Wiktionary:Tea room/2009/October

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October 2009


Why is this a Translingual Abbreviation of Assamese but a Translingual Symbol of attosecond? DCDuring TALK 00:23, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

Seems backwards if anything. But I think ===Symbol=== would do fine for both. Many ISO 639 codes bear no relation to the English name of the language (e.g. {{de}}, {{hy}}), so "abbreviation" makes no sense as a general label. -- Visviva 05:33, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

~wren:ve-'dnt we ad'em /bot pl?[so repetitiv+lots stilmissin..

like in carolina wren's ve - couldn't we add them by bot please? (So repetitive and lots are still missing)
  • here "#"-sign in header - what meaning/function pl?
L☺g☺maniac chat? 14:50, 1 October 2009 (UTC) hier=nl,typo-sory--史凡>voice-MSN/skypeme!RSI>typin=hard! 15:21, 1 October 2009 (UTC)


canit mean sth~sily psn or astronomer pl?--史凡>voice-MSN/skypeme!RSI>typin=hard! 06:08, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

Can it mean something like a silly person or an astronomer please?
L☺g☺maniac chat? 14:53, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

French horn

If that's the "American name", what's the non-American name? Tooironic 08:03, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

  • In the orchestral music world, it's just called a horn. SemperBlotto 08:12, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

back vowel word or back-vowel word

What is the correct spelling of back vowel when used as an adjective? Is it with or without a dash? For example:

  • rounded back-vowel noun
  • unrounded front-vowel verb
  • back-vowel words

Thansk. --Panda10 13:44, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Many writers follow a custom of hyphenating compound nouns when used attributively (what you mean by "as an adjective", though linguists use the term "adjective" more narrowly); however, many writers, especially academic writers, do not. (I imagine this has to do with the high frequency of attributive compound nouns in academic writing; there'd be just so many hyphens if they used them that way.) Of the first ten Google hits for "back vowel word", exactly five use hyphens, and exactly five use spaces. When we turn to Google Scholar, however, spaces win out by a fair margin. —RuakhTALK 14:42, 4 October 2009 (UTC)
Oh, but I should say that your first example looks awkward to me, since "rounded" modifies "vowel", whereas your hyphenation makes it look like it modifies "noun". (And, similarly with your second example. The third looks fine to me, though.) —RuakhTALK 14:49, 4 October 2009 (UTC)
Thank you. This is very helpful. It seems that it's better to use spaces instead of dashes in all the above examples. --Panda10 14:58, 4 October 2009 (UTC)


  • 1951, Katherine Mansfield, Letters to John Middleton Murry, 1913-1922,

For one thing I had a splendid supper when I got on board—a whack of cold, lean beef and pighells, bread, butter ad lib., tea, and plenty of good bread.--史凡>voice-MSN/skypeme!RSI>typin=hard! 18:08, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

  • I entered this quote, and checked it at the time by locating the book in a library. I expect it does mean pickles. Perhaps dialectal or an error. Maybe even an in-joke, considering it is from a letter. Pingku 17:02, 6 November 2009 (UTC)


Can someone please add the Australian slang definition of gold meaning "awesome", e.g. "You met the love of your life at a milk bar? That's gold, mate." Tooironic 19:33, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Is that the same as in e.g. "comedy gold"? That would be (a broadening of?) the existing noun sense of "anything or anyone considered to be very valuable". Equinox 13:46, 10 October 2009 (UTC)
Or perhaps a new noun sense along the lines of "anything or anyone considered to be worthy of a gold medal". (Which might include "comedy gold".) In other words, maybe synonymous with "a winner"... Pingku 19:06, 25 November 2009 (UTC)


There are thousands of Google hits for this term. Is it possible that every single one of them actually means interscapular? SemperBlotto 19:34, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Hmm, probably not. In technical discourse there is usually a big difference between inter- and intra- forms. Indeed, usually they set up some kind of dichotomy; to take a simple example, internet vs intranet. Another example, in the Translation Studies field, is "interlingual translation" and "intralingual translation". The former describes translation from one language to another (translation proper); the latter, monolingual translation from one text type to another (e.g. "translating" an English technical paper on microsurgery into simple English for a conference). Though I'm no expert in medicine, my guess is that interscapular and intrascapular are of a similar difference. By the way, I just realised then in my edit preview that wiktionary has no entry for intralingual. I guess I better go rectify that. Tooironic 07:54, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

seems~it,sb-few:IBAT;a.intracapsular femur# mispelin.--史凡>voice-MSN/skypeme!RSI>typin=hard! 03:07, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

vampire, sense 2

Currently it's: "A person with the medical condition Systemic lupus erythematosus, colloquially known as vampirism, with effects such as photosensitivity, a desire for blood, and increased night vision."
This implies that people with SLE want to drink blood. I'm certainly no medical expert but that sounds pretty way-out. Having read the Pedia article on it, I think the "a desire for blood" clause would be better replaced with "brownish-red stained teeth" (see this section of the Pedia article ).
Any objections? Of course, if we have evidence that SLE sufferers really have a "desire for blood", I'm happy to leave it as is.--Tyranny Sue 16:53, 5 October 2009 (UTC)


I'm having trouble translating this Spanish law term- something related to an incidental or procedural question. I'm also unsure of the translation of vista as it relates to law. Nadando 23:20, 6 October 2009 (UTC)


Mississippi#Idiom refers to the use of the word to approximate a second of duration. For example, in the US it is used to count seconds before a defensive player can pursue the quarterback in touch football. The defensive player recites out loud "One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi." What PoS header should this get? Someone not directly familiar with this would be most helpful, probably. DCDuring TALK 15:54, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Proper noun IMO. It's the word, qua word, that's being used, with no particular meaning intended. So the word is a proper noun, and means whatever it means, and a usage note can indicate an additional use for its being said: to count time. But that's not a meaning of the word, so no definition line.​—msh210 16:15, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. Obvious, now that you state it so. It warrants a usage note, I guess. DCDuring TALK 16:51, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't have the time at the moment, but someone should fix [[one thousand]] too.—msh210℠ on a public computer 01:24, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't know if I can quite go along with this. Suppose instead of Mississippi this were something like "Moosasoopy", with no other meaning. We wouldn't deny Moosasoopy an entry, surely, or leave the definition line blank. Further, if a word is frequently used to mean nothing, as it essentially is in this case, providing only the non-null definitions is less than helpful. Certainly Mississippi is not being used to refer to either the river or the state in this case; thus, our definitions as given are not complete. Sure, someone using Wiktionary.org can just scroll down to get the information -- assuming they realize they need to -- but someone using a more utilitarian interface like Google Definitions or a DICT server would have no such luxury. (Google Defs seems to be blocking all entries with a Proper noun header at present, but we'll bracket that issue for now.) As for POS, I'm not quite sure, but ===Interjection=== seems reasonable. -- Visviva 03:47, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
It seems to me that {{non-gloss definition|Used in a common [[chronometric]] counting scheme, in which each iteration is sequentially numbered and supposed to be approximately one [[second]] in length.}} would be appropriate in this case. I don't see this as a proper noun. Interjection is better, but interjections don't usually take numbers as modifiers. Really, I think it belongs back under Idiom where it was as it certainly is "a locution peculiar of a particular language, that cannot be understood by way of a literal translation." — Carolina wren discussió 04:41, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Better to keep it in a usage note as it is now - I've heard "hippopotamus" used this way as well (according to Google Books, it would meet the CFI), and if there are others used this way even infrequently, do we really want to cast them as something other than uses of, as DCDuring suggests, "the word, qua word". Visviva's objection is mooted by the point that "Mississippi", as others, appears to have been chosen by dint of its present existence as a real word. bd2412 T 04:56, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Not all such words used for counting purposes are "real" words with other senses. For example out of eeny. meeny, miny, and moe, only one has an English sense as of now. — Carolina wren discussió 05:15, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
  • But eeny. meeny, miny, and moe are used to indicate number, irrespective of the time dedicated to counting. Words like Mississippi and hippopotamus are selected to represent units of time precisely because (with the addition of the number itself) they take about a second to say. bd2412 T 04:06, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
"Chimpanzee" is used this way too (that's the one I grew up with); see [1]. —Angr 19:54, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
Also elephant, it appears. -- Visviva 02:12, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Around here it was one little elephant, two little elephants... Equinox 03:37, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
But why would the origin of the sense matter? As a rule, we exclude/include senses based on usage, not etymology. Excluding this as a sense would only really make sense if it were a universal property of X-syllable words, but it is not. The specific word used certainly varies from one speech community to another, but within a speech community the word(s) used is/are strongly fixed; you can't just swap in any 4-syllable word. -- Visviva 02:12, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
  • I don't quite understand how this can refer to the word Mississippi. This isn't like hello#Noun; if I count "one Mississippi, two Mississippi", this is simply a marker of time, not shorthand for "one saying of the word Mississippi, two sayings of the word Mississippi". Which is to say, AFAICS it doesn't refer to the word itself, but to nothing at all -- which seems noteworthy enough, and analogous to metasyntactic variables like foo. -- Visviva 02:12, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

It's a functional word. Not sure if it should be classed as an interjection or not. This certainly deserves a definition line, because a usage note doesn't represent a sense of a word. Michael Z. 2009-10-14 02:52 z

Oops, I added an interjection heading and then found that one was recently removed. If OED can define hey, in part, as “A call to attract attention [...] sometimes used in the burden of a song with no definite meaning,” then we can define Mississippi as a call or chant to keep time. Michael Z. 2009-10-14 03:09 z
It's not functioning grammatically like an interjection. It doesn't appear at the start of a sentence, set off by punctuation (for example). It behaves more like a noun for a unit of measure. Consider b.g.c. quotes like:
  • If, for instance, you can count to "five Mississippi," []
  • A medium-high fire is a four to five Mississippi fire.
  • Check how close the lightning is with the old trick of counting the seconds between the flash and the thunderclap. A count up to "five-Mississippi" means the last flash was about 1 mile distant.
The first uses Mississippi in the considered sense as the object of a preposition. The second quote uses it in the same way one might say "a four to five inch object". The final example hyphenates it with a numeral. All in all, this looks like a noun. --EncycloPetey 03:29, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
OED, s.v. “hey int. (n.):” 1. a. A call to attract attention... 1. c. as n. A cry of ‘hey!’. You use the word as an interjection (“hey!” or “one Mississippi!”); a use of it is represented by the noun (a hey, or a Mississippi).
When you use the word to count, you are just keeping time with a meaningless interjection. A use of the interjection is the derived noun, a Mississippi, which could be treated as a unit of time. (I think examples 1 and 3 may be quoting someone who counts as an example, rather than using the name of a unit, and 2 is using such a quotation attributively.) Michael Z. 2009-10-14 04:06 z
That's not use as an interjection, any more than "one one thousand, two one thousand" or any other count. It's still a noun. Interjections usually express emotion or convey greetings and goodbyes. Please provide an example sentence where Mississippi is used as an interjection, as in "Mississippi! It's hot outside." I don't believe such a usage exists. --EncycloPetey 04:14, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
In counting, it's the length of pronouncing the word which is significant, not its meaning. Five Mississippis may take about five seconds to count, but if you tried to count “one second, two second, three second” in football, the play would be halted for cheating. Also note that the interjection is simply recited in the singular: the chant is “five Mississippi”, not a count of “five Mississippis.” We also used to recite “one, one thousand, two, one thousand, three, one thousand” in games—a simple chant, not a count of units. Michael Z. 2009-10-14 04:25 z
It's not an exclamation—must an interjection be emotive? Perhaps that's not the right POS, but in counting, “Mississippi” is not a unit and not a noun. Michael Z. 2009-10-14 04:29 z
You've demonstrated oddities of the noun, not use as an interjection. The fact that a word is unusual as a noun does not make it an interjection. Chants are not automatically interjections. The "chant" One potato, two potato is a sentence fragment (not an interjection), which is demonstrated by the fact that it's functionally equivalent to any number of other chants that exist as proper sentences. --EncycloPetey 04:33, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
For comparison, OED defines nonny (int.) as “Used in songs as (part of) a refrain.” A pure function word, “interjected between sentences, clauses, or words, mostly without grammatical connexion” (from OED's note s.v. “interjection,” which itself is given no POS). Maybe it's a judgment call, but I think Mississippi certainly can be interpreted as an interjection. Michael Z. 2009-10-14 04:38 z
I'm aware of nonny, and I could see it as either an interjection or particle (a particle as we use it here is mostly a word with no grammatical function). However, Mississippi does not work like nonny does. It isn't interjected between sentences or clauses without function. The sense of mississippi we're discussing would not turn up in a situation like: "Belle who holds my heart, Mississippi, Mississippi, grant me another glance." Rather Mississippi is uses strictly with numerals as a count, which carries a strict and specific function. --EncycloPetey 04:45, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Looks to me like they are all used to keep time in exactly the same way, in their proper context: one Mississippi, one potato, hey nonny nonny, boom chucka-lucka, hey ho (let's go), sha na na. Michael Z. 2009-10-14 13:07 z
How about an appendix, then? Appendix:Words used as placeholders to count seconds? bd2412 T 15:30, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
That should be adequate. A link in See also should be almost as accessible as a PoS, since the users couldn't guess a PoS any better than us. We could even do {{only in}} for any "Moosasoopies" we may find. DCDuring TALK 18:08, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I've started the appendix - not sure how best to arrange it. Any other words that should go in would be appreciated! bd2412 T 22:27, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I fixed the spelling for you :) L☺g☺maniac chat? 22:34, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks - I've added citations, but can't find any for battleship or little elephant. bd2412 T 23:47, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I've cited battleship. —Rod (A. Smith) 03:36, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Nicely done. Thanks! bd2412 T 17:25, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
My, what a lovely Appendix. Such a pearl. DCDuring TALK 19:35, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Now all we need to do is polish it some more and it'll be ready for the display case. :) L☺g☺maniac chat? 19:42, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

How does this affect the presentation in pages like Mississippi? Personally, I think it's absurd for more than half of that page to be dedicated to this interjection sense. Also, on a side note, we really need some means of indexing appendices. bd2412 T 20:13, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

I'd favor just including the Appendix in See also for this and all terms that meet CFI for other uses. For terms that do not meet CFI for other uses, {{only in}} directing users to the appendix seems perfect. DCDuring TALK 20:31, 15 October 2009 (UTC)


Entry was added by an IP. A quick check indicated that it probably is indeed a word, but I was unable to ascertain if it were Scottish English, or if it were Scots. — Carolina wren discussió 03:38, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

FWIW it was on the British TV Show QI as a rhyme for hurple in English. I seem to think it was in the Oxford, so as far as I know it does exist. Mglovesfun (talk) 07:48, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
  • (I think MG meant purple above) – in Scots and English this word is spelled hirple. I can't find any use of the -u- spelling, although the OED has it as an alternative (regional) spelling of hurkle, which has a related but not identical meaning. Ƿidsiþ 05:52, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

look down on someone

I was trying to start this article, but I feel unsure about the title. Should it be look down, look down on or look down on someone? I'm talking about to condescend. Mglovesfun (talk) 07:47, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

Since one could look down at or look down upon with the same meaning, I'd favor look down myself. — Carolina wren discussió 13:39, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
And cf. look-down, shoot-down which is partly derived from this sense of "look down on". look down would seem like a good entry. Robert Ullmann 17:43, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, quickly, create this entry. I can't believe it doesn't exist yet. In Chinese there are about a hundred ways to say it. Tooironic 04:31, 10 October 2009 (UTC)
I'd favor look down on, because the "on" does not function as a preposition. This looks like a complex phrasal verb to me. However, we can start the entry at either location and move it afterwards, if necessary. --EncycloPetey 04:36, 10 October 2009 (UTC)
I've made a start. Feel free to improve and/or move. SemperBlotto 11:16, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

nonce second etymology

I'd always understood the crypto use of nonce to be directly from the lexicographic technical use and the common meaning, e.g. the first etymology.

The second seems like a typical invention, by someone who doesn't know whence a word came; it has one single source here page 3. It also appears in the 'pedia, probably inserted by the same editor.

I think we have only one etymology here? Robert Ullmann 12:33, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

The second seems more of mnemonic than an etymology. Perhaps it could be so honored in a usage example or citation. DCDuring TALK 11:42, 10 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, the claimed etymology has been circulating since about 1999. [2]. But the use in cryptography/security goes back to at least the early 80s: [3]. It seems like what Ciardi would call a "ghost etymology". We should probably mention that it's wrong (assuming it is wrong), lest it be reinserted. These things tend to be awfully persistent, once they get a foothold. -- Visviva 03:01, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Interestingly, the OED gave this word a thorough update recently (in June), and they still don't have the crypto sense. They also note that the sexual deviant sense is "origin unknown", so that makes at least 2 etymologies. For the crypto use, I agree that it seems to show a sense-development from the lexicography uses, but maybe we should put it under "origin unknown" as well until we have a better collection of early citations. Ƿidsiþ 15:36, 13 October 2009 (UTC)


Someone had a added a non-ELE header "False friends" after translations. Would this make sense as an additional trans table under the Translation header? Should it be on the talk page? Is there another way to make use of this kind of material? Should there be any guidance about what constitutes an includable false friend? DCDuring TALK 23:02, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

I'm sorry I don't feel qualified enough to answer those questions, but can I just say what a great idea for a section to improve the quality of translation tables! I've heard false friends can be quite a problem for speakers of European languages. Tooironic 00:28, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
To reduce the risk of confusion, I would prefer that this be under ===See also===, but otherwise seems like a good thing to have. -- Visviva 03:04, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't really see what purpose this section serves, in that I can't imagine a use case for it. Who are we expecting to notice and be helped by it? (That's not a rhetorical question, unless no one has an answer, in which case I guess it is one.) It seems like a usage note would be more useful — something along the lines of, "Note that the meaning of library is not the same as that of its cognates in Romance languages (such as French librairie and Italian libreria)." (Of course, neither approach really solves the main problem, which is language-learners failing to look up a word because they mistakenly assume they already understand it. But that's not a problem we can solve …) —RuakhTALK 04:11, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
This is a good point. It's not that there aren't people who need this information, but there is no particular reason to assume they would find their way to library in the first place. The Appendix:Glossary of false friends approach may be more constructive. Still, I think there is a case to be made for having this information in the entry -- if it is absent, then there is a strong likelihood that some well-intentioned person will come along and add (or re-add) such "translations", possibly while nobody is paying attention. The "cognate ergo translation" syndrome is maddeningly widespread. -- Visviva 07:00, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
Would it make sense to have a link in "See also" to the False Friends Appendix? The info seems OT in Usage notes. The placement of See also after translations seems appropriate amd the label not too misleading. DCDuring TALK 11:13, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

What is un potager?

Un potager - how is it called in English?

What is the name of this thing in English? I have never had one in my kitchen! Some kind of stone stove? Maybe I will ask my French grandmother - she might have had one. Rising Sun 14:10, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

I think it's a "warming oven" (a traditional stone one). Equinox 14:27, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
Possibly. I've been looking on Google Images for these, but it hasn't helped much. However, I found that potager can be an English noun - a type of vegetable garden or kitchen garden. Also parterre is a new English word for me. Rising Sun 14:36, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
Potager in French is not an oven or anything of the sort. I am french, and to my knowledge it is only a vegetable garden: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitchen_garden
Yes, the usual sense is vegetable garden. This sense is new to me, but it's real (stone oven for vegetables). A reference: http://www.tempsdevivre.org/perigord/index.htm Lmaltier 10:53, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
It's in ATILF (marked as {{dated}} but looks more {{historical}} to me): "a kitchen oven made of stone or bricks, separate from the chimney and heated with live embers, for the preparation of simmered or stewed dishes." Most likely it doesn't have a specific English term. Circeus 22:05, 24 October 2009 (UTC)


Are you happy with these grammar definitions? They're appearing in my Polish book. --Volants 15:09, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

They look fine to me; good job.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 16:35, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

not the word

"Pretty is not the word." That is, it's an understatement. Should we have this at [[not the word]]? At [[is not the word]]? (At the verb lemma form, [[not be the word]] or [[be not the word]]??)​—msh210 16:47, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Though that is one way the expression is used, I have heard and read it in a more generic usage. In discourse, "X is not the word" is intended to make "X" an explicit topic of conversation. One-upping the speaker who used the word is one possibility, but also calling the speaker for exaggeration, or selecting a more precise word, or changing the valence, or shifting the focus altogether are also possible. There are many expressions that could perform that discourse function. A search on "[be] * the word" at COCA shows some of the range of use of this expression. DCDuring TALK 17:42, 13 October 2009 (UTC)


Appendix:Glossary has for "proscribed": "Some educators or other authorities recommend against the listed usage." {{proscribed}} puts the entry in Category:Disputed usage. Our use of the proscribed tag seems much more censorious than similar wording in the more authoritative usage works of the past century. In reviewing a few of these, it seems as if the proscription by authoritative current sources I've looked at (Fowler 2,3), Follett/Barzun, Garner 2009, MWDEU) is usually against use in a relatively formal setting. I don't see why we wouldn't incorporate that into our definition of proscribed and our application of the template.

I am also impressed by the categorization used by Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd ed. 2009. Garner Inc., borrowing from a four-stage categorization by Heller and Macris (1967), posits 5 stages of acceptance of novel usage:

  1. Rejected: emergence
  2. Widely shunned: spreading, but unacceptable in standard usage
  3. Widespread but...: commonplace, but avoided in careful usage
  4. Ubiquitous but...: virtually universal, but opposed by the fastidious
  5. Accepted: universally accepted, except by eccentrics.

We have not yet done the research that would warrant a similar approach, but it is provides an interesting model for our efforts in the usage area. DCDuring TALK 17:03, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

I think the biggest problem with {{proscribed}} is not that it tries to cover the whole range from "rejected" to "ubiquitous but...", but rather that the wording (or lack thereof) doesn't make it sound like "there are people who proscribe this term", but rather like "this term is proscribed, period." It makes it sound like we're proscribing it. (Imagine if w:Smoking included this statement: "Smoking is forbidden." Technically that's true, in that there exist organizations that forbid it, but only a crazy person would understand it. Even a very minor change, such as "Smoking is often forbidden", changes the statement from "technically true" to "true". Maybe not "very useful", but "true" is a huge improvement.) BTW, note that proscription is not necessarily, or even usually, tied to novelty of usage; for example, singular they, though inherited from Middle English, is a very frequent target of prescriptivist attack. (Admittedly, in modern usage it's found in many contexts where Middle English didn't allow it; but it's also attacked in many contexts where Middle English did.) —RuakhTALK 18:16, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
Though I like what I've read so far from Garner's book, many things therein seem simplistic. Even if one accepted a linear sequence from innovation to acceptance as being the most common for the words he covers, there are the missing stages that take a word from acceptance to ossification as an idiom, alteration, or decline (archaicism and obsolescence).
Garner's original target market of attorneys (still the core of his business) is not too bad a population for serious, non-academic writing. His operation has done some fairly good research and the conclusions I've read don't seem bad if one principally applies them to fairly formal writing. In any event such levels are beyond us at the moment.
I'd also be happier with some word other than "proscribed". But I'm not sure that any context tag alone is desirable. The category name "Disputed usage" is better. But I wonder if we should aim to have a context tag that says "See usage note( N)" for mature entries and gradually replace the proscribed tag, keeping it (under any new name we can agree on) only for entries that need a usage note that has not been written yet.
"Proscribed" in some cases is used to indicate that a popular usage of a word is not acceptable in a specialist community (See automatic as applied to a "properly" semi-automatic firearm.), in other cases to indicate offensiveness. I suspect that there are other uses that diverge from what we intend (given the other tags available).
"Nonstandard" doesn't seem much better, sometimes being used to indicate slang, sometimes with sometimes without the "slang" tag and in a variety of other ways. DCDuring TALK 22:37, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
Wherever possible, this should be replaced by colloquial, jocular, informal, slang, coarse slang or any label that explains why a term may be proscribed in certain contexts. Apart from alternate spellings or derivatives, when proscribed appears without a usage note it hard to tell why, by whom, or in what context a term is proscribed. This label is just not useful on its own. Michael Z. 2009-10-13 23:37 z
Couldn't agree with you more. I was thinking of bringing a few candidates to TR so we could get towards some kind of consensus on proscribed, its direct replacement, the tags above, appropriate content for usage notes, and anything else. Is there already a consensus that the above tags are all likely applicable and the only ones likely applicable? Is there a previous discussion that anyone recalls? In any event, I will start with what seem to me to be easy cases. Maybe it will be non-controversial. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. DCDuring TALK 01:08, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

to go

Thoughts on PoS for this idiom? In form particle + verb. But the purpose sense of to#preposition seems to influence this. Entry calls itself an adjective. Adverb too? DCDuring TALK 09:49, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

of an

Formerly claimed to be a preposition. Claims to be an idiom. It refers to older senses/functions of of: "of an evening", "of a time". It seems SoP, but hard to find at of. Is it worth an entry? Is it likely to be misleading. DCDuring TALK 16:22, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

Should be covered at [[of]] (and redirect thereto?) imo.​—msh210 16:28, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
It is just like the adverbial genitive "evenings" (don't know about "times"). I think we might need some usage examples/quotations at of, not that they help much when on a separate citations page. DCDuring TALK 17:02, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
I'd like to know which dialect(s) this is, because the entry doesn't make sense to me. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:17, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

to the

Formerly claimed to be a preposition. "mathematics": "two to the second power". It seems like a sense of to#preposition collocated with the.

Even worse than previous, IMO. Both are exemplars of non-grammatical units that have been offered as entries. I think such entries warrant harsh scrutiny, but we may need to have some of them. DCDuring TALK 17:06, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

Move to WT:RFD#to the if you ask me. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:13, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Should be covered at [[to]] and deleted imo.​—msh210 16:29, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Slight hesitation. Isn't it just a shortened form of to the power (of). Since it's not obvious that the word elided is power, that could make it specialized context right? I'm not saying it shouldn't be deleted, just that I think this argument would come up if we proposed it. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:14, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't think that we would want to keep every possible elision. We already have to the power of. I have added a second arithmetic sense to to#Preposition and provided three usage examples. I'm thinking a redirect to to the power of might be adequate and justifiable (though redirects don't seem to need much justification).
I often look for reasonable ways of avoiding full entries for terms that are not arguably grammatical constituents, as this is not. (But CGEL probably wouldn't evaluate "to the power of" as a preposition [or any other kind of constituent] either, which is our PoS header and category for it.) Elisions can create idiomatic headwords that are not constituents, I think. Some of them may merit inclusion, my prejudice against such headwords notwithstanding. DCDuring TALK 19:10, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Why was Maxxinista deleted?

My recent entry of Maxxinista, my new favorite word, was deleted last night and I want to understand why.

The definition is: Maxx-in-is-ta noun: a fashionista who gets it all for much, much less at T.J. Maxx.

Please help me understand! Thanks so much. —This unsigned comment was added at 15 October 2009.

See WT:LOP and Wiktionary:Sysop deleted. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:15, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Cogitamus ergo vincimus

Greetings everyone. Salve :P I'm trying to make a sentence in Latin which means "we win because we think" (it's for a competition) so will "Cogitamus ergo vincimus" be alright?

thanks in advance. —This comment was unsigned.

Looks OK to me. DCDuring TALK 16:05, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Great! Thanks. -- 11:13, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

open book

The 3rd sense seemed wrong to me. I added the 2nd for the most common use I am familiar with, but wonder whether the 1st, more general, sense isn't sufficient. DCDuring TALK 16:31, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Sense 1 seems sufficient for what is there. There is also "open book exam" and something called "open book management". Perhaps also "open book account". There might be an argument for "open book" (cf. open-book) as an adjective. Pingku 17:18, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
That is the way dictionaries that have this term define it, more or less. The management and accounting terms are arguably SoP and/or encyclopedic applications of sense 1. DCDuring TALK 19:18, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
For future readers' benefit, the third sense under discussion is "A person who is willing to respond to any kind of question regardless of topic".​—msh210 17:34, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
The second sense ("A person whose emotions are easy to read from body language, facial expression, tone of voice, and frank utterances") is a very common use of the first ("A person or thing that is easily interpreted") (my experience, unsubstantiated). Perhaps the first is enough with a good, clear usex/cite of what's now the second sense.​—msh210 17:37, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
That might work. DCDuring TALK 19:18, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Some citations added. Pingku 11:17, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Is the "person who shows their emotions" usage peculiar to US? Colloquial? I'm not at all familiar with it, and the citations I have included for the noun usage in general are US-centric. Many I found (including a UK one I almost used) were more careful about the metaphor, using constructs along the lines of "like an open book". Pingku 16:18, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Previous 1st and 2nd senses merged and def changed to suit. New 2nd sense ("person who answers questions candidly") has a citation, which seemed to fit better there. Pingku 18:01, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

Re the topology sense. Perhaps this should link to open book decomposition - see w:open book decomposition. Pingku 13:00, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Done - it seems more precise this way. Moved translations for that def. Pingku 18:03, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

Tweaked definitions 1 & 2. The now 1st level of "idiom" is a thing that is not a book, important aspects of which are easily interpreted. The 2nd level is a person, same, but introducing naivete as a cause, as well as emotions and intentions (which presuppose some thought or intelligence). Pingku 17:24, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

For reference, the new senses under discussion:
1: {{idiomatic}} Something of which salient aspects are obvious or easily interpreted.
2: {{idiomatic}} A person who through [[naivete]] responds candidly to questions or openly displays their emotions or intentions.

Any comments? Pingku 17:24, 24 October 2009 (UTC)


I don't quite get this as a conjunction. The examples seem just anaphoric. OTOH I am not sure that in all the examples, especially the first, you would call "not" an adverb. The dictionaries I have looked at always call it an adverb, which certainly seems its primary function. The noun and interjection senses seem fine and in line with other dictionaries. DCDuring TALK 01:11, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Not in the construction A, not B (also in not B but A) is surely a conjunction.
  • It can precede various classes:
    I bought apples, not oranges. (noun phrase)
    I bought them for my son, not for myself. (prepositional phrase)
    I bought them because he loves apples, not because he was hungry. (subordinate clause)
  • It becomes ungrammatical if A is omitted:
    *I bought not oranges. (wrong)
- TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 00:56, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the response. The anaphoric readings:
  • "I bought apples; (I did) not (buy) oranges."
    "I bought them for my son; (I did) not (buy them) for myself."
    "I bought them because he loves apples; (I did) not (buy them) because he was hungry."
  • Negation always requires an auxiliary verb:
    "I did not buy oranges."
In addition, one can insert an undisputed conjunction before "not": "I bought apples and not oranges." and "I bought apples but not oranges.". Are "and not" and "but not" phrasal conjunctions? I don't think other conjunctions can combine.
Also, one can transform the phrase into "I bought not oranges, but apples."
Finally, consider "I bought apples, not bananas, not cherries, damsons, elderberries, figs, not grapefruit." The negation function seems unrelated to any conjunction function. Conjunctions can be omitted, often with no change in meaning. Omission of not always changes the meaning. DCDuring TALK 01:54, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

People’s Republic of China

I noticed there is no entry for this when I was creating Cultural Revolution. Do we not do entries for full names of countries? Tooironic 07:18, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

I don't, but others disagree. China, PRC, yes. This one, and its ilk, no. But where else in WMF would we find translations of the name into some of the languages here? DCDuring TALK 11:50, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Hmm... well we have United Kingdom, Commonwealth of Australia and United States of America so why not People’s Republic of China? Definitions and translations of these terms (as distinct from the "informal" or "abbreviated" forms) would be extremely useful for users. It all sounds a bit fishy to me. Tooironic 01:02, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
I'd be in favor of nuking them all and letting WikiGazetteer handle all place names, official or unofficial, but there would still be some words connected with places that we would want.
What's fishy? The selection of countries we have is a product of the occasional burst of patriotism from some contributor favoring their own country or the desire to fill in some red link. There is a consensus favoring primary jurisdictions (mostly nations) and the next level down and their capitals and major cities. There is also a tendency to favor the names that people actually use rather than the formal names. I don't think very many people get as patriotic over official names as they do over vernacular names. Even the placards in front of UN representatives at the UN don't normally show full official names. DCDuring TALK 01:32, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
I agree with DCDuring that we would be better off without any of these. However, the case for PRC is much stronger than for "Commonwealth of Australia". There aren't two Australias, but there are two countries going by the name "China". Thus the term is fairly likely to occur in vernacular use as a synonym for mainland China, and not merely as the name of the government. -- Visviva 05:03, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, agreed, and it is under those criteria that I will be creating this new entry. Tooironic 07:11, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm strongly in favor of official names of countries. I actually added a few right before bumping into this discussion. Where else should one look for Dutch name of the Republic of South Africa? Permanently archived references should not be a problem either.--Hekaheka 10:50, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
At the highly desirable project WikiGazetteer, which could fully take advantage of the structure of such geographic terms and the special characteristics thereof. Such a gazetteer would not be hobbled by anything nearly as strict as WT:CFI and could have quite relaxed notability standards. DCDuring TALK 11:18, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

twenty to

An answer to "What time is it?" I think this has a few synonyms, most of which we don't have. The one's I am familiar with are twenty of, twenty before, twenty 'til, twenty til, twenty until. There would also be past and after. Assuming that we dispense with compound number words (Please!!!), there would be 5-7 entries for each of one-twelve, twenty, half, and quarter, for a total of 75 to 105 entries about which there is little useful to say. Should these be treated differently? Should they be in an Appendix? Should there be an entry-content generating template? DCDuring TALK 15:01, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

As an example of a problem with such boring entries, the 10 or so translations are of "twenty before two". Who wants to put them on their watchlist? DCDuring TALK 15:06, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

This seems completely and irredeemably useless to me. RFD? -- Visviva 09:28, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm trying to come up with a sensible treatment of time expressions. To me they would seem to merit an Appendix, with the half and quarter terms appearing in principal namespace. I am bothered by the poor access to Appendices, however. There are quite a number of these. DCDuring TALK 12:36, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
I'd say there should be a sense and example for this in the entry to (there may even be, I'm too lazy to check right now). The peculiarities of various languages would be handled in their respective entries, e.g. Finnish vaille. --Hekaheka 10:26, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
The sense was there. Began translation table with Finnish and German. --Hekaheka 10:38, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
Oh, yes, and rfd this one, if it cannot be deleted outright. --Hekaheka 10:40, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
Do you have any thoughts about an Appendix for each language on the words used to express time of day and probably other time concepts, especially those involving numbers (which make for highly repetitive, low-value entries)? I'm sure we could do a better job than anything WP is likely to have in terms of completeness of coverage of various vernacular expressions. DCDuring TALK 11:25, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
Appendices are nice, but on the other hand, they are a bit difficult to come by. I mean that one must know to look for them in order to benefit from them. Part of the problem may be that the process for looking for an appendix is different from that for looking for a word. Perhaps all these "twenty to" -type entries should be made REDIRECTs that bring the user to the Appendix page. In addition, every time-related entry that we decide to keep in the mainspace should have a clearly visible link to the Appendix. Perhaps the link could be a box similar to the Wikipedia box-link, only of diferent colour. Next problem is that time expressions are rather popular content and we must be prepared to manage the 300 or so languages that we have. A practical solution might be to divide the languages into several tables either in alphabetical order or e.g. by language group. --Hekaheka 14:47, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

see it coming

This is worthy of an entry, right, as in "Oh, that was such a lame joke, I could see it coming" ?? If so, is this the right form to put it under? (Honestly, I was surprised not to see this or any form of it here already!) L☺g☺maniac chat? 23:19, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

None of the OneLook dictionaries think so. The construction "V1 someone/something V2ing" is quite general and is rarely idiomatic. V1 could any of several perceiving verbs; V2 can be any activity or process that can be perceived. The sense above seems to me to be an example of the general construction. There might be an idiomatic sense involving the meaning "to be prepared to take advantage of someone" as in "That salesman saw him coming. He got him to buy last-year's HD-TV and the warranty package." DCDuring TALK 23:41, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
SoP, how grossly overused around here... But anyway, I see what you mean. But I really don't like dismissing widely known phrases just because a normal person should be able to guess their meaning from the individual words involved. One of these days I'm going to propose a community vote to significantly lower the effect that a term's SoPness would have as far as determining whether it deserves an entry or not. Just as soon as I can find enough like-minded people to support it ...... :) L☺g☺maniac chat? 00:14, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
MZajac had the idea that we should have the most common collocations of words included somewhere on the page for that word. That would not guarantee that "see it coming" would appear. Among combinations of the form "see it X", "coming" would be the twelfth most common X, based on COCA. Would/should we even have an entry for "see it"? If we were to have such an entry, it would be of the form see something coming, to which see it coming would be a redirect ideally, along with saw her coming, seen them coming, and sees you coming, etc DCDuring TALK 01:49, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Seems obviously idiomatic to me; just compare "see it coming" (= anticipate it) with "see you coming" (watch you approach). Agree it should be at see something coming. -- Visviva 04:57, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
The basic metaphor of time as a road with event preceding down that (one-way) road underlies the sense. It is the sense of come in words like "upcoming" and as in "Winter came early". Dictionary offer happen as a synonym, but that doesn't capture the way it is used fully. Events unfold over time - that's what enables us to predict. DCDuring TALK 11:57, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

indian giver

I can't seem to find any evidence for this lower-case form. Equinox 02:14, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

the fix is in

Is this an idiom in itself or does it just seem idiomatic because the senses of fix and in are slangy? Is it used outside the US? I have inserted a citation including this at fix, so deletion wouldn't leave a user with no place to go. DCDuring TALK 23:46, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

I am thirsty

The usage note for this seems wrong, but perhaps there is a hint of something useful in it. I am inclined to just delete it and will in a week or two unless it is improved. DCDuring TALK 13:25, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Yup, delete. --Hekaheka 14:23, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
If there's anything useful in here at all (of which I am unconvinced), I strongly suspect it belongs s.v. [[thirsty]].​—msh210 18:00, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
This is one of our Phrasebook entries, and should be kept. It is a standard phrase found in most phrasebooks and beginning language courses. We cut slack for such entries, although the usage note can probably be deleted. --EncycloPetey 01:38, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I believe that everyone was commenting on the usage notes (as I hoped), which no one has yet found value in. If a language teacher (or anyone) can find value, then it stays, perhaps in better form. Is there anyone specifically who has a good vision of the role of the phrasebook? DCDuring TALK 02:11, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
No, I didn't realize that the entry is in our phrasebook, and didn't think of putting it there, so I was all for deleting the whole as SoP. But you're right: it is and should be in the phrasebook. In that case, the usage notes belong in it also, as useful info for phrasebook users. (They can be duplicated at [[thirsty]], though, I think.)—msh210℠ on a public computer 17:27, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Part of my problem with the usage notes is that they seem wrong or, at least, focused on less common and less important aspects of usage. I favor usage notes, even mediocre ones. I don't think this rises to mediocrity. DCDuring TALK 20:12, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
They certainly seem wrong to me. "I am thirsty for water" gets 59 actual hits on b.g.c., while "I am thirsty for money" gets zero hits, not only on b.g.c. but on the entire non-Wiktionary web. Seems like a typical case of ad hoc prescriptivism. Somebody out there thinks this is how the phrase ought to be used, but until they publish a usage guide, there's no reason to take them seriously. -- Visviva 05:02, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
The note is silly. "I am thirsty for orange juice" is used all the time, the way "I am hungry for pizza" is used all the time. It simply clarifies the desire, and is in no way humorous. "For money" is lame: "thirsty for revenge", maybe, or "thirsty for fame". kwami 05:50, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

In its current incarnation, this is neither a good example of a Phrasebook entry nor of the ordinary sort, but something trying to be a bit of both. It seems rather to be an argument for separating the Phrasebook from the Wiktionary. Pingku 17:44, 21 October 2009 (UTC)


I suggest that reredo be moved to reredos as the singular. Apparently, reredo doesn't exist (maybe rare, to redo something again?) --Volants 11:57, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Fixed, thanks. I don't know why it was moved to [[reredo]] to begin with … —RuakhTALK 13:11, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

luceat..? (Latin)

from the requiem INTROITUS: Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis. Wikitionary does not have a page about this word, does it exists? maybe it's just the verb form of lux? -- 20:21, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

It is from luceo (shine) (among other related senses). It is the 3rd person present subjunctive active, usually read as "let/may .... shine". DCDuring TALK 21:24, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

I've created an entry for both the verb lūceō and this form. --EncycloPetey 02:52, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

US pronunciation of haiku

A question for all US contributors: Where do you (and people you know) place the stress in the word haiku? Every dictionary I've examined says it's on the first syllable, but every single instance in which I have ever heard the word places the stress on the second syllable. Is this a case where print dictionaries are being more presciptive than descriptive? Or are there two US pronunciations? --EncycloPetey 02:51, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

I put the stress on the first syllable (and I don't believe I've ever looked up the pronunciation). The second-syllable stress sounds vaguely odd/pretentious to me, but I have certainly heard it from EN-US speakers. So I think there are two. -- Visviva 03:11, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I've always heard it with second-syllable stress. —RuakhTALK 03:21, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I stress the second syllable; stressing the first would sound odd to me. L☺g☺maniac chat? 14:59, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I also put the stress faintly on the first syllable. I would think the stress on the second would sound odd to me. I wonder if it's a regional thing. Oswald Glinkmeyer 15:27, 20 October 2009 (UTC) (in Texas)
I've heard it with stress on the 1st syllable, and with stress on both. I imagine that the latter is related to how English speakers often pronounce partially assimilated Chinese words with stress on every syllable, whereas the former is more anglicized. To me, doubly stressed sounds like a lecture in a lit class, whereas initial stress sounds conversational. I've never heard it with single stress on the final syllable. kwami 05:45, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure why there has to be a stress at all. To my knowledge, the original Japanese word doesn't have one anyway. Tooironic 21:46, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
The original Japanese word is three morae, ha-i-ku, all equally stressed (and equally unstressed: Japanese doesn't have that distinction). I think we can agree that English handles things differently. It's possible for both syllables to be stressed (see spondee), but I don't think it's possible that neither one is. —RuakhTALK 00:24, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
  • You hear it stressed on either syllable in English. This is not uncommon when English borrows words from languages with equal stress (often coming out differently by area, eg UK CLIché versus US cliCHE). Ƿidsiþ 15:27, 22 October 2009 (UTC)


wonder, noun: Sometimes I have to wonder about the true meaning of life. Perhaps someone with more grammatical understanding can enlighten me, but doesn't "wonder" in this sentence function as a verb? Tooironic 07:53, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Yes. Basic grammar errors remain throughout Wiktionary, not just in the grammatical PoSs, but in what should be the easy ones. I think contributors must often confuse to#Particle with to#Preposition, so the usex leads the user to think it must be a noun. DCDuring TALK 14:47, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I've changed "to" to "a" in the example, so that it clearly refers to the (valid) noun. Dbfirs 08:54, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
That uses the UK "have a" formula that is not used much at all in the US. It does not make a good usage example for "wonder" for US English speakers. DCDuring TALK 10:23, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't realise that! I don't speak American. I'll try to think of an example that means the same on both sides of the pond. Are there any bilingual editors who could help? Dbfirs 11:18, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Actually, I think that sense of wonder may be UK and, I assume, informal or colloquial. I can't find the sense in a dictionary, though it is so plausible as to fail to motivate me to an RfV. In which case the usex would be likely to fit. I have altered the entry to reflect that. Please take a look. Do we need to confirm the sense or the tags? DCDuring TALK 12:20, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Added a citation with which people won't be able to make the above mistake. Equinox 13:36, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, that looks much better. Dbfirs 16:33, 1 November 2009 (UTC)


I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to add an Ancient Greek derivation tag, can someone please fix it for me? Cheers. Tooironic 10:34, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Entry cleaned up. DCDuring TALK 14:53, 20 October 2009 (UTC)


Should we classify this as a suffix in English or is it something else (What?) used to form compounds? DCDuring TALK 15:10, 20 October 2009 (UTC)


Looking for usage of this term (punter) in the context of popular (rock) music fandom. Can anyone confirm or provide quotes for its usage meaning a fan or aficionado? Oswald Glinkmeyer 15:17, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

words that punctuate

There are some words that serve as punctuation. Some examples:

What POS(es) should these be?​—msh210 17:35, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

now is serving as a discourse marker for a change of subject and similar. Adverb seems by far the best PoS for it. See Category:English discourse markers and Category:English sentence adverbs DCDuring TALK 23:59, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Hmmm, punctuation serves basic discourse directive functions, so that category might be right. Most members of that category are adverbs, so .... DCDuring TALK 00:02, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

camel's nose

Is this an allusion to the proverb or an ellipsis of it? See Category:English ellipses and Category:English allusions. DCDuring TALK 23:51, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

all the "good"s

I'm referring to these entries: good night, good afternoon, good day, good evening and good morning. I think there should be some consistency here in the way they are categorised. Some are just nouns, others are nouns and interjections and one of them is just a phrase. Ideally though, shouldn't they all be both nouns and interjections? Tooironic 23:32, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Seems like all of them and goodnight should all be nouns and interjections. --Yair rand 03:17, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
I've been wondering about these. Interjection is not really what they are. They often stand alone, not interjected into sentences at all. IMO, they are idiomatic descendants of old ellipses of "I wish you a good ...". The noun meanings really don't seem to me to meet CFI. I would just call them Phrase and put them in some categories that capture the pragmatic function they serve as greetings and farewells. The Phrase categorization is an unsatisfactory cheat that doesn't work for a one-word greeting/farewell, like hello or goodbye or greetings or farewell.
Perhaps we are best off to put them under a noun header and categorize them further as "English ellipses" and ""English salutations" (or some broader category). That would at least work uniformly. DCDuring TALK 03:50, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't think it needs to be that complicated - a noun section and an interjection section easily explains to the reader the two possible usages, i.e., one as a nominal object and one as a functional phrase. Their etymologies as "I wish you a good..." ellipses needn't hinge on their informativity IMO. Tooironic 10:35, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
None of them are interjections in their most common use. And almost any word or phrase can be used as a standalone utterance at some time. (Do you need an example? "How did you print that?" "Laserprinter.") An interjection is a phrase or word (or sound that we treat as a word), 1., that has no grammatical relationship to the rest of a sentence and, 2., is used to carry an emotion. We have been using interjection as a catch-all for all terms that have significant "non-grammatical" usage. As such, it is a misnomer for many of them. I don't know that it is any more misleading to call such uses a noun and indicate by context tag and category that it is used as a greeting/farewell. An alternative is to throw it into phrasebook (though that does not address single-term equivalents). If there were widely accepted terms that were not misnomers, it would be easier. DCDuring TALK 11:17, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
The thirteen different sources I've checked (ten OneLook sources and three print(*)) have seven different treatments for "Good morning":
  1. Interjection: Encarta, Longmans DCE*, and MW3*
  2. Exclamation: Camb Adv Learners
  3. Noun: Wordsmyth, Wordnet 2/3.0, AHD
  4. Sentence absolute: Collins
  5. Phrase: Webster's New World
  6. 0: Infoplease/RHU, Free/Wordnet 1.7
  7. Idiom: Dictionary.com/AHDIdioms, McGraw-Hill Idioms*
We can dismiss the treatments derived from the idioms sources. The zero treatments are significant in that they indicate a decision not to classify by sources that usually do, indicating uncertainty. Phrase is a similar indicator.
  1. I believe that interjection conveys an undeserved fixity about the expressions, which serve as grammatical units in constructing expressions which have as much claim to be called interjections, "Good morning to you!" being the leading example, but also the hyperformal "I wish you a good morning, sir."
  2. There is not fixed emotion or, indeed, any emotion necessarily conveyed, as the definition of interjection suggests.
  3. And we would need a noun PoS, in any event, to capture the sense of "He gave us all perfunctory good mornings.".
  4. "Phrase" would obscure the parallelism among many greetings (one-word and multi-word).
This leaves me favoring "Noun" with an extra sense to make explicit the use as a stand-alone greeting and a usage note to capture its relationship to other near-synonyms, especially the longer ones.
None if this is to exclude the possibility of true interjections: Good night! (used by an observer to mark a powerful blow as a possible knock-out blow; "Lights out!") being one. DCDuring TALK 20:18, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
Interesting. Although I do find your argument to classify them as nouns with greetings tags pretty convincing, it does also make me wet my pants a little to think of all the work I'll have to do with Chinese to fit in with this new consistency. (At present, all Chinese equivalents of these phrases are categorised under "Interjection".) Moreover, the wiktionary definition of interjection only indicates that it is "often" an expression of emotion - i.e. it does not treat emotion as a compulsory feature. I would tend to agree as, after all, "emotion" is hardly a measurable criterion. In other words, who can say with any kind of certainty whether or not "Good morning" carries any kind of emotion? Emotion isn't really the point. The function of the phrase is the most important consideration, and that function in my opinion can be classified as interjectional. Therefore I'd argue for the Noun + Interjection model. Tooironic 08:59, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
The dictionary definition is less than perfect in providing sharp distinctions. I'm not sure how to read that definition. Are they saying that each word is usually used to convey emotion or that usually an interjection is a word that conveys emotion, but that some aren't. Even if the idea is the latter I think they are trying to cover cases like the attention-getters like "hey" or "ahem", for which there doesn't seem to be emotional content. The essential element is the lack of grammatical connection to sentences, even when embedded in them.
I have no idea what the implications would be for Chinese. I am not at all sure why the partition into grammatical categories for English (or Latin) should be determinative of categorization in other languages, especially those outside the Indo-European family. It would seem like a mega-topic for About Chinese and eventually BP. DCDuring TALK 09:56, 26 October 2009 (UTC)


(Also megaflop and teraflop.) Is this correct? I thought that all the -flops stood for floating point operations per second (as in one gigaflops is one billion FLOPS). Yet the entry says that a gigaflop is a unit of measure for the calculating speed of a computer and gigaflops is just the plural. What would FLOP stand for? FLoating point Operations Per ... What?--Yair rand 15:48, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

"One gigaflops" is not unattested, but "one gigaflop" is much more common. It seems to me that "one gigaflop" etc. are a result of backformation from the plural-sounding "two gigaflops" etc. (Compare pea and kudo for examples of de-pluralizing backformation, and lase for an example of backformation from an acronym. I can't think of any examples that are both at once, but regardless, the possibility is obviously there.) Even speakers familiar with the underlying acronym probably aren't really keeping it mind as they use the term, so the resulting "flop" doesn't need to stand for anything at all; and they may not even notice the discrepancy. (I'm just speculating here.) But apparently, judging from the rare-but-attestable "gigaflop(s) per second", some speakers must have reanalyzed the acronym itself as representing just "floating-point operations", with "per second" being implied. (This is not an unreasonable reanalysis, given that "one gigabit" regularly means "one billion bits per second".)
The entries could use improvement.
RuakhTALK 17:17, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

still as an interjection?

Could still also be an interjection? For example:

A: Let's go to that concert tonight.
B: Nah, I'm skint.
B: It's free!
A: Still...

I don't know about other countries, but it's fairly common in Australia. Tooironic 07:41, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

Here too (the UK) by ellipsis I think. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:55, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
No doubt about the usage. I question whether it should be called an interjection. Many words can find usage as a stand-alone or without grammatical relationship to a sentence in which they are embedded. The usage should IMO go under the adverb. It is an application of the "nevertheless" sense. Nevertheless should be in Category:English sentence adverbs, in any event (another sentence adverb). Maybe it would also go in some category like Category:English responses or Category:English discourse markers for the kind of usage that Too points out. DCDuring TALK 11:38, 27 October 2009 (UTC)


Interesting that for the plural and 3rd person we have tangos, while my Oxford dictionary gives tangoes (and only tangoes) for both. Can anyone fix this? In Scrabble, tangoes is the anagram of onstage. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:47, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

At COCA "tangos" outnumbers "tangoes" 82:1, so apparently a US/UK difference. DCDuring TALK 11:43, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
My Chambers gives tangos and only tangos, so maybe not. Pingku 16:40, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
Pingku: Yes, it looks like you are right.
MG: The Online Compact OED shows "tangoes" for the verb, but "tangos" for the noun. All of the OneLook dictionaries show "tangos" for the noun. All except COED either show tangos for the verb or show nothing, which probably means it is "normal", presumably without the "e". Google news shows overwhelming preference for "tangos"; Google books about 2:1, mostly for the noun. DCDuring TALK 17:18, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
Not sure how to put both "tangos" and "tangoes" in the verb gloss. Can someone help? Pingku 18:10, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't know about the plural, but I've added the colour (is is just a UK usage?) The exact shade is variable according to artistic choice (as with most named shades). Dbfirs 08:45, 31 October 2009 (UTC)


Wow... no entry for this common term. Any special reason? Tooironic 11:18, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

  • If you mean the decade, isn't it normally spelled noughties? Ƿidsiþ 17:13, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Both, I think. I guess I'll just add it as an alternative spelling. Tooironic 01:34, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
It appears to be more commonly used as a plural of "naughty" - in a perhaps attributive noun sense that is also not documented. Pingku 15:07, 31 October 2009 (UTC)


This nice dictionary defines perra also as dinero, riqueza (chiefly plural), and whilst this is a clue to the meaning in Citations:perra, what disquiets me is the fact that it is obviously countable (whereas riqueza is not) - (de veinticuatro perras celemín = 24 quid for 4,6 l, right ?). So how could we translate this meaning and was the Spanish currency at the time meant in the quoted citation? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 19:45, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

La perra was an old coin worth (I believe) 10 centimos of a Peseta. So, originally perra meant a coin. Possibly due to it's similarity in sound to Peseta, the term stuck and with use came to mean money in general. Hence, originally countable, and gaining an uncountable sense along the way. -- ALGRIF talk 17:30, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for your helpful explanation. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 05:39, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Concerning the entries for "foutre" in the Wiktionary of French words: it would be much clearer to mention that when "foutre" is used in the various phrases, it simply replaces the verb that ordinarily is used in the given phrase when it is spoken normally. Example: "se moquer de" (to make fun of) becomes "se foutre de" and still means the same thing, but takes on a vulgar tone. ("Foutre" most often is used as if it were the verb "faire", "to do/make". In the same sense it simply replaces "faire".) The entries in there now make it sound like "foutre" means a variety of different things, which is misleading. It would be much clearer if it were understood that it is simply standing in for another verb that is NOT vulgar, and is used to mean the same thing as that other verb, while turning the original phrase into a vulgar usage. For this same reason, the entries should state what the "ordinary" phrase and meaning is, in which "foutre" is replacing the "ordinary" verb.

La perra was an old coin worth (I believe) 10 centimos of a Peseta. So, originally perra meant a coin. Possibly due to it's similarity in sound to Peseta, the term stuck and with use came to mean money in general. Hence, originally countable, and gaining an uncountable sense along the way. -- ALGRIF talk 17:30, 29 October 2009 (UTC)


"Depression often goes undetected until it is too late. Witness the recent White House suicide." What is the analysis of the witness sentence? Is "witness" an imperative to the hearer/reader? Or is the same sentence an ellipsis of "Let the recent WH suicide be a witness for what I just said." It would affect the wording of the senses of witness. DCDuring TALK 17:57, 28 October 2009 (UTC) Or has this become a preposition in this use? Or is it parallel to "for example", for instance" DCDuring TALK 18:02, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

I assume it's an imperative. The alternative doesn't seem grammatically coherent. Equinox 20:20, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
pareil. Mglovesfun (talk) 20:30, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, as an ellipsis, it wouldn't have to be, as long as the expanded sense was. 'Nuff said.
My problem with the imperative is that the reader cannot witness or have witnessed the suicide in the most common senses of "witness". I also don't think there are other expressions that use this sense. In this kind of expression MW Online has "witness" meaning "take note of", which sense doesn't fit the other meanings of witness AFAICT. It seems quite lame compared to the other senses of the verb and the noun.
Another analysis would have it be a noun in sense 4 ("something that offers or serves as evidence") and the expansion be something like "(Take as) witness (of the truth of what I just said) the recent WH suicide.". I can find plenty of instances of the same kind of expression preceded by "as": "As witness the recent WH suicide.". This last seems OK, but "witness" does seem to be a discourse marker and about to become at least as grammaticized as "for example", if not an outright preposition. DCDuring TALK 00:10, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
  • I think it's a noun, in an elision of the longer formula "as witness". From a recent Guardian: "Well, she is fashionable and much liked by the world at large - as witness the extraordinary generosity of a supporting actress nomination for her work in Doubt." Seems to me the one-word form is a further clipping of that usage. Ƿidsiþ 17:11, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that seems to be the soundest conclusion reflecting all current forms of that kind of construction.
It is interesting how a term comes to lose the usual trappings accompanying whatever part of speech it is in a particular construction and suddenly it can be "reanalyzed" and used as some other part of speech in somewhat similar constructions. This seems on a journey to something other than nounhood but is still within its bounds.
In my own reading and hearings I had long thought this was some kind of archaic inverted order with the noun phrase following being the subject of the verb witness. The "as" would also be consistent with that reading. DCDuring TALK 22:29, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

name a baby muhammad?

can we name our baby muhammad alone or its necessary that you should add another name with that like muhammad ibrahim? is there any scholar who knows the meaning of names and can guide? —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 16:55, 29 October 2009 (UTC).

I'm no scholar but unless you are living in some strange country which has laws that force you to weird things like that then I'd say you can name your child whatever you want. ;) 50 Xylophone Players talk 19:12, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
There are actually quite a few countries with laws that restrict the naming of children. Even European countries like Hungary have had naming restrictions in the 20th century, although I believe Hungary has since lifted its naming restrictions. However, I know of no restrictions on the name Muhammad, as it is used by more than 15 million people worldwide. --EncycloPetey 16:44, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
weirdos...>_>50 Xylophone Players talk 16:58, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
Assuming you are Muslim, some Muslims take the position that a child should not be given a middle name, that Muhammad Ibrahim (Lastname) would mean Muhammad, the son of Ibrahim (Lastname), and if Ibrahim were not the child's father's name, then it would imply illegitimacy. [4]. Whether that is universal to all Muslims, I do not know. It seems to me I'd heard that in Turkey they use Mehmet instead of Muhammad, because there they take the position that nobody should be named after him, retiring the name the way most Europeans and Americans don't use Jesus. However, it is otherwise one of the most popular names. 21:01, 11 December 2009 (UTC)


Okay, I thought I'd add this here rather than to request lists just so that many people will be liable to see it. :) If anyone can do it, I'd be grateful if someone could create an entry for it. It seems to be a word in both English and French; both a noun and adjective in the latter see fr:cagot. 50 Xylophone Players talk 19:25, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

one side

Probably an ellipsis for "move to one side". Clearly idiomatic, common colloquially (in the right crowd anyway), and attestable. PoS? DCDuring TALK 18:31, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

  • Looks like a US interjection to me. SemperBlotto 18:36, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Uncle G complained mightily about injecting so many commands and prosentences into interjections. I've been trying to see whether there are alternatives. There is always "phrase" for this, though it wouldn't work for "gangway". I'm inclined to call it a noun and define it as a command or have a usage note to that effect. DCDuring TALK 21:11, 31 October 2009 (UTC)