Wiktionary:Tea room/2010/July

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July 2010


Per WT:RFD#how long, we don't seem to have a definition for idiomatic meaning "purely the sum of its parts". Mglovesfun (talk) 12:20, 1 July 2010 (UTC)

See the entry for idiom at SIL's Glossary of Linguistic terms. DCDuring TALK 13:39, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
Right seen it, now what? Mglovesfun (talk) 14:54, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
I have RfVed a corresponding sense of idiom at WT:RFV#idiom. DCDuring TALK 15:34, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm confused. Mglovesfun (talk) 20:24, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
I think that's WT:RFC#idiom. Pingku 18:39, 9 July 2010 (UTC)


In some cites ([1], [2]), it seems to have a meaning something like that of amicable. In others ([3], [4], [5], [6]), it seems to mean the same as inimicable. And in yet others ([7], [8], [9], [10]), it seems to mean the same as inimitable.

(Incidentally, those three Books hits were the only true positives among the first fifty Books hits.)

I want to create this entry, but have no idea what to put in it.​—msh210 (talk) 19:21, 1 July 2010 (UTC)

{{misspelling of}}? Circeus 20:03, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
That makes sense for the "inimicable" and "inimitable" senses (and in that case we probably shouldn't include those senses, as it's not a common misspelling of either). But is it a misspelling of amicable or another form of it? I mean, inimicable is according to our etymology in- +‎ amicable: is that true (seems weird) or is there actually a word imicable, a form of amicable, which is now very rare outside of inimicable?​—msh210 (talk) 13:34, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
I'd suggest setting the page up with three high-level etymology sections. Then put your guesses about the related words in suitably worded etymologies, and back them up with definitions and citations. Pingku 16:46, 2 July 2010 (UTC)


The little "Wanted" list on the "Recent changes" page now contains floribunda. If I were to create this as a Translingual adjective with a meaning of something like "having many flowers", then I would get a bollocking from certain quarters. So, what is its language and part of speech? In order to help, I have created a small Citations page - the languages shown are those of the sentences in which the word occurs. I have not been able to find any Latin text containing the word. SemperBlotto 21:24, 3 July 2010 (UTC)

  • In the absence of any interest - I'll just add the English noun sense, and add the taxonomic sense later (when nobody is looking). SemperBlotto 07:01, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
    • I could have sworn we had a New Latin header or something for taxonomical Latin?

times: coordinator or preposition?

I know this has been discussed recently, but I think I have good reason to open it again. I've made a number of arguments on the talk page (not sure if I should copy here or not, so I'll just link).--Brett 02:08, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

I had personally preferred "conjunction" in the previous discussion, but would have followed the lemmings and treated it as a preposition. I have come to see the wisdom of the lemming way. I would treat all of the single words that can be spoken and correspond to arithmetic operations as effectively prepositions. That "times" and "plus" correspond to commutative operations would not prevent them from being prepositions (consider: "near"). Takasugi had argued that a prepositional phrase headed by "times" can't modify a verb. It can at least modify the verb "multiply". It seems somewhat advantageous that all of the arithmetic operator words have the same PoS, if possible. "times", "plus"/"and", "minus"/"less" and "from", and "over"/"by" can all be analyzed as prepositions. Though "times" and "plus" could conceivably be analyzed as conjunctions, I don't see how the others can. DCDuring TALK 04:27, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
I note that I am lead to conclude that "and" can be a preposition when it is used in speech about addition. DCDuring TALK 04:31, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that's a good conclusion (i.e., and = prep). The category should be decided based on the possible characteristics, not simply the characteristics displayed in one particular situation, AND we should be parsimonious with our categories, assigning as few as possible. By the reasoning that gets a preposition out of and, we go back to making, for example, adjectives out of every noun simply because they show up in the same slot.
Here's another example that should persuade you that times is a preposition and and is not. The twins are now 20 months old and are just like any other singular toddler (just times two). You cannot put and in there because there's nothing to conjoin it to. You could, however, contrive another sentence where just plus two would work. Remember too that or can be used in mathematical sentences; are we to force it into the preposition camp as well? To recapitulate, I think times is an odd preposition but a preposition nonetheless, and a strict conjunction, and plus a Hamlet, vacillating between the two categories.--Brett 11:05, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
Use of times as an informal shorthand for multiplied by doesn't make it a preposition! All four "rules of number" are binary operators (unlike unary operators such as squared). The nearest linguistic equivalent is conjunction. Dbfirs 12:23, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
These are assertions, not arguments. Support, would be appreciated. And, as I've said in the times talk section, conjunctions, without exception, join clauses. Times does not. Also, explain what you'd want to do with by in a four by six tatami room or in in he has a one in seven chance. More conjunctions? Are these not binary operators? A one-size-fits-all approach won't get us very far.--Brett 14:56, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
OK, sorry about the assertions, but things are slightly clearer mathematically. "In" is not normally a binary operator, just a preposition, though I suppose that if you regard it as meaning "divided by" then it would be. I agree, the situation is not a simple black or white. Dbfirs 22:58, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
If "and" in the use under discussion were considered a conjunction by all users then we should not see "one and one is two", we should only see "one and one are four instead of what seems like a roughly equal mix at COCA.
"And" seems to be the most troublesome for other dictionaries, some not having a distinctive sense for the arithmetic use, some having it but calling it a conjunction. Some are led by the synonymy with "plus" to call "plus" a conjunction, but most call it a preposition and ignore the uncomfortable synonymy.
The definitions of "and" (and "plus") when a separate definition is given seem to imply that the relationship between the number before "and" and the number after is not symmetrical, that the second number is applied to the first, modifying it.
I am not sure about the implication of the use of "two times more than X" to mean 2X by some and 3X by others, except to indicate that mathematicians (even arithmeticians) have good reason to put behind them the grammar of ordinary language. Perhaps we need to stick mostly to linguistic considerations and ignore the siren call of mathematics, logic, or even of thoughts of the truth values of propositions. DCDuring TALK 16:25, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't think conceptualizing one and one as a whole or as two thing has any implications for the status of and. Ham and eggs is my favorite breakfast is just as good as ham and eggs go well together. You can play the same game with or. And again, "two times more than X" is irrelevant. The times there is a noun (cf one time more than x). --Brett 22:00, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
Ham and eggs is an idiom, but even non-idiomatic names of dishes are often singular. In your examples, the first clearly is treating it as a single dish, the second as two separate items being assessed for compatablity. The number of the verb exactly corresponds to this interpretation. "Or" always takes a singular verb (unless at least one of the coordinated elements is plural). I think that normal coordination with "and" does require a plural even with singular coordinated items. DCDuring TALK 22:17, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

Yes, but that's the point. you're treating ham and eggs as a single dish, just like 12km is a long way treats 12km as a single distance and one and one is two treats one and one as a single concept. It says nothing about the status of and. (And you're right about or. Momentary lapse of reason.)--Brett 22:41, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

"One and one is two" is just shorthand for "The sum (singular) of one and one is two". Dbfirs 22:58, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Again, claims about X being just short for Y are not helpful unless there's good evidence for them. I'm Canadian is "just short for" I'm a citizen of the Dominion of Canada. I'm hot is "just short for" please turn on the air conditioning. A grammar built around these types of claims will flail around helplessly.--Brett 11:06, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I'll withdraw from the discussion because my mathematical view is evidently not helping. I do take your point, though I think you are stretching it to breaking-point! Dbfirs 21:13, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Shall I change this back to a preposition then?--Brett 13:18, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

I've made the change.--Brett 13:55, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

to (and headline English)

I've noticed that to will often be used to imply the future tense, as in "US to leave Iraq by year's end". This doesn't seem like a construction that would ever be used outside of a news headline, so I'm wondering if it's something worth having a definition for. Nadando 05:39, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

I think it's elliptical for "US is to...". We have as the 13th definition of be: "(transitive, auxiliary) Used to form future tenses, especially the future subjunctive: I am to leave tomorrow; I would drive you, were I to obtain a car", which is that sense. To is just the standard particle for the infinitive. I've added a quote s.v. to#Particle which may help some, but I doubt that this belongs anywhere else.​—msh210 (talk) 08:11, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
It is not the be nor the to that has the futurate meaning (meaning, not tense). It is the to-infinitive form as a whole that has a futurate meaning, in the same way that be + past participle has a passive meaning and have + past participle has a prior meaning. This is the purview of the grammar, not the dictionary.--Brett 11:11, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
As Msh points out the "Headline English" example is not different from many other uses of "to": "I would like the 'US to leave Iraq by year's end.'"
As we claim to be serving all kinds of users (except minors of protective parents), we need to look at what other lemmings do. Learner's dictionaries might have a substantial amount of grammatical content, eg, Longman's DCE (1987) spends about 3 column inches on to as introducer of infinitives. DCDuring TALK 11:59, 4 July 2010 (UTC)



The sense of the verb to bush is missing, namely as in the expression to bush the partridges. Here is an example from Past and present:

Assist us still better to bush the partridges; strangle Plugson who spins the shirts?

For more details about the context, see here. Judging from the context, it may mean chase out of the bushes, but this is a mere surmise. bush in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913 contains some verbal senses, but none of them is applicable to partridges. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 17:53, 4 July 2010 (UTC)


lithosphere lacks Greek, only has the transliteration. Is there a template, like {{no Greek}}, to add to pages without Greek writing? --Volants 09:49, 5 July 2010 (UTC)

There's {{rfscript}}, which should be used like {{rfscript|Grek}}, I think. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:55, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
However, in this case it is highly unlikely that it came directly from the Ancient Greek words. Rather, it came from an English prefix litho- and an English word sphere. Those entries have their grc etyma, in the proper script. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 10:06, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
Thanks to both of you.--Volants 10:31, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
I think that a lot of our Ancient Greek derivations aren't true "derivations", but rather coinages based on Ancient Greek. For Latin, we use 'New Latin' in these case (Canidae for example) but for pretty obvious reasons, we don't use 'New Ancient Greek'. Mglovesfun (talk) 13:33, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

the big six

Is it necessary to have definite article in this entry? I suspect we usually omit "the" and "an" from entries. This might also refer to the bomb, the end of one's rope, the finger, the landlord, the long and short of it, The Lord's Anointed, the man, the name of the game. --Volants 12:36, 5 July 2010 (UTC)

This looks like an RfD candidate to me. It seems inherently context dependent, where the meaning in a given field my change from one decade (or year) to another. DCDuring TALK 14:48, 5 July 2010 (UTC)


Why does this entry have an apostrophe? How do Australians pronounce this word? --Volants 17:45, 5 July 2010 (UTC)

Wouldn't this and t'other better be treated as a SoP with t' being a dialectal contraction? Circeus 20:25, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
Were it written as two words, then almost certainly it would be sum of parts. However as it's written as a single word, and (afaik) we don't have any rules regarding proclitics in English so I'd say it should be included as a single word if attested. Thryduulf (talk) 13:08, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
I agree. Mglovesfun (talk) 13:34, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes, Wiktionnaire has "l'autre". Dbfirs 22:30, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
... and may I add "t'yan" (often spelt "taen") as in "t'yan or t'other"? (I'd need to find cites, of course.) Dbfirs 20:54, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
If it's attestable, please do create the entry as it's one we should have. Thryduulf (talk) 22:52, 7 July 2010 (UTC)


The past tense of buy is presently accompanies by the following usage note:

"In Australia and the UK, "bought" is frequently pronounced as "brought" (and vice versa) despite the fact that the two words mean different things."

This was questioned by an anon who added "except that this isn't true. " to the end.

In my experience of the UK this is indeed not normally true. Yes there are occasions when sloppy or ambiguous pronunciations are used, but not when more than context is needed to determine which is meant. This is exactly the same as any other pair of similarly pronounced words, none of which merit a usage note of this type, so I don't see why we need one here? Thryduulf (talk) 14:07, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

It does indeed some like nonsense. I don't know who wrote it, or why. Moving on, does anyone have any evidence to offer? Mglovesfun (talk) 14:10, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
We should direct users to Zwicky's instructive piece on mistakes in speech. DCDuring TALK 15:15, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

I've changed the usage note to reflect reality, but do we really need to record mispronunciations? I'd be happier to see the note deleted. Dbfirs 20:43, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Deleting it gets my vote as well. If there is significant coverage in reliable sources which discuss any problems with pronunciations of these two words then it might be appropriate for Wikipedia to have an article about it. If such a Wikipedia article existed, we should link to it from the see also sections of our entries. Anything more than that I don't think is warranted. Thryduulf (talk) 22:51, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Removed. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:00, 15 July 2010 (UTC)


Both senses are currently marked with the context label "(casual term)". I was about to change this to the more regular "(informal)" before noticing that the second sense is currently marked with both ("(casual term, mostly Califonia, informal)").

What, therefore, is the difference between "casual term" and "informal"? Thryduulf (talk) 07:36, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

To me the difference is that informal refers to a standard linguistic register (like vous/tu), while casual is nonstandard, almost slang (hey, amigo, can you bring me another beer?). —Stephen 19:19, 9 July 2010 (UTC)


"Alternative spelling of µmol." Surely this is a typo/scanno, and anyway it would apply to µ in general and not just this term. Equinox 16:31, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Not a scanno (or at least not just a scanno). Prior to about 1990, Greek letters were generally not accessible for Americans (and I assume the rest of the English-speaking world), and we regularly substituted u for µ. Only the best typesetting houses could type a µ, but since the copy furnished by the client was almost always umol, even the big typesetters typed it umol. As you say, it probably applied to the µ itself, but umol is the one that I recall seeing all the time. Another way that it could be done was to type it out as micro, as in micrometer. —Stephen 19:12, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't know about typesetting, but better typewriters had Greek letters and other symbols, and Google Books shows lots of hits for µmol (with a Μ) on search for umol (with a U).​—msh210 (talk) 19:19, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
In the U.S., better typewriters didn’t have Greek letters. Only after the IBM Selectric came out (the late 1970s, I think), with interchangeable balls, did Greek letters and symbols become available for a few sticklers who purchased the special balls. Google Books should have lots of µmol, since in the U.S. only top-notch typehouses set books. But in a technical contract between, say, the Government of Mexico or German and a U.S. engineering firm or aeronautics firm would use only umol (because it would be typed on a typewriter, not professionally typeset). —Stephen 19:33, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
All this goes not only for umol as an alternative spelling of µmol but for all units beginning with µ-. In typewriter days, ug (as well as mcg) were common alternative spellings for µg, and I'm sure there are plenty of other examples too. —Angr 08:13, 17 July 2010 (UTC)


Given as an alt spelling of Scouser, but seems far too rare even to be a "common misspelling". Equinox 18:27, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

I never saw this spelling during my years in "Scouseland". Liverpool City Portalseems to prefer the "c", but it is an amateur website and doesn't even have a Liverpool phone number! Dbfirs 08:24, 11 July 2010 (UTC)


This is recorded as a plural noun. It doesn't look like plural from my eyes, only like an adjective. --Volants 07:54, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

It is noun that refers to a group of people and as such functions grammatically as a plural. Thryduulf (talk) 10:40, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
As defined it does seem to be an adjective. But the problem is with the definition. There need be no literal initiation for the word to apply. It is could be considered a "dead metaphor" with a now-idiomatic meaning. Many dictionaries have initiated, some have uninitiated. DCDuring TALK 11:27, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
It is an adjective and not a noun. As a noun it should allow *an uninitiated or *two uninitiateds if it's countable. If uncountable, you should simply be able to say, *Uninitiated is... None of these are possible. In this way, it is like other adjectives such as dead and latter that commonly appear as fused heads in headless noun phrases.--Brett 11:46, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

I've reclassified things under the adjective heading.--Brett 13:56, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

valve oil

Definition is "A liquid used to lubricate valves in brass instruments". From Google Books, it appears that this is used for other things - motorcycles. I don't know anything about valves or brass instruments or motorcycles. --Volants 08:28, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

Are you sure re motorbikes? All the uses I can find with the search string "valve oil" motorbike are actually "valve, oil" and things like "three valve oil pump" (an oil pump with three valves, should really be "three-valve oil pump"). Thryduulf (talk) 10:36, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
No, I'm not sure. I can't understand most of the things about valves and pistons and oil. That is why I introduced the topic here. You know, so the experts can discuss. --Volants 14:19, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm not an expert, but I'm fairly sure that the purpose of "valve oil" is the lubrication of brass instruments, though some people will find other uses. The engine oil that lubricates valves and pistons in any internal combustion engine is a much more viscous product. "Sewing machine oil" is somewhere in between. Dbfirs 08:15, 11 July 2010 (UTC)


Definition is "a unit of length". I don't think that this is very useful. What is the length of a vara? Unfortunately I could not understand enough w:Vara (length) to add something to our entry. --Volants 08:38, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

It seems to correspond to yard. DCDuring TALK 11:33, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
We get vara from the Spanish. In Texas, it is a measure of about 33-1/3", or just under one yard. —Stephen 18:58, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

tidy whities

I've only been able to locate one use dated prior to 2000. Can we therefore date the origin of this term, or can someone push the origin back further with additional citations? --EncycloPetey 05:28, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

I've included the earliest one I found on usenet, which is from March 1994. Thryduulf (talk) 09:55, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

Conversational kannada - do we want this?

The Wikiquote community has voted to delete Conversational kannada because it is a collection of phrasebook-type phrases, and not actual quotes. I've proposed that it be transwikied here. Some of the phrases are potentially useful, but most actually seem designed to do little more than demonstrate grammar. Do we want to bring this over? bd2412 T 04:01, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

Looks like excellent material for the phrasebook and demonstrates one phrasebook's span of included phrases. It would be a good way to come up with a set of categories (or equivalent) for the phrasebook and to test the cross-cultural issues (politeness, etc.) DCDuring TALK 16:16, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

include me out

The famous quote attributed to Samuel Goldwyn is not includable AFAICT, as it is just a quote. In contrast, the more general predicate include someone out would be attestable and includable because it is somewhat nonsensical (embodying a semantic contradiction between in- and out, but is fairly commonly used. The quote that is the current headword is clearly the source for the current common use. DCDuring TALK 16:10, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

If me change the main entry to be a include someone out, include me out should be a redirect to it. Thryduulf (talk) 23:21, 11 July 2010 (UTC)
As the most common form, certainly. DCDuring TALK 23:33, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

let's see

The entry said it was an interjection and a set phrase (and formerly had "Let me see what I could make for dinner" as a usage example!!!). This seems to stretch the meaning of interjection and "set phrase". It is a phrase, a filled pause, etc. Arguably, at least, let me see is a synonym (of slightly different force, not inviting participation by the hearer). Both seem to be includable as idioms for their role in discourse. Is the distinction enough so that they should both be considered separate set phrases? DCDuring TALK 14:12, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

unparliamentary language

After reading this this series of edits I was wondering whether we should have a category for "unparliamentary language"? If so, should we have one category for all such words (Category:Unparliamentary language?), or one for each legislature that has the concept (e.g. Category:Australian unparliamentary language?)? I think my preference would be for the single category and have usage notes at the entry give the detail. Thryduulf (talk) 00:43, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

Interesting idea. It would be even better if it referred to legislative bodies other than parliaments or to deliberative bodies rather than legislative ones (and possibly yet another level of generalization). DCDuring TALK 12:47, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
What term should be used? The Wikipedia article implies that term same term is used for the Welsh Assembly (which, at least in theory, means there is a potential for Category:cy:Unparliamentary language), even though it is not called a parliament. It also says that it's a feature of Westminster systems - is there an equivalent concept in other systems? Thryduulf (talk) 14:02, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
If a better term had come to mind for the legislative scope, I would have recommended it. There are numerous coordinate terms for "parliament" ("diet", "duma", "house", "senate") and no single-word hyponym, AFAICT. For the concept behind the category to work for us we would need attestation, which is likely to be abundant only from the transcripts of the bodies themselves. Contrary to my broadening thoughts, such attestation of English "unparliamentary language" will certainly only be from bodies in English-speaking countries and only from legislative bodies (not private bodies, not executive bodies). Courtrooms are an additional domain, however. Perhaps someone else can find a word or helpfully reframe the question. In view of the fairly abundant use of the term on bgc, if no adequate substitute language is forthcoming in a week, I'd be happy to accept the wording you propose. The term is sometimes used, though often in quotes, in discussions of legislative discourse in the US.
Perhaps we would benefit from considering the standard of discourse embodied in The decisions of the Rt. Hon. Evelyn Denison, speaker of the House of Commons (Apr. 30, 1857-Feb. 8, 1872) on points of order, or a more modern version thereof (as the concept of "honour" seems so out of date), for our own discourse. Canada has a full modern (1986) book, text unfortunately not available on Google. DCDuring TALK 15:14, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
I disagree with having a category. While vulgarities would be considered unparliamentary (which probably goes without saying), most other words may or may not be depending on their context. If, in a parliamentary session, one legislator were to call another a "shallow, dingy lump of catfish fat", that would almost certainly be deemed "unparliamentary", although each individual word in the phrase would be fine in most other contexts. bd2412 T 16:08, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
I agree with bd. Plus, we already have the Vulgarities and Pejoratives categories and their subcats.​—msh210 (talk) 17:17, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
This simply refers to a far higher standard of behavior. For example, the words "dishonourable", "impertinent", "liar", "false", "calumnious", and "ungentlemanlike" were deemed by Speaker Dennison to be unparliamentary. In addition "Expressions calculated to reflect upon a class are not permitted," although "Motives cannot be imputed.".
I doubt that we should include "nonparliamentary" as a register, but it does seem that there are some who do consider it a register. Moreover there seem to be documented sources for these determinations, unlike the registers "vulgar", "slang", and even "pejorative". A category is one possibility for document this aspect of pragmatics. Another is an Appendix. DCDuring TALK 18:17, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
Re "better if it referred to legislative bodies other than parliaments...", note that paliamentary is used to describe meetings of bodies other than legislatures also. I think that if we have such a category then the name is fine.​—msh210 (talk) 17:17, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't understand this suggestion. How could we possibly use such a category? Unparliamentary language applies to sentences, sentiments and especially to insults, not to words. The words mentioned above as being unparliamentary would be perfectly acceptable in parliament in some contexts. They only become unparliamentary when they are used to insult members of parliament. Dbfirs 08:30, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
This quite analogous to the characterizing a word as "pejorative", except that it is well and explicitly documented. If the category needs interpretation, then we should provide interpretation. I can find lists of individual words and phrases that have been found to be unparliamentary language. The context is almost always directly or indirectly attributing the word deemed "unparliamentary" to a person in the context of a disagreement. DCDuring TALK 14:21, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
... but it's the use of the word in a sentence that is unparliamentary, not the word itself! Dbfirs 17:03, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
But the rulings by the Speakers are almost always focused on a specific word and are interpreted as virtually banning any use of the word, sometimes not even in reference to individuals (not just citizens) not in the parliament. DCDuring TALK 17:16, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
I think (but prove me wrong if you can) that the only unparliamentary words are profanities. Other words are only unparliamentary if they are used to describe people. This means that the words are part of unparliamentary language, but are not themselves unparliamentary words. For example, there would be no ruling that prevented a member of parliament mentioning the treatment of warts. I suppose that, if we create this category, we could clarify the position. We then have the problem of sub-dividing the category by country. Dbfirs 21:26, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
An alternative to a category might be an Appendix table, which would be better suited for providing information in more detail for each word. DCDuring TALK 21:38, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
Whether or not we have a category, an appendix does seem like a useful thing to have. Thryduulf (talk) 22:44, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
We can achieve a better-than-equivalent and more focused effect by incorporating a mention of the Appendix in Usage notes for the appropriate PoS and a good effect by a See also reference. DCDuring TALK 23:10, 17 July 2010 (UTC)


There are currently two definitions:

  1. An assistant.
  2. (military) An officer who acts as assistant to a more senior one; an aide-de-camp.

Is the military sense really distinct from the general one? Surely aide-de-camp can just be listed as a synonym with the qualifier (military)?

If it is a separate sense, we need to improve the definitions - which sense is a diplomat's aide? Thryduulf (talk) 12:10, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

elision, elide

New senses seem to be developing, see http://phonetic-blog.blogspot.com/2010/07/elision.html. H. (talk) 13:33, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

Our own entries for elide and elision seem defective to me, quite apart from the new sense or senses. For example the "omission" in elision does not have to be "deliberate". I don't know that they merit a general rfc or rfc-def any more than our average entry. DCDuring TALK 15:00, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
The "conflation" sense under discussion seems readily attestable and even fairly common (8/21 uses of elided at COCA are in that sense, IMO). DCDuring TALK 15:19, 15 July 2010 (UTC)


Definition is: " an incompetent untalented boxer, bridge player, etc." I was surprised to see that a definition included boxer and bridge player in the same sentence, that is why I tagged it. The strange connection made me laugh, though --Volants 19:19, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

The original SemperBlotto version said "an incompetent, untalented boxer", the extra bit was added later. Other than that, I don't know the word. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:45, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
I saw it used referring to white soccer players in the bafana bafana in the Sowetan once. Headline: NO PALOOKA'S! Jcwf 16:51, 29 July 2010 (UTC)


are there other English words with plural ending in e? --Volants 19:30, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

It's genuinely an interesting case, I thought it was from German (at least the hose bit). Mglovesfun (talk) 19:37, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
(later comment) Well the word hose goes back to long before either English or German were languages. Dbfirs 08:36, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
We would say Strumpfhose in German. --Volants 19:48, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

Well there are some invariant nouns, Japanese, Portuguese, Viennese, etc; moose and ewe. Thryduulf (talk) 21:57, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

There's dice, geese, lice, and mice, all plurals ending in e that are distinct from their singulars. —Angr 08:08, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
people and police are also plurals ending in e. I don't know about using ewe as a plural, though. —Angr 19:47, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
And maare and English irregular plurals ending in "-ae".​—msh210 (talk) 19:54, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
I was surprised to see the plural of "ewe" without an "s" in our entry. Is this usage exclusively American? The plural has had an "s" since at least 1393 according to the OED. Dbfirs 16:41, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

give it the old college try

college try

old college try

give it the old

give someone or something the old

"Give it the old college try" is a redirect to "old college try". "College try" is called an alt form of "old college try". This is not a bad way of presenting a portion of the idiomatic usage this represents, but it misses several families of common variants:

  1. "give it the old X try", where X can be null, "school", "boarding school", "Yale", "Eton", etc.
  2. "give {someone or something} the old X try", where most pronouns and a few nouns can substitute for someone of something.
  3. "give {someone or something) the old X" where X can be such standards as "one-two", "heave-ho", "once-over", as well as many, many variations: "Hollywood nip and tuck", "hip roll".

As to numbers, I used COCA to determine that in the "give it the old X" construction (150 instances), X was "college try" 76 times, some other "try" 31 times, something other than "try" 43 times.

This raises some issues:

  1. Should "give it the old college try" redirect to one or more than one expression. "Give the old" seems to have as much legitimacy as a redirect target as "old college try". How would we implement multiple redirects?
  2. Should we try to represent the more generic formulations of the construction?
  3. Do the particular representatives we have selected adequately convey the range of idiomatic use?

Any thoughts appreciated. DCDuring TALK 17:41, 17 July 2010 (UTC)


Is it really a prefix? Equinox 19:26, 17 July 2010 (UTC)

I'd argue against it. I am not sure how professional word morphologists look at it, but if a free-standing word exists that has the sense involved in the word formed why would we invent a prefix? No other OneLook dictionary sees fit to do so. We could make it a redirect to quarter and mention in a usage note or elsewhere that it is often used as a combining form. DCDuring TALK 20:52, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
Metoo.​—msh210 (talk) 17:18, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
But.... we have half-. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:20, 21 July 2010 (UTC)


Ruakh added the following quotation to the atheist entry a short time ago (although with bolding applicable to that entry):

    • 2006, John R. Mabry quoting "Pam" and "Leslie", in Faith Styles: Ways People Believe, Church Publishing, Inc., ISBN 9780819222220, page 117:
      "But you've been thinking about it more, now? If you're not an atheist, what are you?"
      "I'm an agnostic. That's like Atheism Lite, I think. I don't know if there is a god, but I don't know if there isn't a god, either. [] "

This spurred me to look at our entry for lite (we don't have one for Lite) and it doesn't seem to really fit any of our definitions. Etymologically it's obviously an extension of the first sense "Light in composition, notably low in fat, calories etc.: ", but it isn't that sense. The second and third definitions just reference lightweight and light respectively, however neither of them have quite this sense either (light would pobably benefit from this sense too). Thryduulf (talk) 02:54, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

That's interesting. My youth minister, just last week, was talking about how he grew up Lutheran and called it "Catholic Lite". ~ Logodaedalist | Talk ~ 17:28, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
Hmm, most hits at google books:"Catholic Lite" are actually referring to movements within Catholicism (especially relatively liberal ones). It's an interesting question. A Bud Lite or Miller Lite or the like (which I'm guessing is where this comes from; other foodstuffs may be "lite [noun]", but IME "[Proper Noun] Lite" is a beer thing) could be considered Budweisers and Millers, respectively — if you say that a place doesn't have Budweiser, only Miller, that implies that they don't have Bud Lite but may have Miller Lite — but if you're at a bar and ask for a Miller, they don't ask you if you want a Miller Lite. So it makes sense that extended uses vary between "a light subvariety of ___" and "a lighter counterpart to ___". —RuakhTALK 23:44, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
Is it a beer thing though? In languages like French and Spanish, "Coca-Cola light" (and similar) has been used for "Diet Coke", like, forever. Ƿidsiþ 15:16, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

It's not just philosophies though, seemingly anything can be "Lite" - City Lite [11], CUDA-lite [12], Punshment Lite [13] National Health Care Lite [14], Marriage Lite [15], FERC-lite [16], Jarlsberg Lite (apprently a type of cheese) [17], Stoicism Lite [18], Paleontology Lite [19], RV lite [20]. Interestingly a large number of these are capitalised as if they were proper nouns or brand names. Thryduulf (talk) 16:15, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

  • I took a run at it. BTW, some other dictionaries have the sense. DCDuring TALK 16:38, 21 July 2010 (UTC)


I recently RFDed this on the grounds that it is "like" a brand name. Someone closed that RFD. But is this really dictionary material? I think that something comparable would be the name of a computer virus, like Stuxnet or Iloveyou: it's not a brand name, but it's a capitalised name for a specific member of a class of thing (viruses here; algorithms with Twofish). On the other hand, some algorithms like quicksort are not capitalised and seem to function like standard nouns (even verbs). Opinions? Equinox 12:32, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

I think it's the name of a specific entity. We don't currently have explicit criteria for those, but I think it's valid to RFD them and see which ones people want. (How are we to develop criteria if we never discuss them?) By the way, I think quicksort functions like a proper noun, and some books do capitalize it (though not so many as do not). The line between proper nouns and non-count nouns is not so clear in English as in some languages, but *"a lot of quicksort" and *"much quicksort" get no relevant Google-hits. Take that as you will. —RuakhTALK 23:53, 19 July 2010 (UTC)


What should we do with the trivia section here? In one respect it is exactly what it says on the tin - trivia - and so could easily be just deleted. However, on the other hand it could be argued to be as valid as anagrams and see alsos to other words linked only by orthography. Thryduulf (talk) 22:26, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

Delete or allow anything - at leas anagrams are bot-generated, so they're not POV. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:13, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
This is interesting (but see below) information about the word itself (as distinct from its referent), so arguably belongs here. And a trivia section is the right place for it if anywhere. The problem I have with it is that it says that the subwords are "common", which is hard to quantify. (We do a bad enough job deciding where to put {{rare}}.) If we were to include a section like this for every English word that has the same property (but allowing not only common words), how many words would be included? I suspect a whole lot. Can someone write a script and figure it out (using only our current English entries, I suppose)? If many words have the property, then IMO it's not an interesting one, and we should not bother with it.​—msh210 (talk) 14:52, 22 July 2010 (UTC)


As an adjective: "suitable for use in athletic activities" (sport shoes). You can't say "these shoes are sport" or "the most sport shoes ever". Adj should be removed, right? Equinox 14:40, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

We could RfV it to allow for the possibility that some users might be using it as a true adjective, but the existence of "sporty" as a true adjective makes it seem unlikely to me. DCDuring TALK 14:45, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
We should replace it with a noun sense: {{form of|attributive form|sports}}, with the same usex.​—msh210 (talk) 18:13, 21 July 2010 (UTC)


This is less frequently used by orders of magnitude, apparently in any context, than earthquake and much less used than temblor. Large numbers of the raw bgc hits are for the abbreviation of "seismology" or "seismological" and scannos for various words, including seisin, written with the long "s". Not every dictionary even includes it (eg, MWOnline, Webster 1913). We have translations. I would argue that the existence of the translations is misleading, encouraged language learners to use a rare, largely unknown word, perhaps one that happens to be close to the word for "earthquake" in their language. I would want to insert {{trans-see}} directing translators or those looking for translations to earthquake (and, possibly, temblor).

This is not an isolated instance. We need to consider whether we should make a systematic effort to insert {{trans-see}} in such cases. DCDuring TALK 14:41, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

If it's an exact synonym (as it seems to be in this case), then I see little harm, and much benefit, in using only trans-see for the rare or dialectical or obsolete term/spelling. Besides the benefit DCDuring mentions (that of not tricking furriners into thinking the rare/dial/obs word/spelling is common/standard/current), there's the secondary benefit of having all translations in one place.​—msh210 (talk) 20:27, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
Your proviso makes me wonder about the best procedure. Should such a request use {{move}}? Should the person who perceives a problem simply merge the translation tables, check the glosses of the translations to make sure? Should there be ttbcs where the translation moved has a redlink? DCDuring TALK 22:27, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
In order, and IMO: No. Yes. Yes.​—msh210 (talk) 17:05, 23 July 2010 (UTC)


When used in online discussions you will typically see something like

lines of quoted text
lines of quoted text
lines of quoted text
lines of quoted text
lines of quoted text


lines of quoted text
lines of quoted text
lines of quoted text
lines of quoted text

Would this be a noun? I am noting that [sic] is an adverb, so I'm not sure. __meco 16:50, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

I'd go with noun ("an act of snipping"). IMHO, the worst plausible choice would be interjection (See blah blah blah.). Many other single-word terms of analogous use are sentence adverbs. DCDuring TALK 17:05, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
I was also thinking possibly interjection (see evil laugh). And also verb would be a possibility (see bump). __meco 17:26, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
Cites rule, as always. It's clearly used as a verb ("to delete") here; both as a verb ("to delete") and as a noun (seemingly "stuff deleted") here; and as a noun ("act of deleting" or "stuff deleted", not sure which) here. Many similar hits are findable by searching for appropriate phrases.​—msh210 (talk) 18:06, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
But to what PoS would you assign the usage provided above, which is the question at hand? I could probably find at hundred of thousands of instances with the surrounding orthography "< >" signifying that an act of removal from a reply e-mail of automatically included e-mail text had taken place. DCDuring TALK 18:13, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
The first and third of the three links I linked to above, qq.v., are of that sort also — but with collocates. That's what makes them useful for determining the POS of the plain <snip> case IMO. (Granted, the second of the three is not.)​—msh210 (talk) 18:21, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
A handful of instances that point to other PoS interpretations, especially divergent ones, don't help very much. ("<big snip>" is supportive of the noun interpretation, if one can generalize.) It may be that we have to punt on a gloss and provide a functional definition, using {{non-gloss definition}}, such as "used to show that text has been omitted". Would that make it seem more like a symbol such as ... (ellipsis)? Consider the treatment of a term like "quote" or "quote unquote", both here and elsewhere. DCDuring TALK 18:41, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
It might be a symbol, or particle, if you will, like ..., but if it's easy to show that it's used (sufficiently often to satisfy the CFI) in the same contexts as <snip> but with collocates that show it's a noun/verb then I think it would better to classify it as such, even if they are, as you put it, DCDuring, divergent: then classify it as both such. If the sense is the same as that used in running text, even better.​—msh210 (talk) 19:05, 21 July 2010 (UTC)


We should have a category for English feminine forms like this. They're simultaneously few enough but numerous enough to make such a category worthwhile. Perhaps Category:English feminine equivalents, though, technically 'she' and 'her' would fit into that category. Perhaps Category:English noun feminine equivalents. Feminine nouns doesn'tt work as they're not feminine in gender, just in terms of the person. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:41, 22 July 2010 (UTC)


We are missing at least one Cricket sense, either at drop or dropped relating to catches that have been dropped.

Consider the following sentences:

  • "Kamran Akmal, who had been dropped on 10 by Mike Hussey in the gully [] ",
  • "Hilfenhaus - who dropped Butt on 42 - eventually made the breakthrough [] "
  • "A swish here, an edge there and a dropped chance later, he was finally away."
  • "Aaqib Javed raised concerns over Kamran's three dropped catches in Sydney" (although this may also need something more at catch than just the present noun def 18, but that's probably another discussion)

In each case it is the ball that has been dropped, not the player, the chance or the catch, e.g. the first sentence could be rewritten as "After scoring 10 runs, Kamran Akmal hit the ball to the gully where Mike Hussey caught, but then dropped, the ball"

I know exactly what it means but I can't come up with an actual definition. I know it's an non-comparable adjective in the third and fourth sentences, but I'm not sure if it is this or the past-tense form of the verb drop in the first two? Thryduulf (talk) 16:57, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

  • Yes - it's fiddly to define. I've had a go at your first meaning. Most of the others are (I think) covered by the non-cricket sense. SemperBlotto 10:22, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
    • Cheers for that. I've rewritten your definition a bit to improve the readability and also try and make it clear that a missed catch is not a dropped catch. I've also significantly changed the not out entry, so you might want to look at that as well. Thryduulf (talk) 10:56, 23 July 2010 (UTC)


In Mandarin this is a noun, but in English? Abbreviation? ---> Tooironic 02:07, 23 July 2010 (UTC)


The second definition here looks to be getting a bit unwieldy and verging on the encyclopaedic. Thryduulf (talk) 10:15, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

work a treat

To function very well. I have labeled this as UK. BNC shows look a treat and sound a treat as well, so the true idiom seems to be a treat as an adverb. Is this correct? DCDuring TALK 12:25, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

It does seem to function that way. Another: "After a bit of polishing, though, the surface came up a treat." Equinox 12:47, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
I'll take this to "RfMove", then. DCDuring TALK 13:48, 23 July 2010 (UTC)


Usage note says "The connotations of this word are mixed, and its use can connote things different to what the user intended." What does this mean? Equinox 18:14, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

I think the following sentence is the explanation: "It carries pejorative racial connotations to some people" — i.e., perhaps not to the speaker, so he should be careful. The deifnition line is already tagged racial slur, pejorative, so I think the whole usage note can be removed. (So can the racial slur part of the context tag.)​—msh210 (talk) 18:21, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

handsaw / hand saw

Would hand saw be an alternative spelling for handsaw? RJFJR 13:23, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Yes - "hand saw" gets 430 raw bgc hits (the first two pages all look valid) compared to ~71,900 raw hits for "handsaw". Those proportions suggest the two-word form should use the {{alternative spelling of}} format. Thryduulf (talk) 14:10, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

to the barricades

When casting his ballot on the currently ongoing placenames vote, Vahagn Petrosyan wrote "To the barricades, placename lovers. This time we must win!".

We have neither an entry for to the barricades] nor any sense at barricade that would render it sum of parts. I've not been able to come up with a workable definition though, and Vahagn can't either. Can anyone here? Thryduulf (talk) 14:16, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

For barricade(s), how about: A place of confrontation, especially in an urban setting? DCDuring TALK 14:48, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
A place, hastily defended, from which defence or counterattack can be undertaken? Pingku 17:18, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
The literal definitions aren't too bad. Vahagn's usage was purely figurative. DCDuring TALK 17:30, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm thinking Vahagn's usage is closest to sense 1: a place of defence (of which counterattack is a variety). Perhaps a figurative subsense? Pingku 18:10, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
As Vahagn is not calling for the defense of an established position, but rather to continue a struggle for a new expansion of coverage, the idea seems less specific to defence and is certainly virtual. I think this is not inappropriate or idiosyncratic. DCDuring TALK 18:43, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
On the other hand, defence is also an integral component of attack. Having established a forward position, a barricade might be just the thing from which both to thwart a counterattack and launch a new assault. Pingku 19:18, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
Assuming that the metaphorical usage honors the metaphor, it is not usually the demonstrators or rioters who are really on the attack tactically and it is they and not the police or military whose cry this is. The barricade is intended to block normal commerce and police or military mobility and provide cover, ie, it is essentially defensive tactically. DCDuring TALK 20:38, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

too much love will kill you

Old Wonderfool entry, is this a proverb or an idiom? Mglovesfun (talk) 16:04, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Deleted. Lyrics from a song by Queen. Not in general language. Equinox 16:29, 24 July 2010 (UTC)


What is the opposite class of words? Modifiers? Qualifiers? Attenuators? Do they similarly constitute a part of speech? __meco 07:26, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

Intensifier is not a part of speech. Some consider all of them adverbs. There are some that seem to function otherwise syntactically. "Intensifier" is much more semantic than syntactic. I've forgotten the antonym, but some combine words with a similar syntactic function but a minimizing/moderating meaning into the category. w:Intensifier is helpful. See also Category:English intensifiers and Category:English degree adverbs. DCDuring TALK 15:12, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

intrinsic reward, extrinsic reward

Are these accurate? If so, we don't have the sense at intrinsic/extrinsic, so they're not sum of parts. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:59, 25 July 2010 (UTC)


Meaning #4 of okama says that it's "slang", but isn't specific about whether it's derogatory, subculture-specific, or what. —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

Based on google books hits I've refined the definition slightly (it seems to refer specifically to effeminate homosexual men) and marked it as derogatory. It appears to be a long-standing fairly mainstream term. Thryduulf (talk) 02:03, 26 July 2010 (UTC)


Hi everybody. Does this word exists in english? I found very few usage on the web, the most explicit being:

  • the map cartouche carried the delphinial crown — royal crown adorned with dolphins — [21]

But with only 26 results on all the web according to google, it may be a mistake. Thanks for your answers. --ArséniureDeGallium 10:20, 26 July 2010 (UTC)


I just added this entry. It would seem the senses are almost contradictory. Is what I've written accurate? ---> Tooironic 12:12, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

It appears to be. I've added citations for both senses. Thryduulf (talk) 14:36, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

small of back / small of one's back

How is it that we don't have an entry for such a common term? :O ---> Tooironic 14:34, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

You hadn't gotten around to it yet. small of back doesn't seem right, but "small of a|the back" do. DCDuring TALK 15:15, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
We do have it at [[small#Noun]].​—msh210 (talk) 16:31, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
At COCA, "the small of" occurs 376 times, of which about 360 are in the appropriate sense of "small". The balance are scannos for "smell" or uses of the adjective. Of these all but five are followed by back. The others are "hand", "waist", "neck", "backside", and "stomach". Doesn't this warrant an entry? DCDuring TALK 17:27, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  • I've added small of the back. Feel free to improve, or add redirects. SemperBlotto 21:34, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
    • OK, I've added Mandarin translations. What category should the entry go in, I wonder? ---> Tooironic 03:07, 28 July 2010 (UTC)


We don't have a sense for the usage in such phrases as "catalogue of errors", "catalogue of lies", "catalogue of successes", etc.

One usage from today's news "Other authorities held "great store" by the welfare worker's assessment, the review found, and this led to a catalogue of missed opportunities to spot neglect and abuse in the home." [22], seems to refer to things in reports and other written work that do not necessarily list them (And certainly not alphabetically), but where there are multiple instances of the same type. A possibly different sense doesn't refer to written work but to happenings, often (but by no means exclusively) in sport, e.g. "Yet the catalogue of errors and the mud bath in the middle of the pitch should not detract from a sterling second-half performance by Bramley..." [23] (a report on a rugby league match).

A quick search has shown usage for catalogues of errors, failures, successes, victories, lies, defeats, offences, missed opportunities, murders, calamities, disasters, abuse, abuses, sinister transactions, ills, accidents, antisocial behaviour, criminal activities, problems, injuries, misses, fires, tragedies, arrogance and incompetence, charges and civilian shootings. Thryduulf (talk) 19:09, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

Paraphrasing, Cambridge Adv Learner's, Macmillan has "a succession of bad things"; Encarta has "a series of things, especially bad ones"; AHD, MWOnline, RHU, WNW, have "list".
I think they are sticking too close to the etymology. To me it seems more of a synonym of "panoply", "litany", "host", "raft", "slew", "mess", etc. I did a quick look at COCA using "a whole [nn1*] of things". The same should be done for positive and negative terms to see which terms are used more for each class of items.
"Catalog/catalogue" seem to be used to characterize a large number of things, bad ones about 90% of the time in COCA and BNC. It also seems to be that it is not used if the items are identical or very similar, reminiscent of "variety" or "range". DCDuring TALK 23:17, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
The 10%/90% positive/negative split feels right to me, but your last sentence confuses me - did you mean to include the word "not" in there? "Catalogue" is definitely used for the same class of things (e.g. ball handling errors, military victories, missed opportunities, etc) regardless of how similar the individual occurrences within the class are. The more similar the occurrences, the narrower the class will be, e.g. the report on a cricket match might say "a catalogue of errors" if there were lots of different types, "a catalogue of fielding errors" if they were (almost) all made in the field, "a catalogue of dropped catches" if that's what the predominant error was, or "a catalogue of dropped catches in the slips" if the overriding number or importance of occurences were slip fielders dropping catches. Thryduulf (talk) 00:31, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
My sense of this is that one can't have "a catalog of crabgrass", whereas one can have "a catalog of weeds" and one can't readily have "a catalog of leaky milk cartons", whereas one can have a "catalog of packaging failures". If your experience says that even highly homogeneous classes of discrete items are includable, it differs from mine and what I saw at COCA and BNC. You might be benefiting from more exposure to sports broadcasting. DCDuring TALK 10:08, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Now you mention it, I cannot think of an occurrence of the phrase used with a "highly homogeneous class of discrete items" in a non-sporting context. From looking through bgc it seems that general uses tend to have broad or or fairly-broad classes, military uses getting a bit narrower but also having broad ones, and sports having broad to narrow. Although some of the narrower uses in all uses could be interpreted as (a catalogue of class)+(qualifier that narrows scope), e.g. "(a catalogue of errors)+(in the midfield)". Thryduulf (talk) 11:31, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
To some extent, the dictionaries that limit themselves to the "list" sense don't need to specify whether or not the members of the list are heterogeneous, but they miss what I think the magnitude of number and variety that I think I can find in this. What I perceive may be either too idiosyncratic or too narrow for inclusion in our sense, except perhaps as another "especially" or "often" in addition to "especially, of bad things". DCDuring TALK 13:49, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
I wonder for how many of the uses of "a catalog of" one could not substitute "all kinds of" or "a variety of" with the same meaning. I suppose that even dead metaphors retain some of the features they had when they were live. In a literal catalog, each listed item is different from others. The quantity of each item is not relevant, in contrast to an "inventory", for which the count of each sku is essential. DCDuring TALK 13:59, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Certainly in the uses I'm most familiar with it's not the variety that's important, but that there are a significant number of them (certainly more than a "handful"). Thryduulf (talk) 14:08, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Is "multitude" the synonym or is it less definite: "a lot of", which is more relative to an expected number? "There are a lot of stars in a galaxy" and "there are a lot of failed states in Africa" vs. "there are a multitude of stars" and *"there are a multitude of failed states". DCDuring TALK 14:19, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Depending on the context, either would work I think, but "a lot of" would work in all cases and "multitude" in only some of them (but probably more than your example would suggest, but then that may because I think of "multitude" as a closer synonym of "a lot of" than your example would suggest). Thryduulf (talk) 17:12, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

psyche out

Is the expression to psyche someone out more than sum of parts? RJFJR 01:34, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Oops, sorry. That would be psych out. RJFJR 04:09, 28 July 2010 (UTC)


Is this an English word or an Afrikaans word used in English? All the uses I'm seeing in English works on bgc italicise it, suggesting it's not fully naturalised? Thryduulf (talk) 17:27, 28 July 2010 (UTC)


Hi. Does anyone know the meaning of this word??? I see attests as blummered and blummering, but nowhere can I find a definition. Is it perhaps a misspelling of another word? I've tried blumer and blumber to no avail. Leasnam 19:43, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

jet set as verb?

I was proofreading something and came to the phrase "...while young socialites jet set across the world." I looked up if it was two words and it is; the problem is that we don't have it as a verb. Should we? RJFJR 02:55, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

Yes, it's certainly citable (I've found 5 bgc sites in about as many minutes, but haven't time at this moment to transcribe them).
A related question is "jet-setting" (variously spelt) being used as an adjective or is it just attributive use of the noun? Thryduulf (talk) 09:44, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
It seems marginally attestable as an adjective, if one can string together an instance of "very jet-setting", an instance of "too jet-setting", an instance of "more jet-setting than", but not three instances of any one of these. I'd not be inclined to credit its adjectivity. But this seem more of a BP question, unless someone can infer from policy or precedent what an official answer would be. DCDuring TALK 13:21, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
I've not looked at the policy nor for precedent, but I don't think that should count for attestation. My reasoning is that if an adjective takes -er and -est forms, then we wouldn't count a citation for the superlative as attestation of a dubious or uncommon comparative or vice versa, so we should do so here. Certainly we're usually happy to accept (de facto at least) a superlative as a citation for the positive and a past participle form as a citation for the infinitive, etc but often that's because it's easier to find those citations. I'm not doing a good job of explaining it, but the situations feel different! Thryduulf (talk) 23:01, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
With nouns or noun phrases that are attested the issue is differential attestation of the term's adjectivity. There is rarely any question that the term is used attributively, but that does not address the question at hand: whether it is used as a true adjective. That something can form a comparative, be used with "too" or "very", and follow a form of "become" is evidence that it behaves like a true adjective. I don't see why a morphological transformation of a word such as inflection or formation of a comparison ought not to count as evidence on the nature of the lemma (eg, its PoS). Whether it should count for the existence of the lemma is a separate matter.
I would argue that the existence of the comparative or superlative is suggestive evidence of the other form. If there is even a single attestable instance of one form and full evidence of the other, my practice would be to use {{en-adj}} not using the incomparability switch.
In this case we have ample evidence of "jet-setting" being used attributively, but such evidence does not differentiate it from an "-ing" form of a verb (now attested as to-infinitive, BTW). Its existence is hardly in doubt. Given the sparseness of the adjective use in sources of valid attestation, the rules we apply make a great deal of difference in this case. DCDuring TALK 11:32, 30 July 2010 (UTC)


We have an Old English entry for gast. Do we allow long s's in Old English entries? This is the only one I've come across so far. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:11, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

  • No. Ƿidsiþ 10:26, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
    • Redirect, I suppose?​—msh210 (talk) 15:36, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
      • There were various manuscript forms of S in Anglo-Saxon England, but the whole idea of distinguishing between a "long s" and a "short s" is, I think, meaningless in terms of Old English, so the whole thing seems anachronistic to me. Ƿidsiþ 21:11, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
        • Obviously Old English manuscripts predate Unicode by centuries, and Unicode is what Wiktionary uses. However w:Long s seems to say that the long s developed at the end of the 8th Century, and Old English becomes Middle English circa before the end of the 10th Century when the Normans invade Britain. Chances are than the long s never made it into Old English. But a redirect doesn't bother me, just orphan it (smile). Mglovesfun (talk) 21:20, 31 July 2010 (UTC)


Should the definition of The Deluge be at erm, Deluge not deluge? I've linked there already from déluge. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:58, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

Both Deluge and Flood would be attestable in contemporary English, possibly meriting a "Biblical" context. DCDuring TALK 15:52, 29 July 2010 (UTC)


The linguistic definitions of both the adjective and the noun seem to be excessively precise for a descriptive dictionary, though laudably so for a prescriptive one. If such precise wording is attestable in each detail, there is almost certainly a need for one or more less precise definitions, such as one fitting the use of the term in books on language teaching strategies.

If we would like a precise definition for how Wiktionary should be using the term, that precise definition belongs in Appendix:Glossary (not Wiktionary:Glossary, as users of our entries will be confronted with it). "Cognate" does not appear there now.

"Cognate" seems to be missing the sense exemplified in the syntactic relationship of the terms in "Employers employ employees.". DCDuring TALK 19:29, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

/ˈkeɪ.ki/ cornered

I know of this term from my childhood. It is used exclusively of an object and means the said object is not straight with reference to something else (e.g. a table might be placed in this fashion relative to the wall). I don't know whether this is just a family term, a dialect term or more widespread that. My main problem is I can't work out to how to spell the such that it gets any relevant google hits. It's pronounced /ˈkeɪ.ki/ (cakey is a homophone) and then cornered as standard. Can anyone help? Thryduulf (talk) 01:50, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

catercorner, kitty-corner? Equinox 17:09, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
No, they apparently mean "to be diagonally opposite (something)", whereas the term I'm thinking about means more "to be neither parallel nor at right angles to (something)", skewiff is synonymous. They're also marked as US and Canadian (I've certainly never heard them in Britain), whereas the term in question is right-pondian (although not-necessarily exclusively). Thryduulf (talk) 21:40, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
So more like antigoglin in meaning? ~ lexicógrafo | háblame ~ 21:45, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
yes, almost identical. The key difference being that the idiomatic sense of out of line (the only one we have defined) doesn't fit the definition of the word I'm thinking of - it doesn't seem to feel right there, I'm guessing that something like "out of alignment" is what was meant. Thryduulf (talk) 23:37, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm unfamiliar with this. The only things I've found from a Google search were cakey's meaning "daft, foolish" in Scotland in 1985 and "shakey" in the UK at some point, both according to [24], currant (cakie)'s meaning "shakey" in rhyming slang according to [25], and caky's meaning "silly" according to s:A glossary of words used in the neighbourhood of Sheffield/C. The "silly/daft/foolish" meanings weakly fit, I suppose.​—msh210 (talk) 16:44, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

point man

I added this term with the sense of a trusted assistant, but I think it has a military origin, something relating to the best sniper taking the "point" (I'm guessing the optimum spot from which to shoot at the enemy). If anyone knows more about this, please have at it. Cheers! bd2412 T 03:37, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

See w:Take point. DCDuring TALK 10:02, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. Point taken. bd2412 T 13:48, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
I might have done it myself, but my Poodle needed to go out. DCDuring TALK 16:29, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

It refers to the point of an arrow. The lead scout would go to the arrows point on the formation to lead the formation ahead.

Word meaning "speculate about alternate outcomes"

Is there an English word for the Finnish jossitella? It means "discuss afterwards what would have happened otherwise", or "speculate about alternate outcomes of a past event". I was thinking retrodict, but that's not the same thing. Equinox 18:31, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

Some possibilities: de-briefing/debriefing; w:After-action review, w:After-action report, AAR; post-mortem. DCDuring TALK 19:51, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
afterthought? ~ lexicógrafo | háblame ~ 20:02, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
You're talking about actual practice. I am talking about the world of hopes and dreams. DCDuring TALK 20:23, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
Monday-morning quarterback?​—msh210 (talk) 18:38, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
To second-guess. DCDuring TALK 19:06, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
We have the concept, obviously, but if google books:"no use * what might have been" is any indication, there's no good single word for it. Yet. —RuakhTALK 02:25, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

Forename &c

I see problems around these. The feeling I get is that "Christian name" was until recently the main usage, in Britain at least, but is now causing embarrassment because there are more non-Christians around in Europe and America, especially religious non-Christians such as Moslems and Hindus. I don't get the feeling that it's been a popular usage in the US, perhaps partly because so very many Americans have non-saints' names like Randall and Marshall, and the US seems to prefer "given name", though in Britain that sounds a bit weird. "First name" and "forename" seems a good compromise here, until you reflect on the fact that Chinese people with non-Europeanised names put the surname first. Deipnosophista 22:11, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

Let's look at usage. At COCA "first name" is found 1239 times, "given name" 197 times, "Christian name" 53 times, and "forename" once. At BNC, first 181, given 5, Christian 128, forename 12. First name includes more spurious hits than the others ("first name basis" and most instances of "the first name"). I suggest a 20% adjustment is needed. "First name" is the one that is readily understood by users. "First name" and "forename" don't work for billions of people who have the family name first. "Given name" is not much used in the UK.
In any event, there is no easy resolution. DCDuring TALK 23:00, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
I think "given name" is the least flawed option. bd2412 T 23:47, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
I agree with BD. It is going to be understood by most people, even if just as a sum of parts, and it is the one that is correct more often than any of the alternatives. Thryduulf (talk) 15:09, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
Most fuller dictionaries have given name, even the UK ones, though they label the term as US. I take it that, though it is not used by preference in the UK, it is understood.
BTW, we do seem to follow the principle of including terms for which the UK and US versions differ, even though each is fairly readily understood based on the constituents. I think that Pawley had a principle for declaring both X and Y idiomatic when "they call it an X, we call it a Y". DCDuring TALK 15:33, 1 August 2010 (UTC)