Wiktionary:Tea room/2010/August

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August 2010

A person who enjoy destruction

Hello, I am looking for a word that describes a person who enjoys seeing destruction. For example, I like to see a building that is broken down, I like the twisted metal, the exposed rebar, the dust and dirt, the faded paint, and so on. I know the word exists but I can't remember where I saw it or anything else about the word...

I believe this word is used in the context of art a lot... I want to use the word within the context of photography, taking pictures of broken objects.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am going now to make a little Ceylon tea. =) --Zoohouse 17:51, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

If you add a comment, please add a TB in my Talk page. Thanks! --Zoohouse 18:02, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

Not a regular here, so ignoring protocol, but Schadenfreude, is the closest I can think of...

've, -'ve

Is one entry redundant? Equinox 12:16, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

I think many like this are clitics, not suffixes, so the main entry has no hyphen. "Clitic" is not a PoS. So 've must be a verb. -'ve is a redirect to get users to the right place. I suppose all of these should be checked for membership in Category:English clitics and a proper inflection template. There might be something special to say about the unstressed pronunciation and that they can't be used where stress is required. (eg, "Have you checked all the clitics yet?" / ***"Yes, I've."*** vs. "Yes, I have.") DCDuring TALK 19:30, 6 August 2010 (UTC)


Given as alternative spelling of ever so. I think it's a misspelling; look how rare it is on Books. Likewise ta everso. Equinox 15:45, 1 August 2010 (UTC)


I've noticed that infinite is often used where I would have expected “infinitely many”. For example, google books:"there are infinite possibilities" gets a few thousand hits, and many or most seem to mean that the number of possibilities is infinite, not that each individual possibility is infinite. I've added that def to the entry, but I'm not sure if it should be tagged somehow (it's probably too common for (nonstandard)?), and if it should be under ===Numeral=== or ===Determiner=== rather than ===Adjective===. Anyone have any thoughts? —RuakhTALK 17:50, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

I don't think that it's nonstandard or informal, just the use of infinite as a numeral. I would put it under a numeral heading. —Internoob (DiscCont) 23:05, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
Thanks! —RuakhTALK 02:50, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
It's definitely found, though it grates on my ears/eyes every time I hear/see it. Considering google news archive:"infinite possibilities" source:"times", I don't think it's (nonstandard) or used only (informal)ly (though one has to exclude quoted speech from that search). Perhaps just en etymological note indicating that it came later, or something. I suppose it's a ===Numeral===, no?​—msh210 (talk) 16:21, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, it grates on my sense organs, too. It almost makes me want to revive {{smarter}}. :-P
The reason I wasn't sure about ===Numeral=== is that I've mainly noticed it as what you might call a 'numeral adjective' (like שתי or veintiún), but not so much as what you might call a 'numeral pronoun' (like שתיים or veintiuno). Like, "There are infinite possibilities", but not "All infinite have elements in common", nor "Infinite of the possibilities include component X, and infinite of them don't". But I see now that google books:"infinite of them" does get some hits that seem like they might be relevant so yeah, I guess ===Numeral=== is best. I'll do that now.
RuakhTALK 02:50, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
Mathematically, infinity is not a natural number nor an integer nor a real number, so I'm not quite sure whether one can consider it a numeral. I find that the usages mentioned above grate seriously on my sense of good English, but the expression "an infinite number of" is in regular educated usage, so this tends to support the claim for a "numeral adjective". I would support Ruakh's (nonstandard) tag. Dbfirs 16:17, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
An "infinite number of" can easily be read as an "unbounded number of". "Unbounded" is certainly not a numeral. I would dispute that any of the uses for which "unbounded", "limitless", or their synonyms are natural substitutes provide sufficient evidence that infinite is (yet ?) a numeral (or quantifier, sometimes included among determiners (See w:Quantification#Natural language.) ?).
And it should not be held against the usage that it is often hyperbolic. "4 engines, 15 exterior colors, 7 options packages give infinite possibilities" is an example of a common-enough language usage though 420 seems to be a bit less than infinity. We might be missing the sense "many, an awful lot of". DCDuring TALK 18:52, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
As to citations of "infinite of them", the non-scanno, non-punctuation-separated ones are almost entirely included in "an infinite of", which I read as infinity#Noun, which we do not treat as a numeral. DCDuring TALK 19:04, 6 August 2010 (UTC)


I think we are missing a sense here - as in "You need help." The implication is that the other person needs some kind of psychological treatment, not just any old assistance. ---> Tooironic 05:22, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

Not just context? "Press F1 for help" suggests documentation, not emergency services, but I wouldn't really call that a separate sense either. Equinox 10:32, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
I tried adding a sense. Please take a look and revise, RfV, or RfD (eg, if it seems redundant). DCDuring TALK 11:04, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Yeah I don't know, maybe I'm being too pedantic... ---> Tooironic 11:48, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm reminded of this New Yorker cartoon, which does indeed play on the existence of a separate sense. Ƿidsiþ 17:57, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Does it? I think it plays rather on different types of help someone can obtain. There are different types of food someone can obtain, but that doesn't mean we should have separate senses "potatoes" and "eggs" s.v. food.​—msh210 (talk) 18:19, 20 August 2010 (UTC)


I deleted this and it was restored. [1] It seems distinctly unscholarly to me to make a tentative "probably coined by" and then follow it up with a lot of specific, essentially promotional links to the person who might not even have coined it. Or am I being unreasonable? Equinox 10:30, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

I suppose the RfV tag provides temporary protection. I have completed the contributor's RfV by adding it to the RfV page and moved the spammy (self- ?) promotional "Etymology" to the talk page. It is tempting to just delete it as spam. DCDuring TALK 11:11, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
There is already an ongoing (since 28 July) RFV for the alternate spelling dooblydoo (which was the main entry until yesterday) at Wiktionary:Requests for verification#dooblydoo. Thryduulf (talk) 11:36, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
The only reason I used the word probably is because I've also heard people say that it was Dan Brown (pogobat), and I haven't gone through his videos to see if he actually talks about making up the word. ~ lexicógrafo | háblame ~ 16:52, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

see mui

Is this Hawaiian Creolepidgin Hawaiian or Hawaiian Pidgin (the creole)? DCDuring TALK 15:53, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

li hing mui

Is this Hawaiian Pidgin (the creole)? DCDuring TALK 15:53, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

Hawaiian Pidgin

Aren't pidgins different from creoles? DCDuring TALK 15:53, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, but Hawaiian Pidgin is the common name of this creole. (Compare Aral Sea.) —RuakhTALK 16:46, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
OK. Then, what does one call a pidgin of Hawaii? DCDuring TALK 17:11, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
Apparently: Hawaiian pidgin. DCDuring TALK 18:15, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

5-second delay, 7-second delay

Are these real terms for that specific thing, or does it just happen to be a delay of that many seconds? Equinox 15:36, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

In US broadcasting, the "seven-second delay" seems to be institutionalized for many "live" broadcasts. I have seem quite a few citations that would seem to support that reading. The "five-second delay" seems to refer to the same thing, but more from a layman's perspective. Moreover, the "technology" to permit the delay of seven seconds is often what is called "the seven-second delay". So, by the misnomer principle, as the "seven-second delay" is in these cases not a "delay", at least for these cases it would seem to meet CFI. I think the institutional nature of the delay (to avoid fines for the broadcast use of inappropriate language, gestures, or images) may make the other sense meet CFI too. DCDuring TALK 18:10, 6 August 2010 (UTC)


Is this name really equivalent to Octavius? Octavius is used in English. I think that Octavian derives from Octavianus (the emperor), this name being itself derived from Octavius, and that Octavian is not equivalent to Octavius. Lmaltier 18:56, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

Or do I misunderstand the page? I understood that the Latin first name Octavius could be translated to Octavian. This is what I disagree with. Lmaltier 19:20, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

A related question: The French adjective octavien is defined as Octavian. Could somebody add the adjective sense to Octavian? Lmaltier 20:49, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

I agree with you about the given name, and have edited the entry. OED spells the adjective octavian.--Makaokalani 14:40, 12 August 2010 (UTC)


Why do we think there are separate etymologies for the "berry, grain" sense and the "pimple" etc. sense? DCDuring TALK 19:44, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

right on the money

There are at least two grammatical analyses of this:

  1. right#Adverb + on the money. ("right" being optional, phrase is prepositional, used to modify both nouns and verbs [She answered/parked it right on the money.])
  2. right#Adjective + on the money. ("on the money" being optional, phrase is adjectival)

On the money certainly seems to be idiomatic as a standalone phrase and in either construction of "right on the money".

The only OneLook reference (besides Urban Dictionary and us) that has "right on the money" is RHU, which includes it as "also 'right on the money'" under the run-in entry for "on the money" at "money".

If only one of either of the analyses above were true, we might well declare this NISoP and delete it. Does it make a difference that both seem to be valid? Does that create an ambiguity which needs an entry to clear it up? DCDuring TALK 19:25, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

AFAICT it is definitely SoP and should be in RfD for sure. ---> Tooironic 01:20, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree. It's like "right alongside", "right over there", etc. Equinox 12:41, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
What's different is that it can be read as right#Adjective "(correct)" + on the money ("precisely") in many of its actual uses. In any event, see WT:RFD#right on the money. DCDuring TALK 23:10, 9 August 2010 (UTC)


A contributor has provided the following etymology: "In reaction to and by analogy with vegetarian, based on the (incorrect) analysis veg- + -e- + *-tarian, hence meat + (intervocalic) -a- + *-tarian. Proper formation is the rarer meatarian = meat + -arian."

I added {{blend|meat|vegetarian}}, which seemed to explain it adequately.

The presciptive tone of the longer bothers me, but is the analysis correct and worthwhile? DCDuring TALK 11:33, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

Not really either. I don't think there's 'incorrect analysis', I think there's no analysis at all, it's just purely a blend. Let's remove it and go with {{blend}}. Mglovesfun (talk) 22:56, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
Removed offending section. To clarify, I don't think there is any analysis, the syllable veg- (/vɛdʒ/) is replaced by meat- (/miːt/) and that's it. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:00, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I think it is by analogy with vegetarian, rather than a blend. As Mglovesfun (talkcontribs), it's formed by replacing veg with meat, which suggests that it is indeed based on an analysis of vegetarian as veg + other stuff. If it's an analysis-free blend, then how come we don't see forms like vemeatarian (replacing the get with meat, preserving the initial consonant) or vegemeatian (replacing the stressed syllable tar with meat)? —RuakhTALK 13:34, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't understand the test for something being a blend that you are suggesting. Could you expand on the idea? DCDuring TALK 13:53, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not proposing a general test. It just seems implausible to me that this could be a blend, because it doesn't combine the concepts of meat and vegetarianism, and because a very specific syllable (veg) replaced with its semantic opposite (meat) to produce a word whose meaning is the semantic opposite of the original word (since meatatarian means non-vegetarian). For an example of a real blend, see the use of "vegemeatian" in this forum thread, where it means roughly "fake vegetarian" or "self-proclaimed 'vegetarian' who eats meat".
Note that I'm not agreeing with the prescriptivism in the original etymology. I don't think there's anything "incorrect" in the reanalysis. Obviously, if you take a strict etymological view, the veg in vegetarian is basically meaningless (it's just part of the veget- stem, no pun intended), but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with neologisms based on a reanalysis where the veg in vegetarian means "vegetable".
RuakhTALK 14:26, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I wasn't aware that blending required such a strict semantic blending.
Even if it does, the meaning taken from "vegetarianism" wouldn't have to be the vegetable past as opposed to the dietary restriction or dietary practice element of the meaning.
In any event, "meatatarian" is more of a parody of "vegetarian" than an reference to a particular dietary practice. Unless it means something like "I eat as much meat as I can get away with".
I originally came upon this is reviewing [[-arian]], which included more spurious than authentic derived terms, this seeming one of the spurious ones. It may be that there is a neologistic suffix "-tarian" that it emerging or has emerged. In the transition, reanalysis and/or blending seem to occur before one can truly say that a productive suffix exists. Are, say, three instance of reanalysis/blending sufficient to claim the existence of a suffix? DCDuring TALK 15:03, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I wrote the (rather prescriptive) etymology mentioned above. I don’t mind wording it as a blend, but it does seem to me based on a reanalysis of vegetarian as veg-e-tarian (rather than veget-arian), as Ruakh states, rather than an unanalyzed blend like brunch (no-one argues that br- or -unch have independent meaning).
If you want a test for “blend vs. compound” (or phonetic blend/morphemic blend), this seems the one – an (unanalyzed) blend mixes sounds, not morphemes, while a compound concatenates morphemes (which may not have otherwise independent existence in the language). This seems a useful distinction, no? (AFAICT, terminology on what exactly is a blend isn’t standard among linguists.)
Consider also pescetarian, formed as pesce-tarian (compared with *pescarian, *piscarian, or *fisharian): both these terms have a spurious -t-, by analogy with vegetarian.
These are two examples of what seems to me using -tarian as a suffix (and I’ve heard more in casual speech – -tarian much more commonly used than -arian for humor: think pizza-tarian or the like) (oh dear – pizzatarian has 16k+ Google hits, 1 books hit (Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, p. 119), and an Urban dictionary entry (sorry)); as DC asks, at what point does this become a bona fide affix?
Admittedly, the prescriptive note is perhaps a bit much for the etymology section, but probably worth mentioning in a usage section (namely that the formal term is also more etymologically correct).
Hope this explains the distinction I was making!
—Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 21:23, 4 September 2010 (UTC)


Usage notes "This use of wist was never a part of the regular English language; rather, it resulted from the erroneous attempted use of archaisms."

Sounds like tosh. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:05, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

The OED tags it as pseudo-arch., with this etymology:
Partly from I wist, corrupt form of iwis (see WIS v.2); partly erron. use of pa. tense wist of WIT v.1
RuakhTALK 18:31, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
The thirteen occasions on which the word is used in the Authorised (King James) version of the bible are no doubt the source of the confusion in modern usage (if there is any modern usage). In all thirteen sentences, "wist" can be replaced by "knew" (and not "know"), so all fit the first etymology. I think it is worth recording a usage note in some form to explain the mis-use. Do we have a tag for "used by mistake"? Dbfirs 16:25, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
Are we allowed to replace our misleading "obsolete" tag with the OED's "pseudo-archaic"? Dbfirs 09:56, 18 November 2010 (UTC)
I've added an etymology (as requested), and used the OED's tag. Would it be in order to remove the usage note, since the former make clear the limits on validity of use. Should we add a separate etymology (this one I think definitely obsolete) from "wis" via "iwis"? Dbfirs 20:38, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

drug of choice, tool of choice

Are these more than sums of parts? Do we need an entry for of choice? Equinox 00:53, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

I think we need "of choice" because the grammar is not sufficiently standard. RHU and AHD Idioms have "of choice". I think that "drug" and "tool" are just two of the more common collocating nouns. Others are "treatment", "weapon", "method", "material", "fuel". OTOH, "drug of choice" is found in some dictionaries, but not "tool of choice". I have added cites that have drug, treatment, and weapon. We could add more or have some collocations in the manner of MZ and Algrif. DCDuring TALK 02:14, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Redirect these SesOPs to of choice. Thanks, DCDuring, for creating the latter.​—msh210 (talk) 15:45, 11 August 2010 (UTC)


Should we change the header here from preposition to ambiposition or would that screw things up? —Internoob (DiscCont) 18:26, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

I think it's fine as is. They're called "prepositions". A usage note already notes "Often used after its complement" (and adds ", the etymology of its name notwithstanding", which I assume means "notwithstanding the etymology of the word preposition" and should be removed). A usex on the page with notwithstanding final would be nice.​—msh210 (talk) 18:37, 11 August 2010 (UTC)


We say "A right wing political movement that opposes liberalism in political, economic and social fields". Wikipedia says "a political philosophy that (uses) modern American economic and military power to bring liberalism, democracy, and human rights to other countries." Can these possibly agree? Equinox 03:07, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Based on onelook and bgc (neconservatism intitle:dictionary) hits, I'd say that our definition is right and that Wikipedia's is wrong:
Explicitly not liberalism
  • Yahoo, AHD: arose in opposition to perceived liberalism
  • Wordnet: point of view in contrast to more liberal or radical schools of thought
  • Dictionary of World History: [2] "Many early neoconservatives were former liberals converted to conservatism by the perceived failtures of liberal and multilateral foreign policies"
  • Dictionary of Modern Politics: [3] " [] first coined to refer to a tendency to reject some of the underlying assumptions of American liberalsim [] "
  • Dictionary of Jargon: [4] "a style of conservatism that rejects the extremes of liberal/socialist utopianism"
  • Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics: [5] "Approach characterized by a fear of social breakdown and liberal decadence"
Implicitly not liberalism
  • Mirriam-Webster, Infoplease, Dictionary.com: a former liberal espousing (moderate) political conservatism
  • TheFreeDictionary: movement in conservatism, usually seen as a move further to the right
  • Dictionary of American Government and Politics: [6] "A label that embraces right-wing policy attitudes [and] causes tratitionally espoused by the New Right and Religious Right"
No definitions, except Wikipedia's (and mirrors'), say anything opposite. Other dictionaries and definitions don't mention liberalism). Thryduulf (talk) 11:01, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
The problem is that liberalism has multiple meanings, some of which are almost opposite to each other. I think both definitions are basically correct, but neither one is a shining example of unambiguous language. —RuakhTALK 12:29, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
There can be little doubt that conservatives do what they can to take back "liberalism" from any leftish group that has appropriated it. The WP article looks like part of that effort.
I think this is a US term and have so marked it. It is certainly about what has been a mostly US phenomenon. If that is correct, then it would be be possible to replace "liberalism" with "liberalism of the US Democratic Party" or some similar more specific term. "Liberalism" is not just polysemic, it is a contranym, in the sense that "economic liberalism" is a conservative/right-wing/Republican tendency (by and large) and "liberal" Democrats tend to oppose that, at least on many specifics. Was it the historical tendency of the US Democratic Party against the more established institutions such as Protestant churches, parts of common law, and the older power elites that enabled it to assume the mantle of social and political liberalism while being largely opposed to economic liberalism?
IMHO "liberalism" doesn't belong in any NPOV definition where it can cause perplexity like this. I think qualification like "economic liberalism" or "Democratic liberalism", but not "democratic liberalism", might be sufficient to resolve contradictions. DCDuring TALK 13:50, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
I also note the contradictions at a finer level of detail among definitions offered by the other references, eg, Merriam Webster "(moderate) conservatism" et al vs. TheFreeDictionary ("move further to the right").
"Perceived" may be another useful qualifier of "liberalism". DCDuring TALK 13:57, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

stand pat

Apparently this idiom originated in poker. What is the PoS and sense of pat that would have applied c. 1882 when the poker sense was attested. DCDuring TALK 19:34, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

This sense is related to the sense in down pat. This looks like job for the OED. DCDuring TALK 19:43, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

red face test

Are this entry, red face, and Is my face red! all entry-worthy?

The core of this set: red face was in some old dictionaries and appears in one OneLook reference, an encyclopedic-seeming medical glossary. One older sense was "covered with carbuncles" (acne?). We don't have the right sense of red: something like (of pale skinned people) A reddish color of the facial skin, indicating emotional arousal, especially, by convention, embarrassment.

If we have such a sense, are the others warranted? "Is my face red!" is mentioned in at least one idiom dictionary, though not as a main entry. DCDuring TALK 14:25, 13 August 2010 (UTC)


Is the plural ankylosauri legitimate? Equinox 18:09, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

Well, g.b.c. indicates diplodoci is, and stegosauri, which I created, also is. It's probably something of a famous/less-famous break, though. Circeus 19:01, 13 August 2010 (UTC)


The Code of Federal Regulations at 21CFR137.105(a) says "The flour is freed from bran coat, or bran coat and germ, to such extent that the percent of ash therein [is low]". What's ash? We don't have the relevant sense.​—msh210 (talk) 19:05, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

I think it's the usual sense. Quoth [[w:Flour#Flour type numbers]]:
In some markets, the different available flour varieties are labeled according to the ash mass ("mineral content") that remains after a sample was incinerated in a laboratory oven (typically at 550 °C or 900 °C, see international standards ISO 2171 and ICC 104/1).
RuakhTALK 19:13, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
But as the quote suggests, this either some kind of idealized concept of "ash" intended to be all and only mineral content (therefore an ideal combustion process) or the actual result of an approved or standard test-processing method intended to economically approach the idealized concept. A normal human's definition (presumably our sense 1, involving a normal fire in earth-like conditions, with no visible mercury) would not be that picky. Our second "chemical" definition is more specific, but not specific enough for important regulation, engineering or scientific use. DCDuring TALK 20:03, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
To my view, the entry 2. "(chemistry) The nonaqueous remains of a material subjected to any complete oxidation process." is completely correct and adequate. The word "ash" in the quoted passage refers to this definition. -- ALGRIF talk 15:50, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

All right. Thank you all. The CFR wasn't clear that "the percent of ash therein" means "the percent of ash therein ifit's burned", so I thought "ash" there meant something present in the flour even when not burned. I suppose it's just lousy wording on the part of whatever agency wrote that regulation. (OTOH, if such lousy wording is common enough, then I suppose we have a new sense of ash: "Stuff that turns into ash when burned". Nonetheless,) I'm striking this section and detagging the entry.​—msh210 (talk) 17:42, 16 August 2010 (UTC)


The word elephantitis is defined on the wiktionary as "an alternative spelling of elephantiasis." That, however, is grossly incorrect. Elephantitis is a common misspelling and mispronunciation of elephantiasis made popular by the uninformed. The suffix -itis basically means "an inflammation of" (e.g., tendonitis is an inflammation of a tendon.) I've attempted to change the definition of elephantitis to this: "A common mispronunciation and misspelling of elephantiasis" only to be blocked for "disruptive edits" on several occasions. I feel that the definition of elephantitis should either be changed to reflect it's non-existence or be replaced with a redirect page to elephantiasis. I realize that all languages are in a constant state of flux and evolution, but this represents a complete disregard for disease nomenclature and is for some reason being zealously guarded by a single admin who has over two thousand blocks as well as over two thousand deletions under his belt who is hell bent on misdiagnosing his inflamed elephant. I feel like my contribution to this discussion page is a little out of place by comparison to the others, but oh well. ProtossMySalad 21:47, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

I don't know quite what to do with the entry, but a redirect is out of the question as per policy. If it's nonstandard, I agree that it should be labelled as such, however. —Internoob (DiscCont) 03:59, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
I think you are right, but this spelling is so common even in books that it does warrant an entry. I have changed it to the "misspelling of" template and added a note in the etymology about confusion with -itis. Does that seem reasonable? Equinox 11:53, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, I think that solution is tolerable. It had been bugging me for a while and I was sick of being banned for trying to remedy it. ProtossMySalad 01:37, 3 September 2010 (UTC)


Apparently added as a misspelling of sweetmeat; I have now changed it to "obsolete spelling of", because it does seem to be in some old texts. Can somebody confirm that it's an acceptable old spelling and not just a prevalent error? Equinox 23:46, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

  • I don't see it myself. Ƿidsiþ 17:49, 20 August 2010 (UTC)


"Sir Christopher Wren, English architect". Is this a dictionary sense? Thousands of famous people are referred to by surname alone. Equinox 14:24, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Not dictionary material. Delete. ---> Tooironic 22:15, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
Delete A WP dab link should handle it. DCDuring TALK 22:20, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
Keep (all) - I'm sure, given time, that I could find three quotations. SemperBlotto 19:00, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Delete the architect, because Christopher Wren is the real name of an English speaking person. Of course he's called Wren, like a John Wren would be. Two of the quotations don't meet attributive use, besides that CFI was voted out in June. Wikipedia links should be enough for famous bearers of surnames . Shakespeare is a border case - a very rare surname (not terribly rare, I checked). Even if I knew a John Shakespeare, I'd hesitate calling him Shakespeare. However Wren is a common surname. But Euclid should be defined as a person, since it's the English term for a person whose real name was Εὐκλείδης. --Makaokalani 15:58, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
But if a "John Wren" had also designed a church you wouldn't call it a "Wren church" - people would think you were talking about Christopher. When you come across the word Wren, without qualification, in such a context it always refers to Christopher Wren - that's why the definition should be kept. SemperBlotto 16:04, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
The Wren church quotation could go under the surname definition. Do we need a separate definition line for such persons? The translation of Christopher Wren is already included in the surname definition.--Makaokalani 11:17, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Delete. Name of a specific person, clearly not dictionary material. --Yair rand (talk) 05:10, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Keep. We exclude entries for specific people, but CFI says nothing about definitions that are specific people. I've added three more quotations to support this meaning. And a CHALLENGE - find quotes involving the surname Wren that do not refer to Christopher Wren. SemperBlotto 15:19, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Keep a sense-line for Christopher Wren per SemperBlotto. But this is not a RFD, so this is a wrong process. If someone seriously wants to get the sense deleted, he should post it to RFD using {{rfd-sense}}. On "Thousands of famous people are referred by surname alone": millions of geographic names are going to be included per recent vote on inclusion of geographic names. --Dan Polansky 19:46, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

plate, on someone's plate, off someone's plate

The sense is "agenda", things demanding attention. An extra sense of "plate" to accommodate this sense seems artificial, but MWOnline has such a sense. Can someone use "plate" for "agenda" without "on one's" or "off one's"? "My plate is full?" Is there enough of such other usage to matter? DCDuring TALK 20:06, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

nimbyer, nimbyest

Not seeing, at least with this capitalisation. Equinox 23:13, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Take them to rfv then. A 30 second look at groups for suggests nimbyest might be verifiable but I've not looked further than that. Thryduulf (talk) 09:05, 16 August 2010 (UTC)


how to provide traductions in berberian language

I tried for "camel", but did not succeed.

It could be usefull to provide :

  • standardised tifinagh alfabet : ⴰⵕⴰⵎ
  • latin transliteration : aṛam
  • arabic transliteration : ارام

I developed some berber words in Walloon wiktionary, recently in tifinagh alfabet (oficial in Morocco), giving the opportunity to diffuse them. (before, I was using images to write tifinagh spelling).

--Lucyin 01:23, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

The thing is, we don't treat Berber as a language, but as a family for languages. So you have to add translations for the individual languages. I'm far from expert, User:Prince Kassad seems to be good on this sort of thing. Mglovesfun (talk) 11:24, 11 September 2010 (UTC)


Surely this is an adverb? ---> Tooironic 07:50, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

It sure is used as one, but the word literally translates to "the bird's path" and few Swedes would call this an adverb, since a path is a noun. The only way I can understand this use of the word is as a shorthand for "along the bird's path" (längs fågelvägen), which would be an adverbial phrase. In the English sentence "it's 3 miles bird's path" (with "along" left out), would you call "bird's path" an adverb? --LA2 05:15, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

cat person, dog person

Is it really "a person who keeps __ as pets"? I thought it was just someone who particularly liked cats or dogs. Equinox 19:06, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

I think you're right, and I think they're SOP.​—msh210 (talk) 19:07, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Agree with Msh on both counts. DCDuring TALK 19:42, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
This is the same debate as breast man, leg man where the idea is essentially the same each time, but varies slightly due to the nature of the concepts involved. It's essentially noun 1 + noun 2, where noun 1 is the object concept that is desired/liked/approved of, and noun2 is the person/animal/thing doing the desiring/liking/approving. While the wording used to express the concept changes, the concept that drives the wording (IMO) doesn't. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:25, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I haven't seen a comprehensive discussion of the semantics of compound nouns (open, closed, or hyphenated) nor do I know of a reference (print or online) that handles them well lexically. Can anyone direct me to resources for this, especially free! Print books available used might be OK.
We don't even have categories for terms formed using given words by compounding, though we have some limited use of {{compound}} for the closed compounds. That seems necessary to begin to make sure that we have adequate coverage of the compound-forming senses of words like "man" and "person". DCDuring TALK 16:09, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I have added a very clumsy non-gloss definition at person#Noun for the applicable sense. Please revise so a normal human might understand. DCDuring TALK 16:22, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the revisions. It is a great improvement.
Not to look the proverbial horse in its proverbial mouth, "specified thing" confuses the category of the grammatical entity (the "tail" of the noun phrase) and its referent and may overly restrict the grammar. The "specified thing" need not be a thing in the sense of something concrete. Also, many types of nominals could take the place of "cat" and "dog" in the usage example. For example:
  • I'm more of a do-it-my-way person. He's more let's-talk-about-it.
Notwithstanding this, I doubt if there is any intelligible wording that could convey it, even if my parsing is correct. The wording and examples are probably the best that can be done. DCDuring TALK 17:19, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Just "the specified" (no "thing") would be more accurate, I suppose, but stilted.​—msh210 (talk) 18:17, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Maybe we will invent or imitate as superior formula as we deal with more special senses that emerge from use of words in compounds. Even the most inclusionist among us must have some qualms about including all possible MWE compounds involving "man" or "person". But if we don't take compounds somewhat seriously we may fail to include useful senses. That is a good reason not to have compounds deleted as entries or as requested entries before checking for the adequacy of our coverage of the senses of the components. DCDuring TALK 18:47, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

X something is X

Do you all have this documented anywhere, and if not, how would it be? This is the Internet phenomenon (could it be called a meme?) where to describe something the adjective is placed both before and after the noun. For example "happy dog is happy" or "crazy boy is crazy". ~ lexicógrafo | háblame ~ 22:09, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

hmm, the construction appears to be a snowclone type formation but the meaning is clearly sum of parts. Thryduulf (talk) 14:05, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
It seems to be most frequently called X Y is X, as on this KnowYourMeme page. ~ lexicógrafo | háblame ~ 14:36, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
As we are attempting to serve normal users for the most part (not memologists, memeticians, memesters, or whatever else they may be called) for the most part, we would need some evidence that ordinary users (Think unregistered users.) would search for something using "X" and "Y". I don't think we can count on all of them using the conventional "one", "something", and "someone". Language professionals would probably prefer the more informative "NP" or "N" and "AdjP" or "Adj" (depending on what the structure of the meme/snowclone really is).
I have toyed with the idea of having an Appendix for groups of related snowclones and a category for such Appendixes. Each individual entry-worthy example could be wikilinked to and from an appendix. We could use {{only in}} to soft-redirect users searching to non-entry worthy forms to the appropriate appendix. DCDuring TALK 15:39, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Well possibly an appendix titled "Snowclone: X something is X", and listing many of the most common phrases? I odn't know really how y'all do it around here. ~ lexicógrafo | háblame ~ 15:07, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

I've started a snowclone appendix draft page at User:Lexicografía/Snowclones. — lexicógrafo | háblame — 20:48, 1 September 2010 (UTC)


I think we should make a distinction here between the two senses of election as a process of electing someone and election as the end result of electing someone. In Chinese this is split in two as 选举 and 当选. ---> Tooironic 23:45, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes they are subsenses at MWOnline, too. We also miss two rarer, possibly dated senses they have. DCDuring TALK 23:55, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
I've added the sense requested, and another.​—msh210 (talk) 18:26, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Great work. Thanks heaps. ---> Tooironic 10:48, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

The dreaded '[foo letter]' word.

Per the Wikipedia discussion at w:Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Dreaded "b" word, there is an apparent meme of assigning a quality of dread to certain over-used words or a words representing putatively unpleasant concepts, and then identifying the word only by its first letter; for example:

  • 2008, Sandra Rinomato, Realty Check: Real Estate Secrets for First-Time Canadian Home Buyers, p. 24:
    It turned out that the biggest advantage of all for this young couple was that they were willing to face the dreaded “c” word in order to become first-time homebuyers: “compromise.”
  • 2006, Darwin Porter, Danforth Prince, Caribbean For Dummies, p. 43:
    We also give you an honest assessment of the dreaded h word — hurricane — and what it means for your Caribbean getaway.
  • 1995, AIGA journal of graphic design: Volumes 13-14, p. 37:
    The dreaded M word, Marketing, is a fact, not an option, of any successful business.

Of course, these are just random fill-ins. Instances abound of the "c" word being commitment or cancer, of the "h" word being heresy, and of the "m" word being marriage, mortgage, or management. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of examples in print for every letter of the alphabet. How should we handle this? bd2412 T 01:48, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Do you use asterisks in page titles? dreaded * word ~ lexicógrafo | háblame ~ 01:57, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I think we'd be more likely to use an X, although this is complicated by X needing to stand in for any letter, including itself (although there are zero Google Books hits for "dreaded x word" and only a handful of regular Google hits). bd2412 T 02:03, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure that "dreaded" is an essential part of the construction, just the most common collocaion. "The dreaded 'C' word" and "The 'C' word" are no different in meaning to "The feared 'C' word". Thryduulf (talk) 13:36, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
This is another yet another snowclone/construction issue. Clearly these are of linguistic interest and of potential value to normal users in providing or enabling systematic linking among syntactically related terms. The desirability of having unifying/linking pages in principal namespace is what is, erm, in doubt. For now, Appendix space is the only home for such information. Perhaps we need to try creating some appendixes that illustrated how such information could be useful for contributors, let alone for passive users. DCDuring TALK 16:37, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I brought it up here because someone bothered to make an entry for it on Wikipedia. I doubt the construction has any encyclopedic value, but it may have linguistic value. I see your point, however, about a word being the "feared 'x' word" or even just "the 'x' word". bd2412 T 02:14, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
We have apparently had for some time the following entries: -word, b-word, d-word, f-word, n-word, s-word, a-word, p-word, h-word, l-word, and m-word. These entries could use some clean-up, but seem to adequately cover the important aspects of this. There may also be some attestable forms of the construction missing. DCDuring TALK 03:14, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
b-word includes the sense, "Any word beginning with b that is not normally taboo but is considered (often humorously) to be so in the given context". That should probably apply to all x-word combinations. I note for example that c-word doesn't include senses for "commitmnent" or "counseling" or "compromise", although these can be found. Perhaps it shouldn't, since any word that starts with a given letter could be described as the x-word for that letter. bd2412 T 20:36, 26 August 2010 (UTC)


Does anyone think the euphemistic usage implying taking drugs and/or having casual sex deserves a separate definition?--Person12 03:42, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Yep. I've added the drug sense with one example. I haven't added a sex sense because I don't personally know of it. Equinox 15:19, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Why is Thelemic capitalized?

Why is the entry for Thelemic capitalized? It mainly links to Thelema also capitalized. Is this somethign we forgot to decapitalize? RJFJR 22:14, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

About 96% of bgc hits are capitalised, about 80% of scholar hits are capitalised, >90% of ggc hits are capitalised (even excluding the large amount of spam for the "Thelemeic Golden Dawn" website which is proving surprisingly difficult to exclude). All but one of the news archive hits are capitalised, but there is a lot of duplication of one story in there so the sample isn't as large as it seems.
Based on this, I'd say that the main entry should be where it is and thelemic marked as an alternative spelling of only. Thryduulf (talk) 13:55, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Suggestion: the slang phrase, "narf".

In the 1990s, a popular show known as Pinky and the Brain had one of the protagonists randomly shout the word "narf" at the end of assorted sentances.

Outside of this, I haven't seen the word "narf", but I guess I'll post it for all of you.

I was far too afraid to try and post "narf", especially after I how badly I screwed up with "goomba". (I noticed it was attempted in the past, but was rejected because the poster inserted gibberish.)

However, if the community is willing, here is my suggestion (edited appropriately for Wiktionary formatting).

  • An exclamation of surprise, pain, or excitement, appended to the end of a sentance.
e.x.: "I can't believe you're doing this; NARF."

(The problem here is that the protagnist credited with the word inserted at the end of sentances without rhyme or reason, other than that the word was always at the end of the sentance and immediantly after said sentance's conclusion.)

It was worth a shot. --TurtleShroom was here! JESUS LOVES YOU AND DIED FOR YOU! 22:45, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

If you haven't seen it outside one cartoon, it's not worth being in a proper dictionary for grown-ups. Equinox 00:25, 24 August 2010 (UTC)


cum#Preposition seems like more of a conjunction to me. I think that "A-cum-B" means the same as "B-cum-A", at least in many, possibly the majority of its uses, including those that fit the definition given. DCDuring TALK 23:16, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Just because something has a commutative property, that doesn't make it a conjunction. The bench is by the tree is very similar to the tree is by the bench, but by isn't a conjunction. That said, cum is a bit odd.--Brett 12:15, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
The closer comparison for "by" dispenses with the copula. "The bench by the tree" is not the same as "the tree by the bench". In a case like "workroom-cum-man-cave", reversal doesn't seem to change the meaning: "man-cave-cum-workroom". I am thinking of the narrowest set of conjunctions: "and", "or", and synonyms (which conjoin elements of equivalent syntax), not negators or conjunctive adverbs.
To the extent that "cum" is used in a way that stays close to its etymology, it behaves like a preposition. But I don't think it is used that way so much nowadays. It seems to me to indicate that something is two or more things (often functionally) more or less at the same time, inherently, and equally. Does anyone else read this differently? DCDuring TALK 14:23, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Re: semantics: Maybe this is just my imagination, but I feel like the first branch is usually the more basic, primary, or more obviously intended purpose, and the second branch is usually somewhat tacked-on; for example, a church-cum-senior-center seems like a church that doubles as senior center — maybe it started out as just a church, but then the senior center closed so the church decided to take over the senior center's old functions — and a senior-center-cum-church seems like the reverse. But maybe that has more to do with pragmatics than with actual semantics?
Re: POS: When a word has such a restricted grammar, that matches the grammar of almost no other word in the language, I'm not sure it's possible to assign a part of speech to it. How come we have to say "he's in his workroom-cum-man-cave" and not *"he's in his workroom cum his man-cave" (separate determiners)? Or *"he's in his workroom cum in his man-cave" (separate prepositions and determiners)? The only word that seems to be used anything like it is slash, which IMHO is a clear conjunction, but then, slash does allow those constructions.
RuakhTALK 19:23, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps it could be thought of as hyphen drawing attention to itself. A "workroom-mancave" does not draw as much attention to the combination as "workroom-cum-mancave". It may also be that it serves a clarifying function in an expression like "workroom-cum-man-cave" (*"workroom-man-cave"). In some cases the incongruity of a combination seems to require something stronger than an ordinary hyphen.
The strong-hyphen idea seems to fit your observations on the grammar and mine on the semantics. If it is a writer's gimmick, then the order of the linked elements is likely to also be rhetorically selected, the first element fitting with the preceding text and the second with the following text. DCDuring TALK 20:31, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I think the order with cum is as important as the order with by, but then again, order is often important with conjunctions. I'll go and see is not the same as I'll see and go, and coffee and milk is not the same as milk and coffee.--Brett 23:10, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
For a US speaker, "go and" is a special idiomatic construction for which "I'll go and see" is equivalent to "I'll go see".
But I take your point that we often order coordinated things in time, space, size, familiarity, etc. But, I think that the simple statements "This is a 'mancave cum workroom'" and "This is a 'workroom cum mancave'" (same "This") have the same "truth value", but work differently on the expectations of the hearer. In contrast, I can comfortably sit on the "bench by the bed of coals", but not on the "bed of coals by the bench".
Most basic grammar books say that one doesn't need tests for grammatical parts of speech, as they can be listed. They are definitely not thinking of lexicographers when they say so. CGEL helps. "-cum-" appears to meet some, but not all, of CGEL's tests for conjunctions. I haven't determined whether it ever coordinates any syntactic elements other than nouns. (Adjectives might be possible, I think.) It may coordinate the nominal elements in "This is a dining-cum-living room".
What is clearer to me is that "-cum-" forms coordinative compounds that behave like such terms as "secretary-treasurer" and "player-coach", which seem to be coordinated by "-". Is a hyphen, among other things, a coordinator? DCDuring TALK 01:47, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I couldn't really come up with any good arguments for or against the coordinator analysis so I wrote to Huddleston and Pullum. Geoff thinks both cum and slash look like coordinators. Rodney hasn't answered. I think he's involved in a wedding tomorrow, so he may not offer an opinion soon.--Brett 01:29, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Cool. Thanks. I don't know if I can bring myself to call "-" and "/" conjunctions, but I think it might be constructive to have a coordinator category that includes these, "cum", and the coordinating conjunctions. The H&P categories are certainly useful though they can't replace the conventional PoS headers and categories for users. DCDuring TALK 01:45, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't think punctuation marks belong to lexical categories, given that they're not actually part of the language. One might as well ask what part of speech capitalization has. (O.K., so I'm being a bit glib: punctuation marks tend to correlate with certain intonation patterns, pauses, and so on, which also don't belong to parts of speech, even though they are part of speech. But I stand by the claim. Juxtaposition of nouns, as in "philosopher king" or "philosopher-king", can have some of the same properties as more overt constructs, as in "philosopher-cum-king" or "philosopher-slash-king" or "philosopher-and-king", but the space or hyphen between the nouns is not really word-like.) —RuakhTALK 02:30, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Usage of the spelled-out forms, (if they can properly be called "forms"), slash, hyphen, and, possibly dash, might more validly be considered evidence of usage as a part of speech in a way similar to the non-noun usage of other spelled-out versions of punctuation. DCDuring TALK 16:40, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Here's Pullum's posting on Language Log [[7]].--Brett 11:49, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Wiktionary deserves acknowledgment for the "discovery". DCDuring TALK 16:40, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I've posted on my blog with full credit to you and Ruakh, but as you'll see there, American Heritage already has slash as a conjunction and MW has cum, so no discovery to speak of. I'll post a comment at LL too.--Brett 18:22, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I can't benefit from any credit if there is any to be had and don't deserve much anyway. I thought that Wiktionary deserves credit for providing a forum for surfacing such matters in a visible-to-the-public way. AHD can't make that claim. LL, English Jack, and ADS among others are forums that also facilitate such discussions.
Also, see the hyphen#Conjunction hypothesis. DCDuring TALK 18:50, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

I've added conjunction sections to both slash and cum. They probably need some work. I've also added citations for each.--Brett 02:12, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

given name

"(chiefly US and Scottish)"? I think not. It's extremely common in Australia, for example. ---> Tooironic 10:46, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

I've changed it to {{chiefly|Australia|US|and|Scotland}}, which you could have done yourself, Tooironic, of course.​—msh210 (talk) 19:32, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but is it "chiefly" at all? Or more or less universal? ---> Tooironic 12:54, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
It's common in UK, I believe. -- ALGRIF talk 13:04, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I recently looked at usage statistics. It has much lower frequency of usage than Christian name at BNC (UK). But given name had significant usage there, too. The relative frequency of "Christian name" in the US (COCA) is much lower. I don't think that we have a terse context tag that conveys lower use. Perhaps we should just have a usage note instead. DCDuring TALK 13:52, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
How about leaving off the context tag, not adding a usage note, and, s.v. Synonyms, putting "Christian name (much more common than given name in the United Kingdom)" or similar?​—msh210 (talk) 15:25, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Good idea. DCDuring TALK 16:58, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Erm, s/the United Kingdom/England/, I suppose, since it's tagged (Scotland).​—msh210 (talk) 17:20, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
The Scottish tag is very old (for a wikt entry). Can we get confirmation/corroboration? Does it seem probable? DCDuring TALK 17:11, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
See #Forename &c above for the numbers and a somewhat related discussion. DCDuring TALK 14:01, 25 August 2010 (UTC)


There's plenty of usage in the papers, and we have cute hoor as an entry. But I'm blowed if I can make an understandable entry. Anyone (who knows what it means) want to give it a go? Cheers -- ALGRIF talk 16:58, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

  • I gave it a go. It's amazing that we seem to be the only dictionary with this, considering how very common it apparently is. Ƿidsiþ 12:58, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
As always, an excellent entry. Thanks. Yes, I was surprised too, which is why I put this request in TR. -- ALGRIF talk 15:55, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

baptismal name

For what denominations or religions is a "baptismal name" given at confirmation? Or, for what religions is what is most commonly called a "baptism" called a "confirmation"? What religions besides RC use "confirmation name" for a second or third (or higher) given name? DCDuring TALK 17:27, 25 August 2010 (UTC)


[Moved from top of page DCDuring TALK 13:48, 1 September 2010 (UTC)] Created the a proper entry for the aforementioned because it didn't exist, only two pages of its shortened version. あいしてる & 愛してる need removing & redirecting as they are slang(and have therefore been mentioned in the new entry). - Cha-Otoko

meat grinder


sop? -- 16:37, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I would argue that it is indeed non-idiomatic SoP. But if a closed compound like "meatgrinder" is attestable, we have the policy of including an open compound (if it is attestable) without any debate over its includability. In this case "meat grinder" seems much more common, apparently in each of the three senses, than "meatgrinder" or "meat-grinder". Therefore, it should be the main entry, I think. DCDuring TALK 17:04, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Note: The open compound is inclusible under that policy only if it is more common than the joined-up version.​—msh210 (talk) 17:12, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Just out of interest: Where can I find the policy you're talking about? Longtrend 17:17, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
[[WT:COALMINE]]. It's linked to from the criteria for inclusion.​—msh210 (talk) 17:20, 26 August 2010 (UTC)


We have anoun sense "That which was stated before, the aforesaid, the above, the same". I'm not familiar with this sense outside of the one-word sentence "Ditto" (or "Yeah, ditto" or the like), which may well be an adverb (which we list, "As said before, likewise"); and if it is a noun-like thing, isn't it actually a pronoun?​—msh210 (talk) 18:47, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

We have the sense you are familiar with as an adverb. Apparently, "ditto", "dittos", and "mega" versions became a regular part for the Rush Limbaugh show in the 90s. Fans called themselves "dittoheads". (See COCA.) "Dittos" doesn't seem like a noun, rather affirmation of plural statements by another speaker. But it's hard to research.DCDuring TALK 21:33, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
No, it's not a pronoun. In fact, I can't see it functioning in any kind of phrase, which would make it an interjection.--Brett 02:18, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
Here are some real uses in something like the sense under consideration, though it seems more like "copy" or "echo" in the first case. The second could be replaced by "The same".
  • 1991, N. Romano-Benner, “Convoking the muses of Cuenca”, Americas, volume 43, number 1, page 6: 
    "You've got to look good to feel good," she announces, a ditto of television slogans.
  • 2003, “Argenta appears unfazed”, Herald & Review:
    Last year, Argenta-Oreana blanked the Chiefs 23-0 in a second-round game Dee-Mack coach Jim McDonald said was "pretty much a ditto" of what transpired Saturday.
  • 2008 May 22, “New 'Indiana' film whips up plenty of thrills”:
    The opening shot of "Crystal Skull" shows the playful side of director Steven Spielberg, who seems to have a weak spot for cute animals. See "AI Artificial Intelligence" for Exhibit A. Ditto for executive producer George Lucas. See "Return of the Jedi" for Exhibit B.
  • 2009, “Brunswick school hopes to be model for uniforms”, Myrtle Beach Sun News:
    The intent of the policy, she said, is "not to put everybody in a ditto environment," where all are expected to look and act exactly like all others.
  • 2009 July 3, “Andy Murray: easy to admire, but can we learn to love him?”, Times Online:
    He has created for himself a honed, primed-for-victory body and is working hard on a ditto mind.
DCDuring TALK 03:11, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
The first of those is clearly a noun. It heads an NP with a determiner. The second seems like an interjection. You could put hello or yes in there. Yes, you could also put the same in there, but you couldn't add goes (i.e., The same goes for GL but not *Ditto goes for GL.) The third is probably a noun functioning as a modifier, but it could be an adjective. More data needed.--Brett 03:16, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
As there is no evidence whatsoever that "ditto" can be a true adjective, I take attributive use to be evidence of the noun. It looks likes it means "copy". The second doesn't strike me as an interjection. It is not an isolate. It is not expressive of an emotion or similar. DCDuring TALK 05:15, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
I think it's like Hooray for GL or amen to that. Can you show how ditto in 2 combines with other words in syntactic constructions in ways that wouldn't work for: no, hello, yes, goodbye, hi, goodnight, farewell, bravo, cheers, alas etc.?--Brett 11:30, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
We usually have a noun sense for the non-isolate use of a true interjection. "They sang fervent amens/amen choruses after every verse." In the Dickens use below as well as some of those above, there is a specified referent to which the previously provided text is to be reapplied. DCDuring TALK 12:10, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but that's the noun. Don't you think the George Lucas construction is different?--Brett 12:35, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
I have added a noun sense meaning "copy" or "imitation". I have also reworded the symbol sense. I think that ditto marks need to be interpreted in a context-dependent way (including syntax-dependent).
According to AHD, in the original Tuscan Italian usage, in a list of dates, the first mention of "December 26" could be followed by either "ditto" or "ditto 26". In CGEL terms, it could refer to either an NP or a nominal, but, in any event, the exact referent is context-dependent.
The abundant modern usage in tables or lists seems to be the same, potentially ambiguous, but usually resolvable in context. An older example can be found at [8].
In the Times Online usage, "ditto" seems to be a replacement for "honed, primed-for-victory", an adjectival. In the Lucas case, we could have come up with a similar replacement had the author written "George Lucas ditto": "George Lucas seems to have a weak spot for cute animals." We could try to call this Lucas usage erroneous, but it actually seems to communicate quite effectively. If it does communicate effectively, the reader must either make some non-obvious, possibly even unique, transformations in order to convert this particular "ditto"-containing expression into something sensible or glide over the details with unconscious hand-waving.
I think this means that the CGEL (or, possibly, any conceivable) syntax tests for PoS don't work!!! The referent of "ditto", like the referent of locutions like "What he said", seems to be "the appropriate parts of what was just said, edited in a way to make sense."
Perhaps it has to be reinterpreted as a sentence adverb (or "utterance adverb"?), conveying instructions to the hearer/reader. DCDuring TALK 14:42, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure I follow entirely. The various tests won't work if it's an interjection, because there's nothing really to test. How do you see that being different from Amen? —This unsigned comment was added by User:Brett (talkcontribs).
Whatever our entry shows for amen, I wouldn't call it an interjection any more than I would call interjections the terms "Yes." (in almost any use), "Agreed.", or "I agree." (the latter in any use). Perhaps they could be called prosentences. I would rather limit the use of "interjection" along the same lines as CGEL to terms like "Ugh." that are syntactic isolates that express an emotion. I would agree that there are uses of terms like "Yes" or "Shit" which are completely bleached of semantics other than the emotion often associated with the word (joy and fear, respectively) when it has semantic content. "Ditto" conveys no emotion and is not used in the above cases as an isolate. In many of the uses in tables it is not an isolate and, of course, does not express any emotion. DCDuring TALK 16:39, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
(after edit conflict)
Some of the recent usage above is a far cry from the usage, still found in listings of merchandise (auction catalogs, inventories, older advertisements), reflected in the following entry in Webster 1913:
n. The aforesaid thing; the same (as before). Often contracted to do., or to two turned commas" (), or small marks. Used in bills, books of account, tables of names, etc., to save repetition.
A spacious table in the center, and a variety of smaller dittos in the corners. Dickens
This would seem to need a non-gloss, functional definition. I can't think the Dickens citation is from one of his "well-known works", BTW. DCDuring TALK 12:04, 28 August 2010 (UTC)


Can American editors tell me if they consider this spelling a mistake, or just a variant? Nonstandard? Colloquial? Ƿidsiþ 16:05, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

That spelling is less than 5% of recent US news usage per google. The "a" and "s" spelling is 1% and the "a" and "z" spelling is 94%. It doesn't appear in COCA. The "a"-less spelling reflects a common pronunciation. Garner's Modern American Usage puts it at "Stage 1", which is their most negative rating.
In a sample of 100/1202 of the spellings "carmel", ALL were capitalized. There are about 1000 in the "caramel" spelling. I didn't check how many of them were for people, places. books, or organizations. This much lower rate of the "a" spelling might be because there have been many ads for "caramel" candy.
On Google Groups the "a"-less "z" spelling is about 30% of the "z" total. At Books it is about 2% of the total. I know that doesn't answer the questions you asked, but I don't know what we consider a misspelling. DCDuring TALK 22:42, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
Thanks DCD. Ƿidsiþ 16:16, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

sit on the fence

The usage notes section currently reads "This expression implies that it is wiser to not be neutral." Really? Always? Thryduulf (talk) 18:24, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Nah, it's POV. It would be quite easy to disprove IMO. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:35, 28 August 2010 (UTC)


Both the noun and verb translation table glosses do not match the definitions. Can someone help me here? ---> Tooironic 23:10, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

There are at least three senses for the noun, glossable as "censure", "culpability", and "responsibility". "Responsibility" is not really a synonym, but a hyponym. I have inserted trans-sees to those words so you can use them to check the definitions given. I don't know whether some or all of the {{trans-see}}s should remain or be replaced. If we are lucky, the "responsibility" sense is what corresponds to the translations. The verb needs examination too. DCDuring TALK 23:54, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
Thanks a lot. ---> Tooironic 12:20, 29 August 2010 (UTC)


I think we are missing the slang sense of "(of a woman) to fake having an orgasm", what do you think? ---> Tooironic 12:18, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Some uses of words assume great importance because or the structure of human motivation. In some contexts "faking" could refer to orgasm, in others it could refer to forgery or politeness or goldbricking. Do they all deserve senses? I think it places an undue burden on users of our entries to have a proliferation of senses. A generic intransitive sense of "fake" should include this. DCDuring TALK 12:33, 29 August 2010 (UTC)


This shows an Etymology from Australian Kriol wokabat. Wouldn't we want to know about non-Creole origins before concluding that it was not from English? Also, do we assume that all uses are from Australian aboriginal? An online Australian government draft of a Kriol dictionary [9] does not support a non-English origin, AFAICT. DCDuring TALK 12:26, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Well wokabat is from English walkabout, not the other way around. I'd say that this is from the verb walk about. You could call it a compound, I suppose, but I don't think it's derived from walk +‎ about. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:29, 30 August 2010 (UTC)


I think we are missing a sense here, relating to the first support act at a gig, but I can't come up with a good wording for it. w:Juliet Turner has a good example of the usage with "In the course of her career she has opened for such artists as Bob Dylan, U2 and Bryan Adams".

I was thinking something along the lines of "to be the first support act at a gig headlined by (someone)", but I'm not sure. Equally I'm not sure whether this should have a {{music}} context tag or not. Thryduulf (talk) 16:11, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

I would try to generalize. It is at least entertainment in general, but, even more generally, any kind of event in which different agents are involved in different phases. "To provide the opening part/element/performance of an performance/event, before more important parts."?
It may be, however, that the grammar differentiates a bit (ie, "(with for)"). I don't think one would say: "The chaplain opened for the President with an invocatation." without evoking the idea of an entertainment performance. DCDuring TALK 18:52, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

when the cards stop

I'm wondering if there's an idiom here that I haven't heard before?

"In 2006, Havard lost her father to a rare form of cancer. Then she lost one of her best friends -- a young woman in the prime of life -- to cancer as well. Her church and her pastor stepped in, she says.

'They called when all the cards stopped,' she says."[10] __meco 07:41, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

  • To me it reads literally, ie they called when they suddenly stopped getting any birthday/Christmas cards etc from these people. Ƿidsiþ 09:06, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
I think it's the "condolence cards" that stopped, though one usually doesn't get condolence cards for "one of" one's best friends. It's a nice turn of phrase and producing a translation that is equivalent across cultures, religions, and social classes may be a challenge, but it seems NISoP. What is the equivalent practice to sending a condolence card in the English culture of 1200 CE? Among devout Catholics Mass cards are a related artifact with similar function. DCDuring TALK 11:43, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes -- you're right of course. Ƿidsiþ 15:08, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Other dictionaries have sympathy card, but not condolence card. DCDuring TALK 15:15, 30 August 2010 (UTC)


Should this be split into two etymologies? Both the drawing/documentation and automotive senses are compounds of red and line and both derive from lines that are red. However, the etymological lines are very different ones for the different senses. Thryduulf (talk) 10:22, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

To avoid the proliferation of Etymology headings, couldn't the sense development just be a separate sentence in the etymology? DCDuring TALK 11:47, 30 August 2010 (UTC)


"(plurale tantum) An act associated with moral or religious standing. His works displayed his righteousness." Surely this is just the plural of work...? Equinox 23:23, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

This is the kind of thing I might trust Websters 1913 for. It has:
8. pl. (Script.) Performance of moral duties; righteous conduct.
He shall reward every man according to his works. Matt. xvi. 27.
Faith, if it hath not works, is dead. James ii. 17.
The definition in our entry starts by being for a singular noun. *"A works" is just wrong. I think the KJV use of this (Milton, too) may have made it a special sense: not just plural works, but the entire body of one's moral choices sub specie aeternitatis. I guess that, when King James's commission wrote, there was a sense of "work" meaning 'act, deed, service, effect, result, achievement, feat' (a subsense in Websters 1913) for which this was just the plural. That sense seems at least dated, if not archaic, or even obsolete. In any event, we don't have it. I think that either someone failed to faithfully copy the Websters 1913 senses or "updated" our entry by sense elimination. Traditional high-church religious senses are not likely to be added by our usual contributors.
It would also help (much more than the p.t. tag) if we had a usex with "works" in this sense as the subject of a plural verb. DCDuring TALK 00:19, 1 September 2010 (UTC)