date for this New York-centered name for the sandwich or variant form of the sandwich predates the large influx of Greek food establishments in New York, I believe, and even the growth in Hispanic influence in New York. DCDuring TALK 20:11, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Referring to Kwamikagami's comment above, what definition of gyro are you talking about?? Actually, the gyro article should be split... At any rate, that doesn't have anything to do with this discussion so I won't go further with it (here, at least.) But I do agree that "heroes" sounds and looks better than "heros". Logomaniac 20:15, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Please help!!

Hi, I have seen the word Vaudio as a reference to Audio Visual. Can somebody please explain this as a break down if it was a legitimate word. ie type, phrase, definition etc.

Many thanks.

It is certainly not common with that meaning in English. We would not add it based on the evidence I could find. "Vaudio" appears much more as a scanning error than as something that might be a recognized English word. There was a little usage of it to mean "vaudeville radio" in the late 1940s. It is also a name of a company and a not-common surname. DCDuring TALK 20:17, 5 June 2009 (UTC)


Alt spelling, or misspelling? Equinox 00:45, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

  • I'm going to go with my usual fudge and suggest {{obsolete spelling of}}, which I think discourages current use without being as proscriptive as calling it wrong. (This spelling is well-attested from the 16th to the 19th centuries.) Ƿidsiþ 09:19, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
    Great fudge, where arguably applicable. DCDuring TALK 10:00, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Fudged.RuakhTALK 19:56, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


Could an admin please delete 上轉 for me? It's not really a word (it's more of a sum parts entry I think, unless someone else has a good definition for it...) I accidentally created an entry for it when I was creating the traditional form (上傳) entry for 上传 ("upload"). Cheers. Tooironic 05:29, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done (In future, you can add {{delete}} in cases like this.) —RuakhTALK 14:32, 7 June 2009 (UTC)


There's an obsolete verb sense missing here:

--Jackofclubs 08:40, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

Your first two links describe ago as stemming from a past participle of go (i.e., from an obsolete variant of modern gone), and AFAICT your third link is using agoing as a present participle of go (i.e., as a- + going). Only your fourth link, the Concise OED, claims that ago itself is an obsolete bare infinitive (verb lemma) distinct from go — and it doesn't even have an entry for that verb. (The full OED does have an entry for it, however.) —RuakhTALK 20:30, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

"broken beyond repair"

How do we document the phrase "broken beyond repair", if at all? Has the entry [[broken beyond repair]] chance of surviving RFD, with reference to it's being sum of parts? Are there analogues to this phrase, following the pattern <adjective> beyond <action>?

Appendix:English_idioms has google books:"beyond repair". Is "beyond repair" synonymous to "irreparable", or does it mean "not worth repairing", or even something else? Is at least [[beyond repair]] worth entering? If not, should a sense be added to [[beyond]] that turns "beyond repair" into a sum of parts? --Dan Polansky 09:11, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

"Beyond repair" seems worth considering. As a native speaker, I don't find it idiomatic, but a native speaker might be the last one to notice. To me it seems to be a mere extension of the basic use of "beyond". The expression positions the amount of damage on a gradient of various levels of damage. Grading the levels uses simple adverbs like "slightly", "fairly", "somewhat", "badly", "very badly", which seem appropriate for low levels of damage. "beyond repair" is a bit less boring, but communicates on the same scale, still using the word damage. But it indicates that more serious damage would not be worth communicating on the damage scale, which does have suggestions of the possibility of repair. The more dramatic ways of characterizing severe damage don't use the word "damage" (The car was "totaled".). The focus shifts more toward the extreme nature of the physical forces. we are no longer just filling out a property-insurance damage assessment.
This seems to carry a need for a modest amount of knowledge-about-the-world rather than for linguistic knowledge. Therefore the decision of dictionaries and idiom books not to cover it doesn't seem unreasonable. DCDuring TALK 13:08, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
While understanding the phrase does not seem to require linguistic knowledge, creating it does; you can't phrase it in a similar way in Czech. While a dictionary possibly does not need to carry this kind of information, a grammar book better should.
How should I understand the sentence "Wiktionary CFI is broken beyond repair", then? As CFI is stored in a wiki, it can always be repaired, can't it? Is this a hyperbole? --Dan Polansky 10:03, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
I think it could be analyzed as a product of three figures:
  1. "Wiktionary CFI" stands for the text and the system for adapting it to change within the culture of WMF and Wiktionary;
  2. The overall system is a device (that could be a "well-oiled machine"); and
  3. The severity-of-damage meter (with a "red-line" determined by the economics of repair by volunteer effort).
I always thought a Lakoffian approach had its merits. In our complex and changing world we are always making figurative use of language that we seem to view as "literal" but is often itself a figurative extension of more basic usage. "Break" must have applied first to simple things like sticks. A device can be "broken" even though no component is broken like a stick and it remains assembled. A system without any stick-like components can be "broken".
I don't know at what point a lexicographer needs to offer a user a definition. I have a feeling that some words and, especially, multi-words just won't last because they are so closely tied to a particular set of technological and cultural circumstances. Take "album", "LP", "vinyl", and "film". Or look at any of the Webster's 1913 definitions for common words, like leader. DCDuring TALK 14:07, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
See repair n. 4. Something can be in good repair, in poor repair, go out of repair or be brought into repair, or beyond repair. This is a case where we aren't lacking any entries or definitions, just collocation information, indicating that this word works with beyond (as opposed to, e.g., beneath contempt, or something else). Michael Z. 2009-06-10 02:47 z

aecidium, æcidium

I'm on a sort of quest at the moment to sort out omissions and screw ups highlighted by Robert's English missing forms list and it led me to these. An expert of sorts on fungi, etc. needs to check these entries and merge the two definitions into the ligatureless entry, leaving the ligatured one as an alternative spelling. 50 Xylophone Players talk 14:32, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

I had fooled with formatting some of these, but this is way beyond me, especially since there is missing WP coverage too. The principal mycology contributor has been User:Alan Rockefeller, who hasn't been around for several months AFAICT. Perhaps EP can help. DCDuring TALK 19:33, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Done. The definition was incorrect, as it was for the structure (aecium) but should have been for the organism. --EncycloPetey 00:53, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, I had a feeling something was fishy when I saw species names of the format Aecidium xxxxx on Wikipedia. 50 Xylophone Players talk 08:37, 9 June 2009 (UTC)


There are six definitions given for this pronoun, but I think they ought to be reduced to three. Yes, many foreign langages have different forms for the singular and plural. Yes, older forms of the English language used additional varient pronouns. However, modern English speakers do not distinguish different meanings based on whether the pronoun is the subject or is an object. --EncycloPetey 00:42, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

I agree completely.msh210 01:05, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Three years ago, Kipmaster recommended splitting singular from plural to aid translation, but I agree that it would be clearer to combine them in the basic definitions. Perhaps to just two senses? Dbfirs 08:59, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Er, sorry, yes, I agree with that too.  :-) msh210 15:53, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
On that point, I disagree. There are two meanings intended (person spoken to vs. person or group spoken to but possibly also other people who may not be addressed specifically and may not even be present). --EncycloPetey 15:57, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Do I understand you correctly that we should retain the separate singular and plural senses, but drop the separate subject-pronoun and object-pronoun senses? In that case, I mostly agree, but I think we should also follow up these senses with a single separate sense, with no translations, that says something like, "(archaic or dialectal) Specifically, the object form of this pronoun; contrasted with ye."
By the way, our current singular-vs.-plural breakdown isn't very accurate. "You" is often used with a single addressee but multiple referents, or with multiple addressees but also other referents besides them; none of our senses covers this.
RuakhTALK 15:39, 9 June 2009 (UTC)


As in "epidemic failure"

What is the rate of a failure in a washing machine which can be considered as an Epidemic failure? —This comment was unsigned.

The important thing about epidemic diseases is the contagion. Mechanical failures are very rarely contagious. An exception might be failure resulting from the spread of a bad maintenance practice or a badly designed or manufactured set of repair parts. DCDuring TALK 12:01, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I think there's confusion with "epic" going on here. bd2412 T 02:13, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
Maybe. But, the adjective sense of widespread might have lead to the same question. I think the problem may be in trying to quantify such fuzzy terms. I think that kind of quantification would vary by context and by the speaker even within a context. I'd love to know how this turned out or what exactly prompted it. DCDuring TALK 02:40, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

paleo-, palaeo-

Which one of these and its derivatives should get the right to be the main entries? This should be decided now ASAP because I'm seeing horrible inconsistency across the entries as to which form should be the main entry. 50 Xylophone Players talk 14:30, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

My understanding (with several of this form) is that whoever adds the first word gets to choose the main spelling. Does it really matter, as long as we have both spellings in the wiki. I suppose that you could do a troll of Google books, but even then, you might get different results for different words. SemperBlotto 14:35, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I guess I agree with you, I say go with paleo- if no other ground breaking information arises on this subject. 50 Xylophone Players talk 14:56, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
The OED’s entry for “palaeo- | paleo-, comb. form states that paleo- and its prevocalic form pale- are “chiefly N. Amer.”, whereas palaeo- and palae- are left unmarked (which I assume means that they’re universal); the entry is a draft revision from December 2008, so the information is very likely to be up to date. I say we follow the OED’s lead on this one, though it may be a good idea to have our entry at palae- with palaeo- being just a soft redirect (since palaeo- is just palae- + -o-, anyway). (Personally, I’d prefer palæ(o)-, but we all know that’s not gonna happen.) Bear in mind that we can always have full Derived terms sections for all the spellings, listing those terms derived using those spellings.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 15:39, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, Doremítzwr, but going by what you've just said I don't entirely agree with you. That is to say I think the prevocalic forms should just be labeled as such, as I think there's enough things we allow redirects for already. Besides many redirects that do not do something like bring you to "cat got somebody's tongue" when you type "cat got your tongue" are akin to weasel words. So, shall I make the "ae" spellings the main entries? 50 Xylophone Players talk 18:05, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Mind you, the OED practice is likely a result of its British perspective, at least IMHO. Circeus 18:13, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I believe British usage is normally unmarked in the OED. Michael Z. 2009-06-10 00:40 z
Hmm, I'm having second thoughts now... A quick glance on Google for "e" vs "ae" spellings using paleogeographic results in 104,000 hits vs. 41,200. Similarly paleoanthropology results in 152,000 vs. 43,600. So should we use the "e" spellings as the main entries? 50 Xylophone Players talk 18:55, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
The "e" spellings are more typically American, the "ae" spellings more typically British. For the great majority of words where American and British spellings differ, American spellings are more common, at least on the Web; however, to avoid needless disputes, we've adopted the stance that both spellings are equally acceptable, and that there's no need to change British spellings to American ones, as long as the American spellings have {{alternative spelling of}} or the like. (And vice versa.) This is probably documented somewhere in one of our massive policy pages. —RuakhTALK 20:18, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I know they're both equally acceptable but funny thing that you should mention American spellings because as far as -ise vs. -ize is concerned we favour -ize (which is the American spelling. I'm sure if you go through Equinox's contributions you'll find plenty of examples. 50 Xylophone Players talk 21:02, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Wait, people have been moving -ise entries to -ize spellings? Was this discussed anywhere? How did our British contributors feel about it? —RuakhTALK 23:24, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
-ize/-ise is a special case, not just a simple North American/British split; see w:American and British English spelling differences#Greek spellings for the details. Michael Z. 2009-06-10 00:27 z
I'm aware of that, but almost all such differences are "special cases", in that the spelling difference is very rarely a clean US/UK split. The fact remains that -ise is the spelling used by most Britons nowadays. —RuakhTALK 00:57, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Well, then I guess that was directed mainly to Xylophone, who referred to -ize as American. Perhaps he wasn't aware that -ize is also the original British spelling, and still an alternate British spelling (the Oxford spelling). But I think that many other American–British differences can easily be marked as incorrect in one variety of the language or the other (leaving Canadian spelling out of it, of course). Michael Z. 2009-06-10 02:56 z
Who, me? No, I did not know that. At any rate, the -ise/-ize conundrum aside for a minute, should we take the "ae" or "e" for for these "paleo" words as the main entries? 50 Xylophone Players talk 14:55, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't matter. When you create them, you can use whichever spelling you prefer. (Unless you prefer the "æ" spellings. Those seem to annoy people.) When other people create them, they can use whichever spelling they prefer — and you shouldn't change that. (Exception: if one editor creates one spelling and one creates the other, it's reasonable to merge them, in which case again, you can use whichever spelling you prefer.) —RuakhTALK 15:19, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
So, no objection to making the "ae" spellings the main entries, then? 50 Xylophone Players talk 16:05, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
I assume you mean for new entries, but not changing existing ones, right? (Per Ruakh.)msh210 18:21, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Well, I'd like all of them to be the same spelling because when you think about it doesn't it make more sense to have say, palaeogeography and palaeoanthropology as main entries as opposed to palaeogeography and paleoanthropology? 50 Xylophone Players talk 19:35, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
In that case, to answer your question, yes, there is objection: I object. We shouldn't prefer BrE over AmE or vice versa. If consistency is reason enough to do so, then we should be consistent throughout the dictionary, and have all our entries have their main content at the (e.g.) AmE spelling. (Or, to paraphrase your last comment, PalkiaX50, doesn't it make more sense to have palaeogeography and colour as main entries as opposed to palaeogeography and color?) No.msh210 22:51, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
*sighs* It's not a matter of preferring BrE over AmE spelling. People really have too much time on their hands if they are going to say that we are preferring one over the other because of the one that is the main entry; I'm merely saying that I just think a dictionary should be consistent. Politics or inferiority complexes should not come into the matter. Colour vs. color is a slightly different can of worms as there are other large scale usage discrepancies besides BrE vs. AmE involved and also as it currently stands those two entries are both being treated as main entries whereas many of the pairs of entries I wish to deal with involve one main entry and an alternative entry. 50 Xylophone Players talk 13:14, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure I entirely get the original question. Any term that has the predominant usage in a language area could have its own entry. Unless there is evidence that a term is not dominant in any region, it should remain. For US usage, COCA makes it quite easy to find which is arguably the predominant one. From the prevalence of use for individual terms or a sample thereof one could make an inference about which of the prefixes was dominant where. The last inference is very much like the effect-size inference used in statistical meta-analysis. To do so would require that we record the counts of usage of the alternative spellings in each corpus used. I don't think that BNC is quite as good as COCA, but it could be supplemented with current (2009) UK newspaper usage. For other regions (Canada, Australia, NZ, India, etc) I am not familiar with large corpora, so only the newspapers are available to provide a check on purported local authorities. DCDuring TALK 17:33, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

If you don't know what I'm asking then I suggest you reread my second last post before the template. 50 Xylophone Players talk 20:17, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
  1. that rationale appeared so late in the discussion
  2. consistency of that type is irrelevant to WT:CFI and
  3. the subject header for this section had to do with the prefixes and not the words,
my limited cognitive skills didn't allow me to see your point. DCDuring TALK 21:42, 22 June 2009 (UTC)


i want to know which are positive,dedicate or not dedicate? for example; not dedicate hiv? —This comment was unsigned.

I don't understand your question. What do you mean by "dedicate"? Equinox 21:03, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps the user encountered something like one of the 112 raw b.g.c hits with this collocation: Core HIV/AIDS expenditures are expenditures allocated to dedicated HIV/AIDS programmes. But I don't know how to answer. If the user registered and provided an e-mail to MediaWiki it would be possible to have an e-mail conversation. DCDuring TALK 23:33, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Did you actually read "dedicate HIV" (which seems like a mistake) or "dedicated HIV", which we could explain? If "dedicated", the writer was not writing about a kind of HIV, but about something like a program or facility that was designed and run to handle the special aspects of HIV cases. DCDuring TALK 23:33, 10 June 2009 (UTC)


This entry is currently all over the place in formatting terms. It appears to have been this way since this edit incompletely restructuring it from two etymologies to one etymology.

I personally think the two ety sections was much clearer than the one section currently at the entry (even if cleaned up). I don't want to change it back without discussion though, also I'm not certain which etymology the current second definition belongs to, or indeed if it is a third etymology. Thryduulf 14:22, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

I don't see those two as having separate etymologies. We don't normally separate an additional etymology section when a word existing in the language is adopted for another use, and neither do print dictionaries. --EncycloPetey 14:41, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree EncycloPetey, it is a tatsam of Greek πας/παντος "all" and γραφειν "write" in all cases Jcwf 14:51, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
Apparently with French intervening per MW Online and Robert's. DCDuring TALK 19:56, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

It is the same etymology for any use of the word. etymology means the origing of a word.A I suggest for the first definition:

An articulated parallelogram shaped device used to draw scaled copies of pictures. Two adjacent sides of the parallelogram are prolonged, one holds a pencil to write, the other holds a stylus serving as a guide to follow the lines to copy. The vertex joining the prolonged sides has a tip to fix the device on the table. The size of the copy depends on the adjustable size of the parallelogram. —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 18:20, 13 June 2009 (UTC).

That's too wordy for a dictionary. Wikipedia could use some help on this. DCDuring TALK 19:56, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
It's a good description of the thing, but not an essential definition of the word. It needs only capture its pantographness, and not illustrate the encyclopedic details. The current definition is not bad, but this is definitely an entry where a diagram is desirable. Michael Z. 2009-06-13 23:17 z
Isn't the top-of-the-page picture good enough? DCDuring TALK 00:39, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
It is rather good; sorry to be unclear. Michael Z. 2009-06-17 04:49 z


This entry needs revision, a trolley is a device to connect a bus to an electricity cable. See discussion of this entry, there is a link to Webster dictionary site. I did not fix the entry because I am in doubt if it should or not have a pulley in the tip of a long stick to also if it should have a mechanism to turn. In few words what is the difference between a trolley and a pantograph. —This comment was unsigned.

Presumably a pantograph has a trolley (or some other connecting arrangement) at the top? British trams used to have trolleys - do they still? Dbfirs 07:06, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
No. A pantograph has a shoe which slides along the wire under spring tension.
By the way, I've seen trolley pole and maybe trolley wheel, but I've never seen the conducting wheel called a trolley—wonder if this is a Briticism.  Michael Z. 2009-06-18 12:47 z
The details of the evolution of senses is really confusing. "Troll" in some dialects meant roll (per Online Ety Dict). By the mid 19th century, trolley was used to refer to carts that ran on rails, as in mines (per OED usage examples, via BYU). It would be nice to know for sure whether in the US "trolley" was used to refer to horse-drawn street railway carts, as seems likely, and to hand carts. In the US, at least, the term came to be associated with electric street railways. Apparently UK usage was "tram". Then the term came to be associated with both a distinctive feature of electric street car its power-collecting mechanism and the system of electric street railways. (All from interpreting OED's usage quotations.) The further evolution into vocabulary to refer to components of the pole-based system must mostly have been of interest to the operators and designers of the equipment. OED citations contain references to mentions in 1880-1910 technical dictionaries of "trolley hanger", "trolley line" (two or more senses), "trolley wire", "trolley ear", and "trolley frog". I didn't see "trolley shoe". Whether one component of the power-conduction system took on the term "trolley" (other than perhaps the pole) seems unlikely to me, but facts would override any such supposition. There was a subsequent application of the word to refer to the kind of overhead rail systems that are used to move carcasses in butchering operations. I wondered whether it is used to refer to the similar equipment in assembly plants for cars.
All of which leads me to doubt that it would turn out that there is a sense of the word for any individual component of a pole-based power-collecting system (except possibly the pole). It is hard to say also whether or not the "trolley system" would include all of the supporting mechanical elements (springs, pulleys, hinges). I think we would just want to refer to the system to match the ambiguity that probably existed in real-life usage when such systems were in use. DCDuring TALK 15:09, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
See my post in Talk:trolley – the trolley was originally a small cart-like pickup system on the overhead wire, but this quickly became obsolete and the attributive name was transferred to other components, and then to the streetcar itself (by the abbreviation of trolley car). I believe there were trolley shoes used on the ends of poles too, but sparked a lot and wore out quickly. Hangers, ears, and frogs are components of the overhead, I think.
The practical, but not lexicographical, difference between trolley and other overhead systems is that the pantograph has little play, and requires the straight conducting wire which hangs from a catenary arrangement (this also makes it suitable for high-speed electric trains). A trolley system has more play in its long sprung pole, and so can work with simple trolley wire which hangs in arcs between the hangers.
Don't take my word for it, though. I'll see if I can locate a reference in the next few days. Michael Z. 2009-06-20 06:08 z

Referring to lack of etymology Bill Bryson claims it's a derivative of the verb to troll - (Made in America)


The Wiktionary etymology says it is from the Arabic جِنّ (jinn).

But Wikipedia says it is form the Latin genius (guardian spirit)

Do we know which is the true etymology?

Umm - according to the etymology in Webster's Third, sort of both. I quote:
Etymology: French génie, modification (influenced by génie genius, from Latin genius) of Arabic jinnīy demon, spirit
So it's originally from the Arabic, but was influenced by the Latin genius. Does this help? Logomaniac 01:34, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
  • The OED sees things the other way round. They say it's from French génie, from Latin genius; and they note that ‘The word génie was adopted by the Fr. translators of the Arabian Nights as the rendering of the Arab. word which it resembled in sound and in sense’. That seems more likely to me, particularly since the French word goes back to at least the 1530s but the 1001 Nights wasn't translated until the 18th century. Ƿidsiþ 19:59, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Please take a look at my latest effort. Feel free to improve or revert. DCDuring TALK 21:07, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

philharmonic vs. philharmonic orchestra

I just created a definately belated entry for philharmonic orchestra. It seems that there is already an entry for philharmonic and though philharmonic orchestra is often abbreviated to just "philharmonic" should the existing translations on the philharmonic page be transferred over to the newly created page? It's confusing that philharmonic is an adjective and yet the entry makes it looks like a noun. Definate change needed somewhere! Jakeybean 01:38, 14 June 2009 (UTC)


I had inserted an image here, carefully selecting a not unflattering image of a self-described "nerd" who might be considered an inspiration to nerds everywhere. A contributor removed it. I reverted and brought it here for consideration. The contributor asked in the edit summary whether Wiktionary articles should have images? DCDuring TALK 17:59, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

They should, of course, in my opinion and that of many others, as has been discussed many times before, and as you, DCDuring, know well, though I'm glad to provide hereby some confirmation for your interlocutor. In this case, though, the caption is unclear, as it doesn't say which of the persons pictured is Orszag.msh210 18:37, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. Of course you are right about the caption. It hadn't occurred to me that it wasn't, but that could be the source of the problem and in any event needs to be corrected. DCDuring TALK 11:35, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
Wiktionary should have images. --Dan Polansky 08:30, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
Same opinion. Sometimes an image is better than every possible definition (visual dictionaries are based on this assumption) --Diuturno 08:57, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
Of course, Wiktionary should have images. I agree with you. But these images should not be added for encyclopedic reasons. A map showing where a country is located is OK in a language dictionary (it's a good graphical definition of the word). I even think that the same map may be included several times in the same page, e.g. in Francia. But an image of its flag must be removed, it belongs to Wikipedia. In the case of nerd, I agree with the contributor: this image belongs to Wikipedia, it does not help at all here, and should be removed. For too many contributors, there is some confusion between Wiktionary and Wikipedia, we should not confuse them still more. Lmaltier 09:22, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
The problem is that the user found something objectionable, which may not be revealed by the stated objection. Dan noticed something correctable without removing the image. I am still not 100% certain that we should keep the image if it risks offending or confusing anyone. It isn't worth the modest visual-interest value. OTOH, a voice recording of Mr. Orszag would be illustrative of the stereotype of "nerd". DCDuring TALK 11:35, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
Why not, but I don't think it would clarify the meaning of the word. I'm convinced that, for this word, no addition to the definition is necessary. For names of objects, plants, animals... an image is always advisable. Lmaltier 11:50, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
As regards the particular image in nerd, the self-described nerd on the image does not visually show any characteristics of a nerd, AFAICT, which is less than ideal. I find it plausible that an illustrative or stereotypical image could be found for nerd, just like there is a stereotypical image of a mad scientist or of a villain. Still, the current image at nerd does no harm and shows at least one instance of a supposed nerd; its removal cannot be justified by the refused claim that Wiktionary should not have images. --Dan Polansky 11:48, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
Its removal cannot be justified by the refused claim that Wiktionary should not have images, only by the fact that it's purely encyclopedic, and thus maintains the confusion between Wiktionary and Wikipedia. It's the only harm it does, but its removal is justified (just as the addition of the population of a country would be justified, and for the same reason). Lmaltier 13:23, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
Please remove the image. It illustrates no technical skills, no introspection, nor any less easily described characteristics of nerds. What's the point? Michael Z. 2009-06-17 13:33 z
Agreed. The image is encyclopaedic, not dictionary material. Dbfirs 06:55, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
Ay, remove per Michael Zajac. --Duncan 14:57, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, remove it, per Dbfirs, Mzajac. It's not a good illustration of nerd but rather merely an illustration of someone who happens to be a nerd. That's something like illustrating [[golfer]] with this picture (not quite as bad, but the same idea).msh210 20:47, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
No offence to Mr. N., but this is a better illustration for nerdMichael Z. 2009-06-20 05:58 z
Removed. I think this might go into MSH's contest. DCDuring TALK 10:32, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

The anatomical location of temple


Where is the temple in the anatomical sense located? Is it located at the level of the eyes, or at the level of the forehead, or somewhere else?

Wiktionary's temple:

  1. The region of the skull on either side of the forehead.

Wikipedia's temple:

  1. The side of the head behind the eyes.

To me, the current WT definition seems confusing, as, based on this definition, I would place the temple higher than shown at the image at the right.

--Dan Polansky 08:47, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

  • It's the slightly flatter region each side of the forehead diagonally upwards from the outside of the eye - the picture looks right to me. SemperBlotto 09:02, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
  • The region shown seems too small, not centered exactly right, and misleadingly circular, but I'm no anatomist. It's not a perfect image, but better than no image at all. DCDuring TALK 11:49, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
    Most definitions seem like Wikipedia. But WP's image of the orange temporal bone would center the temple not far in front of the ear and extend it to well behind the ear. But the bone boundaries don't seem to coincide with the popular use of the term. DCDuring TALK 06:18, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
Thank you both for the input. I have replaced the def with the one from Webster 1913, adjusted with "slightly flatter region". The new def speaks of the region of the head instead of the skull, which delinks "temple" from "temporal bone", which seems to be located lower than temple. --Dan Polansky 12:12, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
The definition labelled anatomy, involving the “zygomatic arch”, is nice to have for medical professionals and so on. But a plain body part also needs a plain definition for plain people. Where is the temple for the rest of us? Michael Z. 2009-06-17 12:49 z
If you drop the part referring to "zygomatic arch", you get a definition understandable by about everyone, don't you?
"The slightly flatter region, on either side of the head, back of the eye and forehead, above the zygomatic arch and in front of the ear."
So he who does not want to bother with "zygomatic arch" ignores this part; he who aims for precision gets it. The definition is based on Webster 1913, in any case.
For comparison, a definition by Century 1911:
"The region of the head or skull behind the eye and forehead, above and mostly in front of the ear."
Do you like it better? Do you have another proposal? --Dan Polansky 20:27, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
It's not clear whether you are writing a second non-specialized definition, or dropping the anatomy label. Either way begs the question whether “above the zygomatic arch” is a defining characteristic or not. The reader can't assume that disregarding an opaque part of a definition will yield a less precise definition and not something completely wrong. Michael Z. 2009-06-18 04:21 z
I find "back of" unclear, but that is probably because I'm not American. The rest of the definition clarifies, anyway, and the picture is worth a thousand words. Dbfirs 06:49, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
Back of sounds colloquial to me, and I am (North) American—back of the eye is actually a noun: the place where the retina is. Behind the eye could be inside the head, e.g., a region of the brain. Michael Z. 2009-06-18 12:54 z
So would it be better to say "near the eye and forehead"? (I was going to suggest "to the side of", but we already have "side of the head".) I don't know whether I'm normal, but in front of my ear is the "hinge" for my jaw. Is this part of "temple"? Dbfirs 12:36, 19 June 2009 (UTC)


Suspicious usage notes: "It must be noted that some prescriptionists insist that whom must follow than (not who)", even apparently in the case where traditional grammar would disagree. Who are these muddled prescriptionists prescriptivists? Are they "notable"? Equinox 10:06, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

  • You are not the first to ask this question. The answer seems to be, from this at any rate, that this is a largely a straw man, being set up only to be knocked down with counterargument, and not actually an argument made by anyone. (Follett sets up this straw man only to knock it over, too. He doesn't name anyone who actually makes the argument in the first place.)

    Actual authorities, rather than the ever-present, weasel-worded, "some people", have a lot more Clue than that. Fowler, for example, notes that "than" can be grammatically considered either conjunction or preposition, according to the case of the pronoun, and thus according to the actual material omitted in the elliptical clause.

    This is in fact a general point, missing in that misleading and incomplete usage note. Case after "than" connotes meaning. Here's an example from ISBN 9781892123237:

    • She gave him more sympathy than I (did).
    • She gave him more sympathy than (she gave to) me.
  • Fowler would have the first "than" as a conjunction, and the second as a preposition (governing "me"). He notes that the OED (of his time) noted that the prepositional use is "considered incorrect". But he also specifically points out that such fashions vary over time. Indeed more recent works (including the aforecited book) point out, as Fowler did, that case connotes meaning, and that the objective case is not really incorrect, but a sentence with a different meaning. Uncle G 03:54, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
Which usage authorities should we take seriously? Fowler, certainly, though increasingly dated. Merriam-Webster had a good usage reference in the mid '90s. Garner is popular in the US. Strunk and White, Barzun? MLA, APA, AP, Chicago? Longman's (because of Quirk)? We have a rough consensus on the relative values of the various dictionaries, but less on usage. DCDuring TALK 04:21, 22 June 2009 (UTC)


Come on guys, let's come up with a few more translations than Czech and Finnish! I added Chinese but we have a far way to go yet... and for such a (relatively) common word too. Tooironic 11:26, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

We should be able to get the French, at least. DCDuring TALK 11:52, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
Wow, that was quick! I turn my back and 10 or so translations have already been added. Way to go wiktionary! Tooironic 03:27, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
Why on earth tranlations are not encouraged at naïve#Translations? Have you tried there? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 16:24, 3 July 2009 (UTC)


Added as an adjecitve. however, I have not been able to confirm this. Most uses I can find on b.g.c. are scannos for purgatory, altough there are also a few that seem to be a noun meaning purgative. --EncycloPetey 21:29, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

up and leave

In some forms of English one can say "he up and Xed" where X is something (usually monosyllabic) that involves departing {go, quit, ran, scoot, race, drive), but also, I think, any motion that can be done quickly (slap, kiss, shoot) or possibly any action that can be performed suddenly (fire, crash, marry, write [a check, signature; not a term paper or a novel]). RHU seems to be the only of the OneLook dictionaries to have anything like it. Their entry is under "up" verb and "up and" directs to it. How should we handle it?

  1. Delete up and leave?
  2. Add "up and X" for all attestable "X"?
  3. Redirect from all attestable "up and X" to the most common form(s) of "up and X".
  4. Add sense at up#Verb?
  5. Add up and (perhaps as a "modal verb")?

I mildly prefer the 1, 4 and 5.

I am also uncertain as to the geographic scope of the usage. I think of it as Southern, possibly not plantation South, but it could be more widespread. DCDuring TALK 23:31, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

Well, up can be a verb (and not in any sense we have yet): "upped and left" is very common, along with other "upped and..." forms, and I dare say "up and left" is a lazier form of that. Equinox 00:36, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
On COCA "ups and [verb]" gets 22 hits, "upped and [verb]" gets 19, "upping and [verb]" gets 0. In contrast "up and [third person sing verb]" gets more than 2363. That would seem to make "up and" a de facto modal verb or adverb ("suddenly", "abruptly"), at least in the US. DCDuring TALK 01:10, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't think it's a modal verb; it doesn't take a bare infinitive (*"He upped and leave"), doesn't undergo inversion or do-less negation (*"Up they and leave?"; *"They upn't and leave"), does have a to-infinitive (*"He wants to can leave"), and so on. —RuakhTALK 03:10, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
I defer to your analysis. DCDuring TALK 14:17, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
We have it here in the Upper Midwest. It doesn't seem particularly Southern to me, though maybe a bit colloquial or even folksy. I agree that we need a sense at either [[up#Verb]] or [[up and]]; I prefer the former. We also need a usage note to explain the grammar. —RuakhTALK 03:10, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
There might be two separate phenomena. The clearest is a use of inflected up#Verb: "He upped and went." This belongs at the verb. It is informal and may not play in all regions of the US, but conforms to mainstream grammar. There is also "He up and went", which seems to occur almost as often in COCA. It seems to occur where one could say "He got up and went". That conjectural etymology and the fact that it can be found not to inflect with the verb it is linked to by "and" make it seem like a different phenomenon. If they are separate phenomena, they may still "influence" each other, I suppose. This second phenomenon is the candidate for an entry at [[up and]]. I will try an entry. I believe that this non-inflecting form could meet RfV. There will be room for alternative interpretations of the usage. DCDuring TALK 14:17, 17 June 2009 (UTC)


I had a hard time finding any good quotes for this word that didn't come from dictionaries. I tentatively marked it as {{archaic}}, but suspect a stronger tag (likely {{historical}}) might be appropriate. Any thoughts? I might be entirely mistaken in interpreting it as a textbook "zombie word" surviving mostly in dictionaries. Circeus 02:45, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Two not-so-old quotes of it in use in translations into English from Spanish and French. The zombie came to life in those two instances. The three "uses" seem to exhaust the inventory of what can conveniently be found. I don't think you could call it "archaic" or "obsolete". It may just be "rare". DCDuring TALK 18:49, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
I'd call it "obsolete". The label "archaic" usually implies that the word is interpretable (more-or-less) by a modern speaker of the language, such as might be used in a novel set in an earlier period where the author wants to use language to emphasize the antiquity of the events. Words like forsooth, verily, and didst are ones I'd call archaic. The word abigeat, however, looks completely alien to me. --EncycloPetey 19:00, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
"Obsolete" would imply that it was formerly used much more than lately. We have no evidence that this was ever used much at all in English. If it were in use in, say, UK or Scottish law, surely there would be more than a single citation. DCDuring TALK 19:06, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

eat one's hat

Now for something a bit more challenging: let's see how many languages we can get to translate the idiom "to eat one's hat". If Chinese can do it, there's no excuse for you European languages either! ;) Tooironic 17:33, 17 June 2009 (UTC)


Today's WOTD: perhaps I'm missing something, but what does the second definition mean, other than the first one? Even my 1993 edition o Webster simply defines it as "a coal mine". --Duncan 16:22, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

A coal-distribution facility or a coal mine or a coal-collection and -processing facility for various coal mines. There are lots of US law cases that discuss the distinctions, not all of which are in the entry. Any of the stages could be deemed suppliers to the next stage or to end users or transporters. I doubt there could be more precision. All 14 instances of "colliery" at COCA refer to something in the UK or Africa, as I read them. It is not a common US word. It is a bit dated and legalistic in its US usage, but we seem to lack participation by US miners at Wiktionary. The way coal was handled when there was a large use for home heating is very different from how it is handled now in the US and many other countries, where a single vehicle used to transport the coal from the mine (pit) to the rail-loading facility or conveyor is bigger than all of the equipment in total at many older mines. The current terminology must be different. DCDuring TALK 17:10, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. But in that case, shouldn't it be tagged {{context|legal|lang=und}} and rephrased to something like, I dunno, "Any of the facilities involved in the extraction, distribution and processing of coal"? I think most of our readers aren't US miners or lawyers either, and therefore may well suppose we just have overlooked having two defs for the same sense. --Duncan 17:53, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
Entries can always be improved. I hadn't thought of this as an important entry. I'm loath to alter something thought good enough as it was to be WOTD during its moment in the Sun. In addition, the ignorance about the subject matter among contributors (myself included) is substantial, as could be seen in the discussion of coal mine (at WT:RFD#coal mine, I think). DCDuring TALK 19:17, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
Neither did I want to rob the entry of its 15 minutes of fame, that's why I didn't even tag it, but now those are over, what do we do? Keep there a def whose meaning nobody's sure of? --Duncan 20:24, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Let me look at his again. Some of the UK and US dictionaries have the same definition: mine (ie, hole in the ground) + ancillary facilities. DCDuring TALK 21:11, 19 June 2009 (UTC)


I have been adding definitions to definitionless words (for goodness sakes, why are they there without a definition?! that's what a dictionary is for!) and came upon chromography, which has a number of citations. From some Greek roots I know, it sounds like it's from the Greek chrōma (color) and graphein (to write), but I can't find a definition anywhere. A Google search only came up with definitions for chromograph ... so does anyone know what chromography means and can add a definition?????? Logomaniac 13:21, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

I've added a very general definition in an attempt to cover different usages in different fields. The exact definition varies with context. Dbfirs 20:28, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Probably the best we can do. I like the wording "Any of several Xes" for catchalls because it isn't "one" specific X. But is the "any of several" wording also misleading somehow? DCDuring TALK 20:40, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Thank you guys!!! :) (And I thought I was good at figuring words out! ... becoming a user on Wiktionary has been a real challenge to my self-esteem, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. :) Logomaniac 21:40, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Also compaction. How in the world is this supposed to be an adjective?!? Can I delete the definitionless adjectival sense or is this actually an adjective somehow? (Google didn't have any adjectival definitions either.)  : ) Logomaniac 13:28, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

It seems that some people confuse the former parts of noun phrases with adjectives. That was also the case in the article business.[1] -- 15:46, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Terms used only in American (or US) English vs. US spellings

Hi, I think US spellings of those English words that are used universally should be put into a category different from the category of terms used only in US English. In other words, mesmerise and mesmerize should be in some categories called British English spellings (or Commonwealth English spellings) and US spellings, respectively, not in the categories Commonwealth English (or UK) or US, because it's about the same, universally used English word that is just differently spelled.

What do you think, would that policy have a point? -- 15:42, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Yes, I agree. We should have "context" templates {{US spelling}} and {{UK spelling}}, and "form-of" templates {{US spelling of|[[word]]}} and {{UK spelling of|[[word]]}}. —RuakhTALK 20:58, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm not quite clear. Do you mean one set of context labels indicating regional usage of the term, and another one for regional spelling? I think I can understand the reason for wanting this, but I still think the result would be confusing. (And what do we do for regional spellings of terms which are not universal?)
The real problem is that we create entries for spellings, rather than for terms. For example, the separation of liberal and Liberal by the most frequent, but not universal, capitalization makes it impossible for the reader to actually see this word's usage in one place, without compiling a combined entry of their own.
The solution is to adopt the practice of most dictionaries, rather than to pile on another innovation. Michael Z. 2009-06-20 05:52 z
Re: "Do you mean one set of context labels indicating regional usage of the term, and another one for regional spelling?": Basically yes. Currently, a {{US}} or {{UK}} tag is theoretically ambiguous between "this sense is specific to the U.S./U.K." and "this is the U.S./U.K. spelling", though in most cases we simply don't indicate the latter. We'll often qualify an ===Alternative spellings=== list-element as {{qualifier|US}} or {{qualifier|UK}}, and that's great, but it risks suggesting that one spelling (the untagged one) is common to both U.S. and U.K., while the other spelling is specific to the indicated region, when in fact, each spelling is loosely specific to one region. (Admittedly, context labels aren't a great solution, because these regional spelling differences usually apply to all senses of a word — even in cases like color/colour, where the American and British ranges of uses differ slightly, American newspapers will Americanize British colour and vice versa, such that color and colour themselves have all the same uses, just in slightly different frequencies depending on correlations of spelling-frequency with usage-frequency across regions.)
Re: "The solution is to adopt the practice of most dictionaries, rather than to pile on another innovation.": As far as I'm aware, the practice of most dictionaries is to make one region's spelling the headword, listing other regions' spellings as alternatives or not at all. I don't think that approach would work here.
RuakhTALK 01:54, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Agree it wouldn't work, because Wiktionary is not a regional dictionary. (Is it the only global dictionary? All the others that I've seen have a regional bias.) Couldn't we just clarify the regional variations in usage notes? Dbfirs 20:18, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Context tags can be placed on the inflection line, too. WT:ELE doesn't explicitly forbid or allow this, and I've been using it, especially for such things as {{plurale tantum}}; that would work well here.msh210 20:25, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't see what's wrong with {{US}} et al. The word (viz, with that spelling) is a U.S.-only word, isn't it?msh210 20:25, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
That said, the form-of templates mentioned above sound like a good idea.msh210 20:27, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Re: "The word (viz, with that spelling) is a U.S.-only word, isn't it?": No, I don't think so. "Airplane/aeroplane" is the same word no matter how you spell and/or pronounce it; for example, a British press release using the latter will get quoted in U.S. newspapers using the former (and, I assume, vice versa). Tagging one as (US) and the other as (UK) seems misleading, or at least needless vague. But even if we're O.K. with the labeling, it really seems pointless to include entries like [[unraveled]] in Category:US and entries like [[serialise]] in Category:British English; why should those categories mix usage differences with spelling differences? —RuakhTALK 01:57, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

I think there are some learner's dictionaries which try to give equal time to British and American usage, but I'm not really familiar with them.

But there are two things which all dictionaries do, that we have trouble with:

  1. Have an entry for a word, not for each orthographic expression for it. Colour and color are the same word, and would be best treated under one main heading, plus a redirect (which is the equivalent of a cross-reference like “color =colour”). It's a worse problem in words like liberal and Liberal, where various senses are associated with one capitalization, the other, or both—pity the reader who ever has to flip between two entries and try to guess whether the same editor organized both, and try to sort out the shades of meaning.
  2. Employ a label for an entire entry, as on the inflection line. This is the preferred place for a label if it qualifies to go there, yet our technical and design problems discourage it.

There are some good reasons we should imitate universal dictionary conventions, rather than ignore them or invent new practices.

 Michael Z. 2009-06-27 03:29 z

Your adjective "universal" presumably applies to "conventions", but Wikipedia is a universal dictionary, so we do need to invent new practices (and to practise new inventions). I like the "form-of" templates suggested by Ruakh. Dbfirs 09:04, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
That may be true, but evertheless, nothing about our universality obviates the need to apply a label to a POS, which we rarely do, or come to think of it to an entire entry, which we have no way of doing. Nor does anything about being pan-lingual require us to separate the definition of a word by its variations in capitalization, as in labour and Labour, which is far worse than if it were in a single entry. Michael Z. 2009-06-30 12:32 z
Yes, Michael, I agree. Mostly. Though I also agree with Dbfirs that we often do need to invent new practices — in this case, for example, once we've got everything in one entry, we need a way to get users to the right entry. You won't see many {{form of}} entries in print dictionaries — only in cases where the form-of is somewhere completely different, alphabetically, from the headword, and even then it's not guaranteed to be there. —RuakhTALK 01:25, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Okay, to address the question more directly: I think we have not yet resolved basic labelling, and adding a second dimension and third geographic category hierarchy (we already have dialectal Category:US, and domain Category:United States of America) might make it crazy complicated.

For example, look at liberal and Liberal. Which senses would get labelled British, Canadian, US, British spelling, Canadian spelling, US spelling?Michael Z. 2009-07-01 00:33 z

off to

Does anyone here think we need an entry for "off to" e.g. "I'm off to the doctors."? Or would it be a sum of parts entry? Tooironic 02:35, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

S-o-P, unless we also define going to, leaving to, and splitsville to. Specifically, this is just off adv. 1 + to prep. 1. Michael Z. 2009-06-20 05:56 z
Actually, in this exemple, it is be off + to. Circeus 17:15, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

razor sharp

From WT:REE#R razor sharp (not SoP IMO Mglovesfun 10:46, 20 June 2009 (UTC)) Then also rock hard, ruby red, Einstein smart, ramrod straight, ice cold. It is a structure for similes. Similes per se are not includable. USER:DCDuring

Did this DCDuring have it right? Or should all of the attestable examples of the this construction be entries? DCDuring TALK 11:44, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't think we should have them. Equinox 00:57, 24 June 2009 (UTC)


This adjective seems to refer to James Joyce.

A Joycian digression... My Joycian rant... It's very Joycian...

But what are the specific characteristics?

  • It's usually spelled Joycean. And people tend to use it to talk about extravagantly creative wordplay, neologisms etc. Ƿidsiþ 14:01, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

No OneLook dictionary has Joycian but it is used in hundreds of books, about half as many as Joycean, which also appears in 4 OneLook references.

  • A usage example: "I'm sick and tired of folks entering Joycean nonce words into Wiktionary. It's worse than with Shakespeare." DCDuring TALK 14:35, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Haha, how delightfully passive-aggressive. Equinox 00:59, 24 June 2009 (UTC)


Adverb: {{context|football|lang=und}} A popular soccer [[formation]] with 4 [[defender]]s, 2 [[midfielder]]s and 4 [[striker]]s

Is this really an adverb? If so, is it not also a noun? It could really use a usage example for each PoS. DCDuring TALK 20:26, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

Also 4-4-2. DCDuring TALK 20:32, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

es seien gewesen

A question for other German-speakers: which one of the given senses of sein is this is an example of?: Es seien Schüsse zu hören gewesenthere may have been shots [to be] heard. I would think this was the first sense, the usual sense of sein, but could also see it being the third... — Beobach972 07:20, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

Lack of articles

I find that there are many words that are found in the Merriam Webster's Unabriged Dictionary that are not found in the Wiktionary. If someone owns one (because the one I saw was at a library), please contribute.


I assume that, for Lithuanian, the translation of the word Hitler is the word Hitleris, not Adolfas Hitleris. Am I right? I don't understand why wrong translations have been added (by Atitarev, then by Stephen G. Brown). Names such as Adolfas Hitleris don't belong to Wiktionary, anyway, because they are not words (but they'll probably be created from translations by the appropriate bot nonetheless). Could somebody explain? Lmaltier 18:49, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

I'd be surprised if we couldn't attest this with attributive use clearly referring to w:Adolf Hitler. Do you really doubt that? A "Hitler moustache", etc. DCDuring TALK 21:19, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
I'd like to determine if this is used generally, or only for certain terms. Americancorpus.org has 231 occurrences of Hitler (n.) terms, but almost all of them look like they are referring to the specific person or another proper noun (e.g. Hitler Youth, Hitler regime, Hitler diaries, Hitler lover), rather than using his name as an independent word (Hitler salute [6 occurrences], Hitler moustache/mustache [7], Hitler figure [2]). Of the latter group, the moustache and salute might be considered idiomatic, and only a Hitler figure seems purely attributive to me.
Caveat: I didn't even browse the citations, just quickly looked at the list of compounds. Michael Z. 2009-06-23 00:23 z
I'm not sure why the (long-shot) possibility that they are idiomatic makes them less attributive. Is there some overarching reason why the term should not be here? DCDuring TALK 01:43, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Just to clarify the original comment from Lmaltier - I changed the formatting, added/changed some transliterations, I didn't add new translations (my edits): [2], [3], [4]. Stephen G. Brown restored all the translations deleted by Lmaltier, Lmaltier only left French, which is identical to English and German. As for the translations, I find adding "Adolf" useful, especially for non-Roman scripts and where pronunciation differs largely from the original but I leave this for you to decide. By the way, in Slavic languages, the attributives from Hitler are created differently, e.g. in Russian: Гитлер (Hitler), гитлеровский (adjective), although, there are combinations like гитлер-югенд (Hitlerjugend (German) -Hitler Youth), etc. Anatoli
Same thing happens in French: "Hitler" as a person would be "Hitler", and "hitlérien" (not sure about capitals here) would be used in most compounds (the attributive construction proper is "d'Hitler", i.e. "of Hitler" and refers only to him as a person). Circeus 03:02, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
In any case, we could consider removing the first name "Adolf" from all translations, if that's decided. Wiping off all translations, then discussing is not a good approach. Anatoli 03:55, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Yes, my concern was with translations only, and removing Adolf would be the good thing to do. I considered that translations were (unneeded) good translations of the full names but bad translations of Hitler (translations are needed for Adolf, too, but in another page). I could have changed them, but I don't speak all these languages, it would have been difficult. I only added the French translation of the surname (I have no doubt about it). Lmaltier 05:19, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I believe we deleted Adolph Hitler and determined to keep that sense on the Hitler page. All of the translations have that meaning. If it has become a problem to have Adolph on the Hitler page, then we should restore Adolph Hitler and move that sense to that page. —Stephen 05:35, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
But we don't need translations for Adolph Hitler, it's a name, but not a word. We need translations for Adolph and for Hitler. We are not Wikipedia, and I really think that all village names should be included, because they are words, but no full names at all (a name such as Confucius is OK, because it's a word). The deletion decision was a good one, and it also applies to translations if translations are full names. Lmaltier 06:49, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
If you decide to remove "Adolf" from Hitler's translations, I can help copying translations into Adolf / Adolph. In some languages the translations of Hitler without Adolf may become meaningless or less meaningful. Anatoli 07:01, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Yes, we do need translations of Adolph Hitler. The argument that it’s a name and not a word assumes that it is unchanged in every language. The translation section shows that it is written and pronounced quite differently in different languages, and subject to different grammar. It’s information that most people cannot obtain from Wikipedia or any encyclopedia. I think British and European dictionaries do not include any names, but American dictionaries do include historically important names, and they are useful information for a dictionary to provide, in particular a multilingual dictionary. —Stephen 07:12, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Many European dictionaries include proper nouns, including famous people names, because they want to provide encyclopedic information about places and people (they are encyclopedic dictionaries). But a language dictionary should include only words (our mission is all words in all languages). Webster's is a language dictionary. It includes some proper nouns because of their attributive use (e.g. abidjan), but not many, it usually excludes proper nouns (it does not include Adolph, nor Hitler, nor Adolph Hitler). Of course, I don't assume that the name is unchanged in every language. Information required to translate Adolph Hitler should be provided here, I agree, in Adolph and Hitler pages, and details about how the first name and the surname are to be linked together may be provided in Hitleris, etc. when such details are needed, but translations for the full name do not belong to a language dictionary. I'm bewildered that such different points of view still exist here. Improving and clarifying CFI is urgent, and providing guidelines about this translation issue too, but the discussion becomes too general, and should be moved to the Beer Parlour. Lmaltier 08:27, 23 June 2009 (UTC) I want to add that, from a linguistic point of view, Stephen Brown is not less important than Adolph Hitler or Winston Churchill, and details about how to translate it should also be provided (in Stephen, Brown, etc.). Lmaltier 08:49, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
The Random House and American Heritage include names like that and it has nothing to do with attributive use. My company used a staff of about 200 writers and translators, each looking up hundreds of words a day, six days a week for over thirty years that I worked there. We did not look up words like the, big or good, because words such as those already form part of our active standard vocabularies. Rather we used some very expensive dictionaries to look up words such as Adolph Hitler, 成龙, letter of credit, Republic of Korea, huile d'étirage, encaje excedente, Winston Churchill, and so on (but certainly not "Stephen Brown" or "Mary Smith", or "Stephen", or "Brown"). Virtually every one of the many words that we had to look up every day are precisely those same difficult terms that you exclude from Wiktionary. We could not, except in rare cases, find the things we needed in any encyclopedia. Dictionaries were our stock in trade, and for our purposes a service such as Wikipedia was not useful. —Stephen 09:22, 23 June 2009 (UTC) (I’m shocked to find letter of credit and Republic of Korea in existence here...somebody must have forgotten to delete them. —Stephen 09:25, 23 June 2009 (UTC))
I understand your reason, now. I fully agree with you for huile d'étirage, etc. (they can be considered as words), but not for full names. I don't understand why Wikipedia is not useful: most famous people are likely to have a page in both Wikipedias, and clicking on the interwiki link usually provides the translation you need. In some difficult cases, we might provide full name translations here, too (to be kind to translators), but only in difficult special cases, and with a clear mention that they translate full names, and without linking these full names (when they don't meet CFI). Lmaltier 09:41, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
If you go to a Wikipedia page in Khmer or Chinese, you will probably not be able to find anything useful unless you can speak Khmer or Chinese. If you find a word, you won’t know if it’s the equivalent of the English page, or perhaps a hyponym of the English, or, as is often the case with many languages, the plural or some definite or indefinite form of the English, and you probably can’t be sure if the term you think you have is really the term in question or the Chinese word for noun or help. You probably won’t know if it’s simplified or traditional, you won’t know how to pronounce it or transliteration it, you won’t know if it is a deprecated form, a real equivalent, or an ad hoc transliteration. Most people can’t find much of use on any Wikipedia page unless they can actually read the language. If you look up 成龙 on the Chinese Wikipedia, you won’t get reliable information unless you can read Chinese. However, we used to have a very nice page here on Wiktionary that explained 成龙 and gave the pronunciation, meaning, etc. Just as dictionaries should not double as encyclopedias, encyclopedias make sorry dictionaries. Nobody should have to resort to Wikipedia for any dictionary information, but, since we reject so many important terms that people in real life have to deal with every day, Wiktionary will remain a schoolboy’s tool. In my profession, as interesting as Wiktionary is, we are not able to find enough words here to make it worthwhile to bother looking. —Stephen 10:02, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I share your concern, Stephen but I don't think we'll get full approval for names. If you remember Rostov-on-Don and Rostov-na-Donu discussions. I wouldn't mind adding dictionary entries like: trad. 成龍, simpl. 成龙 (pinyin: Chéng Lóng) - Jackie Chan aka Cheng Long but it's not up to me decide. Anatoli 10:50, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
In my opinion, Rostov-on-Don and Rostov-na-Donu must be kept, without any doubt, because they are words. And I also agree that information required for translating names (including Jackie Chan) should be included, and it's not always easy. But we should keep to principles, notability cannot be a criterion here: the principle is all words in all languages and the only questions should be Is this a word (or a phrase warranting a definition, and thus assimilated to a word)? and Is this word used in this language?. Is 成龙a word, I don't know. Note that translated titles of novels are also useful to translators, and cannot be guessed, but they are not words. Do you propose to include all titles of novels or other books? (the Italian Wiktionary used to accept them, but I'm not sure they still accept them).
To come back to the question, translations in the Hitler page should be for Hitler, not for Adolph Hitler (the current translation table is misleading, not for translators, but at least for readers not knowing the language). If a consensus is found to provide translations for Adolph Hitler in the Hitler page nonetheless, they should be grouped in an additional section with a title explicitly stating that all following translations include the first name, to clarify things. Lmaltier 12:02, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
If place names are automatically words (dictionary words), we would become an atlas. There are tens of thousands of tiny villages on the planet that have names. Equinox 03:59, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Lmaltier, you say often "XXXX is(or isn't) a word" but (and I don't think I'm alone) I believe you are using an idiosyncratic interpretation of "word". Could you help me understand what you mean? For example, you've said that "North Carolina" is a word, but here you say "Adolf Hitler" isn't. Your criteria obviously isn't strictly lexical, so what is it?
As for the entry at hand, I see no problem with translations mentioning "Adolf" if that's how the specific sense of "Hilter" would be best translated. If the resulting FL phrase would not meet CFI we just piecemeal link it. Discussions about inclusion of specific entities should be clarified, but on BP/VOTE. --Bequw¢τ 05:01, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Most town, village, country... names are undisputably words (e.g. Paris), and need an etymology section, a pronunciation section, etc. They must be included on the basis of all words in all languages. When it happens that they are written using two typographical words (e.g. New York, this does not change their status, because they belong to the same category. On the other hand, a full name, by nature, is composed of several words: one (or several) first names + a surname. The etymology, pronunciation, and other linguistic information refer either to the first name or to the surname, and no linguistic info can be given for the full name, only encyclopedic info. There may be some exceptions, of course (especially for translations), but I feel the difference is pretty obvious (it's obvious to me, at least). Lmaltier 06:04, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
People's names used to mononymous (single-word name like "Plato"). Multi-word names were popularized by the Romans (see w:Mononymous person). Etymology, pronounciation, and translations information could equally be given to "Socrates" as to "Chicago". So, both people and places are specific entities that can have single-word or multi-word names ("word" here in the typographic sense). I don't see the linguistic reason for your distinction. It's true that many place names are single-word while most people's names today are multi-word, and that many place names have a substantial history. But neither of those are linguistic differences. --Bequw¢τ 22:17, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
We must be treating Chinese people differently, since Mao Zedong deserves both surname and first name together. Hopefully, this will not cause a deletion. Anatoli 06:12, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
I was referring to full names composed of first name + surname. For Chinese names, I don't know. At first sight, I don't understand why Mao Zedong is included in a language dictionary, but there may be a reason, I don't know anything about Chinese names. In any case, this inclusion should be justified by linguistic reasons, and these reasons are not obvious from the page. Lmaltier 06:29, 24 June 2009 (UTC) Actually, the reason is obvious (if you read the complete definition...), and it meets current CFI. The page is not about Mao Zedung, and the prominent link to Wikipedia is somewhat misleading. Lmaltier 07:54, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
In addition to everything else I’ve said above, you should also consider the work that somebody has put into it. Enumerate, if you would, the advantages to Wiktionary by deleting this. Personally, I see no advantage at all. On the other hand, somebody has gone to some trouble to contribute his expertise to the page with no mind to payment of any kind. Our best Chinese editor, User:A-cai, contributed the page for 成龙, which has been deleted because some ninny didn’t like the translation. I don’t know if those kinds of actions explain why User:A-cai doesn’t do much here anymore, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Similar deletions and perversions of my own work have cause me to stop work in Arabic, which I used to do a lot of (now I only do a little etymology and light cleanup, but no new entries or grammatical info). And I stopped doing German, which I have a degree in. A month or so ago I was persuaded to stop my work in Portuguese, in which I worked as a professional translator for some years in the field of petroleum exploration and recovery. Likewise, I decided to stop most of my work in Russian and I add very few new words anymore. Since I can’t make many common Russian words fit the English cardinal parts of speech, I would not even consider trying to add them. Since 1980 I’ve done a lot of work in some American Indian languages, including Yup’ik, Ojibwe, and Navajo, but since I cannot conform most of the words with the English parts of speech, I don’t do anything with them. If you delete this, that means that even translating existing senses of an entry is not safe to do, and since I don’t like to waste my efforts, I’ll add this one more thing to my list of jobs that I won’t do, or won’t do very much. That’s going to leave me nothing but conjugation/declension tables here, and I offer my services to other Wiktionaries and Wikipedias where my work is appreciated and not deleted. Is there some advantage to deleting this translation section that I don’t see? —Stephen 04:10, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Stephen, please continue your good work with Russian, Arabic and other languages, I appreciate your work, despite some previous arguments. To me, creating entries is a much harder task than translations. For the moment I am limiting my work to translations/checking of lists of basic verbs, lists of words of specific topics into Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, German and French, sometimes adding Polish, Swedish and other languages I know a bit. Names of people is not such a thing to be too discouraged about! If you think about it, people would add too many names who will be forgotten in a few years or only known to a small group of people. I would personally allow to add people's names. And yes, somebody has done the good work, I would not delete it. I find the name entries useful. Anatoli 04:56, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
About Mao Zedong (trad. 毛澤東, simpl. 毛泽东 (pinyin: Máo Zédōng)). It happens that only one Mao (trad. and simpl. (pinyin: Máo)) has become so famous but this last name is one of the most common in the Chinese world. If we take into account the possible variations of the 4 tones (māo, máo, mǎo, mào) and a number of characters, which can represent the sounds in Chinese Mandarin, then adding the first name turns out as not such a useless thing. Anatoli 05:04, 25 June 2009 (UTC)


Are we missing an adjective sense, "up in a tree", or is that merely the participle of tree? (I'm no expert at distinguishing true adjectives from similar PsOS.)msh210 19:49, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm no expert at it either :) but I never think of treed as a true adjective - always as past participle of tree. Don't assume this is everyone's view, though :) Logomaniac 20:37, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
The simple criterion is whether it is gradable and/or comparable. "The whole area is quite heavily treed." "New England is more treed now than in the mid 19th century." This will turn out to be attestable. An additional criterion is whether it can serve as a predicate, as both examples have it. DCDuring TALK 21:26, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for adding the citations, but I was asking about another, absent sense, actually.msh210 21:42, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
I blame my shortish-term memory. Couldn't keep your actual original question in mind while citing. That sense seems not so likely to be attestable as an adjective. The predicate test doesn't help with a participle because the search can't readily distinguish between a participle's use in a passive and a predicate after a form of be. Other less clear cut copulas (eg, seem) would be necessary. Searching for "more-treed" with "dog OR dogs" didn't yield anything. DCDuring TALK 21:56, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

runde Tisch

Twice, an IP editor has tried changing the headword in the entry to runder Tisch, which currently is a redirect to this entry. The entry on the Deutsch Wikipedia is at Runder Tisch. I'm not knowledgeable enough about German to edit the entry myself, but this one clearly needs improving. — Carolina wren discussió 20:10, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

IFYPFY.msh210 16:57, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

nuclear proliferation

Idiomatic or merely the sum of its parts?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 22:13, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

No sum of part, and IMHO the involved historical elements (cf. American Revolutionary War could arguably be considered SoP) makes it worthy of inclusion. Circeus 22:39, 22 June 2009 (UTC)


That word, I kid you not, was defined as "a stone fruit". I tried to improve it, but I don't trust myself much, as I've never actually eatenapricots (we never bought them in my family, y'see), and it I failed to find an actual good description of the fruit... Circeus 22:43, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

Well, I added what I could as someone from apricot's homeland and as someone eating apricot right now. You should try it.--Vahagn Petrosyan 04:56, 23 June 2009 (UTC)


I propose to replace the English section with {{alternative spelling of|loath}}, and merge the information together. Or the other way round, which is the more common form? H. (talk) 07:13, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

The use or not of that template can be surprisingly often a can of worm. It would be a good thing to use it more IMHO. Circeus 18:12, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I like to use alternative spellings but not to diminish words of historical/etymological interest like loth. If it were only a matter of current usage, the alt spelling approach would be supported by the facts. In modern usage (as documented both at COCA and BNC), loath beats loth by more than 4:1 with no noticeable US/UK difference in the UK and about 50:1 in the US [More than 80% of the hits at COCA were scannos for 10th.].
But loth has a longer history (OE c. 1000AD and ME), with the OED's first quote for "loath" only being in 1576. I would just let the two entries exist, but focus entry enhancement (modern material) on loath. There really isn't much reason to delete material. loth#English is a useful waystation for loth#Middle English and whatever is the best spelling for Old English.
The modern material would include synonyms, antonyms and other nyms, any modern refinement of senses and the translations. I would use {{trans-see}} to focus translator efforts on the more common contemporary spelling. DCDuring TALK 01:30, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't think that giving a spelling an {{alternative spelling of}} entry is to "diminish" it — and I don't like that people take it that way, because it causes some editors to get misguidedly offended when some of their regional spellings happen to be {{alternative spelling of}} entries for spellings from other regions. (Is there some better phrase we could use, rather than "alternative spelling", that wouldn't cause this confusion?) Therefore, I don't think any facts are necessary to support this sort of merger, besides the fact that both spellings exist and are spellings of the same word. If we make one spelling an {{alternative spelling of}}, I think it's preferable that it be the less-common spelling (because people are more likely to look up the more-common spelling, so we might as well reduce the need to click through to the main entry), but I don't think that's essential. The benefit of putting the whole entry on one page is that it makes it clear where to look: under your approach, someone reading [[loth]] might never suspect that they should visit [[loath]] if they want synonyms and such. Conversely, someone editing [[loath]] might never realize that their edit should be applied to [[loth]] as well (if indeed it should). I imagine that even (hypothetical) brand-new senses of loath are likely to be spelled loth by speakers who use loth for existing senses — and if not, then I think we should document that explicitly with usage notes, rather than implicitly by including slightly-different senses at the two entries (though I know that some editors disagree with me about that last point). —RuakhTALK 02:13, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
  1. The target audience matters. If the target audience is contemporary speakers and writers and language learners, then your approach would be preferred. If it is other groups such as readers, then the spelling that they find is the one we should document.
  2. The facts matter. Any differences in etymology, pronunciation or meanings could matter. (In this case, not etymology.) Did both spellings have the same meanings? In this case, it isn't yet clear to me that the "loath" spelling was ever much used with the meaning tagged "obsolete". I am not sure that there is any point in having a US pronunciation for loth since it seems to be so rare in the US.
  3. The interaction of audience and facts matters a lot. Readers necessarily come to an entry with a specific spelling. Including material concerning the other spelling onto a single page that we offer all readers force readers coming with either to separate what we have combined. DCDuring TALK 02:38, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Hmm, I see what you're saying. To me, it seems that (1) readers are better served by more-complete information, and (2) separate entries inevitably lead to less-complete information; but given that our readers sometimes seem to have difficulty even finding our definitions, I suppose more-complete information can be a bad thing if some of that information isn't even for the actual word they were trying to look up. —RuakhTALK 03:34, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Well, I'm not yet sure that there are enough differences to make it worthwhile in this case to keep them split. But, in general, differences could be expected to increase as we learn more about actual usage and even history. If somebody spends time on a pair of entries they are likely to find differences eventually. If they spend time they may make the entries complicated. Combining them eventually becomes difficult. At the earliest stages of an entry it seems like a very good idea to try to keep the bulk of the content on the page of the first spelling the contributor selected. At a later, but early, stage it might be useful to make sure that in current usage the first spelling is actually a dominant (>50%) spelling according to some corpus and then decide whether to go forward with one entry or two. Conserving on translator effort is one benefit that can be retained even if we have two "main" entries. I don't know that there can be very formal criteria for this. DCDuring TALK 05:38, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
To add to this: I don’t see why loth couldn’t have its own etymology header, whilst at the same time having {{alternative of}} in its definition. Of course, the etymology then would have to refer to the other spelling and explain how the differences arose, and that information should be at loath as well. But the definitions are the same, as far as I can see, so no reason to duplicate that. H. (talk) 11:34, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
I realize now that my objection is mostly based on a single word in H's opening proposal: section. Really any information that is unique to this particular spelling should remain at that entry, but, as long as the meanings are identical, as they seem to be in this case, it would be misleading to show any semantic content separately. Etymology might be separate, attestation quotations would be separate, pronunciation can be simpler at "loth" because it need only have the UK pronunciation (if even that is really different).
Hypothetically, "Word A" might only have a subset of the meanings of "Word AA". As a matter of strict logic even one sense less out of 20 would require duplication of content to eliminate any possible error in use. An alternative of trying to indicate at the alternative spellings of "Word AA" the subset of meanings covered by the "Word A" spelling is completely impractical in general. DCDuring TALK 14:46, 27 June 2009 (UTC)


I need help with the word. Can someone please find the definition for this word please? Thank you. I don't know exactly what is the definition of it. Steel Blade 13:10, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

artisan pronunciation

The article for artisan has a /z/ pronunciation for the "s." I pronounce it as an /s/. Is this common enough to note? Wakablogger 20:32, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

In Webster's Third, artisan is pronounced both /'ärd•izən/ and /'ärd•isən/, with the former (with the /z/) being first (and thereby more common.). I usually pron. it somewhere between "s" and "z", though I don't usually say the word ... Logomaniac 21:49, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Like Logomaniac, I pronounce it somewhere between, but I've heard both "z" and "s" (Northern UK). They sound very similar! Dbfirs 20:02, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

new term deserves consideration

Some time ago a viewer submitted the following term to Discovery Network regarding noises often heard being emitted from frozen lake surfaces etc.

The term was cyro-crepitation

jolly good I say

what of it?

That would be cryo-crepitation or cryocrepitation. See cryo- + crepitation. It is a plausible coinage for the phenomenon. We don't promote new coinages. This one has yet to appear anywhere on the Web. Once it appears to be gaining some usage it could go into our Appendix for protologisms. Once it seemed to be entering the lexicon, we would be happy to have it as a new entry. See WT:CFI, especially section on attestation. I wonder what ice-road truckers now call the phenomenon. DCDuring TALK 23:01, 23 June 2009 (UTC)


"Please note that all contributions to Wiktionary are considered to be released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported." unported? The existing sense doesn't seem to have any relevance to this kind of licence. Equinox 00:56, 24 June 2009 (UTC)


I'm currently reading this 1939 rail accident investigation report and it is consistently using the word user where modern writers would use usage, for example from page 8:

  • Crossings giving access to land on which there are Sports Grounds, Camping Grounds, Race Tracks, etc., and other land used for recreational purposes and where a considerable user occurs intermittently or seasonally.
  • ...no agreement apparently exists between the Company and the County Council as to any restriction in user.
  • ...crossings may be subject to wide variations, not only in the type of connection afforded, the degree of user, and the presence or absence of alternative means of access.
  • In some cases also a Company might have expressly covenanted to construct and maintain certain specified works, and again, in others, the scope of the user of the works might have been enlarged or restricted by agreement.

We don't currently have this meaning at user and I was wondering if we should - was it common? When did Usage notes surplant it in this meaning? Thryduulf 16:33, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

  • Nothing quite like this meaning in the OED, but it does have (in the second, legal definition) "Continued use, exercise, or enjoyment of a right, etc.; presumptive right arising from use." SemperBlotto 16:38, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
    • Cf. waiver.msh210 17:25, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
      • ...and disclaimer. Waiver is the act of waiving, disclaimer is the act of disclaiming, user seems in the accident investigation report to be the act of using. There are probably other such words.msh210 18:42, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
    Does the OED present this as part of the same etymology? I would guess it to be descended from some Anglo-Norman legal language or more directly from some vintage of French. .... My Black's Law Dictionary has an entry (preceding "user de action") defining it as "actual use of any right or property". This does not seem like "use" + agent suffix. DCDuring TALK 17:54, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

above and beyond

We currently have this as only a preposition, but one example sentence is "they sure went above and beyond when they were planning this party". Does that mean it's an adverb, too?msh210 18:34, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

I think so. It's used as a predicate (adj.) too. DCDuring TALK 19:22, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
I stumbled across this again and split usage examples and added the adverb. I dunno about adjective. DCDuring TALK 14:12, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

inter alia

What is the meaning of inter alia

Latin for "among other things". —Stephen 07:19, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

on the radio

New entry, defined as "broadcast through the radio". I would RFD this because any idiomaticity it has is wholly encapsulated in on (cf. on (the) television [or TV, telly, Discovery Channel] and probably on the Internet [or Web, Wiktionary]). However, we don't yet seem to have anything at on that covers these. Equinox 09:08, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

I took a crack at a sense of "on", which, like many of the preposition entries, is severely deficient in figurative senses, especially newer ones. WT:RFD#on television duplicates your points. One good thing about SoP additions: they reveal weaknesses in the Ps. DCDuring TALK 15:12, 25 June 2009 (UTC)


How do we handle this? Capitalisation of unabbreviated form, etc. 50 Xylophone Players talk 19:08, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

I've piped the expansion to a punctuationless form. I hope the comma in the displayed form doesn't defeat search-box search. Please don't bold the first letters of the words. I know that has been defeating the search box. I don't think caps are any great help. FIGMO seems to be an alternative form, possibly more common. DCDuring TALK 18:14, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

N.S.B. winning words

This discussion has been going on on my talk page, and I would now like to bring it out into the open. I've been adding trivia sections to the various Spelling Bee winning words (like psychiatry, dulcimer, gladiolus) noting that this was the winning word in the **th Scripps National Spelling Bee. The question is: Should I continue doing this (that is to say, is it good Wiktionary content?), or should the trivia sections be deleted for being too encyclopedic? Opinions, please! Logomaniac 16:54, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm certainly glad that the WP table has wikt links from the words!
Why don't we have an Appendix on Spelling Bee winners that had more contests or levels of competition and also had all the links to WP and any external links that are appropriate?
I would prefer links from the entry page to such an Appendix rather than the current link.
I don't like the Trivia heading.
We have accepted anagrams as a subject matter and header. Anagrams probably attract some users. So might spelling-bee words. Could we combine anagrams and spelling bee under a single header that allowed for similar additional content in the future and kept the position at the bottom of the English section? DCDuring TALK 18:03, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
heading names for spelling words etc. - that is if we decide to keep this stuff: ===Minutiae===, ===Fun Facts===, ===Interesting to note===, etc . . . I would tend towards the like of minutiae as opposed to the others. Nothings final yet though so feel free to change the subject. :) Logomaniac 18:34, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
If we do coalesce anagrams and other bits of word play into a single L3 header, Word play, would be appropriate with Anagrams and Spelling bees being examples of appropriate L4 headers. That said, we definitely should collect all the winning words of a single spelling bee, such as the SHNSP, into an appendix. Whether or not we then also mention that in the entries I'm neutral on, but I see no harm so long as we stick to national spelling bees of English-speaking countries such as The Times Spelling Bee, in including info on the winning words. — Carolina wren discussió 01:23, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
I'd support listing the words in an appendix, but not adding notes to the entries themselves, particularly if doing so would necessitate a new header — it strikes me as too extraneous to a dictionary. — Beobach972 01:28, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Hip-shooting, but my opinion is it does not reflect a dictionary approach to terms, but rather an encyclopedic approach. I'm also, generically, opposed to anagrams, and any nationalist bias - that is, why should we care if it was a spelling bee term in the Scripps National Spelling Bee? Unless it is relevant in all national contexts, it probably should not be an element of en.wiktionary. - Amgine/talk 21:40, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't see it as nationalist. It's not as though the Scripps National Spelling Bee is a governmentally run bee: it's private. (In fact, according to WP it's open to others than Americans.)​—msh210 21:47, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
ELE seems to allow it s.v. "Trivia". I don't mind it like that; I also wouldn't mind it as a category, say category:Scripps National Spelling Bee winning words, or listed in an appendix, say Appendix:Spelling bee winning words#Scripps National Spelling Bee.​—msh210 21:53, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
I like Category approach. Category is very economical of screen space, even if the name is long. (How about "Category:Spelling bee winner:Scripps"?) Appendix is a little less screen-space-thrifty. Multiple header levels would be bad. [OT: I like the way Homophones went from being an L4 header to being a template with horizontal presentation of individual homophones. Why couldn't that be done with Anagrams under See also or something similar?] DCDuring TALK
Here's part of why "National Spelling Bee" terms is an example of bias: The BBC's show Spelling Bee (the first television game show starting in 1938 and well before Scripps), badasseugi, dictée, fr:Dicos d'or, India Spells (lacking an article anywhere within WMF, a Scripps subsidiary in India for the 2009 competition), fr:Dictée des Amériques, Spelling Bee of Canada Category:Spelling competitions, &c. The concept of a spelling competition, and its public participation, is not unique to English, to the USA, and in fact predates the language. The category concept was previously implemented and, eventually, rejected by the community and deleted. To be blunt, there is no logical basis for including this information in a dictionary that I am aware of. If we included every winning term from every spelling competition it would be noise, yet if we do not do so it would be biased. - Amgine/talk 23:24, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Would it be OK if we had an Anglophone bias, being en.wikt? Or would that go against all words in all languages? DCDuring TALK 00:26, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Fine AFAI'm concerned. We do with category names (though that's under discussion), with extent of coverage (though that's de facto not de jure), and by putting English sections first in entries (except for translingual).​—msh210 16:52, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
If we had appendices listing these words, then a link to that appendix could appear under "see also", thereby eliminating the need for "trivia" or additional header levels. --EncycloPetey 00:00, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
True. Maybe that's best. On [[antediluvian]], say, * [[Appendix:Spelling bee winning words#Scripps National Spelling Bee|Scripps National Spelling Bee winning words (antediluvian, 1994)]].​—msh210 16:52, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Are these words not examples of words that probably have "common misspellings" (in the "relative" sense)? Should we search for and add such misspellings? DCDuring TALK 17:12, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
This is kinda off the subject, but if we did make an appendix for 'em, if it would please be named something along the lines of "spelling bee winning words" as opposed to "spelling bee winners" - I dunno about everyone else but I tend to think of winner as the kid who wins the Bee (whichever bee it is) as opposed to the word they spelled to do so. :) Logomaniac 15:09, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. I was trying to save a little typing and screen space. But you're probably right it. I could well misdirect users. DCDuring TALK 15:50, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Also - I don't know if i'm a sheltered person or anything but I've never heard (until I clicked on 'em) of the other spelling bees that Amgine mentioned above. (Even being a participant in the N.S.B. last year and hopefully this year!) :) Logomaniac 15:24, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

am albanischsten

Is albanisch really comparable? I would have thought not, but a Google Books search returns one use of the superlative form (five separate hits, but the same sentence) and eg one for albanischere, giving me pause. Can one noun be more Albanian than another? — Beobach972 20:35, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

All the adjectives pertaining to ethnic groups appear to be comparable, for one reason or another. We also have am deutschesten on Google Books. -- Prince Kassad 20:49, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
Almost all English adjectives, no matter how semantically absolute they might seem (eg, dead, unique), if they are common enough, end up being used in gradable, comparative, and superlative forms. I suspect that statement generalizes to many other languages. DCDuring TALK 21:28, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
If only in a formulation along the lines of (in this case) "more Albanian than Greek", or a formula such as "the most Albanian (of) traditions": "It is one of the most Albanian costumes, known throughout Albania, [] " (Andromaqi Gjergji, Albanian costumes through the centuries, p. 115); "On the contrary, the Albanian Bektashis were were the most Albanian in spirit." (Stavro Skendi, The Albanian national awakening, 1878-1912, p. 339).
I have added the citation to albanischsten. I knew the terms were gradable in English, but wasn't sure about German, although now it makes sense. Thanks for the input. (Trickily, I do not think albanischsten is used enough to meet CFI technically — but I do not intend to RFV it, since we've established that the concept is real.) — Beobach972 01:24, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

brass neck

gall, shamelessness, cheek. I've never heard this. Where is it used? Usage example? DCDuring TALK 15:47, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

  • Yes, I have heard this. I think it might be nautical. Plenty of hits in Google book search - dictionary entries, literal mechanical usage, and then some usage as in our definition. e.g. "You don't have her brass neck. Nor her contacts.' I'm sure I could develop a brass neck and contacts.' 'Do you want to?' 'Not particularly, no." SemperBlotto 15:56, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
OALD has this as an idiom under "bras":
  • brass neck/nerve (BrE, informal) a combination of confidence and lack of respect: I didn't think she would have the brasss neck to do that. --Duncan 17:14, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I see. There was one 19th century nautical reference to people who were "brass-necks", but it was not at clear what that was supposed to mean. A similar later reference made it seem as if the were referring to naval officers (like "top brass"). Definitely UK, Irish. Seems to have been in low-level recorded use for nearly a century with a significant increase in 1990s, especially in newspapers. I've added brass-necked and the not-too-common verb to brass-neck plus a metonymous sense at brass neck. I'm not sure that the verb is ever used without "it". And I suppose it needs the informal tag, though it shows up in newspapers a lot. DCDuring TALK 18:02, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
"Brass nerve" seems iffier as an idiom. It seems like "brass balls" or even "black darkness". DCDuring TALK 18:18, 27 June 2009 (UTC)


Adjective: foremost. This doesn't seem to meet any of the tests that I have been using to determine whether a word that is principally a noun also merits an adjective PoS. There is no disputing that it is used attributively ("the lead dog in the team"). But it seems not to be gradable or comparable and doesn't seem likely to be a predicate as an adjective (although I find it difficult to discriminate between "lead (noun)"-as-predicate and "lead (adjective)-as-predicate).

  1. Is my assessment of it failing to meet the adjective criteria mentioned correct?
  2. By what criteria (besides attributive use would one say this is an adjective?
  3. Is there any other good reason to keep this? DCDuring TALK 15:00, 28 June 2009 (UTC)
The only times when I have seen this word used as an adjective is as a colloquialism (is that the right word?) for leading - e.g. (to quote your example) "the lead (when it should be leading) dog in the team". Just my 2 cents . . . Logomaniac 18:28, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
That's "attributive use of a noun" (ie, as an adjective in that grammatical relation to the noun it modifies (in your example "team"). Consider "project team", "baseball team", "dog team", all cases of a noun modifying another noun. Almost any English noun, even a proper noun, has been and will be used this way. (Other language to describe the phenomenon is possible.) DCDuring TALK 18:59, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Hmmm...I'm not sure that covers this case adequately. Does lead when it is used attributively / adjectivally mean "in the front" or "actively guiding"? In every instance I can think of, it means "in the front", which suggests it has a specific and limited "attributive" sense, and we typically grant such words a separate adjective section. --EncycloPetey 19:10, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

in order to

This entry claims to be for an adverb. Is that the best way to look at it? DCDuring TALK 01:41, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

I think in order is a better entry to have ("he did it in order for them to survive"). I read the to only as the infinitive-particle of a following verb. Equinox 14:34, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that's how to parse it, but our users don't seem to parse much. in order to and in order that get coverage in some other dictionaries. "In order that" is sometimes presented as a conjunction. "In order to" is shown under "order" as an idiom without any part of speech. Our preferred mode of presentation if it is a separate entry usually would favor a true part of speech. Adverb is the most common residual catch-all. An alternative catch-all that works for multi-word entries is "Idiom". In this case, the peculiarities of this term might make it worth keeping and presenting under the PoS of "Idiom" because "Adverb" might be misleading.
Users might well type "in order to" in the search box. Are they better off finding "in order" at the top of a list and then trying to locate and interpret the right sense (of 5) or going directly to "in order to"? I suspect the latter.
Whichever of in order to, in order for, and in order that are entries should have wikilinks at in order (and vice versa), even if just to facilitate discussion. DCDuring TALK 16:57, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Also, I don't think that the sense of in order that applies to in order to can be properly worded as an adjective, certainly not naturally. But I'd like to be wrong about that. DCDuring TALK 17:12, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
How about redirects, then? Equinox 17:08, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Not my favorite choice, litotically speaking. DCDuring TALK 17:17, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Once more defective search favors a redirect that should not be required. DCDuring TALK 01:33, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm putting this at WT:RFD#in order to in order to replace it with a redirect to in order#Adverb. Thanks, Equinox. DCDuring TALK 01:38, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

be worth

It seems to me that be worth is a verb, worth is supposedly an adjective but a defective one, as it always needs another qualifier with it to mean something. I haven't yet found a dictionary that recognizes be worth as a verb, but we're supposed to be leaders, not followers, right? Mglovesfun (talk) 17:02, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

We had a related discussion about "worth having", which, as I recollect, concluded that it was sui generis. If this would lead to an adequate handling of that expression, I'd be grateful, FWIW. DCDuring TALK 17:12, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't know, I don't think so. Worth is definitely a weird adjective, both in that it requires a nominal complement, and in that it follows the noun it modifies, but there's certainly not always an overt be:
He stole diamonds worth millions of dollars.
He asked a high price, but at the time it seemed worth it.
I believe some linguists would consider there to be an implicit/underlying/ellipsed be in either or both of these ("diamonds that were worth", "seemed to be worth"), but even if so, that seems more a matter for grammar-books than for a dictionary.
(That said, this isn't without precedent: as you can see at [[be]], we do like to pretend sometimes that "be ____" is essential, even when it isn't.)
RuakhTALK 20:21, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Worth is an adjective due to its ability to be modified by very (e.g., it is very worth doing). There are four adjectives that take similar complements, two of which are also prepositions: worth, like, unlike, and 'due.--Brett 02:10, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Though many speakers do say "very much worth it", like they would with a participle or prepositional phrase, so I guess not everyone is happy with its adjectivity. (BTW, can you give a sentence with the sense of "due" that you have in mind? None of our senses at [[due]] seems to fit.) —RuakhTALK 02:25, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
And one can modify the prepositional phrases formed from "like" and "unlike" with "very". I think the same can be said of worth.
  • Three of the OneLook dictionaries (MWOnline, RHU, and Wordsmyth) call "worth" a preposition. (More don't.) It seems very like a preposition, one well worth having in this dictionary. It is more worth having than an entry for "be worth". It is more like a preposition than many of the phrasal prepositions we include. DCDuring TALK 03:40, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Worth is very exceptional, but it doesn't act like a preposition. While adjectives are related to predicands, prepositions are not.
  • Like cycling, there's no pounding involved. (preposition)
  • Their call is (very) like the red-wing's, but much louder and a little rusty. (adj)
Worth fails this predicand test:
  • *Worth only $30, there were no buyers.
Unlike prepositions, worth can occur as the complement of become
  • He was buying commercial square footage that would become worth much more if he leveled the homes and the project went ahead.
  • *The squirrel became up the tree.
Finally, unlike prepositions, worth does not allow fronting.
  • The contribution which a claimant is called upon to make is ordinarily the amount which his securities were worth at the date of bankruptcy.
  • *The contribution which a claimant is called upon to make is ordinarily the amount worth which his securities were at the date of bankruptcy.
I believe due is a preposition only in conjunction with to.
  • Due to popular demand, there will be extended model shoots.
All other uses I can think of are adjectives.--Brett 11:48, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
  1. Predicand test: agree.
  2. Complement of "become": so can "like" and "unlike" judging from COCA.
  3. Aren't there some instances of wh-fronting does allow. Is this criterion a statistical thing?
I think we need to make sure you get the credit due you for raising the level of discourse.
Is there a convenient crib sheet or set thereof with PoS criteria useful for simple amateur lexicographers? DCDuring TALK 14:46, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
I enjoyed this summary of views on the issue. This discussion should be kept at Talk:worth once it peters out here. A different way of looking at this is to ask what presentation makes it easiest for my (no one else seems to want any ownership) mythical "normal user". First, I doubt that a truly normal user would notice this kind of thing. It would seem to be a matter for some advanced language learners and careful writers. Perhaps, then, we can accomplish what we need to in usage notes, an appendix on "marginal prepositions", and even Talk:worth. DCDuring TALK 15:10, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Like and unlike exist both as prepositions and adjectives; as complements, such as after become, they would typically be adjectives. As adjuncts, they would be prepositions.
As far as a simple crib sheet goes, I don't know of one. The CGEL is certainly worth owning, but even if you don't, much of it is available through Amazon.com's look-inside feature.--Brett 18:34, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't think it would make sense to remove worth#Adjective no matter what is done with regard to worth#Preposition. PoS is a little less hard-edged than I had formerly thought it was. The very idea! Adjective-preposition gradient! Marginal preposition! But PoS does provide a set of finding aids and hooks for users to get a useful initial grasp of something.
Do you think we can give any of our users any help or insight by adding a preposition PoS for [[worth]? We have so many options to use in combination: context tags, usage notes, talk, category, WP link, appendix. DCDuring TALK 19:21, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

"red blocks" - random entry feature

I like the thing next to the language header in some (but not all?) entries that looks like a pair of red blocks and when clicked on does the same sort of thing as the "Random Entry" on the left-hand side of the window (navigation). Where did that come from, is it recent, or have I just not noticed it? (And gracias to whomever put it in! :) Logomaniac 19:01, 29 June 2009 (UTC) whoopsy, never mind, I just found it as a setting in wiktionary's preferences, which I had recently turned on.  : ) *embarrassed grin* Logomaniac 22:11, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

collective sense of Nationalities

Should we treat "the whole people of a country" as a separate, proper noun sense that is distinct from the plural of the common noun nationality (cf "two Chinese" vs. "the Chinese")? We list this sense in a few places, but only for entries where it is common in English to include "the" beforehand. This is generally with nationalities whose plural is the same as the singular (see Chinese and Maltese) and where we refer to the people as a whole by a different word (we use "the Irish" not "the Irishmen"). Should we add this sense only to these types of entries (its lacking at Japanese, Kyrgyz and Swiss for example) or to all plurals (Canadians and Germans) and just note the lack of the definite article? I would be quesy adding the collective sense to Germans because you can generally always use the plural of a common noun to refer to the collective ("toys are for children"). --Bequw¢τ 19:02, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

I would only do that for the "singular" forms that function that way, because it is unexpected. We don't need to do that for "plural" forms (like the Russians), because any plural noun can refer to all members of a class, including common nouns. --EncycloPetey 19:05, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure they're proper nouns; to take your example, "many Irish" is well attested. And it's not the only such; the same is true of "blacks", where *"a black" (or *"a blacks") and *"two blacks" are awkward at best, but "the blacks" and "many blacks" are just fine (given the right context, anyway). I don't know what the right term is. It's almost as though "Irish" and "blacks" and so on were uncountable pluralia tantum, with singulatives like "Irishman" and "black person" being used for individuals and small numbers. BTW, am I the only one who finds ?"a Chinese" and ?"two Chinese" to be unacceptable? I've heard them a number of times, but it always jumps out at me.RuakhTALK 20:11, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Oddly, to me, "a black" sounds wrong but "two blacks" somewhat okay. Same for "Chinese".​—msh210 20:25, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Jumping back to normal size — I feel silly carrying on a whole conversation in small — I find that they get more and more acceptable as the number goes up and up: "a million blacks/Chinese/whatever" sounds almost perfectly normal. Similarly for other collectives: "two cattle" sounds ridiculous to me (it's "two head [of cattle]"), but "a million cattle" sounds almost fine. I still slightly prefer "a million black/Chinese/whatever people", "a million head [of cattle]", and so on, but I don't think I'd even notice the other ones in normal conversation. I don't know why that should be; my understanding is that in languages with true singulatives, like Arabic and Russian, it's more like English "snow"–"snowflake" or "sand"–"grain [of sand]", where no matter how many grains of sand you're talking about, you can't jump over to *"a billion sand". Maybe it has to do with the fact that "Irish" etc. are treated as plural, whereas "snow" etc. are treated as uncountable-singular? —RuakhTALK 20:56, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Since you can say "many Irish", that indicates they're not uncountable nouns. Since you use plural verbs with "Irish" even in American English, I think that indicates they're not w:Collective nouns. So are they pluralia-tantum count nouns instead of proper nouns? (is that what you meant Ruakh?) Does anyone have the CGEL? --Bequw¢τ 01:01, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Re: "Since you can say 'many Irish', that indicates they're not uncountable nouns.": I'm not sure. Usually "uncountable" implies "grammatically singular", at least in English; but I think all English pluralia tantum take "many" rather than "much" (even things like "suds", I think, where *"one sud" is not only ungrammatical, but also IMHO uninterpretable; though "much suds" does get some Google-hits, so apparently some speakers disagree with me). The distinction between countable and uncountable pluralia tantum, if it exists at all, doesn't seem nearly so rigid as with singulars, but personally I think I'd put "Irish" more on the "uncountable" side, as it goes.
Re: "they're not w:Collective nouns": Right, I agree. (To clarify, by "collectives" I was alluding not to "collective noun", but rather to "collective number". I don't think English has true collectives and singulatives, but I don't know the right terms, so I was grasping a bit. As you say, the CGEL would be helpful here.)
RuakhTALK 01:26, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

According to the CGEL, Irish is always an adjective, and never a noun. Nationalities are discussed from p. 1694 of the CGEL. On p. 1696, Irish is categorized as "class 2", and as such it has the name of the country (a noun) Ireland, the adjective Irish, and the inhabitant noun Irishman. The examples discussed above, the Irish and many Irish, would be analyzed under the CGEL system as follows: They are both noun phrases (NPs) the adjective Irish is functioning as a fused-head (fusion of internal modifier and head) in both NPs, which have no actual nouns in them. Fused heads are discussed from p. 410. A relevant example is given on p. 417: "[The French] do these differently from [the Dutch]".--Brett 01:47, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks! —RuakhTALK 15:30, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
I guess I'll change the entries and add usage notes. I'll have to work up some info on fused-heads though. --Bequw¢τ 01:20, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Punctuational variance

Can anyone explain the discrimination at coup d’état vs coup d'état? Note also the variance within d'. - Amgine/talk 21:44, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

You mean the different apostrophes? --EncycloPetey 23:57, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
On the grounds you can only do it one way. coup d’état serves as a redirection because the French Wiktionary (annoyingly enough) insists on typographical apostrophes, and is AFAIK the only Wiktionary to do so. So fr:coup d'état serves as a redirect there. Mglovesfun (talk) 07:14, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Let me contest the claim of annoyance - the typographical apostrophe is the traditional, prævalent in printed editions and thence the academical one and if Wiktionnaire has adopted an admirable policy on præserving the mainstream orthography from the simplicative and egalitarian encroachment of mundialised/digitalised media then I can only applaud them. Besides, digitalisation does not have to be pericious for traditional orthography, it has after all accepted and ſ in its standard and provided support for that, which I appreciate. Thus, both entries appear to be indispensable, especially coup d’état. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 16:22, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it's better (when printing) but, please, don't compare and ſ... Lmaltier 17:13, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
I don’t think he was, rather he was just saying that “digitalisation does not have to be per[n]icious for traditional orthography”, since Unicode supports both and ſ now (it must be said, however, that basic ASCII (and the typewriter before it) gave “traditional orthography” quite a kicking). Typographical apostrophes are more professional and are the ideal for various largely æsthetic (but also a couple of functional) reasons, whereas ASCII apostrophes win when it comes to accessibility (in terms of character support (which is an ever-lessening big deal), enter-ability, and (most importantly) search efficiency). They’re the entire cases for both the positions, in a nutshell, AFAIK.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 01:03, 4 July 2009 (UTC)


What does it stand for "MWAA" in the SMS slang, please?—This comment was unsigned.

I don't know, but I've seen "mwa" as representing a kiss.​—msh210 17:11, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

have in mind

have something in mind

We are not alone in having have in mind as an idiom, though it does not rate any coverage whatsoever in MWOnline. In reviewing the entry, I wondered about "have (something) in mind". We have many entries of the form "[Verb] [something/someone/one] [X]" that sometimes pair with entries of the form "[Verb] [X]". Is it worth having the "[something/someone/one]" (or "[something/someone/one|'s]) entries at all if we have the form without the placeholder. The placeholder mostly renders search useless for even finding the entry.

I have two questions:

  1. Is it worth having have something in mind as a separate entry?
  2. Would it be worth considering consolidating (or converting) "[Verb] placeholder X" entries into "[Verb] X" entries where possible. DCDuring TALK 15:05, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
My opinion:
  • it's a case for a redirect (have something in mind to have in mind): it's the same phrase, and it seems clear that have something in mind does not exist in another language with a different meaning.
  • yes, it's worth doing what you propose where possible, and the redirect should be kept.
Lmaltier 17:08, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
I found the need to insert 6 additional usage examples to illustrate the usage possibilities. Am I just getting to focused on grammar for a dictionary? DCDuring TALK 17:49, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
I just want to note that although the conjugated formula is "put one off", the entry is at put off, so I say no. But there should be example making this element clear, because the placement of "additional" elements in phrasal verbs is rather irregular in English. Circeus 22:35, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
"put off" requires an object but the object can appear either before or after "off" (unless it's a pronoun). "put (one) off" and "put (something) off" could be distinct entries. I'm not sure there is any useful overlap in meaning between the animate (usually person [=one]) and the non-person terms.
It is difficult to put in enough usage examples to illustrate all the restrictions on the positions of the object required for low-ambiguity idiomatic placement of the object of "put off". I fear that inserting all of them would put many users off using Wiktionary for quick answers. I suppose we should we limit the usage examples only to those that demonstrate "deeper" grammar if we would otherwise have too long a set of usage examples. DCDuring TALK 17:00, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

in mind

"In mind" is a component of four common idiomatic verb phrases that we have as entries: have in mind, bear in mind, keep in mind, and put in mind of. It also shows up much less commonly in similar phrases (probably attestable) that are semantically similar. Each of these could have an entry of the "[Verb] [placeholder] in mind" type. No OneLook dictionary covers "in mind" except in usage examples. Is "in mind" itself an idiom? DCDuring TALK 15:05, 30 June 2009 (UTC)