Wiktionary:Tea room/2009/September

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September 2009

Security Service

Can someone please check this entry for me? I just created it and not sure if it should be capitalised or not. Cheers! Tooironic 07:55, 1 September 2009 (UTC)


For the second sense (humorous singular of "sheep"), are the citations acceptable? The bottom two look terrible to me; they are just speculating about what might be a word given some particular circumstances, like using "if quixingplorp was a word..." to back up an entry about quixingplorp. Equinox 17:39, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

Nah, those bottom two (now three) are just making facetious arguments from analogy for the use of shoop, asserting that such is the case, to humorous effect. The two from 2001 are less analytical in their uses, however.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 13:40, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

make way

This entry needs some work. "Make way" isn't just a nautical word - it can also mean "get out of the way" as an interjection or "get prepared for" (e.g. "make way for the next generation of iPhones"). Tooironic 01:10, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Take a look. DCDuring TALK 02:05, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

ahead of time

[[ahead of]] + [[time]] = early. DCDuring TALK 16:00, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

I assume you are asking if it's a SOP? (This should maybe go to RfD instead.) This seems somewhat idiomatic to me, since, taken literally, "ahead of" + "time" sounds like it should mean the same thing as what we mean when we say "before time." I'm not quite sure, though; I'd lean towards keeping it. Dominic·t 07:01, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Well, yes, it should be at RfD if anywhere. It might be one that we keep on Pawley's we call it X, they call it Y principle. I think I'll take it to TR. DCDuring TALK 10:36, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

[from WT:RFD I am very familiar with this common expression. It seems SoP. If there is a different expression (also possibly SoP) in widespread use somewhere with the same meaning, that would make it an ipso facto idiom to be kept. Dominic seems to be suggesting that "before time" is the right-pondian translation of this left-pondian term. Can we confirm this? DCDuring TALK 10:36, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Sorry if I was unclear. I am in fact a left-pondian, too. I just meant that without any articles or other verbiage, "ahead of time" does seem like an argument could be made that it is more than the sum of its parts, since if I didn't already know what it meant, it sounds like it is describing something before time itself, rather than before a particular time (i.e., early). Dominic·t 14:26, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
I am looking for any rationale to keep this. Sense 6 of time (an appropriate moment in time for something) seems to be the exact sense. Some other dictionaries have this as an idiom. I'd like to know by what rationale. DCDuring TALK 14:54, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
I'd be inclined to think that this expression's use of ahead of provides the best case for idiomaticity here. "Ahead of" seems to me usually to be used to refer to a spatial relationship, not a temporal or conceptual one, and Wiktionary does not give one sense for "ahead of" which is exclusively and unambiguously non-spatial. I've always felt that a multi-word term can be fairly be regarded as idiomatic if one of its constituents is used in a way which differs from its most common usage. -- WikiPedant 15:27, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
That would be a deficiency of the definition of ahead of that I added one day ago. Some other dictionaries include an explicit time sense, others use synonymous prepositions that have both spatial and temporal senses. Of the simple prepositions that have a spatial sense, almost all also have a temporal sense. A few of the exceptions are across, {[term|beside}}, behind, up, down. DCDuring TALK 16:51, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

potted biography

I heard a references to a book that contained "potted biographies". This could be the preserved sense of pot. Is a potted biography a short biography that can stand alone? RJFJR 16:15, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Potted history is common. It seems to suggest that it's a short summary or synopsis. Equinox 20:59, 4 September 2009 (UTC)


After searching for Britney in Wiktionary, I have found prostitot. It seems quite POV (for start, Britney Spears won't be twenty something for ever!) --Rising Sun 15:56, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

I've tried to fix it. Better? Equinox 18:36, 6 September 2009 (UTC)
Certainly less inflammatory for Britney. Goldenrowley 04:39, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

If the shoe fits... its not a Britney thing, its the behavior of these young girls and the society we live in that exposes them to sexual context they are not ready to be exposed to.

do aid,objective and goal mean the same

do aid ojective —This comment was unsigned.

See aim, objective, goal. Yes, they are basically equivalent. Equinox 00:40, 5 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes, they are synonyms, but in modern management speak an aim is more general, with an objective being a more specific goal. Dbfirs 17:40, 5 September 2009 (UTC)
They are synonyms, but synonyms do not have to have exactly the same meanings. "Aim" is a more general, open-ended term that either "objective" or "goal". Sometimes (especially in management) objectives are regarded as more general than goals (and sometimes goals are understood as quantified). It might be my objective to improve office morale and, to do this, I set 3 goals: (1) To tell a joke a day at the watercooler, (2) to compliment each employee for some positive contribution at least once a week, and (3) to use at least 50% of the time in each staff meeting for employee comments and feedback. -- WikiPedant 17:54, 5 September 2009 (UTC)
That's interesting because the way it was explained to me (years ago) was that the aim would be to improve office morale and, to do this, I set 3 objectives ... The heirarchy was Purpose -> Aims -> Objectives. Perhaps different "experts" use the terms in different ways? Dbfirs 18:07, 5 September 2009 (UTC)
A little empirical research on COCA suggests that "objective" as noun is preceded with one intervening word by a form of the verb "achieve" for about 8% of its total uses; "aim" about 2% and "goal" about 3%. I would guess that an objective is more often perceived as something that is achievable and concrete, which probably places it lower in the hierarchy than the others. If we make some subjective adjustment for the use of "goal" in sports, I would venture that goal is considered less achievable and concrete than "aim". And "purpose" at .2% seems considered even less achievable than "aim". Since this is the product of less than 30 minutes work, it is just suggestive, not conclusive. DCDuring TALK 19:32, 5 September 2009 (UTC)
Neat analysis. Thanks. Dbfirs 17:14, 6 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the thanks. I love facts and their analysis, especially the quick and dirty. I'd usually rather have ten of them than one of higher quality, though sometimes the high quality is essential. DCDuring TALK 17:52, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

From Wikipedia:Reference Desk/Language: "Agamid toes"

The following is a request from Wikipedia's Language Reference Desk - I copied it here. L☺g☺maniac chat? 21:28, 6 September 2009 (UTC)
What does this Latin term mean: Digiti inaequales, sublongi, non fimbriati. I am not really sure about the punctuation (comma) between inaequales and sublongi. How would change the deletion of this comma the meaning of that term? Is inaequales an adjective or an adverb? What do you mean is the correct punctuation in this term, maybe is the one or other not usable? Thanks, Doc Taxon (talk) 17:21, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

toes unequal, rather long, not fringed. Inaequales is an adjective, masculine & feminine plural. I think the punctuation is correct as it is. —Stephen 22:45, 6 September 2009 (UTC)
Someone replied there right after I copied it here. Thanks anyway. . . L☺g☺maniac chat? 22:52, 6 September 2009 (UTC)


Is transmition a genuine word? It does not appear in Wiktionary or my bookshelf dictionaries. But Google books gets well over 600 hits and Google scholar gets over 3,500 hits. It's hard to believe they are all a mis-spelling of transmission, although some of them undoubtedly are, especially the papers written by non-English speakers. Although some may be archaic spellings or mis-spellings there seems to be a statistical cluster around using it as the adjectival form of "transmittance" in optics. That's where I first came across it, in the Wikipedia article on w:Filter (optics) and was wondering if I should correct the Wikipedia article or add the word here. SpinningSpark 22:37, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

I looked at some of the Google book hits, and all of them appear to me to be misspellings. —Stephen 22:49, 6 September 2009 (UTC)
The OED doesn’t have it either, FWIW.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 20:35, 7 September 2009 (UTC)


Does anyone have any source on this? Perhaps in an English-Dutch dictionary? The only translation I have that comes close to dying is 'pass away', albeit in the sense of elapsing. So that's nonsense. I've never heard of this meaning and an anonymous editor has added it. It seems to me that he has 50% credibility. User:Mallerd (Zeg et es meisje) 20:25, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

{{rfv}} is a better place for this.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 20:31, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

"desegregation settlement"?

Hi. We got in the mail a couple days ago a newsletter of sorts from our state senator and on the back it had a graph about where our tax dollars are going. It said 0.04% of the tax money is going towards "desegregation settlement", and for the life of us we couldn't quite figure out what that was. Anyone have ideas? Thanks. (On a humorous note, it also said that 9.11% of the money is going towards health care. Of all numbers . . . :) L☺g☺maniac chat? 20:46, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

A settlement agreement on the subject of desegregation. Because it arises in the context of "desegregation" and government (and your state senator is almost certainly an attorney) he expects you to realize what kind of settlement he means. DCDuring TALK 21:23, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
OK, so what's a settlement agreement? :\ L☺g☺maniac chat? 21:32, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
I think a "desegregation settlement" will be something like the state paying money to a the former victims of segregation (e.g. blacks who weren't allowed in universities). Equinox 21:48, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
My first cut is is a [[settlement]] + [[agreement]]; A second pass would be w:Settlement agreement. It should probably be at [[settlement agreement. None of the definitions will specify what particular type of matter your state senator is talking about. We probably mentioned it elsewhere in the newsletter. Where I live there has been one relating to housing desegregation in affluent suburban towns. Equinox's might be another, but cash payments to individuals are not so common is such cases as I understand it. DCDuring TALK 22:53, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
Added, briefly. bd2412 T 03:11, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

-phone words

Just looking through the English -phone words, how come Russophone is always capitalized, but anglophone and germanophone are always in lowercase? I'd have thought both upper and lowercase were okay for all of these. Mglovesfun (talk) 08:12, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

Of the [Perform+Find+Word+search 205 words ending in *phone] listed in the OED, the following are capitalised:
  1. Blattnerphone
  2. Dictaphone
  3. Entryphone
  4. Linguaphone
  5. Porta-Phone
  6. Stylophone
  7. Trimphone
  8. Vitaphone
  9. WAP phone
None of those derive from country names. Words like anglophone and francophone aren’t capitalised, but the capitalised versions are listed as alternative spellings. Personally, I capitalise them, but there we go…  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 16:46, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
Each main entry should be independently capitalized according to its most common usage. CanOD lists both anglophone and francophone with initial l.c., indicating they are used that way in Canada. A brief Google Books search shows that Russophone may mainly have an initial cap. The capitalization is probably a function of the etymology, who uses the word, in what context, how common it is (e.g., the Canadian usage originates or is influenced by the lower-cased French). Michael Z. 2009-09-08 17:27 z
I don’t think we should hyperregulate and micromanage like that. It doesn’t really matter where the entry goes, as long as both forms are attestable. Conversely to your suggestion, I reckon that if we’re going to make a rule either way, it should be to ensure that such entries are either all majuscule-initial or all minuscule-initial; this creates consistency, which gives a more professional appearance and means that users looking up multiple -phone words will know (or at least learn) to stick to only one capitalisation scheme (a consideration that becomes weightier the more of this class of entries there are). If you like, we could decide which capitalisation scheme to “favour” by opting for the scheme that sees the most frequent usage. Any etymological and other nuances can be explicitly expressed in usage notes, rather than leaving it to the implication of which spelling houses the main entry. All that said, I really don’t think it’s worth the effort bothering to make a rule on this; Google searches don’t distinguish capitalisations, which’ll make gathering usage-frequency statistics a pain.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 18:03, 8 September 2009 (UTC)


I've noticed faccedilade at http://www.laparks.org/dos/historic/campo.htm . It took some time to realize that it originated as an HTML storage/rendering problem, where the original term façade was stored as HTML as "façade", then somewhere along the line the ampersand and semicolon were lost, resulting in faccedilade. Searching for that resulting sequence of letters, I see it even in some documents inline with words that contain other accented characters, so it seems to have be written that way on purpose by some authors. I wonder whether some people have encountered the result of the failure of HTML storage and rendering, and committed the result to memory as an actual word. Does this merit a misspelling entry? —Rod (A. Smith) 18:21, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

Oh definitely. That is by far the most interesting misspelling I’ve ever seen, and I doubt that most people would guess that it’s a misspelling of façade.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 18:41, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
OK. We now have the misspelling entry [[faccedilade]]. —Rod (A. Smith) 20:31, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
Excellent. Well done.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 22:49, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
What is the threshold for "common" misspelling? I can't find it in English running text. DCDuring TALK 16:17, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
1 groups hit. None elsewhere. It is an HTML artifact. HTML is not running English text. It is a good candidate for inclusion in the TypographyWiki, which, BTW, needs urgent and sustained attention. DCDuring TALK 16:22, 9 September 2009 (UTC)


I am eager to change the template from the austere obsolete (which would have been appropriate, had there been found no citations newer than Shakespeare's) to poetic, as in dolour in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913, but being no native speaker I would like to ensure myself that no objections are going to be raised. The second quotation proves that less than 140 years ago this noun was in vivid use and for me personally it it hard to rate a noun which has quitted daily speech for less than 150-200 years as obsolete. Is the noun current in contemporary English? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 14:58, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

Interestingly, Merriam Webster online does not use any tag soever, so perchance the noun has again become part of dily speech? Should one refrain from any context tag? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 15:00, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

dolour gets 0 hits out of 400 million at COCA. It seems to get some UK, Indian, and Australian use. I didn't see Canadian use, but perhaps you can find some to support including Canada among the using locations. Searching news is tedious because of the scannos for "dollar", "colour", and "detour" and Proper noun use which together constitute the great majority of hits. DCDuring TALK 16:10, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
As is habitual for Latin borrowings (nouns) ending in -or, the US standard spells them as -or, whereas in the rest of the anglophone world the ending is -our, so in US sites like COCA one must look for dolor. But the spelling is not important, what matters is determining how daily, poetic or archaic the use of this word is. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 16:25, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
You mean not everyone spells English the same? Hooda thunk it?
As to "dolour", it use seems mostly "literary". "I appears in newspapers is in arts reviews and occasionally to make puns in other contexts. I haven't done the work on dolor, except to note that on COCA it mostly appears in Spanish running text, in arts reviews, or in puns like "Another day, another dolor". DCDuring TALK 16:40, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Your first quæstion. No, I was simply mindful of the differences between Commonwealth and US spelling. Ok, I shall change the tag to literary. Obsolete was obviously exaggerated. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 17:17, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
That sounds correct - one comes across the word occasionally in British English, so it is certainly not obsolete. Presumably dolor is obsolete in the USA? Would the word need to be translated into an alternative current American synonym for readers in the USA? Dbfirs 19:55, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
It seems "dolor" is probably mostly "literary" in the US too. Of the 5o occurrences in COCA 42 were uses or mentions of the Spanish word. 2 were from science fiction, 6 were from high-brow literary/arts journals. 6/400MM is hardly less than 3/100MM at BNC. The spread of Spanish among students who are native speakers of English may widen its use in English. DCDuring TALK 21:37, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I've changed the tag on the entry at dolor to "literary". You seem to have an extra sense (as in the Catalan entry) connected with rheumatism. e.g. "In rheumatoid arthritis, it [Ibuprofen] reduces the duration of morning stiffness, and morning stiffness is a particular feature of inflammatory disease—a cardinal sign which seems to have been overlooked by Celsus. Alas, we have no adequate measures of the inflammatory response in man. Dolor, pain, may be due to other things." from the editorial of RHEUMATOLOGY AND REHABILITATION, (Vol. XVII February 1978). I haven't heard this usage in the UK. As you suggest, it is probably the influence of Spanish. Dbfirs 06:47, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
It can well be the influence of French instead (douleur). In the US city La Nouvelle Orléans, in it's vicinity and in many locations in Maine French is spoken by hundreds of thousands of residents (as mother tongue) and it is the most widespread foreign language for US students, is it not? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 07:52, 19 September 2009 (UTC)
Students who take French in the US usually miss the chance to speak it very much. Students who take Spanish can often speak it to fellow students and members of the school staff who are native speakers. To a lesser extent they can find chances to speak it elsewhere, but in any event much more than French. The can watch Spanish-language television if they wish 24/7.
And the "dolour" spelling goes against US prevailing practice, of course. DCDuring TALK 12:42, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

by ear and play it by ear

I just created by ear and have noticed that play it by ear might be redundant. I'm not actually sure though, because in play by ear, it's not one of the common meanings of play. We might at the least rename it to play by ear, as the direct object isn't always "it". Mglovesfun (talk) 15:13, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

As you note, by ear is mainly musical. "Play by ear" (intransitive) is also almost exclusively musical. "Play X by ear" is split almost evenly in citations at COCA between musical and non-musical.
But "play X by ear" and "play by ear" (which just looks like an intransitive use of "play" with "by ear") seem SoP in the musical sense. "Play by ear" doesn't convey the non-musical idiom. Play something by ear would seem to be more general than the "it" form, but in the overwhelming majority of cases where "it" is not the object the "something" is a musical instrument or a piece of music.
For the non-musical idiom, I could see either play it by ear or play something by ear as the entry, with the other as redirect, but the "it" form is both more common and more clearly idiomatic. DCDuring TALK 15:57, 9 September 2009 (UTC)


Moved to information desk --Antilived 16:02, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

squeaky-bum time for Portugal

'gainOMISION[cos ev-b 2bizi talkin'?--史凡>voice-MSN/skypeme!RSI>typin=hard! 16:34, 10 September 2009 (UTC

This is what WT:REE is for. Added there. DCDuring TALK 17:30, 10 September 2009 (UTC)


Couple questions. Sorry if the first one belongs in the Grease pit or something.

1) Is this our longest entry title? If not what is?
2) The Thai version of this in the etymology is so long it's fucking up the {{term}} template and won't link. I don't know if there is such an entry but anyhow . . .

Thanks! L☺g☺maniac chat? 22:03, 11 September 2009 (UTC)


The etymology (!?!) section says that this prefix is "unproductive for most speakers". I have a few problems with this:

  1. It belongs in a usage note, if true.
  2. "Most speakers" don't invent words, do they? If so, the statement is vacuous.
  3. One of the definitions suggests that it is being used to produce new terms, especially in discussion of fashion, which seems plausible and would contradict a claim of unproductivity.
  4. The word "bewebbed" was uncommon before Spiderman and the Web and gained a bit of currency. Wouldn't that be one or two examples of reminting the coinage, since the term is not to be found in a dictionary in this sense? Isn't that evidence of productivity? DCDuring TALK 01:26, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes, be- and/or be- -ed is/are definitely productive in English. The one meaningful way in which “unproductive for most speakers” might have been meant is that be- is not semantically transparent for most listeners (cf. anti-, un-, -ism, -ing, &c.); however, I’d contest that — most people do get what be- (and especially be- -ed) mean(s), which is not the case for obscure ones like selen- (moon).  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 07:54, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes, the intelligibility of the occasional new word deployed is pretty high, partially because the prefix adds little semantically, but helps conveys an attitude. The last of the senses seems to almost have the productive sense right. It seems to me that it might be deemed "literary" (in the sense that a style article or column in a newspaper or magazine is "literary") or "archaic" in its uses. I have trouble imagining it in speech, in any event, and in more formal writing. DCDuring TALK 14:29, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
I just want to add that I think that most people do invent words from time to time, especially when there is a general rule to invent these words (e.g. adding -like to a noun). (assuming that invent a word means use a word never used before, or that they never heard nor read) Lmaltier 17:21, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
You are right. I was wrong. Few English speakers don't invent using the highly productive prefixes and suffixes like "un-", "-like", "-ish", "-y", and "-ly". Actually I think people mostly "reinvent" words that have been used before but which are not in their memories, possibly because they never read or heard them. But aren't words that are formed regularly "reinvented" (in the sense of being formed by rule) instead of being called from memory each time they are used? In any event "be-" is not quite in the same category in contemporary English as these highly productive affixes that many use. DCDuring TALK 18:42, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

I haven't the foggiest

Haven’t the foggiest redirects to the form with I; cf. G.B.S.: "hasn't the foggiest". Delete I haven’t the foggiest or redirect to haven’t the foggiest?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 07:21, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

My inclination for the lemma form is to the ugly general negative [[not have the foggiest]] with copious usage examples of and/or redirects from the forms in use. Many of the forms in use would not lead a user to my proposed lemma without such explicit support. I fear that all the pronouns, verb forms, and contractions might be needed among the redirects because the search engine seems to need them. (???) DCDuring TALK 12:34, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

tomato juice

grape juice

Could someone tell me why the former is afforded an entry and the latter is not? Tooironic 08:28, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

Presumably because no-one has entered it yet. We have apple juice but not cranberry juice. I'll make the entries. How about cow juice? Dbfirs 10:04, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
Great, adding translation as we speak. Tooironic 11:27, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
Why do we have any of them, except the clearly idiomatic cow juice? DCDuring TALK 16:19, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
The term grape juice (at least) passes our "fried egg test". It isn't simply juice squezzed from grapes, but requires additional processing that halts fermentation. If grape juice were not treated, it would be wine. I'm not sure that the same criterion applies to any of the other examples of fruit juices mentioned. --EncycloPetey 14:53, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I wondered about that, but all involve some processing. Grape juice only turns into wine if it is allowed to ferment in controlled conditions for some time. It can turn into vinegar! What about orange juice? Dbfirs 15:02, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
What nonsense! Wake up and smell the juice, gentlemen.
Every school child knows what grape juice denotes, even though they have no clue of the industrial processes and chemical requirements. It's juice from grapes. You're all fired as soon as I can find enough school children... Michael Z. 2009-09-13 15:42 z
School child at your service, sir! :) L☺g☺maniac chat? 22:21, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
Did you actually look at the entry? Did you stop to consider the well-reasoned argument based on previous consensus? Every school child knows what a fried egg is too; you have to crack the egg open and fry its contents, not the entire egg whole. --EncycloPetey 16:16, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
Unfermented is not defining; it is the default state. Squeezed is not defining, unless pulverized or blended grape stuff has a different name. What's it called if it is not used as a beverage, but rather to make jelly, or in baking, or for wine? Michael Z. 2009-09-13 18:59 z
"Unfermented" certainly is defining, at least in normal use. I'm pretty sure that these schoolchildren of whom you speak would be quite surprised if they asked for some grape juice and received a nice glass of merlot instead. As would an adult, for that matter. I would agree about the other terms; it may be worthwhile to mention the typical referent, but that should be distinguished from the strict definition. -- Visviva 02:41, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
Good, then following your logic we should define it as unfermented, without seeds, without skins, not containing potatoes, plums, oranges, ground beef, or limestone, because these are all of the things schoolchildren expect. And a few more from DCD's quotation below. Michael Z. 2009-09-14 14:37 z
If you hand someone a glass of grape juice with seeds and skins in it, or ground beef, then the person might say "Ewww! This grape juice has [beef/seeds] in it!" In other words, it's still grape juice, just of an undesirable sort. On the other hand, if you hand them a glass of wine, they are more likely to respond "This isn't grape juice! It's wine!" Does that not seem like a significant lexical fact?
Back on topic, what are your specific requirements for entryworthiness here? At the moment it seems rather like you have entered the discussion determined that it must come to only one resolution. -- Visviva 16:32, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
I'd like to see simple English terms defined simply, without inappropriate additions inspired by someone's local agricultural, industrial, or public safety codes of law, or lexically irrelevant encyclopedic history. Juice is not booze. I can know what juice is without knowing of the celebrated Mr Welch. There's no need to define the general sense of tomato juice as anything but juice from tomatoes. There's no need to define grape juice as “juice from grapes; not wine.”
If you want to add a US legal definition as a separate sense, that's just fine with me, as long is it meets CFI and its scope of usage is clearly labelled. Michael Z. 2009-09-15 00:00 z
(But separately, I am concerned that we are adding truncated legal regulations to the dictionary, as in ground beef (2). The result follows neither attested English usage nor the legal prescription, so what good is it to anyone, and why should it be in a dictionary? This is outside the scope of even a legal dictionary, by not just defining conventional terms but by directly quoting the regulation. Better to just link, so the reader can find the full and up-to-date regulations. Michael Z. 2009-09-15 00:16 z)
Mzajac: Unfermented grape juice did not exist for sale until a clever person named Welch developed a new pasteurization process in 1869 for creating what we now call grape juice. So, "unfermented" is certainly not the default state. --EncycloPetey 02:49, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
So put that into w:History of tomato juice, where it belongs. Michael Z. 2009-09-14 14:37 z
I looked at tomato juice, compared it with ground beef and find it wanting. As it stands it does not seem to meet the legal/regulatory definition standard, which, AFAICT, is the only basis we have for accepting such an entry. Other OneLook monolingual dictionaries do not have these except insofar as they copy WordNet.
For tomato juice, I have to agree that it does not seem to warrant an entry. --EncycloPetey 16:40, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
I've changed the entry now to make it less SoP. Dbfirs 17:13, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
Padding the entry with encyclopedic facts doesn't make the term any less sum-of-parts (and why use a rare synonym for pulverized?). Not all tomato juice is cooked, not all includes the flesh, and an incomplete list of uses doesn't belong in the definition at all. Tomato juice denotes juice from tomatoes—decorating the definition with anything more just reduces its quality. Michael Z. 2009-09-13 19:09 z
It appears that Random House, Merriam-Webster's and AHD have no entry for tomato juice. OED includes it as a run-in under tomato 3. attrib. and Comb., defined as “the juice from tomatoes; also, a drink of this”. Michael Z. 2009-09-13 19:15 z
I've never seen just the juice from tomatoes on sale, though I suppose that it might possibly be available in some countries. It would be very pale in colour. Also, I've never tasted fresh uncooked tomato in the flavour, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I didn't create the entry, I just tried to match it to reality. I didn't know that comminuted was a rare word. I used it because it seems more precise than pulverised. It wouldn't worry me if you want to delete the whole set (except for cow juice), but there are thousands of other entries in Wiktionary that I would consider mainly sum of parts, with just a hint of an extended meaning. Dbfirs 19:43, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
I'm afraid that the reality of our daily experience of much food in many "developed" countries is more like the ground beef definition: the product allowed to be sold under the name in each jurisdiction. It is a meaning derived from the SoP meaning. Most people are oblivious to the facts of the matter. But almost all attestable current use of "tomato juice" is likely to refer to the regulated product available on grocery-store shelves. The Talk:ground beef discussion was continued at length in the Beer Parlour, which archived discussion is now at: Wiktionary:Beer_parlour_archive/2009/June#Legal_definitions..
This is uncharted territory in many ways. Some casual introspection and asking a few people would probably show that "tomato juice" means "the thick red juice one pours from a container so labelled obtained at a grocery store, or a similar juice, assumed to be made from tomatoes." Our CFI eventually led us to that conclusion, when we realized that the only CFI-meeting definitions of "ground beef" were regulatory ones. DCDuring TALK 20:12, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
By the way, I don't see any attestation in that entry, so I am left wondering which CFI our ground beef actually does meet. I have watched beef being ground in my kitchen, without realizing that Wiktionary requires me to call it something else until I qualify for a federal meat production certification in my jurisdiction. I suppose we need another English name for the beef they grind in France, too. Michael Z. 2009-09-14 15:17 z

For our further edification here is the US FDA definition of tomato juice:

Tomato juice is the food intended for direct consumption, obtained from the unfermented liquid extracted from mature tomatoes of the red or reddish varieties of w:Lycopersicum esculentum P. Mill, with or without scalding followed by draining. In the extraction of such liquid, heat may be applied by any method which does not add water thereto. Such juice is strained free from peel, seeds, and other coarse or hard substances, but contains finely divided insoluble solids from the flesh of the tomato in accordance with current good manufacturing practice. Such juice may be homogenized, may be seasoned with salt, and may be acidified with any safe and suitable organic acid. The juice may have been concentrated and later reconstituted with water and/or tomato juice to a tomato soluble solids content of not less than 5.0 percent by weight as determined by the method prescribed in Sec. 156.3(b). The food is preserved by heat sterilization (canning), refrigeration, or freezing. When sealed in a container to be held at ambient temperatures, it is so processed by heat, before or after sealing, as to prevent spoilage.

Obviously a one- or two-line definition could be drawn from this by careful reading and artful writing, even without consulting an attorney.

A shorter definition might be derived from the immediately following section "Labeling": "The name of the food is:

(a) "Tomato juice" if it is prepared from unconcentrated undiluted liquid extracted from mature tomatoes of reddish varieties.
(b) "Tomato juice from concentrate" if the finished juice has been prepared from concentrated tomato juice as specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section or if the finished juice is a mixture of tomato juice and tomato juice from concentrate.

I'm sure you could see how much fun we would have with these. DCDuring TALK 20:47, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

Please don't refer to things like this here, even in jest. I'm getting so tired of reminding our gang of the difference between a dictionary and an encyclopedia. But I will take bets on how long it takes for someone to come up with three attestations which demonstrate the exact sense defined by the FDA. Michael Z. 2009-09-14 14:37 z
By the way, the quotation above is a regulatory requirement, not a lexicographical definition. Bonus points for anyone who suggests adding “senses” per the requirements of UK, Pakistani, Philippine, and Nigerian food industries. Michael Z. 2009-09-14 14:51 z
There is humor in it because we haven't settled on a realistic approach to this, but it is fundamentally serious.
I am in agreement with you that the common-sense definitions for these terms are not idiomatic. But, in the specialized context of US food manufacturing and marketing, the USFDA regulations define what is meant by "tomato juice" and many other food items. If we take seriously the Pawley test which gives an idiomatic status to phrases that define conventions (and singles out legal/regulatory terms specifically), then we are necessarily led to consider this kind of thing seriously. As a result of that consideration we determined that the ground beef entry with the regulatory definition (and no other we could come up with at the time) met WT:CFI.
Given that determination, other questions arise:
  1. Can we come up with a mode of presenting such definitions that is useful for normal users?
  2. Did we err in some way in making the determination?
  3. Does CFI have to be amended to limit this kind of definition?
The ground beef entry is the culmination of one of our few efforts to grapple with this. It doesn't seem to me to be entirely satisfactory yet. IMO the implications of the discussion at Wiktionary:Beer_parlour_archive/2009/June#Legal_definitions. would risk these entries eventually becoming useless for normal users, however useful they might be for specialists. These kinds of entries can be very useful for normal users because they provide a surprising contrast between the naive SoP definition that people believe obtains and the specialist definition which actually obtains.
As to attestation, I believe that any current usage of "tomato juice" in a US context that mentions the word "can" or "bottle" or "store" or "buy" or "shop" is necessarily referring to the regulated product, unless words like "fresh" appear and override conventional expectations. I believe that the SoP meaning of "tomato juice" is not what people actually mean: they mean the product they can buy. Perhaps the everyday definition is "The product sold under the name tomato juice in stores." As soon as we try to offer a little more content than that we are left with the CFI-meeting specialist definition. DCDuring TALK 15:31, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
This question falls in with technical and legal language. Many scientific and technical terms' meaning is prescriptive, and sometimes somewhat different than the term in common usage (e.g., a doctor's arm or a cop show's DNA).
But regulations also mandate precision. If the FDA takes 185 words to describe what's allowed to be called tomato juice, then is our 30-word definition equivalent? Do we risk liability by presenting a less-precise summary as a “definition” of a legal description? Can we define legal names in any way except by quoting in full or linking to the legal definitions (and note that outside the US, many legal codes are copyrighted)? Does this serve lexicography? Is the US FDA defining an English term, or merely regulating the way tomato juice for sale must be made and labelled?
But at the same time please keep in mind that the FDA's regulations apply only in a very limited domain. They directly concern, and legally compel, food producers, packers, and inspectors in their professional realm. But they are not at all relevant to the grocery shopper, restaurant-goer, or the kids at home who want to refer to tomato juice, and hardly even to the staff at grocery stores. The kids are asking for juice of tomatoes, and not for dictating the type of organic acids or proportion of solid content in their refreshment. And the FDA has nothing at all to do with the tomato juice that grandma makes in the basement.
It's common sense that we should define the common use of a term if we also define a regulated definition, no? Do our guidelines say so? Michael Z. 2009-09-14 23:48 z
Actually, the FDA does have the power to regulate the tomato juice grandma makes in the basement, if she calls it tomato juice and in any way makes it available to the public (for sale or for free). If she just drinks it herself and gives it to family members, she can call it cranberry vodka for all they care. The FDA's definitions are, by the way, relevant to consumers - if you try to sell something in the U.S. as "tomato juice", and what you're selling is cut 80% with water, do you doubt that consumers will complain, and that those complaints will reach the FDA? bd2412 T 05:38, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
I think the only truly simple definition "juice from a tomato" is non-idiomatic, SoP, and CFI-violating. It also only loosely corresponds to normal experience. I'm not sure about the right wording, but the everyday sense is something like "the red liquid that comes from a can or bottle labelled as "tomato juice" (or a translation thereof) bought at a grocery retailer." I don't know that we wish to have that kind of definition, even if in a better wording. I think that a definition of that general sort is supported by the quotations now at tomato juice and is not contradicted by very many of the vast number of durably archived uses. Hell, I'd even claim "widespread use". What stands behind that sense are the CFI-meeting, but narrowly used official definitions applicable in various countries.
It is entirely analogous to the situation with a word like star or surface. The everyday meaning of "star" is "points of light visible in the night sky". Astronomers have their high-falutin' definitions too. DCDuring TALK 00:33, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
It's wrong and a disservice to readers to include only a very restricted regulated definition, but omit the everyday sense. If there is a technical sense, then the everyday sense can no longer be taken for granted. Based on this, we should include it—I can't do it at the moment, but I'm sure we can gently twist something in the CFI to justify this view.
But your “everyday” definition is a bad one, in my opinion. I have have encountered tomato juice in a chilled glass, in a large stainless-steel cafeteria dispenser, and cooked into a roaster of cabbage rolls. Wikipedia writes about the early tomato juice that was squeezed, apparently, from fresh raw tomatoes. Clearly, the recipe, cans, labels, grocery stores, and other encyclopedic tidbits about this substance do not define its name. Michael Z. 2009-09-15 00:54 z
It is almost as if the SoP definition belongs in the etymology. When a book talks about juice from tomatoes they seem to almost always call it "fresh tomato juice" or "fresh-squeezed tomato juice". The wording of the "everyday definition" was intentionally focused on the concrete realities of most everyday experience in the modern "developed" world. For some people their definition in the same spirit might mean "the red liquid that the help pours for me". The appropriately inclusive wording eludes me at the moment. Someone else may have a better way of looking at the everyday sense. DCDuring TALK 01:13, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
  • This is a common situation: there is a strictly correct, literal/SOP definition that marks the semantic boundaries of a word or phrase, and a more specific sense that underlies most use. This could be considered a case of a semantics/pragmatics distinction, as the first concerns correctness and the second felicity. Someone who gives you grape juice instead of tomato juice has simply erred; someone who offers you a tomato juice and then squeezes a tomato over a glass is not wrong, but definitely behaving oddly. We should of course seek to document both aspects of meaning where possible, but I've come to the belief that splitting these into separate sense lines is seldom wise or viable (especially since closer examination will almost always reveal further complexity). In view of this, I've taken a stab at a two-stroke definition of tomato juice, based on the cites and the discussion here. -- Visviva 05:27, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
The current solution seems wrong to me. A good definition should be reductionist: saying enough to define the thing as broadly used, applicable in 90 to 99% of uses. I don't see phrases like “In modern use, this usually refers to” used in dictionaries, and it gives me a whiff of encyclopedia. Since when does a definition summarize some imaginary corpus study? Michael Z. 2009-09-15 14:07 z
It is a bit wordy; I was going to just say "Often refers specifically to", but it seems clear that the more specific referent is limited to modern use. (And FTR, one does find almost exactly that "in modern use, often" construction in many OED entries.) I don't quite understand why you would think the data is "imaginary"; while the entry is egregiously over-cited at present, the citations do unambiguously show that some people understand "tomato juice" to refer specifically and exclusively to the thick red stuff that you buy in a can, while other people continue to use the term in the broader, literal sense. I don't see any real difference between this and, say, corkscrew (which needs to be dealt with); "corkscrew" may refer to any implement that is inserted into a cork in order to remove it, but it is often understood to refer only to the kind of corkscrew that actually has a screw-shaped "worm". A satisfactory entry needs to cover both of these facts (supported by suitable citations, of course). -- Visviva 14:39, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Sometimes we are tempted to overspecify. It's silly to try to redefine the tomato juice colouring rice in 1839, that strained for cooking in 1847, and that which we drink today, as if they weren't all just juice from tomatoes. Saying how it's usually packaged in 2009 is certainly encyclopedic, and I don't see any citations implying that one thinks that tomato juice only comes from a package, but if someone did, that wouldn't make it a different tomato juice.
For the other, one might consider “a screw or other implement for pulling a cork.” Michael Z. 2009-09-16 05:09 z
To be clear, the Schmidt book is a reference for commercial chefs, wherein everything is purchased. The citation is simply saying that the tomato juice available to the commercial kitchen is canned, meaning, in the context, “cooked and sealed in a sterilized container” (cf. canning). Compare the entry for orange products, which says juice is available “canned, dehydrated, freshly squeezed, and as frozen concentrate”, and for fresh orange juice, for which “various packs are available. 12-oz (0.35-l) can is common. This shouldn't lead us to add another sense to orange juice (that would be the juice of oranges). Michael Z. 2009-09-16 05:49 z
I would disagree about corkscrew, but after further review I have to agree about tomato juice; I can find no satisfactory evidence that it is used to refer specifically and exclusively to the red processed stuff. That is, it doesn't really appear that anyone would consider it incorrect to call other tomato juices by this name. At any rate, regardless of SOPness all these "X juice" entries are kind of a waste of time IMO, and I'm going to stop thinking about them now. -- Visviva 05:02, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

circles around

This was formerly "[verb] circles around" (actually "X circles around"), which was RfDd. MGlovesfun gave it an Adverb L3 header at this title which I have amended to Preposition. My reasoning is that preposition is the closest PoS grammatically because this requires a noun as complement, which is not what a user would expect with an adverb. It clearly fails many tests to be a preposition. In the usage notes I say it behaves "as if" it were a preposition.

BTW, in COCA "run circles around" is as common as "run rings around".

  1. Would it be better just to give this the lame Phrase L3 header?
  2. Is there some other way to do this?

-- DCDuring TALK 18:24, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

One of the grammatical problems with calling this a preposition is that a multi-word preposition should not be able to have a noun-like constituent be modified by an adjective. A review of COCA shows that "endless", "noisy", "quick", and "frantic" are adjectives that do so. And this is also not a phrase except in the loosest sense because its constituents almost always would be in separate phrases in a grammatical analysis.
The most grammatically satisfying entry arrangement would be to have both run circles around and run rings around. Forms of "run circles around" are 45 of the total of 57 figurative occurrences of this "[verb] circles around" at COCA. No other verb appears more than twice. DCDuring TALK 03:05, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
I would favor having this at run circles around, with any equivalent verb phrases redirected thereto. Assigning any POS to "circles around" is problematic IMO, because the phrase chunks into "[run circles] [around X]"; 'circles' and 'around' relate to the verb and noun respectively, and do not form a unit of their own. -- Visviva 17:06, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
We now have run circles around and run rings around (earlier, larger % of uses are figurative) and alt form entries run circles round and run rings round. DCDuring TALK 18:35, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

Transwiki:Never Never Land

Definitely ought to lose the capitalization in my opinion, but I'm not quite certain if this should be made into a redirect to, an alternate form of, or a synonym of neverland. Also going by the hits on b.g.c, the hyphenated never-never land should also be included. — Carolina wren discussió 07:02, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

Not a redirect if we can find this spelling/capitalization/etc. attested. Any attestable form of a noun should have a page of its own, even if it's merely to indicate that it's an alternative spelling. Only phrases and long idioms are eligible to be redirected. I'd look in Barrie's novel and in the stage play to see what the original form(s) were, and proceed from there. As far as I can determine, the stage play used the expanded form in 1904, and the form in the novel was shortened to Neverland. --EncycloPetey 02:50, 16 September 2009 (UTC)


I came across a few instances where the word relevant is used to mean "non-obsolete; up to date; current". See here, for example, as well as here (which also uses "relevant" in its classic sense: "related, connected"). Do you think it could be added as another meaning? Korodzik 04:49, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Yes, I've seen similar usages, though I always think of them as meaning "directly related, connected, or pertinent to the present, or to the current generation" (implied topic), so not a separate sense. What does anyone else think? Dbfirs 07:59, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
It sure seems like a separate sense to me. It is hard to imagine "related" or even "pertinent" being used in quite the same way. -- Visviva 18:22, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
The entry could use a bit of improvement. MWonline has 3 subsenses. DCDuring TALK 17:34, 15 September 2009 (UTC)


This is a surname used by a number of Punjabi speaking people in India; could anybody has more details on this surname and update on the page?

worse comes to worst

Why do we not have an entry for this common idiomatic expression? Tooironic 13:08, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Good question. Also, why does no other OneLook dictionary have this or any variant AFAICT? Some dictionaries include it, but not as a headword. The wonderful MW Dictionary of English Usage (1989) has an entry which I have consulted. I have also consulted COCA which has at least 73 occurrences of forms of this idiom in modern American use. 61/73 are preceded by "if", as was the first attested use in 1597 according to MWDEU. Only 2/73 are of the form "wors? [come] to the wors?" An adverb or auxiliary verb can precede [come] in 4 additional cases. There are 3 common combinations on COCA of worse and worst. worse/worst is the most common at 34, nearly twice as common as worst/worst at 19 and worse/worse at 18.
Your question assumes the answer to the question of whether it is idiomatic. Expressions of the form "if/when X [come] to Y" are not really idiomatic. This expression as a whole is not a set phrase because one can insert adverbs and substitute terms. But the forms without "if" seem to me very likely to be idiomatic, because the do seem fixed, with the verb not even inflecting in the small sample of 11, always being "comes".
  • IOW, the very form of the expression you have intuitively selected seems to be the one most likely to meet WT:CFI. It has the additional virtue of being likely to be a the top of a search where the user typed another form, unless the user types "came". We might want some redirects to this. DCDuring TALK 15:31, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Fantastic, added Chinese translation. Tooironic 04:21, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

make an exhibition of oneself

make a spectacle of oneself

In the US this is uncommon, per COCA, relative to make a spectacle of oneself (close synonym) and make a fool of oneself (less close). Is this more common than the "spectacle" form in the UK, Canada, Oz? DCDuring TALK 16:01, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

  • In the UK - yes, much more common. SemperBlotto 21:41, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Now marked as UK and US, respectively. Canada, Oz, NZ, India, SA, Ireland, elsewhere? DCDuring TALK 23:47, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Do any of these exist?

Whilst trying to clear all the crap out of the English on the French Wiktionary, I came across these. Since I don't know what they mean, I can't propose them for deletion. If they do have some idiomatic, context specific meaning, they should be here.

  1. athletic protector
  2. bathing box
  3. bladder campion
  4. earth pillar
  5. free hand
  1. grounded theory
  2. hedge garlic
  3. machine of government
  4. manoeuvre margin

Mglovesfun (talk) 21:38, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

The terms bladder campion and hedge garlic sound like plant names. However, I'll have to do some searching and checking to see whether these are "real" common names or just poor renderings of scientific or foreign names. I think free hand may refer to permitting freedom of action, as in "...allowed him to proceed with a free hand." At least, that's a possible meaning. --EncycloPetey 21:50, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
I'll vouch for athletic protector/athletic protector, both of which I remember as euphemisms for jockstrap. As a betting proposition, a vernacular plant name entry that has a species name in it is probably OK. Consider red clover and white clover. earth pillar looks real as a geology term but might be dated. bathing box doesn't sound like a US term and doesn't appear in a OneLook dictionary. w:Grounded theory might provide a clue about that one. DCDuring TALK 23:17, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
I waver on unusual common names of plants because there are field guide authors who invent "common" names for plants that don't actually have them. So, nearly every moss in the UK has a "common name", even though the vast majority of people have no clue about mosses. These invented names appear only in field guides, the way that some English words appear only in dictionaries. They are often clumsy translations of the scientific names made for the field guide. --EncycloPetey 02:42, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
Most seem OK. manoeuvre margin is just the margin of manoeuvre. SemperBlotto 07:29, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
I'll add pheasant's eye then, it seems to be a plant known as adonide in French (fr:pheasant’s eye)

A free hand is a countable near-synonym to free reign, but implying a collaborative or non-exclusive responsibility. Probably a sum-of-parts construction of a common figurative sense of hand, which we don't seem to define. “Having a hand in the business;” “being given a free hand to run the company.” Michael Z. 2009-09-20 18:28 z


We now have five senses of a term that most dictionaries cover in one or two. We have no usage examples or citations. This is all because of the use-utilize distinction, a favorite among usage guides. Entry has several ugly footnotes. Can this entry be helped? DCDuring TALK 10:15, 16 September 2009 (UTC)


Having a bit of trouble writing a good definition for ixième - I put nth for the simple reason we don't have xth. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:38, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

That's the proper translation. kwami 20:43, 19 September 2009 (UTC)
How about umpteenth, which also carry the slight informality of ixième? Circeus 03:56, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

RfTerm: “the study of fortifications”

Hi y’all. What is the term (i.e., I’m looking for the -logy word) for the study of fortifications, especially those of castles? Thanks in advance to whoever can help me with this.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 17:57, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

(y'all... what a wonderful word...) Unfortunately, I'm not sure a "logy" for this one exists. (A quick Google search didn't turn up anything, neither did my other dictionary.) AFAICT, the science is also called "fortification". L☺g☺maniac chat? 18:43, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
This appears to be the case. [1] -- Visviva 19:10, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
castellology is sometimes used, but does not extend to anything besides castles. The superordinate field would be "military architecture", I suppose. Neither seems like exactly what you are looking for. -- Visviva 19:02, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Well, curses. Thanks anyway, everyone. I was hoping for an etymological purebred, FWIW. I’ve requested that translations be added to our entry for fortification; perhaps I’ll get an appropriate Ancient Greek etymon thereby… :-)  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 04:07, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

When a person feels the need to do a reverse lookup on Liddell & Scott, there are few things handier than Perseus. It does seem that there would be a logical place in the language for something like *teichology or perhaps *teichismatics. But neither appears to have ever gained any currency. -- Visviva 06:17, 20 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks very much for the link; it’s been noted. You’re right — teichology and teichismatics get only a single citation each. But what citations; you couldn’t dream of sentences with more exegetic context. Teichology is almost certainly a nonce word in that citation, but teichismatics looks kosher. Teichismatics shall be the word I use for this! Thanks again, everyone.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 16:00, 20 September 2009 (UTC)


There's some additional sense of the verb (and perhaps the noun) in activity planning, which I just came across while researching crashable. It seems that crashing is something one does to an activity to make it take place more quickly and minimise the critical path. Anyone know enough to write a good definition? Equinox 22:54, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

I think I've got crash#Verb. I've looked at the noun before and could find use of a plural noun in this sense. The common uses "crash course", "crash diet", "crash program", "crash deadline" look like they ought to be attributive use, but I can't find any clearly non-adjective use. There is now a simple sense at crash#Adjective. DCDuring TALK 00:55, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

average joe

flare up

No entry for these two common idioms either? Tooironic 04:44, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

See average Joe, unless what you mean is a cup of [[average]] [[joe]]. Which of average Joe and average joe should be the main entry for the idiom is an empirical question resolved at a corpus like COCA or b.g.c. A search for average joe yields average Joe in the search box and at the top of the search results.
See flare-up, flareup. But we miss flare up#Verb. DCDuring TALK 12:30, 19 September 2009 (UTC)
average Joe is about 50 times as common on COCA as average joe, but the lower case form is attestable. DCDuring TALK 22:38, 19 September 2009 (UTC)


Please help determine whether the word is Scots or English. The example from Citations:lown endorses the last option. For more refer to User talk:Widsith#lown. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 20:04, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

My copy of Chambers has two etymologies. Firstly, lown and lowne are Shakespearean variants of loon#Etymology 1 (which Wiktionary states is from Middle English but Chambers says "Origin unknown"). Secondly lown, lownd, loun and lound are variants of the Scottish word, for which Chambers gives: adjective (sheltered; calm; quiet), adverb (quietly), noun (calm; quiet; shelter) and intransitive verb (to calm); and the etymology Old Norse logn (noun). Pingku 20:39, 19 September 2009 (UTC)
The section was aimed at the second meaning and at determining whether it is to be reckoned English (new evidence would be the entry in MW dictionary), what tag does it deserve - dialect, regional...? The first case is merely an obsolete spelling. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 05:51, 20 September 2009 (UTC)
The header has been changed to English. Now the quæstion is whether the comparative and superlative grades are: lowner, lownest or more lown, most lown. Is there anyone with access to a dictionary which could resolve the issue? MW does not seem to have any clue. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 06:48, 20 September 2009 (UTC)
The OED doesn’t specify a comparative or superlative, but it has three quotations that use lowner and google books:"lownest" yields many hits showing use of the superlative lownest; furthermore, the fact that lown is a monosyllable adds weight to the claim that the comparative and superlative degrees are formed with -er and -est (since all monosyllables may form them by such suffixation, as a general rule).  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 02:10, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

vale, second definition needed.

We seem to be missing a definition for vale, but I'm not sure how to define it or what part of speech to use. Twice recently I have seen something like Vale Bill Smith as the heading for an obituary. Dictionary.com list vale as having meanings similar, but not sure if they are exactly the same as I am thinking of. All help appreciated.--Dmol 23:14, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

It's under the Latin def. It might be a good idea to add a usage note under the English to mention this usage in newspapers.--Tyranny Sue 07:15, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
On second thought (& further research) I think it requires another (Verb) entry under the English, with separate Etymology & Pronunciation. I'm working on it now.--Tyranny Sue 07:22, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

get on

"Get your groove on!" Should this sense be included in this entry? Tooironic 12:13, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

alopecia areata (and similar)

This medical term is used in English language sentences without the use of quotation marks or italics - so I'm pretty sure that it is English. However, the second word (areata) does not seem to be used by itself in English language sentences, and seems to be Latin.

Does that make sense?

Would it be OK to add an English entry for it having, in place of a definition, "used only in the term . . ."?

There are quite a few of this sort of medical term, e.g. anorexia nervosa. SemperBlotto 08:25, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

That seems kind of iffy to me. I prefer to just pass them by, figuring that very few people would ever search for "areata" or "nervosa" as an English word (and if they did, the appropriate entry would probably be near the top of the search results anyway). -- Visviva 09:50, 22 September 2009 (UTC)
Likewise for me. This happens in almost every scientific name of an organism as well, where the combination of generic name with specific epithet is a Translingual species name, but the specific epithet is not a Translingual word.
There is no reason to treat such components as "English", "Translingual", etc. when they do not function as words in those languages, especially so when you consider that alopecia areata is attestable in French, German, and Spanish as well. Does that mean that areata should have a "used only in..." for those languages as well? Doing so would generate whole new sections with lists of places where the element is used as part of a word, without actually providing any definitions or meanings. The combination was originally composed as Latin, so the components can simply be treated as Latin and this can be expressed in the Etymology section as well. --EncycloPetey 12:59, 22 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes, this is different from words found only in one expression, such as the French à brûle-pourpoint, where it is simply impossible to argue that brûle-pourpoint is a word, yet a reference of some sort is warranted,so it currently redirects to the latter. Circeus 03:46, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

shake or shake it?

Hi, I recently added a new verb definition for shake - "to dance". My questions are: (1) Is it transitive or intransitive? (2) Would it be more appropriate to be listed under shake it instead? Cheers Tooironic 20:36, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

It certainly needs a good sense at shake, both transitive and intransitive. "Shake" seems to refer to almost a wide range of kinds of dancing. The "it" in "shake it" is so non-specific that it no longer seems to barely be a pronoun. This use of "it" comes up a lot. I don't know that it is worth a specific grammar appendix or section. Also, even if it is a distinctive use of "it" it still seems SoP. But perhaps there is a leer associated with the "it" that would justify including this (with a proper reference to the leer). DCDuring TALK 22:13, 22 September 2009 (UTC)


Can someone please add the sense of again which is colloquially used to ask someone to repeat information, e.g. "What was your name again?" I wish to add the Chinese translation. Cheers. Tooironic 22:17, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

I gave it a shot … not a very good shot, but it's a start, and it's hopefully enough to hang your translation on. —RuakhTALK 01:02, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I tried to add a new translation table, but it looks awkward to me. Someone talented needs to get in there and sort out translation tables for all the definitions. This is giving me a headache. Tooironic 02:42, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

secrete, 2nd sense (to conceal; to steal) obsolete? or at least dated?

Just wondering if anyone out there actually uses this sense any more? In my experience it's obsolete, or at least dated, as 'secret' (whose meaning is much more appropriate) is used instead.--Tyranny Sue 05:35, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Of the 25 general dictionaries listed by OneLook (ignoring Wikipedia and Wiktionary), most didn’t list a verb sense for secret at all; those that did tagged it as {{obsolete}} and included a note stating that they got the definition from Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (1913). The one dictionary that listed the verb sense without an {{obsolete}} tag was AllWords.com, which includes as a footnote “Dictionary content provided from Wiktionary.org under the GNU Free Documentation License”. I’ve readded the tag, citing both the OED and Webster’s as supporting references. Conversely, Dictionary.com, MSN Encarta, the Compact OED, the American Heritage Dictionary (via Yahoo), the Cambridge Dictionary Online, Webster’s New World College Dictionary [4th Ed.], the OED [2nd Ed.; 1989], and many others all list the synonymous sense of the verb secrete without qualification (whilst most of their etymology sections note its derivation from the now obsolete verb secret). Clearly, lexicographical consensus is that secrete is perfectly current, whereas the verb secret had become obsolete by the eighteenth century. Consequently, the (considerable) onus is on you to prove otherwise. Appeals to unverifiable personal experience will not suffice, and neither will relying on the present participle secreting and past form secreted, since we have no way of telling to which verb they belong, owing to the two verbs’ synonymy. (And, FWIW, spelling rules for pronunciation are against their attribution to secret.) If you wish to show the verb secret to be current, gather citations for it spelt as secret, secrets, secretting, and secretted; I found one for secretting from 2003, so you may indeed succeed (though all the others are eighteenth-century uses).  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 17:19, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
I have never attempted to assert that 'secretting' and 'secretted' are in current use (and by the way, please do not delete perfectly valid quotations that wikipedians add to entries, as you did to both of mine on these entries - that is vandalistic behavior). As I pointed out previously, there is plenty of precedent for this being spelt with one 't'. I have now added quotations/citations under the verb sense of 'secret', unambiguously using the appropriate tense.--Tyranny Sue 11:35, 24 September 2009 (UTC)
The reason I suggested you attempt to verify the verb partly through secretting and secretted is that they can be unambiguously be attributed to the verb secret, whereas secreting and secreted could structurally be attributed to either secret or secrete. Sorry for deleting your quotations; I should’ve cleaned them up instead. I did do that ([2], [3]) eventually; please take greater care to get the details right with quotations (especially for older texts which tend to be reprinted many times) — you were off by 28 and 83 years with yours. You have indeed proven the currency of the verb secret now, to your credit. It would be good to have examples which use it without away, unless you think something like your original usage note is still warranted.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 16:32, 24 September 2009 (UTC)

Policy on ordering of spelling alternatives in definitions?

I'm wondering if we have any kind of policy on this. (E.g. alphabetical; oldest usage first; obsolete usage last.)
For example, "to secret ([...] present participle secretting (UK) or secreting (US), simple past and past participle secretted (UK) or secreted (US))"
(note: the spellings currently placed first are obsolete) --Tyranny Sue 06:11, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

If "secretting" is in fact obsolete, while the verb itself is not, IMO there is no need for it to be in the inflection line at all; it can be satisfactorily covered in a usage note. We wouldn't put "doth" in the inflection line for "do", I hope.  :-) -- Visviva 06:46, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
Hmm, well 'secretting' & 'secretted' appear to be obsolete spellings of 'secreting' & 'secretted', which are definitely not obsolete.--Tyranny Sue 07:06, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
The two-t spelling appears in many US 18th-century US writings so the UK tag doesn't seem right. The two-t forms "secretting" and "secretted" don't appear in BNC, COCA, or Google News. Whatever the past use, they are at least archaic if not obsolete. I would venture that they would seem a misspelling to most readers and editors of contemporary writings. DCDuring TALK 13:24, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
On the policy question, it seems appropriate to have at least current US/UK differences. I don't know how often there are differences of this type that have other regional bases (Australia, NZ, India, Canada, South Africa, Southern US, Geordie) and what our practice has been. I would also argue to exclude rare and archaic inflected forms from the inflection line. DCDuring TALK 13:31, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, we shouldn’t clutter the conjugation line with all historical forms, though I do think we should list disused distinct past participles for strong declension verbs and list strong declension conjugations for now-weak declension verbs. As for the specific case of the verb secret, in my opinion (which is in accord with lexicographical consensus), the entire verb is obsolete, not just the double-‘t’ present participle and past form, so those forms themselves shouldn’t be tagged as {{obsolete}}.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 17:31, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
There's a BP question about which current/recent regional or uncommon forms should appear in the inflection line. Whether obsolete lemmas are adequately marked is another question. Is sense line marking enough? DCDuring TALK 17:51, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
Personally, if I think a form would be considered "wrong" by most native speakers, I would omit it from the infinitive root word's inflection line (e.g. babysitted, plasmalemmae). I don't know how realistic my idea of what most speakers think is, though. Equinox 11:49, 24 September 2009 (UTC)
I use COCA to check forms because the operation of search is more straightforward than Google. babysitted and baby-sitted are google-books-attestable but don't appear in COCA, so we'd have come to the same conclusion. My intuition on American English is good, but I get surprised every day by something. COCA is one of the tabs I keep open in FF. DCDuring TALK 14:18, 24 September 2009 (UTC)


In some magazines such as Time and The Economist, you see a black square at the end of an article. Unicode has several black squares, and which is the end sign? U+220E end of proof? - TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 13:47, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

I think I know what you're talking about. The character you selected however is only used in mathematical context and nowhere else. I'd look somewhere in here. -- Prince Kassad 14:02, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
w:Tombstone_(typography) suggests that the end of proof mark and the end-of-article mark are one and the same. I have no clue, myself. The online version of Time doesn't seem to use it, or I would just do a little cutty-pasty thing. -- Visviva 14:42, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
The closest I can find in Unicode is under Mathematical Operators and is (end of proof, a.k.a. "halmos"). As Mjazac has commented, this doesn't seem semantically appropriate for closing an article, but it's probably the same thing visually. Equinox 11:43, 24 September 2009 (UTC)
The Unicode character is standardized for mathematical equations.
In typography, a designer can insert any character, dingbat, or graphic to serve as a tombstone, often a magazine's logo (e.g. the golden section in National Geographic, or, if memory serves me, the infinity symbol in the old Omni magazine). Michael Z. 2009-09-24 00:33 z
Hm. I think in typesetting this has a different name, but I can't think of it. Michael Z. 2009-09-24 00:57 z
It’s . We always just called it a square bullet, although there are different sizes of square bullets. Different typefaces often need a different size of square bullet. ■ should fit Times Roman, Univers, Helvetica or Arial on a printed page. —Stephen 15:53, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
What's the Unicode for that? I don't know how to fish it with Firefox... Circeus 03:39, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
Wikipedia is doing better than us by these at the moment: w:■ redirects one to w:Unicode Geometric Shapes, where this appears in the table as U+25A0, "BLACK SQUARE". This can be confirmed at Unicode.org (that file also includes some close variants, which might perhaps be the actual character used in some cases). -- Visviva 04:46, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
■ is U+25A0. —Stephen 04:55, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
The unfilled square (U+25A1) is the version with which I am most familiar from mathematics. like the first of these. Dbfirs 08:47, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

(to play) good cop bad cop

Wow, wiktionary doesn't have this fairly common idiom. Help please! Tooironic 23:36, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

There are so many terms like this that we need that we have created a special place for such requests: WT:REE and its siblings for other languages. DCDuring TALK 23:45, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
Yeah I know, but this idiom is so well-known, that's why I posted it here, rather than among all the dihydroergotoxines and follicles of Meibomius. Tooironic 00:03, 24 September 2009 (UTC)
We need some good ones among the dross to keep people going there. I've lost all motivation to go there because I can just wait here for these gems. Don't skim the cream -- except by adding it yourself! DCDuring TALK 00:27, 24 September 2009 (UTC)
OK, I'll add this one to the requests, as well as be right back (can't believe we didn't have an entry for this one!). Tooironic 00:57, 26 September 2009 (UTC)


Just come back to stir.

I see you guys still don't accept chillaxin as a real word, deserving its own entry, despite all the evidence.

Just throwing in a bit more ammunition

Google Search results

Chillaxin OR Chillaxing - 407,000

Chillaxin - 262,000 - 235,000 in the past year - 36,600 in the title of the page

Chillaxing - 150,000 - 126,000 in the past year - 16,100 in the title

Chillaxin NOT:Chillaxing - 254,000 - 233,000 in the past year - 36,600 in the title of the page

would seem Chillaxin is the dominant spelling!

And, by the way, Google accepts Chillaxin as a search term without suggewting it is a mispelling. compare with say "Fictography", where it suggests Pictography, and Fictorgraphy has only 2,470 Google Hits

Is in reputable dictionary

  • Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  • Also in The Free Dictionary ...


The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English by Grant Barrett

So we, no, Wiktionary is slower than the reputable dictionaries, slower even than print.


  • The Washington Times

Jon Ward on July 27, 2009
...and so everybody's chillaxin.

  • University Wire 02-17-2005 (The Dartmouth) (U-WIRE) HANOVER, N.H. --

"Where are the college kids these days?" So asks Thomas Friedman in his most recent New York Times column entitled "No Mullah Left Behind" (Feb. 13). To answer your question, Mr. Friedman, we're here -- just chillaxin'.

Used by Space Station Crew,
who wrote a haiku

Day of Freedom Launch
Leonardo and Spacewalks
Crew now Chillaxin'

as reported in:-

  • www.cbsnews.com, STS-121 MISSION ARCHIVE (FINAL), Updated: 07/20/06
  • www.spaceflightnow.com
  • Article Headline: Fossum 'chillaxin' In Space -- Gov. Rick Perry Makes A Call To Aggie In Orbit. Article from:The Monitor (McAllen, TX) Art

From the congressional IM database. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_19_58/ai_n26711726/

RepJefferson: Jes chillaxin?

- - - - - - - -

SenatorHillary: xcept to make more trouble

[REDACTED]: jes hangin and chillaxin

So how much evidence do you need to take a word from Protologism to Neologism at least, then on to allowing an entry in the main, as a legitimate alternative spelling ?

I don't expect anything from Wiktionary. After spending a lot of effort over a couple of years, I finally quit in disgust. It is was over-run by pedants, deletionists, egos and puritans. Has anything changed really ?

Do you reckon chillaxin, with all this evidence behind it, should be included in some form?--Richardb 08:05, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

See also Wiktionary talk:Criteria for inclusion#What Wiktionary is NOT for a discussion over the principle.

i/my rel.short exp.here[tho likly retoric q anyway]:nutin'much seems2'v changed realy..:(--史凡>voice-MSN/skypeme!RSI>typin=hard! 11:33, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
I don't understand who "you guys" are... nothing has happened with that entry since it was deleted in 2006. So could you be a little more specific with your insults, please? At any rate, there's certainly no reason not to have chillaxin', and if you can provide 3 durably-archived citations for the apostropheless version, just go ahead and create it already. -- Visviva 11:47, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
Man, you sure as hell wasted your time with that screed. Now, why don’t you go ahead and cite these two in accordance with the CFI?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 16:23, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, stop chillaxin and create the bloody entry already :P And while you're at it, create one for go hard. We definitely need more Aussie slang here. Tooironic 01:03, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Sorry for the newer folk here. If you check the page for chillaxin you will find that it was deleted despite a weight of evidence. It was the subject of a long running battle, in which the deletionists won out. It was deleted by SemperBlotto , TheDaveRoss , and Connel MacKenzie (Deleted and locked so even I, as an administrator, could not reinstate it). I was blocked over trying to get it included. I see someone has reinstated it. I'm waiting to see its fate before I consider really contributing again.--Richardb 16:12, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

welcombak-stilots2do![idontlike deletors much either;)--史凡>voice-MSN/skypeme!RSI>typin=hard! 08:34, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
Strange. I don't see why it should be deleted. In Australia at least it's a pretty common colloquialism, especially among young people. Tooironic 10:08, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
Neither chillax nor chillaxing had been deleted; only the forms with “dropped ‘g’s” — chillaxin and chillaxin’ — were formerly objected to. I’ve recreated them; they’re unlikely to be deleted again — the addition of quotations to their entries would ensure that they won’t be. I’d like access to the deletion log to see why they were deleted originally, since they clearly satisfy the CFI; I’m curious to see whether the reason was one of a stronger deletionist tendency at the time, one of bad formatting and POV-pushing, a combination of these factors, or whatever.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 15:11, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Treating "Postposition" as a POS with its own header

Regarding these edits to nothwithstanding and aside by User:TAKASUGI Shinji, I question treating "Postposition" as a separate part of speech. This isn't correct, is it? -- WikiPedant 18:50, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

It doesn't make sense to have Preposition but not Postposition. Also, there are many languages where postpositions play a vital role in grammar. -- Prince Kassad 19:19, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
Some of the limitations in WT:ELE don't really make sense for other languages, as I understand it. The PoS headers are barely adequate for English, after all. There are a good number of headers that appear in non-English sections that probably have no sanction by contributors to that language but remain anyway. For a listing of L3 headers deemed "invalid" see User:Robert_Ullmann/L3#Invalid L3 headers. Some of them are now sanctioned (eg, Determiner, Hypernyms, Hyponyms), some are clearly in error, some may make sense in the language in which used, some are indications that ELE needs work ("PoS n" and "Pronunciation n"). It would be useful if the sanctioned or defensible ones were compiled somewhere in tabular form so that they did not appear on clean-up lists. DCDuring TALK 19:59, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
Someone kindly remind me to revise the list in that program and re-run in if I haven't done so in the next day or so? The (more) authoritative list and status is in WT:POS. There are a number that we should run process to formally standardize (for languages other than English), "Postposition" is one of them. (also "Particle", etc) Robert Ullmann 09:09, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
I don't think it's correct in English, though as Prince Kassad notes there are languages where this would be the proper term. I believe notwithstanding would technically be an ambiposition, since it is possible -- though somewhat awkward -- to place it at the beginning of the phrase. But I think we can follow the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (p. 602) in considering "preposition" to encompass all English adpositions. -- Visviva 02:27, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
They are clearly postpositions. But if you want to call them "prepositions", just go ahead. - TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 04:37, 26 September 2009 (UTC)


The other dictionaries I check confirm my expectation that they would have only one sense. Our sense #1 and #2 differ only by the latter adding "self-propagating". My guess is that this was added because our sense #1 is over-specified. These senses should be merged and re-worded.

Sense number three is interesting. It's a more specific sense or subsense. Whether it's truly a sense or just an example is probably worth discussing. A relative of the email forward. — hippietrail 21:23, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Is "self-propagating" right? It's supposed to be an analog to a gene. Is a gene self-replicating?
I've heard the "meme" concept applied to designs, to manufactured objects, to words, to code fragments. "A cultural replicant"?
Sense three seems wonderfully specific by comparison, though one could only confirm that the citations refer to the referent of the sense line with a lot of more context. DCDuring TALK 22:40, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
I support merging these senses. --Dan Polansky 13:56, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

(in)transitive verbs

In an informal context, I've come across the following construction: ""I'm sorry," she apologized." Would "I'm sorry," in this case be the object of the verb, and would this make apologize a transitive verb when used in such an informal manner? Maybe it's the author's over-elaborate style, but this seems incorrect to me. -- 21:39, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

  • It just looks like a style issue to me. It's like saying ""I'm sorry," she said, apologetically." SemperBlotto 21:42, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
  • I think ‘incorrect’ is missing the point. You wouldn't use it that way in conversation, but creative writers are free to play around with things like transitivity as long as everyone understands what's being said. Ƿidsiþ 07:09, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Definition of compromise in need of improvement

Could people please look at the definitions for compromise and see if it can be improved? There was a comment at feedback that it was too hard and I see the point. RJFJR 00:03, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Shakespearean cowslip

I am seeking the Shekespeare's definition of the word "cowslips' and "cowslips pearl"

Shakespearean cowslip was a plant with yellow flowers, scientific name w:Caltha palustris. A pearl refers to a dewdrop on a cowslip’s yellow flower. —Stephen 09:36, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Could whoever knows what needs to be knows add a stroke-order .gif file to the entry for per please? Thanks.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 14:02, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Please spell and create an entry (if necessary) for a phrase

I heard a certain "phrase" from a mate today. This could be completely off the plot but I'm inclined to believe it may be military(ish) slang. The approximate IPA pronunciation (as I can't really read or write IPA very well)for it would be something like /di.di.maʊ/. Can anyone spell and define it? 50 Xylophone Players talk 22:35, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Context would help a lot! Robert Ullmann 23:33, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
Some Googling turns up our very own Transwiki:Di di mau, which could definitely use some love. —RuakhTALK 04:46, 27 September 2009 (UTC)
:P It seems to have been dealt with now. Thanks, Ruakh. 50 Xylophone Players talk 20:34, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Etymology of "whinge"

I believe this to be a "portmanteau" word combining "whine" and "cringe". I would appreciate any suggestions about confirming this.

Although the definition of the word as "complaining" is described as Australian slang, I have found this usage in British literature and radio productions. —This comment was unsigned.

Here's what the Online Etymology Dictionary has to say. That is not to say that proximity to the terms you mention doesn't help account for the continued use. DCDuring TALK 18:55, 27 September 2009 (UTC)
Shorter Oxford English dictionary says: Sc. and n. dial. 1513. [north. form of late OE. hwinsian = OHG. win(i)sōn (whence G. winseln) :- Gmc. *xwinisōjan; see WHINE v.] — hippietrail 04:51, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

"digitgrade" vs "digitigrade"

Are the two words "digitgrade" and "digitigrade" correct spelling? In a number of online dictionaries like http://www.askoxford.com , http://www.merriam-webster.com , http://dictionary.reference.com , http://www.tfd.com , no found for "digitgrade" but valid for "digitigrade". --Quest for Truth 15:10, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

No, only digitigrade is correct; see OneLook: digitgrade (just Wiktionary) vs. digitigrade (25 dictionaries). I’ve changed digitgrade to a misspelling entry; however, going on Google Book Search: google books:"digitigrade" (1,021) vs. google books:"digitgrade" (39), I wouldn’t say it’s common enough a misspelling, so I’ve requested its deletion. Unfortunately, in the time that the entry’s been here, the Mandarin Wiktionary’s copied it to theirs; I’ve informed them on the entry’s talk page that it’s a misspelling. *Digitgrade was added by Chimerical05, whose last contribution was nearly three years ago, so we’re unlikely to find out why it was added. I’ve added an etymology and other details to digitigrade, showing its derivation from Latin digitigrada (from digitus (finger”, “toe”, “digit) + -gradus (going”, “walking) = “walking on [the] toes”); rules of English morphology require that digit- coöccur with the Latinate interfix -i- when prefixed to a consonant-initial morpheme. Fortunately, we have plantigrade, but not *plantgrade.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 18:37, 28 September 2009 (UTC)


I just created an entry for Mitsein. It's a word I came across reading Beauvoir. The term was coined by either Hegel or Heidegger. It's loose translation is "togetherness" or "a pair with some kind of dynamic relation." Although it does not have plural usage, and a quote and reference would be helpful if anyone with some skills could help complete the entry. -VitaminN


I have added a new sense that I cannot find in any dictionary. I think the quotations support the sense. Could someone take a look? I think that the sense has something to do with a misconstruction of the word. It is as if the authors thought it had something to do with goggle#Verb, which the sources seem to say it does not. DCDuring TALK 04:16, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Yes it does appear to be used in this way - presumably because people open their eyes wide in eager anticipation. I don't think it can mean eyes open wide in surprise though. Dbfirs 11:17, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
With the long history of use apparently in this sense, why do dictionaries not show it? Is it because it is usually just metonymy? DCDuring TALK 14:31, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I would say so (or synecdoche, depending on which way round you look at it). Dbfirs 18:09, 1 October 2009 (UTC)


I would think that the following sense of "handy" is an adverb:

  1. Nearby, within reach.
    You wouldn’t have a screwdriver handy, would you?

But OneLook dictionaries disagree with me and agree with Wiktioanry that it is an adjective.

At least, "within reach" is an adverbial phrase of space or location, isn't it? What do you think? --Dan Polansky 11:53, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

I can't quite get "handy" as a place adverb. For example, it doesn't seem to be a natural answer to the the question "Where do you keep the screwdriver?" I would feel compelled to say "It's handy" rather than the bare "Handy". Nor would one say *"I moved/placed/put/set the screwdriver handy". I can't begin to imagine using "handy" with a verb that doesn't have a noun complement - though I'm sure it's been done at some point.

The "have" construction readily works with unmistakable adjectives with meanings that are quite close to "handy", like "ready" or "available" or "convenient". DCDuring TALK 15:41, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

trouble maker

Is this really proscribed? Why? Can it be sourced that some grammar authority considers this proscribed? --Dan Polansky 13:53, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

When written the space can lead a reader to start a different construction, I suppose. Evidently writers prefer the solid spelling. At COCA troublemaker is preferred over either the hyphened or spaced form 20:1. At BNC the solid and hyphened forms (roughly equal) beat the spaced form 5:1. DCDuring TALK 14:40, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
Right, but for low-frequency terms we have the "rare" tag, isn't it? Like, proscribed would mean that a notable grammarian or institution has a set of rules and rationales for how terms should look like, and the proscribed term breaks these rules.
Thank you for the COCA and BNC numbers. --Dan Polansky 15:01, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
I never use the "proscribed" tag, but I don't proscribe its use by others if it is supported (which it rarely is). I usually replace an unsupported proscribed tag with a fact-based usage note, which often points in the same direction, though sometimes discusses regional differences if significant. DCDuring TALK 15:49, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
Proscribed by both the New York Times Manual of Style (p. 122) and the Oxford Style Manual (p. 971, viewable at [4]). Or rather, both the NYT and Oxford specify the one-word form; they don't specifically mention the two-word form, but I think proscription can be reasonably inferred. I believe "trouble maker" would also be proscribed under the Chicago Manual of Style (5.202, 7.82), since only the unspaced, hyphen-free form appears in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate. -- Visviva 05:30, 1 October 2009 (UTC)