Wiktionary:Tea room/2010/January

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January 2010

I'd say

Not really an interjection, but what is it? Equinox 14:49, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

My take: PoS=Phrase. (In the sense shown it could be said to function as a modifier of a clause, so Adverb is defensible.) For the current sense: category:English non-constituent. For an additional sense: non-gloss: indicating agreement: Categories: English sentences, English responses. (Some would categorize it as an English pro-sentence, but I think all but the most stilted responses are pro-sentences.)
But does it meet CFI in the only sense now shown? It's not really a set phrase as "say" could be modified by a number of adverbs. The rationale for keeping it would seem to be the extra pragmatic function that the modal expression has in the first person as a politeness construct (aka weasel word on WP). I don't think that carries over to uses of "would say" with other subjects (except some uses of "we"). DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 15:20, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
Syntactically, it's part of an interesting group of expressions that sometimes subordinate a clause:
I'd say thatopt he needs an ambulance.
and at other times act as a kind of adverbial (tag?) nested inside, or appended to the end of, the clause (which is apparently no longer subordinate):
He needs an ambulance, I'd say.
The person who really needs an ambulance, I'd say, is you!
The thing is, this group of expressions seems to form a very broad class, such that I'm not sure it's something that can be covered lexicographically.
RuakhTALK 18:59, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
Interesting? I'll say. As a subjunctive/conditional, it implies the existence of a condition, which might be made explicit as "If I were the one permitted/supposed/forced to make a decision/diagnosis/statement". If this were being said of another person, I think you would be more likely to lay out the condition.
There are an arbitrarily large number of ways of expressing this kind of speech-actish thing, which undermines the Pawley logic of including all speech-act expressions. Even with an attestation requirement, there are quite a large number. With "I'd", "say" is by far the most common verb to make up a parenthetical between punctuation, but other verbs include "imagine", "think", "wonder"; "suggest", "advise", "argue"; "guess", "estimate"; "wager", "bet", "venture". Interestingly, too, all of these could be used to give some kind of qualified affirmative response. Some of them can be used similarly with "I'll" to make a more definite response.
No OneLook reference has "I'd say" or "I would say". In contrast, the Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms has I'll say. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 19:56, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
Re: "If this were being said of another person, I think you would be more likely to lay out the condition": Not necessarily. Consider, for example, "Generally speaking, would you say things in this country are heading in the right direction, or are they off on the wrong track?"RuakhTALK 05:03, 2 January 2010 (UTC)
I was not thinking of second-person questions. They would be a normal part of discourse and might require politeness. I have sympathy for Dan Polansky's recurring wish for more support for encoding, though I agree with you that lexical inclusion of an English SoP expression would not seem to offer much help. As I understand his problem, in both Czech and English an expression might exist meaning something like, say, "I'd say". In both languages it might be SoP and excluded. Thus Wiktionary offers no help.
The recurrence of this issue is frustrating. To me it seems that the best we can do is have a phrasebook for simple expressions and explain in appendices some of the more complicated aspects of how English speakers/writers use the language to accomplish various functions. I am not sure that WP is likely to do a very good job on such matters, but longish articles don't seem to be our forte either. What would the appendix for the current case be called ? DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 09:50, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

in the eyes of the law

Seems idiomatic. Or in the eyes of? Mglovesfun (talk) 17:42, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

At COCA a few (<10) minutes of searching reveals: "in the eyes of" occurs 1857 times, "in the eyes of the" 707 times, and "in the eyes of the law" 57 times. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 18:43, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
Yup. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:59, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

hot with

Can anyone give some usage examples for this, both singular and plural? Is it UK? DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 18:48, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Never heard of it; created by SemperBlotto in 2006. I suspect it's not uncountable. In fact, it can't be. Mglovesfun (talk) 18:50, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
I've tried Google Book searching "a hot with", "hot withs" and "hot-with" and I have nothing at all. Some sort of typo by SB? Mglovesfun (talk) 18:57, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
Well done to Ruakh for adding two citations. If I'm honest, neither of them indicate the meaning that well, but I hope we can assume good faith. Mglovesfun (talk) 22:19, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. I've added one more, and will follow it up with another in a moment. From the cites, I'm getting the impression that this is actually a postpositive adjective (following the name of the spirit in question), sometimes used substantively (when the spirit is obvious?). —RuakhTALK 18:52, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

our Father, our Lord

To mean the Christian God, see Dominus for example. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:41, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

smooth operator

I always thought this described someone who was a bit of a playboy, is this just in my head? Tooironic 12:37, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

It's *sort of* covered by sense 2. It can mean cunningly obtaining sexual favors, but also other things (money, power, whatever). It would be possible to redo sense 2 rather than add a new sense. Mglovesfun (talk) 13:23, 2 January 2010 (UTC)
A playboy could be brash and successful or be a smooth operator. The image of playboy in my mind is associated with the somewhat brash celebrity playboy. Such a playboy doesn't need to be a smooth operator: good looks, fame, and wealth usually suffice. A smooth operator is more subtle, usually out of need. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 18:34, 2 January 2010 (UTC)


In what way is yes an adverb? How can it qualify a verb, an adjective or another adverb? Mglovesfun (talk) 15:00, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

Adverbs can qualify virtually anything other than a noun. In particular, there is a fairly large and certainly important class whose most important use is as modifiers of clauses. They are often called sentence adverbs. Four categories of words sometimes used in this way can be found at Category:English sentence adverbs.
CGEL considers "yes" and "no" to be adverbs. They certainly fit no other PoS category very well. To call them interjections begs the question of what emotion(s) they express. And, no, they are not completely grammatically isolated from the clauses with which they appear. They can be said to be pro-sentences because they are used anaphorically. That suggests that they are necessarily associated with something, namely the prior statement of another (or possibly the same) speaker. An adjective cannot modify a clause, so, yes, these words must, indeed, be adverbs. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 19:45, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

What does sandy mean in Henry James's The Real Thing?

In a short story by Henry James, The Real Thing, an artist who is going to make the illustrations for a novel says about one of his models (the good lady):

«And indeed I could see the slipshod rearrangements of stale properties--the stories I tried to produce pictures for without the exasperation of reading them--whose sandy tracts the good lady might help to people.»

In this context the word sandy does not seem to be used as any of the current definitions in sandy. Does anybody know what does Henry James meant with it? Thanks. -- 01:17, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

It is hard to say exactly what James means. It does seem to be the first sense of "covered with sand". He is referring to the tracts of land in landscape illustrations for stories he couldn't bear to read. It could be sandy in color, but he seems to often do black and white illustrations.
I was more mystified by "stale properties". I found in Websters 1913 (the ideal dictionary for interpreting Henry James IMO) the following definition:"All the adjuncts of a play except the scenery and the dresses of the actors; stage requisites." In modern terms: "props". DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 11:23, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, DCDuring. Yes, in the context of the story "properties" (I guess "props" comes from it ;) are quite clearly the objects used along with the models in order to recreate the images to be sketched. Regarding "sandy" I found in Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (1989) the following definition: "shifting or unstable, like sand." I infer that James uses it, as he often does, with a double sense both speaking about a distinctive feature of the outdoors landscapes and referring in figurative speech to the plot (tracts) of the novel to be illustrated in the story which is planned to have some sequels and seems to be rather soap-opera-like. Does my deduction makes any sense? -- 18:16, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
That sense was in Websters 1828 and dropped in Websters 1913. I don't have enough of an ear for James. I don't actually like to read him. With such a concrete term, one could rely on one's own associations.
I was struck by the notion of the 50ish woman (n.b., not her husband) "peopling" the sandy (barren ?) landscape. Plenty of ambiguity to play with. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 19:01, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, James often plays with ambiguity, indeed. Thanks, DCDuring. Holiday greetings to you, too! -- 19:25, 3 January 2010 (UTC)


This is sometimes used in a linguistics context with regard to lenition. Are we missing a sense? Equinox 22:21, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

save vs.

I don't think the headword is appropriate. It should probably be under save (you can, for example, roll a "saving throw" in some role-playing games with dice); save vs. is just a common collocation short for "save against": "I managed to save against poison." Equinox 00:42, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

If it is a phrasal verb, as it claims to be, then it is in. "vs." is as much a preposition as "against". It would not be impossible to have synonymous phrasal verbs. Perhaps "save against" would also be one. Phrasal verbs mystify me except in the most obvious of cases, of which this is not one. We have been awaiting criteria for phrasal verbs for some time. Lately, we seem to include terms that merely resemble phrasal verbs, claiming they are idiomatic-by-vote. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 02:00, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

say grace

Shouldn't this have two senses to allow for both Christian (RC and Protestant) practice and similar non-Christian practices? I would be surprised if the same Arabic words would name both the Christian and Islamic practice. I would expect there to be different English words to name Christian, Jewish, and Islamic practices. But I also would expect an English speaker of Christian background to use "say grace" to characterize any analogous practice of another religion. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 00:55, 4 January 2010 (UTC) [restoration after misbehaving edit conflict]

So you're saying we should split senses for the sole purpose of allowing differing translations?​—msh210 16:14, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
No. I think that entry lacks the original and still predominant sense of the term: a Christian ritual of giving thanks to God said before a meal. I was interested in exploring the correctness of my view that the existing definition was inadequate. Under AGF, I had decided to not deal with the possibility that there is persistent anti-religious bias among contributors. Instead I was considering that it was simply some kind of simple failure to make a distinction in usage. I don't think that the existing definition is at all adequate. As the translators complain when given too many ttbcs I brought the matter here.
An analogous situation arises with the way English speakers from different countries refer to the postal codes used in different countries. In the US foreign postal codes are often referred to as "zip codes", using the term which "properly" applies only to the codes for US destination postal zones. I'm not sure that was properly resolved either.
I doubt that these are isolated instances. Accordingly, it would seem that we would want to have some way of addressing the issue that would be likely to survive. To clarify such an issue, it usually helps to start with a specific case before going to BP, let alone a vote or a draft guideline. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 17:06, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't know. But I can speak from a Jewish perspective: we say a short prayer before and after each time we eat, but never say say grace. If I hear "John said grace before he ate", I'd assume John was Christian. (Even if I heard "Yonatan said grace before he ate", I'd assume either Yonatan was Christian or the speaker was incorrectly using a term he knows from Christianity.) If my own experience in Judaism is mirrored by everyone else's experience in all non-Christian faiths (obviously a huge "if"), then there would seem to be only one sense of say grace, the Christian one. If not, then AFAICT there's only one sense anyway, the generic one (though I'm willing to be convinced otherwise. Perhaps I just don't understand what DCDuring is arguing above).​—msh210 17:28, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't get the logic of your penultimate sentence.
I'm saying that a Christian-background speaker would be highly likely to refer to any analogous pre-meal ritual as "saying grace" for many reasons, but, most importantly because he thought a Christian-background hearer would be more likely to understand it than a more precise term. He would not expect that the hearer would necessarily think that it was the Christian ritual (because of the context, probably). At a different point in the conversation the same words could be used to precisely refer to the Christian ritual. In neither case would the speaker necessarily be referring to a bleached-out universal non-sectarian rite.
It's not a question of Christians being especially narrow-minded. I would expect something similar from persons of any religion that was the dominant one in their culture.
It may well be that we want to be selective in our coverage, to exclude some senses because they are too narrow, but I didn't think that such is part of any slogan that we currently operate under. If we include all words terms in all languages, but not all senses, that would be useful guidance for our efforts. We would just need some criteria for inclusion and exclusion of senses and some process for adjudication. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 19:00, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
  • I had missed your use of the term "incorrect". It is precisely because the use of "say grace" to make oneself understood to a Christian background auditor cannot be said to be incorrect from a descriptivist perspective that the sense exists. Many sense extensions are of this nature. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 19:08, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

score a brace

What sports? What brand of English? DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 00:59, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

RFV or RFD, possibly both in that order. Surely if it means "score two goals" then it should be under brace#Noun, which it isn't. I should point out it's a transwiki, and 50% of those are tosh. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:04, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, I think that most Webster's 1913 text is a dangerously misleading basis for translation.
score a brace is an entry now. I thought it might be nice to start with what it might mean and to whom. I take it that you haven't heard of it (UK/Fr). I don't remember it coming up in the US sports I sometimes have followed. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 16:19, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
It is just a sum of parts - brace meaning a pair. I suggest deletion. SemperBlotto 16:26, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
For our amusement and to remind us of the quality of some of our definitions, here is the most relevant sense of brace: "# A pair, a couple; originally used of dogs, and later of animals generally and then other things. (The plural in this sense is unchanged.))" DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 19:14, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
I actually wrote that yesterday. What don't you like about it, out of interest? Ƿidsiþ 11:06, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
This is what I get for not looking at the history. Perhaps I can get my foot out. What bothered me were the discursive sense-evolution information and the ambiguity of the plural information. They are not distinguished from the gloss (by italics and/or parentheses), which is a kind of category error that is likely to confuse a user.
I also like sense-evolution information and appreciated the end-of-line dating-of-senses experiment. We haven't really resolved how to be at once an up-to-date monolingual dictionary, a comprehensive translating dictionary, and a useful advanced learners dictionary, while being a historical dictionary. Technology has given us all the storage space we would need. But screen sizes are small and the capacity of the human brain has apparently remained basically unchanged for the past few thousand years. This it's a question of entry design.
The plural information raises questions. Is the idea is that "two brace of dogs are equal to four dogs" is a grammatical sentence in current English? Or formerly? Couldn't this be presented in Usage notes, if not the inflection line? DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 12:01, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
OK... don't worry, I wasn't offended or anything. Ƿidsiþ 12:04, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

more and more

When creating this, I wanted to add mention something like -er and -er as quasi-synonymous, and how we say "more and more beautiful" but "bigger and bigger", but couldn't find the right words. Maybe someone less lexicographically challenged can tweak it. --Rising Sun talk? 11:10, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

As far as adjectives are concerned, the following is from [1]:
ii. Progressive comparisons
Like adjectives which take endings, adjectives which form the comparative with the adverb more can be used in progressive comparisons.
In the case of an adjective which takes endings, the comparative form of the adjective is repeated in a progressive comparison. However, in the case of an adjective which forms the comparative with more, only the word more is repeated.
Pingku 19:04, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

whistling sound for crazy

Is there any way of transcribing whistling noises, which have a meaning in English, and I assume in other languages. One hears very often: "he's quite *whistle whistle*" meaning "he's quite crazy/loopy/bonkers/nutty". Is this ever written or spelt: I'd suggest something like fffwww ffooo, but I don't write the rules. Maybe there's an IPA symbol for whistling? Or on sheet music some musical notation for it? --Rising Sun talk? 11:10, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

How would you expect that a user would:
  1. think to look in a dictionary for this information?
  2. find it?
  3. use it?
How would we attest any particular purported representation? Admittedly this last is a problem also with pronunciations, esp audio.
-- DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 11:52, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
Eh? I've heard something like this before but in my experience I believe it's been something like "He's a bit "cuckoo cuckoo". Perhaps it's a play on the quasi-homophony that exists between cuckoo and kooky. 50 Xylophone Players talk 17:46, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Language dialects

Do we really want stuff like British English, American English and whatnot? They seem quite sum of parts, comparable to 21st century which is currently at WT:RFD (and very likely to fail). The number of such dialects that are attestable must be vast, certainly more than the number of centuries! Couldn't {{British}} link to w:British English, not the Wiktionary article? Mglovesfun (talk) 14:00, 4 January 2010 (UTC)


Could someone who knows look at all the music definitions? They, along with other technical definitions leave the entry almost unreadable. -- ALGRIF talk 17:23, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

send up

From Life, the Universe and Everything (possibly misquoted, as I got this off of a copyvio Web page):

Not only were they white, but they carried what appeared to be cricket bats, and not only that, but they also carried what appeared to be cricket balls, and not only that but they wore white ribbing pads round the lower parts of their legs. These last were extraordinary because they appeared to contain jets which allowed these curiously civilized robots to fly down from their hovering spaceship and start to kill people, which is what they did.
"They're playing cricket," muttered Arthur, stumbling along after Ford. "I swear they are playing cricket. I do not know why they are doing this, but that is what they are doing. They're not just killing people, they're sending them up," he shouted, "Ford, they're sending us up!"

Are we missing a cricket sense at [[send up]]?​—msh210 17:50, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

By the sound of it, it's definitely not cricket. Pingku 19:30, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
  • No - it's sense 1. He means, they're not just killing people, they're taking the piss. Ƿidsiþ 10:18, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
    • Oh, of course. Thanks, striking.​—msh210 16:32, 5 January 2010 (UTC)


I'm surprised this article isn't a lot better than me, surely hazard in Modern English means primarily "danger, peril" rather "chance" which is the French meaning. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:20, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

  • I've expanded the entry somewhat. Although the "chance" meaning is not as rare in modern English as I thought. Ƿidsiþ 16:12, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
In classes long ago on managerial decision-making (from world-leading experts) I learned the importance of separating probability and consequence. More importantly, I learned that most people use words like "risk" and "hazard" in at least four ways: probability, consequence, bad consequence, some confounding of probability and bad consequence. Authors in the field sometimes mention this. I think this would be attestable, but does it agree with the experience of others? DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 16:53, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
That's an excellent analysis! Should we have the four separate senses, or could we include your four ways in a usage note? Dbfirs 13:19, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
w:Howard Raiffa and the late w:Robert Schlaifer and their teachers and colleagues should get the credit. I think these are senses or aspects of a single sense that we present as separate senses. Our definitions are already most of the way there. I hadn't realized until recently that linguists find this kind of thing worth addressing. I'm still not sure how close the word "hazard"/"hasard" is to the word "risk" in meaning, the order of development of the senses, and what the most common use is. I'll probably go to the library today or tomorrow to see what the OED has to say. DCDuring TALK 15:14, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
The OED seems to follow our senses (or, more probably, we followed theirs). The etymology is from Old French (12th century) and they also say "The origin of the French word is uncertain, but its source was prob. Arabic. According to William of Tyre, the game took its name from a castle called Hasart or Asart in Palestine, during the siege of which it was invented: see Littré s.v. The true Arab name of this castle appears to have been ‘Ain Zarba (Prof. Margoliouth). Mahn proposes vulgar Arab. az-zahr or az-zr ‘die’ (Bocthor); but early evidence for this sense is wanting"
They don't have our sense 4 quite so specifically, but I would recognise this usage as probably the most common. They also have a few obscure & obsolete meanings such as a cab-stand in Ireland! Dbfirs 16:19, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for looking it up. I'm still unclear as to whether the separation of probability and consequence took place. Did it all depend on Cardano (c. 1525), Pascal (c. 1654), and the classical probabilists of the 18th century? Or did they just formalize an understanding already partially established? Before them the closest relevant discussions were about the fairness of "aleatory contracts", which involve the confounding of risk and consequence in terms of the more modern quantitative view. At some point the formality of "variance" became a dominant element in the mathematically educated understanding of "risk". Eventually, decision analysts came to recognize that decision makers were much more focused on the part of the probability curve associated with bad consequences and have been laboring to come up with formalisms that coincide with popular (managerial, policy-maker) discussion and can help improve decisions. All of that is just background for the empirical questions of how these words were used in English (and other languages) and when. w:Ian Hacking and w:Gerd Gigerenzer are two of the best on the history and precursors of probability thinking. DCDuring TALK 17:46, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
I tried reading up a bit on the history and philosophy of mathematics, but I still can't answer your question. Sorry. Dbfirs 00:18, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

do you know who I am?

I'd like to know if there's any particular reason to keep the question mark at the end of do you know who I am? (while most other interrogative entries do not have such punctuation, for example do you speak English). --Daniel. 09:43, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

It shouldn't be there. I don't know that anything bad happens as a result, other than creating the potential for duplication and giving license to imitation by other contributors. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 16:56, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

graphics card

native speaker needed to rephrase the definition or take over the one from video card. H. (talk) 18:18, 5 January 2010 (UTC)


Any evidence for this being a trademark? Most Microsoft command-line utilities don't have trademarked names, and it seems unlikely to me. Equinox 23:34, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

than you can poke a stick at ?

"This shop has more history books than you can poke a stick at." How would we word a title for an entry like this? And what would its part of speech be? Cheers. Tooironic 09:41, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

In contemporary usage that might be a headword, but not what I would prefer.
Another form, possibly more common, substitutes "shake" for "poke". You could substitute "could" for "can", so, in principle both inflect following "can". I don't think you will find modern (100 years) attestation for any pronoun other than "you". But, judging by World Wide Words, in 19th century US, "poke/shake" may have inflected. And, formerly, "as" could function as "than" does.
The least controversial PoS for this would be Phrase. It is also uninformative. But viewing it as a prepositional phrase (therefore Adjective and Adverb, unless Ruakh WT:BP proto-proposal of Prepositional phrase advances) is probably not especially helpful to users.
What might help non-native users grasp this is to gather citations that show this in the usage patterns in which it appears:
  1. "more NP than you can shake a stick at" (as subject, object of preposition, complement of transitive verb, after copula) (NP being either plural or uncountable)
  2. "more than you can shake a stick at" (the same, if they exist).
It might be helpful for those who might want to try a different analysis in the future to categorize this in Category:English subordinate clauses.
OTOH, the core set phrases would seem to be "poke a stick at" and "shake a stick at", which might be the best headwords for unifying the evolution of use. This simplifies the PoS to Verb. Usage examples and notes would be more essential to help users find the entry and explain usage with this latter approach. This is what I would prefer. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 13:17, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

Polish for schema

Hi all. What is the Polish word for schema? I suppose I’m asking more: what Polish cognates of the English schema are there? Any help would be muchly appreciated. BTW, Citations:schemat may be of some use for research for this. Thanks.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 13:24, 6 January 2010 (UTC)


Notification: I have classified "head-to-head" as an adverb.

I have not placed a RFT template into the "head-to-head" entry, as this does not seem to be an issue to be processed and tracked. Rather, this is a notification that a change has taken place that people could disagree with, so they can revert my change. The decision procedure that I have used: if you feel rather confident but not wholly confident about a change in a particular entry, perform the change, and let other people know of the change in Tea room. --Dan Polansky 17:09, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

The rft template is mostly a convenience for navigating, as is a link in the heading on this page. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 19:11, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
It is unquestionably used as an adjective. I amused myself by inserting a number of X-prep-X and X-prep-Syn of X expressions, some of them blue-linked, some red. Of the red ones some seem idiomatic (eg, eye-to-eye is used in more than see eye-to-eye). DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 19:35, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
You're right; it is used not only as an adverb ("to compete head-to-head with someone") but also as an adjective ("head-to-head competition"), as your quotation documents.
The problem with rtf template is, who is going to remove the template? Me not :P :). By my posting a notification here, my in part erroneous edit has been brought to attention of other editors, one of whom has corrected the edit. For me, the issue is now closed, but the issue is not yet closed for the formal RFT process (formal process and "Tea room", contradiction anyone?). But I have better things to do than keep track of formally opened RFT items that I consider closed. You see what I mean? --Dan Polansky 19:24, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Closing it is simple and uncontroversial. If you think the matter is addressed, then close it by striking the header. If there might be any value to the discussion (ie, in avoiding revisiting the issue again later), copy it to the entry talk page, leaving a note to that effect here. Removing the template call is a courtesy to someone who might be misled into using it, wasting time while the RFT page loads to no avail. Archiving can be left for later. This could all be done semi-automagically, but striking, copy-to-Talk, and removal of {{rft}} could all be done at the same time to ease the burden on the archiver.
Hmmm. This seems like such good advice, I may follow it myself. DCDuring TALK 20:17, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
But you see the number of process steps I have to perform? All I wanted to do is let people know: "heads up, I have just made an edit that seems warranted but its review by other people is appreciated"; my edits normally do not get reviewed, as I am an autopatroller. Either someone corrects or expands my edit or leaves it the way it was. That would be a lean process. Instead, I am suppossed to (a) put a RFT template to the entry, (b) post to Tea room, (c) wait for responses, (d) decide whether the issue is considered closed not only by me but also by other people, taking into consideration the time for which the issue has been opened, (e) strike out the section heading in the Tea room, (f) remove the RFT template from the entry, and (g) put the discussion to the talk page. Such a process seems fully in order with the RFD process that discusses the deletion of an entry and thus the removal of an entry history from the sight of a non-admin. But with Tea room, nothing as serious is dealt with. In my view, the steps (b) and (c) should be sufficient, and the steps (a), (d), (e), (f), and (g) are redundant, while the step (d) is annoying to me, as I have not quite figured out how to do it.
I am not saying that none of the Tea room subjects deserve the tracking process, but it seems that many of the Tea room subjects do not deserve it. --Dan Polansky 10:53, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

1950s et al.

Given 21 century just failed WT:RFD by a wide margin, shouldn't these get deleted as well? 1984 might have some merit because of the book. I did say "might". Mglovesfun (talk) 17:17, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

AFAICT, not a question of intuition, opinion, or rules (not we seem to care about them). Should be RfVed to see if there is some non-SoP meaning. The sixties (1960s), the twenties (1920s), the thirties (1930s) have such meanings, I think. Such meanings may not last the full span of a lifetime, but might last in the minds of those who were young during the referenced decade until their passing. If they write enough successful books and articles, they might last longer. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 19:45, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
"Given 21 century just failed" has nothing to do with this at all. This is a single word, according to the "rules". Where do you get SoP from 1950s? How on earth could we give a general meaning at s that would be in the slightest bit helpful to our readers? No. Sorry. Despite the (not so great) quantity of similar entries that this spawns, it is far too useful to eliminate. IMHO. RFV is the wrong place, BTW. They are all easily verified. You mean RfD. But on what grounds? -- ALGRIF talk 16:49, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
It is not at all obvious that numbers and dates are "words" in ordinary English. In what language is our slogan written? All numbers are compositional. There is no direct evidence that our entries of this type provide any value to users. The indirect evidence from the practice of other references, both print and online, is that lexicographers don't find this kind of entry worth carrying as a general rule, though they may carry specific numbers or dates. I would like to see what meaning this has other than its compositional one. IMO, if a number or date does not have non-compositional meaning, it should not be here. Since nobody seems to think CFI is applicable anymore, it would just seem to be a matter of how we interpret our slogan. DCDuring TALK 17:09, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Lexicographers also do not include the Symbols that we do, nor do they countain entries for 1, 2, 3, etc. CFI was never properly structured to address items that are not clearly "words". However, our primary definition of word, to whit: "A distinct unit of language (sounds in speech or written letters) with a particular meaning, composed of one or more morphemes, and also of one or more phonemes that determine its sound pattern," does indeed describe items like 1950s, since this entity is a distinct language unit with a particular meaning and set pronunciation. --EncycloPetey 17:31, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

(I know we're not voting on anything here but anyway...) Definitely keep. There is absolutely no point in deleting these IMO (and yes, I know no one was proposing to do that but I'm just making a point). 50 Xylophone Players talk 23:46, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

exceptio res judicata

Is this really translingual? Is it used in Continental law? Is its use in Latin and English enough? DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 12:04, 7 January 2010 (UTC)


"With his hands locked behind his back". Is this just a transitive counterpart of the first sense of lock, "(intransitive) To become fastened in place : If you put the brakes on too hard, the wheels will lock", or is it a more specialized sense, meaning to dovetail or intertwine or something?​—msh210 18:35, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

At lock at OneLook Dictionary Search I found that most unabridged dictionaries have many more than 3 senses for lock#Verb. I think for each distinguishable transitive sense of the verb, there are potentially two distinct semantic aspects: (trans) I locked the door. => (intrans 1) The door locked behind me. + (intrans 2) The main door locked with a key, but she couldn't find it. (is capable of locking or being locked)
This would also apply to the interlacing/intertwining sense that you identify, though the intrans-2 aspect seems likely rare and possibly not worth mentioning. (We locked arms. Our arms locked.
It would also apply to a any kind of physical locking as if by lock or to virtual locking, with the same question as to the value of the "capable of locking" aspect.
I don't know whether there are other transitive or intransitive "aspects" of the transitive senses. For example, there might be a distinction to be noted between locking a particular opening and locking an entire enclosure.
MW has a verb sense having to do with transiting the locks of a canal and an investment sense I didn't understand.
BTW, an interesting usage is to be seen in "By the time he got there, the mongrel and his prize bitch had already locked." DCDuring TALK 19:44, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

fable / have a fable for

I just discovered this phrase in the wild, meaning something like "have a penchant/passion for". Is anyone here familiar with this? Do you use it?

Singapore...has a fable for Christmas Trees in general.
His royal majesty Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum...has a fable for the distinguished City of Hamburg...
Whoever is interested in Italy and has a fable for Italian food, design, lifestyle, etc. should join.
Who has a fable for acts like OOMPH...ought to listen to the "Confused"-album and show up at the concerts by all means.
Stella has a fable for new styles and she´s so beautiful, isn´t she? So I have here, an enorm choice from styles.
If she has a fable for nylons than she is my dream women
I for one have a fable for the games of the early 90s of the last century so my generation is the 16-bit one.
If you are able to dive in calm and emotional music and you have a fable for Chinas very own romantik, you should buy it!
I have a fable for tunes which take a traditional leaf that has not been used for years
Some people already know that I have a fable for horror movies.
Allthogh I seem to have a fable for criticizing the work of others, there's hardly one of my own works I'm really contented with.

Anyone know where this comes from? Did it start with some kind of idiom, like "Aesop has a fable for that", meaning "that is something good, quality"? That is just a wild guess... but does somebody know? -- Thisis0 19:17, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

No form of "[have] a fable for" appears at COCA (US, 400MM+ words). I found two bgc hits, 2007 and 2009. It does seem suspiciously like a misconstruction of "I have a fable (story) for (relevant to) that". DCDuring TALK 19:56, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Wow, bizarre. It seems limited to ‘foreign’ Englishes, but it is not mentioned in any of the works I have (Indian English, Singlish, Caribbean English etc), so I guess it is just a fairly common mistake...but where does it come from?? How strange. Ƿidsiþ 20:17, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
google books:"I have a fable" has some hits (27 on my settings, 40 on this link, apparently; two, mind, are scannos for "table" and another is "I have a fable-book"), from 1730 to 2009. It is used to introduce a story with a moral, as one might expect. Pingku 18:20, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
* Could not it be simply a (bad) adaptation of the french usual expression "avoir un faible pour" ("to have a weakness for") : as in "elle avait un faible pour les sucreries" ( "she had a sweet-tooth") ?.... T.y. Arapaima 08:48, 24 February 2010 (UTC)

I don't speak English

The translations section in this entry fails quite badly. Can someone please add these translations?! Cdhaptomos 01:11, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

I can remove some of the ones that I added, if that is desired. Razorflame 01:13, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree that the translations are needed, but that number of "translation needed" templates is just pointless. I have trouble finding the actual translations in there. Cdhaptomos 01:22, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
I've removed a bunch of the more exotic ones, and left only the ones that are fairly often used. There still are a few exotic ones, but I think that it is OK. Anyways, I agree that the number of translations was too much. Razorflame 01:25, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Wow ! Though, I'm sure that 99 French people out of 100, if asked, would say "Je ne parle pas l'anglais" , rather than "je ne parle pas anglais" (instinctive euphony...) . T.y. Arapaima 08:58, 24 February 2010 (UTC)
Not in my experience, they says anglais not 'l'anglais. Of course, you may have more experience than me. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:02, 24 February 2010 (UTC)
So they would be alternative forms? How would you know which was more common in speech?
I am curious as to how we should populate phrasebook. Usually a non-native's speaking skills are self-documenting, except in writing. How should we show a phrase like this,
  1. just bare?
  2. with qualifying adjuncts in usage examples?
    I don't speak English very well.
  3. with alternative forms?
    I can barely speak any English.
    I just know a few words of English.
Should we always show the canonical form, even when it differs only by a trivial expansion of a single contraction, as in this case (ie, "I do not speak English") ?
Should we only show the canonical form ["I (do) speak English."] as lemma and show all other forms (including negations ["I don't speak English."], question forms ["Do/Don't you speak English?"], imperatives ["Speak English, please."; "Could you please speak English?"], and even tag questions and clefts where applicable) as alternative forms? To do so would allow us to present much grammar by example. DCDuring TALK 13:13, 24 February 2010 (UTC)


In correlation with the romantic friendship deletion debate. Surely we are missing some meanings here, plus are the French and Italian words really descendants of the Modern English word romantic? I doubt it very much, aren't they cognates? Mglovesfun (talk) 12:34, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

The French word is a descendant of the English, yes. —RuakhTALK 00:22, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, yes, it's a borrowing from English – not what I'd call a ‘descendant’. Ƿidsiþ 11:34, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Good point. Is there a better term? —RuakhTALK 00:02, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
"Borrowing" or "loadword" are the usual ones. (But some editors stick those in =Descendants= sections anyway, so..) Ƿidsiþ 19:00, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

But how did we get from the meaning "in the Romance language" to the "emotionally over-wrought" meaning of "romantic"? 18:07, 6 April 2010 (UTC)


I've just added

  1. Right-to-left or left-to-right: horizontally.
    Slide the toilet-paper dispenser's door over when one roll is empty in order to reveal the other.
    I moved over, making room for him to sit down.
  2. From one place to another.
    Pass that over to me, will you?
    Come over and play!
    We walked over to the grocery store to buy snacks.

But I'm not sure the second of these senses exists. Its example sentences can easily be interpreted by means of the first definition, or, at least, by means of the first definition improved. Moreover, one wouldn't say "We walked over to the grocery store" if the grocery store is directly above him, on another floor of the same building, would he? That seems (to me) to imply that over there has the "horizontally" sense. And the same, I think, is true of the other example sentences for the second sense, though I'm not sure about "come over and play". What think you all?​—msh210 19:51, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

It's also sometimes used to indicate figurative motion:
Come over to the dark side!
We should test it ourselves before handing it over to QA.
and to indicate a distant location (sometimes figurative) without any hint of actual motion to that location:
Over in China, they do things differently.
It seems to be part of a set of coordinate terms, together with up (upward, forward, northward, earlier-ward; or, in a location you'd get to by going in one of those directions), down (downward, southward; or, in a location […]), and back (backward, later-ward; or, in a location […]); its sense, by process of elimination, would be something like “rightward, leftward, eastward, westward; or, in a location […]”, or more generally, “in a horizontal direction that is not specified to be forward, backward, northward, or southward; or, in a location […]”. (Something akin to Q-based narrowing seems to be involved, where over does not actually preclude some of those other directions, but it's weird to use it if you know one of them to be appropriate. But it's complicated. With the cardinal-direction-y uses, scale seems to play a role; when I'm in my living room in Solon, Ohio, my bedroom is only "over" from me, never "down", but Columbus is probably either, and New Orleans is only the latter.)
All told, enough is going on here that I think our readers would benefit from some delineation of senses.
RuakhTALK 23:37, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

I also added "position" to "place", as in He came over to our way of thinking. Facts707 06:58, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure that it is a good idea to combine in the same sense literal "place" and figurative "position" (let alone a time dimension ["What did you do over the weekend?"]. BTW, is that 'literal' or 'figurative'?
Defining core preposition senses has always seemed to me to be at least Master's-thesis-level defining. DCDuring TALK 12:30, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

through the looking glass

What does it mean to go through the looking glass?[2] I know this is originally from the Lews Carrol sequel to Alice in Wonderland but I'm unsure what this phrase used independelty denotes? I would conjecture it would mean something rather synonymous to down the rabbit hole, but I am guessing. __meco 21:24, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

I think your assessment is roughly right, but there is no substitute for reviewing citations. Let me recommend COCA as a better tool than Google for this kind of thing. DCDuring TALK 16:57, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Er... yes and no. Words and phrases can have meanings that don't show up in American English. --EncycloPetey 07:37, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Same approach at the sister site at BYU for BNC corpus. But that still excludes other Englishes. I am not familiar with other sites that offer free access to grammatically coded corpora. DCDuring TALK 12:18, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

as of yet

"I haven't received a letter of confirmation as of yet." Does this phrase warrant its own entry? I'm not very learned in English grammar, so I can't tell if it's an SoP. Cheers. Tooironic 23:42, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

Good find. I've created the entry, with this def:
  1. (perhaps nonstandard) Alternative form of as yet.
RuakhTALK 23:53, 9 January 2010 (UTC)


We have and/or, I think this actually require explanation as it's not as simple as if + when. Mglovesfun (talk) 00:13, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Related is when as and if. DCDuring TALK 00:57, 10 January 2010 (UTC)


Since when has this abbreviation stood for anything but what the fuck? Tooironic 03:24, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Well, I don't know about some of the meanings listed nor can I say anything about verifiability but I know I have used (and possibly seen others use it too) things like "WTF (who the fuck) is he?" while playing an online game. 50 Xylophone Players talk 23:53, 10 January 2010 (UTC)


I thought that Senator would have an English section. To say Senator McCain is more correct that senator McCain no? How many of these do we need/are we missing? Like King, Queen, Lord etc. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:29, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Hmmm Good find. Forms of address, honourific titles, etc. A quick look shows that Mister and Doctor and Dr. and Ms and many others are included. But as you say, we are missing Queen and Senator and Captain and I suspect several others. If we use [[Category:Titles]] we can keep track of what has and has not been (ahem) addressed. -- ALGRIF talk 13:03, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
We have quite a few with initial capital letters and quite a few with lowercase; some with both. See User:Msh210/Sandbox#name_prependages for a partial list. I think these should all be lowercase (for reasons articulated at #little), but (as noted there) am not sure.​—msh210 17:34, 12 January 2010 (UTC)


This is defined as a meaningless syllable. (I can think of more that we haven't entered yet.) It is listed as an interjection. The uses shown nowise show it to be an interjection. It doesn't even seem to fit our slogan. It mostly seems to reflect our desire to make Wiktionary encompass all attestable sequences of typographical elements. What is the rationale for inclusion? —This unsigned comment was added by DCDuring (talkcontribs) at 14:41, 10 January 2010.

eleventh hour

Is eleventh hour a proper noun or a common noun?

I think it is a common noun, regardless of the phrase's being predominantly used with the definite article as "the eleventh hour".

The subject also seems to concern "last minute" and "bottom line". It seems to me that the predominant use of a definite article with a given phrase does not yet make the phrase a proper noun. "the eleventh hour" is meant with a reference to an implied deadline, as if it were "the eleventh hour of a deadline", much like "the weight of an apple". Attributes ("the weight of a person") and singly-present parts of objects ("the head of a person") are typically invoked with a definite article. --Dan Polansky 12:34, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

I agree that it is a common noun, and, after talking it over with other editors on Ruakh's talk page, I have reworked the entry. -- WikiPedant 15:39, 11 January 2010 (UTC)



  1. Used to indicate that an implied condition or time has been reached (used for synchronization). Similar to "now!"; often used with an undertone of whimsy.
    Anne (pouring milk): "Say when." Bob (indicating that enough milk has now been poured): "When!"

This is not an interjection in any narrow-to-normal construal of the word. It would seem to be to be a separate sense of the adverb that required a non-gloss definition and the usage example. For the general question of using the interjection PoS header, see Wiktionary talk:Interjections. DCDuring TALK 16:35, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Anne of course means it as an adverb (unless she's anticipating his response due to past similar conversations — but then she'd say "Say 'when'" not "Say when"). Bob is just quoting her, as if she'd said "Say 'when'", so is using the word qua word rather than with any meaning attached to it. We don't include words used as words, do we? — that's the use-mention distinction that we bother with in the CFI. So I'd say delete this sense (and perhaps include a usage note about this use s.v. "Adverb").​—msh210 17:27, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Category:English interjections has vast numbers of arguably misclassified entries that make entries longer and more complicated. I am looking to infer what kinds of consolidations of interjections into other PoS categories are acceptable to the community without wasting too much time in RfD. Use-mention rationales are a promising avenue for some. Thanks.
A question is whether users expect to find an interjection header for some kinds of entries. If they do, they will be disappointed if we don't have it, whatever our rationale. And some will seek to add an interjection section. In this case, I don't think a normal user would think to look for this usage in a dictionary or to call the use "interjection". DCDuring TALK 18:30, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Removed interjection sense.​—msh210 17:19, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

white rabbit

As above, this doesn't seem to be usefully classified as an interjection, though is a supertitious incantation it seems to warrant inclusion as a sense of the noun, which would be SoP as defined, were it not for this. I wonder whether Lewis Carroll's white rabbit has created another meaning for "white rabbit" as well. Also, if the incantation is valid, there seems to be a possibly more common variants "rabbit, rabbit" and "rabbit, rabbit, rabbit".

  1. Does this need to have the interjection header or could it be presented as a ("the" ?) sense of the noun ?
  2. Are superstitious incantations more or less meritorious than the ritualistic incantations of organized religions? DCDuring TALK 17:01, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

The first-day-of-the-month sense is very common in the UK (so needs an explanation) - but I don't think it's an interjection. SemperBlotto 17:05, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Well I shot the noun on sight. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:51, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
There might still be a valid argument for some version of noun in this entry, as a result of the influcence of Alice in Wonderland, but finding good citations isn't proving easy. --EncycloPetey 20:14, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
  • 2009, "Bill the Cat Lives (or, Run Forrest Run)", CSO‎, 8(5):8
    Usually you have some evidence beforehand and would try to use a risk-based approach to technology deployments instead of some White Rabbit nightmare []


hmm what does paradox mean

rfc? Pingku 17:43, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

A paradox is a statement that contradicts itself, you can say things, and what it means, but you will end up saying, "well if this is true, then that can't be, which means that this isn't, but i know that it IS true.

take down

Should this include the sense of: "The boxer took down his opponent with one punch"? Or should that go in take someone down? Tooironic 10:29, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

I would keep it at take down, since the object can appear in the middle of the phrasal verb or afterwards or before the verb. --EncycloPetey 20:10, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

low man on the totem pole

An Italian dictionary gives this phrase as a translation of capetto (junior manager). I've never heard of it. Is it real? SemperBlotto 17:13, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Well, yes, per Web hits for the phrase. But given the number of similar phrases that use a totem pole metaphoorically, I'd say that this is SoP: see google:"high man on the totem pole" -gilligan, "high up on the totem pole", "high on the totem pole", "somewhere in the middle of the totem pole", etc. Note that references are for all sorts of stature, not just that of people, and, among people, not just in a formal organization like a workplace.​—msh210 17:22, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, it seems more like an attribute of a junior manager than a synonym for it. DCDuring TALK 17:55, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

another sense for royal?

In a book I'm reading at the moment I came across this sentence: "The most salient misconception is, as should be clear by now, the belief that there is a royal way in translation teaching methodology." Royal here seems to mean "absolute" or "authoritative" but I'm not sure. Has anyone ever come across this usage before? Tooironic 04:12, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

  • It's a use of "royal way" (more usually, royal road), which is a metaphorical easy route to learning or studying something. It comes from something Euclid is supposed to have said – μὴ εῖναι βασιλικὴν ἀτραπὸν ἐπὶ γεωμετρίαν ‘there is no royal shortcut to geometry’. Ƿidsiþ 07:50, 13 January 2010 (UTC)


"With Scott's help, Fran progresses very fast." Is the way with is used in this sentence incorrect? If so, how could it be ammended? If not, how is it covered in our definitions of with? Thanks. Tooironic 05:36, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

The use is correct. It was covered: "as an instrument; by means of". But as MWOnline has 11 full senses (~30 subsenses) compared to our 7, I suspect that we are missing others. DCDuring TALK 12:01, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Yeah...the OED has 40 different senses for the preposition, most of which have numerous subsenses. Ƿidsiþ 13:00, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Sigh. I wonder if any of the non-obsolete senses can be considered to be treated in our phrasal verb entries. Our long entries seem difficult for users (judging from an extensive review of one user and inference) or likely to be difficult (from teaching, from superficial knowledge of web behavior, and from web-design practice and recommended practice). If we can direct users reliably to phrasal verb entries that cover senses or subsenses, we might be able to offer better effective coverage than the sense numbers alone indicate. DCDuring TALK 15:43, 13 January 2010 (UTC)


Notification: I have removed the adjective definition from "antimatter", as it seemed to be an attributive use of the noun. Correct me if I'm wrong. --Dan Polansky 06:59, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

I support that. Mglovesfun (talk) 18:33, 14 January 2010 (UTC)


How do you spell the onomatopoeia of a bell sound often said to someone colloquially to refer to someone you think is a bit of alright? Tooironic 08:29, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

The question reminds me of Leslie Phillips' "I say, Ding Dong" in Carry on Nurse etc. but did you mean something not in English? Dbfirs 10:05, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Do you mean awooga? Interplanet Janet 21:04, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
arooga is used as well. Equinox 21:06, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I believe Americans say aoogah. —Stephen 22:56, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

But in french, if you say "cette fille est ding-dong" ("this gal is ding-dong") & add a nutation of the head, it means "this girl is nuts" (or has a chick-pea rolling and clanging around in her head) T.y. Arapaima 09:16, 24 February 2010 (UTC)

Empowered: relating to the copyright on Wiktionary.org & use of in public forums

May I use this particular definition of the word "empowered" given here on Wiktionary to post on a wall on Facebook giving credit to Wiktionary for giving the definition? The definition in question can be found at empowered. And is this the correct forum to be asking a copyright question? CMB: BadKitty

You can link to us, copy our definitions, whatever. Just cite us as your source. You might wanna remove some detail above as it's a bit over personal. Mglovesfun (talk) 13:23, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

It has been quite some time since I have written papers and citations are done differently now than then. Is there a particular way in which I should cite the reference from Wiktionary.org when using one of their definitions on another forum? Please give an example. Thanks for your help. BadKitty 14:58, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

Nothing formal, just en.wiktionary.org is ok. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:44, 13 January 2010 (UTC)


I considered RFD'ing the interjection as it's just the adverb used on its own. However I'm hesitant. Does the meaning change? For instance?

  1. He was absolutely wrong
  2. Was he wrong? Absolutely!

Mglovesfun (talk) 19:43, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

The meaning would need to be something like "Used to give an emphatic affirmative response.", preferably using {{non-gloss definition}}.
Many dictionaries call response words interjections or "exclamations", but some call them adverbs. I have begun populating Category:English responses with some of these. If they are assigned a distinct category, then we can make a policy decision as to how such things ought to be presented and have some chance of implementing the policy in a reasonably brief period of time. DCDuring TALK 20:15, 13 January 2010 (UTC)



Translation: In Macbeth, the playwright uses the word raveled. Does anyone know what it means?​—msh210 22:25, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Actually, the word there is ravell'd, i.e. ravelled. Did you try the page raveled or ravelled?​—msh210 22:25, 13 January 2010 (UTC)


"Translingual: Chaos Computer Club". How is this translingual? --Yair rand 23:18, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

I don't know, nor whether it's inclusible. We're missing the sense found in "a sailor went to CCC".​—msh210 23:23, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Isn't that "A sailor went to sea (sea sea) to see what he could see (see see), but all that he could see (see see) was the bottom of the deep blue sea (sea sea)" Conrad.Irwin 16:09, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes: I was kidding.​—msh210 02:14, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

to the

One of the desiderata for a good gloss-type definition is "substitutability". (The same thing should apply to synonyms.) That is, the definition (or synonym) should be worded so that it can replace the term in all usage without ungrammaticality. Thus: to the, which is followed by an ordinal number, and to the power of, which is followed by a cardinal number, are not substitutable.

I don't think this is being too picky. If we are trying to help advanced learners, we should aspire to help them avoid this kind of soft blunder. If we are trying to be precise, we should respect this principle. If we want to give ourselves some good challenges in wording definitions, we should have fun respecting the principle. DCDuring TALK 12:29, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

I think you're right that to the power of never takes an ordinal, but to the can take a cardinal - I've heard phrases like "two to the four", "two to the ten" before, certainly in computing where powers of two are commonplace. Interplanet Janet 12:43, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
On COCA the construct "[cardinal] to the [cardinal]" is about one fourth as common as "[cardinal] to the [ordinal]". I get similar results on Google books (the first 200 hits of "ten-to-the"). The cardinal numbers dominate for negative powers (What is a negative ordinal anyway?) and zero (zeroth would be attestable though.). I didn't get enough hits for "two-to-the".
Is it more common than "to the [ordinal]" in anyone's experience in computing or in any other context or region? DCDuring TALK 15:36, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
I would say that "two-to-the [cardinal]" is more common than "two-to-the [ordinal]" in computing, and sometimes also for "ten-to-the" in scientific and mathematical discussions, but I would regard the usage as informal. Dbfirs 10:15, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Thoughts on the presentation with additional usexes and usage notes? DCDuring TALK 12:10, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
I've corrected the numerical error in the example, and extended the usage notes (based on Google searches), but I haven't found a reference to support my claims, so it would be helpful to have a second expert opinion, or a reference if anyone can find one. Dbfirs 21:39, 30 January 2010 (UTC)


Is noun sense 4, "The part of an object or individual (notably the buttocks) directly involved in sitting." distinct from senses 2, "The horizontal portion of a chair or other furniture designed for sitting." and 5, "The part of a piece of clothing on which one sits.", or are senses 2 and 5 just specific examples of sense 4? Thryduulf 12:43, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

The example sentences were somewhat confused. I hope I've corrected this, but better examples could probably be found. I can see the distinctions, but I've no objection to combining similar senses to "any part of an individual, clothing or an object involved in sitting". Dbfirs 23:01, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Would all the senses be used with the same verbs and prepositions? I think not. They really seem distinct to me. If we are an unabridged-type dictionary, we would seem to need them.
OTOH our slogan doesn't give us any guidance about the goal of completeness with respect to definitions/senses/subsenses. Should a more complete slogan be "Some senses of all words in all languages." or "All senses of all words in all languages."? DCDuring TALK 15:45, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
I think we should aim for all senses of all words in all languages, but my query was whether there were three senses or three examples of one sense. Thryduulf 16:17, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
I thought I'd addressed that. Subjectively, it seems obvious to me that they are different senses or subsenses. I was looking for a not-entirely-subjective way of discerning differences in senses. I may get kicked "in the seat". I placed by bag "on the seat". I asked my tailor to "let out the seat" of my pants. There is a closer connection between the "seat of my pants" and the more personal seat within my pants than between the seat of my pants and the seat that my pants and I sit on. But nevertheless my pants and I are distinct and can't be used interchangeably in many circumstances. The personal seat sense seems uncommon to me, used euphemistically.
Sense 4 seems inaccurate. If I am sitting on a fencerail with my weight of the back of my upper thigh, that part of me does not become my seat. My seat is what protrudes behind me over the fence.
Sense 2 seems inaccurate. I can find a seat on objects designed for purposes other than sitting or not designed at all (fence, table, rock, tree limb).
Sense 5 seems inaccurate for reasons analogous to sense 4. Also, does a coat have a seat?
Other full dictionaries at OneLook have 10-13 senses for the noun seat and most make the distinctions that you question above. Some treat the three (and one or two others) as grouped subsenses. Some don't distinguish between buttocks and clothing covering same. One omits buttocks. It seems rare that we have too many senses rather than too few. DCDuring TALK 18:07, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
I've made a couple of adjustments to partially address these concerns, but further work is needed to make a complete entry. Eventually, are we not going to need a version of Wiktionary mid-way between our full expanded entries and Simple Wiktionary, for those who are accustomed to looking up words in compact dictionaries? Casual users are going to be put off by lengthy etymologies and fine detail in shades of meaning. Dbfirs 10:03, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
It would be interesting to view en-wikt as a working copy of a draft of a master dictionary from which dictionary editions for specific audiences could be drawn. The customizable interface approach would mean we wouldn't need multiple copies. But most of the material that gives presentation problems is not tagged to allow it to be easily omitted (eg, extensive inline quotes, less useful material in half-screen long pronunciation sections, extensive cognate lists in etymologies). Omitting entire headings is crude. Selective omission of citation information would be interesting so that users could see a date and a the center of a quote on one line by default. But the most important thing is almost certainly that have the initial presentation be of definitions (and orienting information) only, with other information revealed on demand, preferably by individual sense. DCDuring TALK 11:52, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

hollow victory

I'm surprised to see that this only has one linked page (added by me). I thought that a hollow victory was when the cost of the victory is so great, that it wasn't worth the fight. The fact that it has no linked pages makes me thing I am likely wrong. Mglovesfun (talk) 18:31, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

I'd have said that Pyrrhic victory better fitted your definition. I would say "hollow victory" was when the winning no longer had any meaning for the winner and/or more generally. In my opinion, a Pyrrhic victory is one example of a hollow victory. The comments in Merriam-Webster's dictionary of English usage [3] would seem to agree with this last point. Although it is conceivable that in certain situations a Pyrrhic victory might not be hollow to everyone,
While there are lots of cites available for the use of "hollow victory", some being used where "Pyrrhic victory" would be appropriate, I haven't found after a brief search any that could show the meaning of the term from just a small excerpt - one example requiring the context of the preceding three paragraphs at least not being atypical. Thryduulf 19:03, 14 January 2010 (UTC)


A lot of senses missing according to w:el. H. (talk) 20:23, 14 January 2010 (UTC)


The inflection line shows a past of "had to". This is, of course, inconsistent with the etymology, etc. Haven't we outgrown this kind of presentation? DCDuring TALK 23:21, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps simply {{infl|en|verb|does not inflect for tense}}?​—msh210 23:38, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
[[Category:English defective verbs]]. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:33, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
It was already in the defective and auxiliary verb categories. DCDuring TALK 19:29, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

sexually transmitted disease

Any disease that's sexually transmitted. It's actually very sum of parts. But I wouldn't want to see it deleted as it's a "set phrase" (as much as I hate hate that word). Mglovesfun (talk) 17:30, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

  • So...what exactly do you want of the Tea Room? Ƿidsiþ 20:10, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
    • I was trying to think of a good example of a SoP term that would be worth keeping, this is as good as it gets. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:30, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
A perfect example of a set phrase would not allow any piecewise modification or coordination. By that standard it is not perfect. On COCA one can find "sexually transmitted viral disease" and "sexually transmitted terminal disease" vs 168 hits for the unmodified term. If we deem this acceptable that would help calibrate a quantitative test for "setness". We accept as set phrases terms that have greater than 1% frequency of piecewise modification or coordination. I searched COCA vigorously (but not exhaustively for other such coordination or modification and could not find more. Perhaps at 2% (or 3% or 5%) relative frequency our intuition would reject a term as being a set phrase. DCDuring TALK 15:21, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think our definition is entirely right either; sexually transmitted diseases can be transmitted other ways. Thrush is an STD but can be transmitted by non-sexual contact. Does that make the article idiomatic as a whole? Likely so. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:26, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
By the misnomer principle, I suppose so. I'd rather calibrate "set phrase", which has some value as an objective test to reduce tedious gum-flapping or whimsical and unreasoned inconsistency in inclusion. DCDuring TALK 15:58, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Note we also list sexually transmitted infection. Tooironic 22:03, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
STI seems intuitively less "set" than STD to me. It is half as common at COCA: 83 vs 168. In contrast to the setness of STD, one can find 4 instances of modifiers inserted before "infection": disease, HIV, HIV-1, bacterial. Do it seem "set" to others? DCDuring TALK 23:17, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I would argue that one test for "sett-ness" of a phrase is that it has a widely-recognized acronym or initialism. Such abbreviated forms act as stabilizing agents for phrases. --EncycloPetey 20:06, 17 January 2010 (UTC)


What would the proper pronunciation of Sikkim be? I'm thinking something like "sih kihm." --The New Mikemoral ♪♫WT:APR 01:17, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

See w:File:Sikkim.ogg for one opinion. (The creator of that file does not claim to speak Limbu, but the pronunciation seems obviously non-Anglophone, so I'm a bit unclear on the concept.) I have heard both "sic 'im" and "sih KEEM". -- Visviva 17:37, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I added the American pronunciation. It is like "SEEK-eem". —Stephen 18:43, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
What is the language code of Limbu? The file needs to be renamed for uniformity of audio pronunciations. --The New Mikemoral ♪♫WT:APR 06:39, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

jerk off

I edited the verb sense as "usually as a male" (I know it sounds awkward but I wasn't sure how else to word it) as I can't think of that verb ever applying to a female. If everyone agrees with me then we will have to double check these translations. Tooironic 22:54, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

I think there are other such idioms that usually apply to males because of the implication of ejacultion, and women don't (usually) ejaculate (no comments please). Is knock one out easy enough to attest? Mglovesfun (talk) 20:12, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
In my mind, jerk off doesn't really apply to women because a woman doesn't "jerk" or "pull" when she masturbates, although by all means I could be wrong. I suppose citations are really needed here. Tooironic 09:21, 19 January 2010 (UTC)


I've made an entry for what appears to be the first Makah word: qʷi·qʷi·diččaq. The language Makah is not even indexed at the category page for all languages. Is there a special procedure required? Wakablogger 23:18, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

No, just add the files for Makah as needed, as you see done for other languages. I have added Category:Makah language for you. —Stephen 18:32, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Wow, thank you! The depth of Wiki never fails to astound me. Wakablogger 22:14, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

mother of all

I put this in as a phrase, but that doesn't seem quite right. I wasn't sure how to deal with it. Is it maybe a kind of determiner? Some linguists call it a snowclone, but I'm not sure what we usually do with them. Ƿidsiþ 14:39, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

In an analogous situation, I have been putting entries like in favor of under the heading Preposition and in Category:English phrasal prepositions not because most grammarians (or anyone) agree, but to facilitate locating them if someone comes up with a better arrangement. The alternative of placing them under Phrase and putting them in Category:English non-constituents would lose their particular distinguishing characteristics.
This latter arrangement is not very satisfactory. A narrow definition of the term "Phrase" is inconsistent with the headword not being a constituent.
In this case, you might consider "Category:English phrasal determiner", especially as there are a few other possible members already in Category:English determiners (eg, a number of). And Category:English non-constituents is available to keep them from being lost. I would think that entries that were not constituents would be worth reconsidering as entries from time to time. DCDuring TALK 16:40, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Something like "determiner" would be my suggestion as well. --EncycloPetey 20:04, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
I wonder if this would have been as popular in the US if it did not echo mother (motherfucker), which has been in attestable use in the expression "a/one/this mother of a" since at least 1964. DCDuring TALK 20:13, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Well observed, in fact the OED actually notes: ‘Perh. reinforced in later use by the euphemistic use of mother to mean ‘motherfucker’ (see sense 7 and MOTHERFUCKER n. 2b), hence the occas. occurrence of the form mutha in the phrase.’ Ƿidsiþ 06:10, 19 January 2010 (UTC)


Is attitudinal ever used as a noun? I came across such a usage [4] here. Tooironic 03:12, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

A lot of adjectives ending in 'al' are used as nouns. Moral, spirititual, total and so on. 19:43, 22 January 2010 (UTC)


I went looking for the sense here that is often used in cop dramas, spy movies, etc, where they say, "I've been made." (i.e. "I've been recognised".) Turns out this sense is only listed at make, even though I've never heard anyone say "Did they make you?" Thoughts? Tooironic 10:57, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

You haven't watched enough of them. "Did they make you?" is a standard line. OK as is. DCDuring TALK 11:35, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
Hmm yeah I think you're right. Never mind. Tooironic 11:50, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

people, extra sense?

"Let's get this done now, people!" Have we included this kind of usage in the entry I wonder? Tooironic 11:49, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

It is a part of English grammar to be able to use a noun in that way. See vocative. DCDuring TALK 12:12, 19 January 2010 (UTC)


The given etymology seems more like an etymology for contraception (which entry doesn't have an etymology section) than contraceptive. If I had to guess I'd say that the etymology of contraceptive is contraception +‎ -ive, but it would be nothing more than a guess. Thryduulf 03:27, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

The OED gives its etymology as contra- + (con)ceptive.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 11:42, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

it's all grist to the mill

This is entered as a proverb. I'm looking for permission to move this to grist to the mill as an idiomatic noun. -- ALGRIF talk 18:20, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

From whom does one get permission? Isn't there another proverb: it's better to ask forgiveness than permission? In any event, it seems like a good idea to me. DCDuring TALK 19:12, 20 January 2010 (UTC)


We are missing many extra senses here. See [5]. Tooironic 03:26, 21 January 2010 (UTC)


Can someone please explain to me what this word means? I have a citation for it. Tooironic 03:33, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

The first b.g.c. hit for it helps considerably.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 04:01, 21 January 2010 (UTC)


Are these kind of initialisms suitable for Wiktionary? I just created 'em. Tooironic 07:42, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Government or educational institutes like the two here are usually well recognized and their initialisms accepted into common use even outside their country of origin. The RMIT, for example, has a history spanning over 100 years and is well known here in New Zealand. Anyone reading materials containing this acronym will likely wish to look it up in a dictionary as well. Based on the above observations, I suggest keeping the entries. JamesjiaoT C 09:15, 25 January 2010 (UTC)


The first definition looks strange.

  1. (Have two sense: active or passive) 'Active' creates an obligation, 'passive' do not create an obligation.
    A sandwich requires bread.
    I require a sandwich.

--Volants 13:55, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

The first example here (A sandwich requires bread.) corresponds to needing something as a necessity or a prerequisite. This, I believe, is the "passive" sense as the components are necessary regardless of the will of the subject. The second example (I require a sandwich.) relates more to a demand or a wish to obtain something. This, of course, corresponds to the "active" sense, as this "wish" is manipulable by the subject. I hope my interpretation coincides with the intention of this definition.
Therefore, I propose the new definitions to resemble the following:
  1. To have as necessary or indispensable pre-requisites or components (the passive sense)
  2. To demand or exact as obligatory; to need (the active sense)
  3. To ask as a favor; to request (ok as it is)

--JamesjiaoT C 09:40, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

I have removed the definition, reverting the definitions to the revision before the disputed definition has been added: the removed definition is not a dictionary definition, and the example sentences can be placed to other senses already defined in the entry.
The definitions in the entry after my revert:
  • 1. To demand; to insist upon having; to claim as by right and authority; to exact; as, to require the surrender of property.
  • 2. To demand or exact as indispensable; to need.
  • 3. To ask as a favor; to request.
This state is identical to what Webster 1913 has, so further tweaks may be needed, including those along the line proposed by Jamesjiao.
--Dan Polansky 08:32, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
...And I have rearranged things further, keeping the same basic definitions but standing them up with some citations. Ƿidsiþ 10:01, 8 February 2010 (UTC)


Could someone who knows, change the suffix template on this entry please. At the moment it puts the word into an English list. Thanx. -- ALGRIF talk 15:21, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

  • Done. You just need to add the lang=sl parameter to the suffix template. Most similar templates work the same way, taking a lang=ISOCODE parameter to categorise by language, defaulting to English if no parameter is supplied. Thryduulf 19:47, 21 January 2010 (UTC)


While reading this stanza from a poem of Ezra Pound, I think I unearthed the verbal meaning of aware (which is given in “aware” in An American Dictionary of the English Language, by Noah Webster, 1828.):

As little flames amid the dead coal dart
And lost themselves upon some hidden stair,
So futile elfin be we well aware
Old cries I cry to thee as I depart,

To be certain, I would like to ask a native speaker: Does the verb be from the third line refer to the old cries - As (...) So futile elfin be old cries I cry to thee as I depart, and whether we well aware (aware - intransitive verb) in the same line means we are aware that old cries are futile elfin (futile, elfin used prædicatively). Can the stanza serve as an illustration in a section aware#Verb? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 21:05, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Or, if be refers to we (aware - adjective), then As ... , so futile elfin old cries I cry to thee as I depart (futile, elfin used attributively) (and we are aware that I cry...)? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 21:16, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

It seems much too ambiguous to be usable. As I understand it poetry does not provide good illustration of typical usage. There is a mismatch, too, between it being marked "not legitimate" in Websters 1828 and the word selection of the young Pound (c. 20 years old at the writing). As he was still in the thrall of Swinburne at the time, it is hard to imagine him choosing an archaic non-standard Americanism. Also, are you sure that "elfin" is not a noun. How is "lost" to be read? I can't come up with a reading that I find convincing. Perhaps someone on more intimate terms with the poems Pound rejected and with the late Victorian/Edwardian poets he was imitating, but trying to escape from could do better. DCDuring TALK 22:57, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
From The Poetry of Ezra Pound[6]:
The voices of lovers are heard in two complementary sonnets, "That Pass Between the False Dawn and the True" and "In Morte De" (ALS, 44-45). Probably inspired by Dante's tale of Paolo and Francesca, these poems portray the souls of lovers afloat on an undirected wind—not eternally together like Dante's pair, but separated after a momentary meeting and carried longingly apart.
In light of this, I read "elfin" as a pet-name the speaker has for his/her lover, and "aware" in an adjectival predicative sense. There remains a tense discrepancy between "dart" and "lost".
BTW, elfin appears to have a noun sense we miss. According to Chambers, it can mean "little elf" or "child". Pingku 13:37, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, elfin as a noun explains a lot. Thanks for bringing this up, I could not divine this usage of elfin, as most dictionaries do not contain it (but I admit failing to look it up in Webster 1913, which has it). Is the nominal use of elfin archaic? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 18:00, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Given the trouble we had, it seems obsolete, but in non-poetic uses it is easier to figure out, which might make it archaic. Judging from a bgc search for "elfins" post-1959, it still seems to occur in literary criticism and discussions of mythology. It also appears in fantasy fiction. Perhaps archaic & literary. DCDuring TALK 18:44, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Answered in Beer parlour

definition is , words that are spelled the same forward and backwards? need word please

palindrome. Thryduulf 22:51, 24 January 2010 (UTC)


Does one of the sense at air cover "He arrived by air" meaning he travelled by plane? RJFJR 17:41, 23 January 2010 (UTC)


How do you spell that word, the verb that means you fix someone's hair, make it look more spiky or pretty? Jizz? Tooironic 07:56, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

I really hope you weren't thinking of jizz. I like styling my hair with gel, or simply - gel my hair. JamesjiaoT C 08:09, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Oh dear. No I mean the action of "gzzzhiz-ing". Really hard to romanise when you don't know IPA unfortunately. The kind of word you'd see in Queer Eye For The Straight Guy (and not gel - I remember Carson Kressley saying something along the lines of "hair gel? That's so 80s!". Tooironic 19:23, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
You mean zhoosh. Equinox 19:29, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes I do. Thanks muchly! Tooironic 08:17, 25 January 2010 (UTC)


The Spanish noun mañana has two forms, one feminine and one masculine. But the entry can't be right with two Noun headers. Can anyone tidy this up for me? Cheers -- ALGRIF talk 13:27, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

As far as I know this has never been resolved. In some entries I created in the past I used a new {{es-noun}} line to mark separate gendered senses. It might make sense to use {{es-noun-mf}} and then add {{m}} or {{f}} on each line. Nadando 18:45, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Looks good to me. Neat. Thanks. -- ALGRIF talk 14:18, 25 January 2010 (UTC)


Appears to be a nonce from one work only. "These gentlemen lovertine, and myself a hater of love..." Should it be a postfixed adjective rather than a noun? Equinox 13:57, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

drug store

Stimulated by the discussion of confectioner's, I have made this entry, reflecting my personal understanding of the use of the term in the US (three senses). I would be interested in the synonyms for each of these elsewhere in the English-speaking world so that we can maximize the chances of getting good translations or select the appropriate {{trans-see}} targets. DCDuring TALK 20:51, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Good work. In my mind the distinction between the first two senses are much of a muchness though. Tooironic 03:42, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
It only represents a guess. In a monolingual, monocultural, one-country dictionary there would almost certainly be no need at all to make such fine distinctions. In Wiktionary I'm not so sure, especially since we seem to give cultural context little role in the user's ability to construct meaning. Without such cultural context how could a language learner in, say, Malaysia understand. The retail economy (including legalities) shapes the meaning of the term.
In any event, I'd hope we could keep it until the question about synonyms (and possibly translations) is addressed or for one month, whichever comes first. DCDuring TALK 11:18, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm surprised it wasn't already an entry. Yes. Culturally it needs to be defined. Outside US at first and second glance, it appears to be a place where you can buy drugs. But if you watch Hollywood films etc. it can't be simply that. So what is it? Your definitions goes a long way to clarifying. -- ALGRIF talk 13:52, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
We don't have that many ordinary Americans among our contributors, I gather. I would be interested in how such entities would be referred to in English in other places: UK, Canada, Oz, NZ, Ireland, South Africa, India, Caribbean, Singapore? I'm not even sure about uniformity of terminology within the US either by region or on the urban/suburban/rural or income-level gradients. DCDuring TALK 15:08, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

I think in the UK the only examples of 3 would be smaller branches of chain stores like Boots or Superdrug, and would be referred to as that brand name or possibly as a chemist's; part of a supermarket and not referred to separately; or maybe a health and beauty or health food type shop, but they wouldn't sell mainstream non-prescription medicine items but natural remedies and the like. By and large however, Outside that I don't think the concept of a mainstream pharmacy without a pharmacist really exists here. Thryduulf 13:26, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

you're on

A: Let's play a game of chess.B: You're on! Does our entry for on cover "you're on", or should it have its own entry? Tooironic 08:19, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Our entry at "on" would cover it, but, as we give no allowance for context and little for user intelligence and seek universal coverage of all terms that might be deemed idiomatic under some rationale, we would seem to need to keep it. If we are to be so small-mindedly hobgoblin-ridden, consistency would argue that almost any colloquial phrase that constitutes a response or a request for one would have to be included under the speech-act rationale. DCDuring TALK 11:47, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
Um, OK. Well, I've created an entry at you're on. Feel free to critique it as you see fit. Tooironic 09:51, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Hmm. Maybe not just games, but a general statement of agreement to something proposed:
2007, Frances Mary Hendry, Wee Malkie,
"Your assistant?" David nodded. "Done it before, see, in London. References, no sweat. Partner later, if it works out?"
David looked a bit startled. "You're a fast worker. But why not, if it works?"
"You're on, mate!" Tommy was fairly bouncing as we left. "A start, innit? Lookin' up, eh?"
2008, James Emlyn Griffiths, Paper Tigers - Roaring Lions,
"Goodnight. If things are quieter tomorrow night maybe we can go out for dinner and drinks."
"You're on, Mate."
Pingku 13:40, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

big box

The final phrase of the definition and, especially, the antonym imply that the most salient feature of such a retail store is its corporate ownership. Big-box stores are principally differentiated from older types of retail stores generally, including many that are large and corporate owned. The form of ownership is mostly salient in pejorative labeling in certain political-economic rhetoric. DCDuring TALK 11:30, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

answer the call of nature

I was searching for call of nature and found this; should this be renamed to that title (verb + idiom) or should they have two separate articles? Mglovesfun (talk) 14:28, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

This is certainly a classical idiom from that most fecund source: euphemism. I think "call of nature" is used creatively in allusion to the full idiom, in a pattern shared by short forms of proverbs etc. In addition "call of nature" alludes to the "call of the wild", itself certainly a catchphrase and possibly idiomatic. I have no firm prediction of how our voting process would treat any of them and won't waste time discussing my opinion of their status under that dead-letter, CFI. DCDuring TALK 16:18, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Well I would say something like "brb, call of nature" so I'm sure it does have legs outside of this phrase. So I'll create the article now. Mglovesfun (talk) 16:30, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

Fyi, there's also [[nature calls]].​—msh210 16:54, 26 January 2010 (UTC)


Scots definition. Should this not be lippen? Or is it nonsense? Noun or proper noun? --Volants 15:00, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

  1. archaic trust.
I'm not sure there's any usable content there. Mglovesfun (talk) 16:23, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Sadly, the original contributor has not been here for a long time. --Volants 16:52, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Definitely a common noun, so I've moved it to lippen and added the obsolete English verb. There is certainly evidence that the Scots used the word as a noun, so the entry is not nonsense, but Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson used "lippen" as a verb. Dbfirs 17:54, 27 January 2010 (UTC)


Two issues here, one that concerns me (particularly) and the other that doesn't. Etienne isn't a misspelling of Étienne, it's an alternative form. Usually, for typographical variants (as opposed to spelling ones) we use redirects. The problem is, which should redirect to which? There are two theories; one says that Étienne is a 'misspelling' ofEtienne, and the other says precisely the inverse! The reason being, in traditional French spelling, capital letters do not take diacritics. So that leaves us with what? {{alternative form of}}? WT:AFR has no help on this.

I'll bring up the second issue later to avoid confusion. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:57, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

No, in traditional French spelling, capital letters do take diacritics (e.g. have a look at LIBERTÉ ÉGALITÉ FRATERNITÉ as written on French city halls). The only exceptions are when you use a cursive script, or when there is a technical impossibility (e.g. with old typing machines). Omitting diacritics often leads to ambiguity.
Therefore, the normal spelling is Étienne, without a doubt, and this is the spelling normally used by books. However, it's difficult to consider Etienne as a misspelling, because it's very common: the letter É cannot be entered easily on computer keyboards. It's useful to keep an entry for Etienne, in addition to Étienne. Lmaltier 11:32, 30 January 2010 (UTC)


From the definition and sample usages, it looks like the second acronym definition should be moved to Tardis and classified as a noun? Thryduulf 13:18, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Given the lack of objection, I've now done this. See Tardis. Thryduulf 10:00, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

What you’ve done seems appropriate; good job.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 10:54, 31 January 2010 (UTC)


Not so much the content but the headers. Both nouns have the same etymology, but different 'declensions', as factor cannot have a feminine form, but mailman/postman can. Is it appropriate to use the ===Noun=== header twice? For reference only, in fr:facteur they use ===Noun 1=== and ===Noun 2===. Mglovesfun (talk) 16:22, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

The best way is to consider factrice as a different noun (which it is), nd to use a single noun header for facteur. The word factrice should be mentioned in derived words (and as a note at the end of the definition, as the word sometimes used for a woman). Lmaltier 11:17, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

triplet, quadruplet, quintuplet, sextuplet in french

In (modern) French, baby from the same mother are called triplé, quadruplé, quintuplé and sextuplé but we can find them in pages referenced in this subtitle. Can SO look at this ?

As fas as I know, the only spelling used for this sense is the one with -é. Triplet, quadruplet, etc. also exist in French, but with a different sense. Lmaltier 11:17, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
So, the definition for the french sections must be adapted. Jona 07:30, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

hang in there

SoP "hang in" + there?​—msh210 20:13, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

It should probably be a usage example at and a redirect to hang in because forms of "[hang] in" and "there" are very common collocations (606/3816 ~ 16%) at COCA. BTW, "hang in" + "there" (which includes the imperative) is even more relatively common (394/941 ~ 42%) at COCA. DCDuring TALK 22:21, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
Done, thanks; striking.​—msh210 17:51, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

going on

We're missing the sense found in google:"going on three o'clock" (cf. *"went on three o'clock", *"goes on three o'clock"), which I'd add except that I don't know what POS it is.​—msh210 20:19, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

It does look like in evolved from the progressive form of go on (approximate, draw near to), but I yet to find any instances of use in any form other than the progressive. Encarta presents it as the progressive form of a verb. I'm not sure what sense of on it evolved from. Others seem to present it as an idiom, meaning they don't commit to a grammatical analysis. DCDuring TALK 20:47, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I would be tempted to call it an adverb (Prepositional phrase POS ??) as it's meaning is nearly. Unless there is usage of go on meaning approach that I don't know of. -- ALGRIF talk 13:42, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't see adverb, as an adverb doesn't normally require a complement as the sense Msh is pursuing does. It seems to require a noun complement. So it would be easy enough to call it a preposition and place it also in Category:English phrasal prepositions. "Preposition" might be more useful than "phrasal-verb-used-only-in-the-progressive" for most users conveying the notion of the required complement, which seems the most essential to me. DCDuring TALK 16:48, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, gentlemen. I've added it as a =Preposition=. Please tweak ad lib.​—msh210 17:36, 1 February 2010 (UTC)


Having unearthed this adjective in one of Pound’s poems and discovered its absence from Webster 1913, I am curious whether the adjective is current in modern English and whether it should be tagged as poetic or archaic, if it is not. Does someone have access to OED in order to check whether they have an entry about the word? (No need to explain the meaning though, as I suppose that is is similar to oblivious). Same about awroth (although it gets more hits in google books than obliviate). The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 19:37, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

The OED doesn't have the obliviate that Pound seems to be using, though it does have a verb of the spelling and root, which it says is now rare (though it does have one quotation from the 1970s). Similarly for awroth: it has a verb of that spelling, which it says is obsolete (which may be understatement: its latest quotation for it is from 1250). —RuakhTALK 19:51, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, awroth may well serve as a verb in our case, why not - the sentence from here is But one left me awroth and went in unto thy table., so But one left me fret/get angry/... fits, does it not? In this case, the verb must be intransitive. And the tag may turn out to be overrated, as we have a recent quote from the 20th century. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 20:13, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I am intent on creating the entry awroth, but how can we define it? get angry? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 20:14, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I think the word in question may very well be, as you first assumed, an adjective. Take a look at what I’ve done with awrath; this word is remarkably polysemic.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 05:07, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the exhaustive entry, Raifʻhār. By word in question you referred to awroth or to obliviate? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 11:46, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
To awroth; I’d need the quotation of use you found in order to decide about obliviate. BTW, I’ve left the adjectival sense undefined for you to write the definition as you consider appopriate (it’d also be good if you added your citation of Ezra Pound to the four quotations that sense already has).  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 13:39, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
The quote is from the poem Plotinus: Obliviate of cycles’ wanderings // I was an atom on creation’s throne. In the subsequent verse And knew all nothing my unconquered own. nothing is an adverb (not at all), am I right? (knew all [, but] not at all my unconquered own ?) Or if all is used adverbially as well (altogether), then: knew in no degree altogether my unconquered own? Can they both be adverbs? Is the adverbial use of nothing and all current to-day? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 14:34, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
I would rather not add a definition for the adjective. Whenever I add definitions of English words, I copy them from Webster 1913, as I am not a native speaker. In our case, Webster 1913 does not contain a definition The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 14:38, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
The OED defines the adverbial sense of nothing as “Not at all, in no way.” and marks it archaic. All, meanwhile, seems to have a number of adverbial uses which don’t seem to be marked as having no currency. That third line is really difficult to interpret. (Or maybe it’s just because I’ve been up for 26 hours. Who knows?) As for obliviate, I’d guess it’s virtually synonymous with oblivious and is pronounced /ɒˈblɪvɪət/. I’ve written a definition for the adjectival sense of awrath; let me know if you agree or disagree with it.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 18:48, 30 January 2010 (UTC)


Good day all,

The word PLOD...

All definition speak of walking slowly or laboriously.

I would say the technical definition of plodding is not lifting one foot until the other is placed fully on the ground. In so doing one would then walk slowly and laboriously.

The thought struck me as I was getting out of the shower onto a slippery floor. I had to PLOD to avoid slipping.

Todays trivia.

Martin Harris

Yes, I think that your suggestion is a good example of "plodding", but the word itself has a slightly more general meaning and is not restricted to a "flat-footed" walk. Dbfirs 12:12, 1 February 2010 (UTC)


Weird... no mention of "to freeze someone's accounts" in the verb section. Rectify, please? Tooironic 11:55, 30 January 2010 (UTC)


Could temper, temper! and naughty, naughty! be considered idiom interjections? __meco 14:33, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

From a decoding point of view, no. From a bad-headword PoV, they should lose the exclamation point (but not the comma ?). From a PoS perspective, they do not meet the strict definition of an interjection.
From the point of view of encoding, very few words are used this way, which favors having an entry. But, both of these are colloquial, so I find it hard to see that an entry offers anyone any human actual help at the occasion of potential use. OTOH we can insert it to aid in the process of devising machines that can pass the Turing test. DCDuring TALK 16:31, 30 January 2010 (UTC)


"seasonal moving for animals, birds or fishes to breed or find a new hanging field". A hanging field? What is that? Equinox 17:51, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

  • Like many of our older entries, this one needs a total rewrite (maybe tomorrow). SemperBlotto 17:55, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Redundant idioms

I've been reading a book on plant morphology for technical terms to add. I've noticed that botanical phraseology include quite a few two-word formulations that are rather pleonastic and verging on nonsensical fro single-word terms. While foliage leaf is actually a useful terms (it basically encompass any "normal" leaf that is not specialized), terms like phyllotactic arrangement and meristematic tissue are really just fancy ways of saying phyllotaxis and meristem.

Nonetheless they are not strictly sum of part to me, and one might in fact have trouble connecting them, I know it took me a while to figure out "phyllotactic arrangement". Any thoughts? Circeus 18:53, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

How about something like this?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 13:33, 31 January 2010 (UTC)


I merged two senses here (basically "performed in steps" and "(computing) performed in steps") but then noticed that the Finnish translations for the two were different. How can that be? Surely they are the same sense. Does someone know how to sort it out? Xonique 04:17, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

the world is one's lobster

I've just created the entry for this (cites are available if requested, but I don't have time to add them atm). Am I right to use the "Phrase" header rather than "Proverb"? I couldn't decide! Thryduulf 09:39, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

Since the world is one’s oyster is listed as a proverb, so, presumably, should the world is one’s lobster be listed.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 10:57, 31 January 2010 (UTC)


The first definition, "(nautical) A type of winch, fitted with a wildcat for hauling chain, or a gypsy for rope." needs improving as it doesn't make non-technical sense and none of the definitions at gypsy or wildcat make sense in this context. Thryduulf 13:09, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

  • I've grossly simplified the definition. It isn't just nautical (where it is used to lift masts etc). The second definition was added by a military chap who didn't take kindly to criticism (now removed). SemperBlotto 13:18, 31 January 2010 (UTC)