Wiktionary:Tea room/2012/January

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search
This is an archive page that has been kept for historical purposes. The conversations on this page are no longer live.

January 2012


Is this really a noun? is used to create adjectives, in Chinese anyway, don't speak Japanese though... ---> Tooironic 20:20, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

We have decided to call them so recently, based on the fact that they are indeed nouns grammatically. See Wiktionary:Beer parlour#Proper label for Japanese "quasi-adjectives". — TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 10:54, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

non divisi

Is non divisi a sum of parts if its entry (if it will have one) has:




# {{music}} not divided

====Usage notes====

* to make every player play all of the notes in a non-[[arpeggiate|arpeggiated]] chord or other groups of notes played simultaneously

Celloplayer115 20:49, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

I wouldn't say so, because the term isn't actually English but Latin. In Latin it would be SOP, but not in English. —CodeCat 21:16, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
Italian, not Latin - like many terms from music. SemperBlotto 08:41, 2 January 2012 (UTC)


This is a Dutch verb that describes some kind of dance, often associated with carnaval. But I'm not really sure what it actually is, or how to define it. Can anyone help? —CodeCat 14:05, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

  • Dutch wiktionary describes it something like "to dance and jump about as a group". Maybe to square dance? SemperBlotto 14:45, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
    • It's not usually performed in a square but in a line, so it seems more like conga. —CodeCat 14:48, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Does this describe it a bit?

--MaEr 14:18, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I don't understand the last link but the other two show it well yes. :) —CodeCat 14:42, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
About the last link: just click the search icon, this will start the google image search for "hossen", skipping all manga stuff with "Silvia van Hossen". --MaEr 14:53, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Could this be a w:en:Polonaise (Dutch w:nl:Polonaise)? --MaEr 15:07, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

The Dutch article does contain this sentence:
Aanvankelijk betekende het 'langzame Poolse dans in driekwartsmaat', maar later werd het vooral gebruikt in de betekenis "dans waarbij men in een sliert achter elkaar host, met de handen op de schouders van de voorgaande persoon"
At first it meant 'slow Polish dance in three-quarter measure', but later it came to be used especially in the meaning "dance where people hos after one another in a line, with the hands on the shoulders of the person in front"
CodeCat 15:11, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
So hossen is the same as dancing a polonaise? If yes, you could add the missing definition. --MaEr 18:23, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
As I understand the article, the modern form of polonaise dancing involves hossen. The only real defining feature of hossen that I can think of, aside from the polonaise part, is taking steps in the rhythm of the music, so that everyone moves together. —CodeCat 18:25, 10 January 2012 (UTC)


The entry for /. "(computing, proscribed) the punctuation mark /, properly called "slash"; see below." The notes claim that / is often misread when reading out Internet addresses. I've never heard this mistake made. Are others familiar with it? Is it really so common? Equinox 14:37, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

I've heard it many times, even from people who I think probably do know which one is the slash and which is the backslash, but who get it wrong sometimes in speech (or in listening — hear "backslash", type /); but I really don't know how common it is. Obviously the error stands out much more than the correct version. It pretty clearly meets the CFI that we apply to non-errors:
but we do apply a "common"-ness requirement to misspellings, and we've sometimes applied that to certain other types of clear errors, so if people want to treat it only in usage notes, I think a case could be made.
RuakhTALK 22:05, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
A commonness requirement for misspellings is important because we accept cites from Usenet, where typographical errors and lazy typing are rampant, and, for that matter, from published works, where typographical errors are not at all uncommon. Use of backslash for slash is not a typographical error or a misspeaking or a lazy typing but a wrong choice of word, which is the kind of thing we as alleged descriptivists should not bar form full entry in the dictionary. MHO.​—msh210 (talk) 17:02, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Okay. I don't object to us having it if it's real, and Ruakh's examples seem to show that. (I'd really like to see that kind of thing in the entry to support the usage note.) Thanks. Equinox 00:29, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
O.K., I've added the cites to the entry. :-)   I think the definition and usage notes should be rewritten, though. Or maybe the usage note should just be removed, and the definition reworded. —RuakhTALK 01:21, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
The usage note surely belongs on \, not on backslash. 10:37, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
For the record, I was referring to a usage note that's since been removed (by me). The usage note that you refer to doesn't pertain to this sense. (But yes, I agree.) —RuakhTALK 21:05, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
  • My feeling is that backslash can now refer quite acceptably (if confusingly) to either / or \. Ƿidsiþ 11:00, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Perhaps some Windows users, accustomed to seeing backslashes as directory separators, don't notice that slashes in URLs go the opposite direction. In other words, to those who don't recognize the difference, backslash may signify not / per se, but either / or \. ~ Robin 23:57, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Robin: people unaware of the handedness of slashes use backslash to mean “file-system pathname delimiter,” or perhaps just “slash character,” and not specifically back- nor forward slash. However, since this contradicts all of the subject experts (glossaries, standards, and style guides in writing, computing, typesetting, etc.), we should indicate that it is considered an error, even if we documentary lexicographers refuse to hold it as such ourselves. Michael Z. 2012-01-12 18:04 z

Proto-Germanic -eu- in Saxon (and/or Dutch)

Moved to Wiktionary talk:About Middle Low GermanCodeCat 22:23, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

acknowledg, judg

Can someone check these out and confirm they are not just scannos? I'm worried Pilcrow doesn't know what he is doing and is inadvertently creating garbage (e.g. he had created the definitely wrong forms judgs and acknowledgs). Equinox 23:07, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

acknowledg would find ready attestation at google books:"acknowledg". A search for judg yields many hits for the abbreviation of the book of the Old Testament. But Locke's Of Human Understanding has the verb abundantly and I think that would be a well-known work. DCDuring TALK 02:29, 8 January 2012 (UTC)


Do you really pronounce pronounce /pɹəˈnæwns/? Should that /w/ be there for a start? 10:35, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

I do, which is why I added that transcription to the entry. I see it's now bene changed to use /aʊ/ instead. Is that a British thing? I really do think Americans have an /æ/ in there, not an /a/.​—msh210 (talk) 16:44, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I pronounce it /pɹəˈnaʊns/. —Stephen (Talk) 16:54, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I think in most varieties of both General American and RP the starting point is closer to [a] (not [ɑ]!) than to [æ]. At any rate, it's a custom of long standing to transcribe the mouth vowel as /aʊ/ in broad transcriptions (which is what we want here) of both GenAm and RP. Whether we transcribe the end of the diphthong as /w/ or /ʊ/ is much of a muchness; /ʊ/ is more customary in IPA-based transcriptions, while /w/ is more customary in Americanist transcriptions. Our {{IPA}} links to w:International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects, which uses /aʊ/. Our own WT:ENPRONKEY also uses /aʊ/, though why {{IPA}} doesn't link there, I cannot fathom. —Angr 18:02, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I pronounce it closer to [æʊ] or even [ɛʊ]... —CodeCat 18:13, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Yeah well, you're Dutch. ;-) —Angr 18:20, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
*points to the native English speaker tag on her profile page* I was raised speaking Dublin English! —CodeCat 18:21, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I've been to Dublin. Frankly, Dutch is easier to understand than Dublin English, and I don't even know Dutch! But I suppose in Dublin, your Netherlandic tendency to change th into t or d won't be particularly noticeable. (I once bought something in Dublin for £3.30 and was told "Dat'll be tree turrty.") —Angr 18:31, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
But I don't have any Netherlandic tendencies, I still speak Dublin English with my family. You're right dough, I do dat... —CodeCat 20:59, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I actually only edited it so the IPA matched the rhyme, I dunno what the 'correct' IPA is. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:08, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
However msh210, I seem to think we've been here before with dominoes. I mean, I couldn't say /ow/ if I wanted to; is your accent just a bit unusual? I think it would be best to avoid rare pronunciations as otherwise we would have literally dozens of pronunciations in some entries. Mglovesfun (talk) 11:46, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't think he's indicating a rare pronunciation; he's using an alternative transcription of a common pronunciation. Transcribing the vowel of pronounce as [æw] isn't wrong and doesn't indicate some minority pronunciation, it's just another way of transcribing exactly the same sound as [aʊ] indicates. But [aʊ] is the more usual transcription in IPA--very few print dictionaries and phonetics textbooks that use IPA will use anything other than [aʊ], and Wiktionary should use it too. —Angr 12:33, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

I've been wondering about that some time ago. /aʊ̯/ is used for German <au>. While my dialect pronounces German /au/ as [ɒʊ̯], I am constantly exposed to the German pron. [aʊ̯] through school, university and media. It does sound very much like -ou- in pronounce. It does however not sound like English /au/ in thousand, which always and in every dialect sounded more like /θäo̯zə̯nd/ to me. Are those two really the same? Because no German pronounces Haus like any English-speaking person I've ever heard in my life ever pronounced house. Ever. Dakhart 17:12, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Apart from the fact that the ou in pronounce is nasalized, I don't hear a difference between the ou in pronounce and the ou in thousand. It's true that Haus and house sound very different, but that's a matter of precise phonetic realization, which isn't within the scope of a dictionary's pronunciation guide. The fact that German /aʊ/ and English /aʊ/ don't sound the same doesn't mean it's wrong to transcribe them the same way when your goal is a broad phonetic transcription. German /iː/ as in Miete and English /iː/ as in meet don't sound the same either, but we use the same transcription for both. (In a phonetics paper where the difference between the two sounds is the topic of discussion, of course two separate transcriptions would have to be found.) —Angr 17:22, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I think we should provide both a broad and a narrow transcription, when possible. A narrow transcription can help aid in the exact pronunciation especially when there's no audio. —CodeCat 18:25, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
... but we'd need dozens of different "narrow transcriptions" and lots of new symbols if we were to precisely represent every possible variant. Most readers struggle with simple standard IPA. ... also, could Dakhart please explain how German Haus differs from my northern English house? I've always heard them as homophones. Dbfirs 17:08, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

Ree (Latin)

In response to the Latin form, double e is very unlikely (as vocative of reus). Is this backed up by any other dictionaries (mine doesn't say)? Might it form a vocative singular like deus instead?Metaknowledge 16:05, 13 January 2012 (UTC)


I have no idea what this word means, or even that it existed once. I found it in this book: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38540/38540-h/38540-h.htm#Page_202 Is it a bycycle, or something else? 03:07, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

It seems to be only in that one book. A few lines later, it is referred to as a "pedalmobile". Equinox 02:37, 16 January 2012 (UTC)


Listed as an alt spelling of at large. Is this real? It would be non-standard (at best! — IMHO wrong) to say "the criminal is at-large", but perhaps you could talk about an "at-large criminal" (?). Equinox 02:36, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

As you know, in English you hyphenate an adjective placed before a noun if it contains spaces, like a book out of print vs. an out-of-print book, and coding from scratch vs. from-scratch coding. Don’t they have different stresses, by the way? — TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 10:38, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

Ego Eris, correct standalone

I'm not sure if I'm doing this correctly. I'll be finding out the hard way, I suppose.

In the phrase "Tu fui ego eris" are the parts of the phrase grammatically able to stand alone? Is "Tu fui" grammatically sound? Then is "Ego eris" able to stand alone as well? Looking at the words individually in their tenses all seems correct, but I wanted to be sure. Many thanks for any information.


Neither its parts nor its whole would be grammatically correct. It's like saying "tu suis, je seras" in French (using present rather than past for illustration), deliberately misconjugating être in the wrong person to suggest "I [you]-are, you [I]-will-be". ~ Robin 10:21, 18 January 2012 (UTC)


Paucity is defined in Wikipedia as few in number. This is inaccurate. Specifically the meaning is "not enough". This is a critical distinction. A person may not have very much money but they may be considered as having enough and therefore are not paupers.—This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

  • I have adjusted the definition. You could have done so yourself. SemperBlotto 15:44, 19 January 2012 (UTC)


This is a colloquial or humorous variation of the imperative of 'help' that's pretty common on the internet. I'm quite sure it would meet CFI, but what is it exactly? Is it a misspelling (but it's intentional), is it an alternative form? —CodeCat 14:40, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

How about {{nonstandard|humorous}}? Mglovesfun (talk) 10:45, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
That particular template application appears to work perfectly for this entry. ;) -- Cirt (talk) 23:29, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
Halp is also the archaic spelling of the noun help and the archaic strong past tense help, halp, (ge)holp(en). --AnWulf ... Ferþu Hal! 16:21, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
Really? I've only ever seen holp for the strong past tense, at least in Modern English. You seem to think of Middle English helpen (in view of your mention of holp/holpe(n)geholpen with the prefix is only Old English, for all I know), for which halp is apparently attested as a variant of holp; but on Wiktionary, Middle and Modern English are treated separately. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 18:34, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Devoicing next to voiceless cons.

There is a phenomenon in German and Polish, similar to Terminal Devoicing, where a voiced consonant becomes voiceless when preceded by a voiceless consonant. (Sucht = /zuxt/, Streitsucht = /ʃtraitsuxt/) What's it called?Dakhart 21:13, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

I think it's called voicing assimilation, and it happens in many languages, not just those with terminal devoicing. For example, Latin scribo has the participle scriptus. English has leaves /liːvz/ but sleeps /sliːps/. It doesn't always work the same in every language though or even the same in one single language, for example the equivalent Dutch words are strijd /strɛi̯t/ and zucht /zʏxt/ but the combination can be either /strɛi̯dzʏxt/ or /strɛi̯tsʏxt/ depending on the speaker. —CodeCat 21:50, 20 January 2012 (UTC)


We have an entry for the abbreviation xtal but I'm used to seeing it XTAL. What should be placed at XTAL? RJFJR 23:41, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

There is no good reason for capitalising "xtal" (no good reason to abbreviate either, but that's another story). When seen capitalised, it is usually in electronic parts lists, which tend to captitalise everything not nailed down anyway. SpinningSpark 22:29, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

(colloq. Japan)

What does "(colloq. Japan)" mean in the current version of ronin? --Daniel 14:25, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

colloq is short for colloquial. How does it look now? We need citations for this def in English. I know it's totally valid in Japanese. JamesjiaoTC 01:25, 3 February 2012 (UTC)

+ and/or ++

There appears to be a fairly widespread Internet phenomenon of applauding particularly clever comments by responding with pluses, usually with two together. I imagine such a thing would be nearly impossible to document in a CFI-worthy fashion, but it still seems to me to be a clearly widespread use. Any thoughts on that? Cheers! bd2412 T 16:23, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

I would think + would be enough, other iterations would then become SoP as + + + (yeah I know, it looks pretty funny) -- Liliana 20:20, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
But it might very easily be derived from the ++ used in programming languages to increment, or add one, i.e. a geeky way to say "me too". Equinox 20:27, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
I think the preponderance (at least in my experience) of pluses coming in pairs suggests that Equinox's theory is the more likely explanation. How do we search for citations for something like this? bd2412 T 14:26, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
Dunno. Try Usenet, perhaps? -- Liliana 17:32, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
Right, but how? How do you search Usenet for ++? —RuakhTALK 15:25, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps subscribe to a newsserver for a few weeks and then search around a bit? -- Liliana 16:01, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
I read Usenet more or less regularly, so if you have a particular newsgroup in mind, I could subscribe for a month and then search the downloaded text. The ones I read are a little too old-fashioned to use this ++ notation. Equinox 00:20, 30 January 2012 (UTC)

It may be a typical German/Swiss thing: there is regularly used and official classification of apparatus in terms of efficiency fo using or wasting energy. Highest class was "A", but since some time they became even better; so now we have A+/A++/A+++ for e.g. refrigerators. RMK, 14.05.2012 —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) at 10:20, 14 May 2012 (UTC).

A/A+/A++/A+++ exists in the U.S. as well, but the question here is just + or ++ alone (without the A). —RuakhTALK 11:48, 14 May 2012 (UTC)


I'm suspicious of the plural forms. In English (paganism), it varies, but isn't it always uncountable in Latin? Metaknowledge 22:56, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

I have no answer to your question, but would like to point out that Paganismus is one German translation of paganism. Cheers! bd2412 T 05:35, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
While I agree that the plural forms sound strange, you could only be sure by searching through the whole known corpus of Ecclesiastical Latin, I guess ... --Florian Blaschke (talk) 18:37, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Ravel==unravel, is there a name for this?

I was watching an episode of "The Big Bang Theory" where a character uses the pseudo-word "un-unravelable" to mean something like a mystery that can't be solved. So, I wondered if "ravelable" was a word, checked here, and was surprised to see that definition #1 of ravel is unravel. So, I wonder if there is a term for this situation that can be added at the definitions of ravel and unravel? Cheers. Haus 02:40, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

Sadly, there is but one cite for un-unravelable, but I shall add it to Citations:un-unravelable and hope that more shall poke up at some point.--Prosfilaes 08:16, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the response. I see that my question was probably unclear - let me try again. Is there a name for the situation where un-word means the same as word? Thanks! Haus 02:48, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't know what the word for the phenomenon is, but another facet is that "ravel" itself means both "untangle" and "tangle", which makes "ravel" an auto-antonym, contronym or antagonym. That doesn't describe its relationship to "unravel", but I would guess most words that are synonymous with unwords are probably also their own auto-antonyms. Another example of the phenomenon is "unthaw" (meaning both "freeze" and "unfreeze") and "thaw" (also meaning "unfreeze"). Phol 08:14, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
It's related to the contranym but I'm not sure what they're called. Other examples are debone and bone, regardless and irregardless, flammable and inflammable. DAVilla 03:33, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
Interchangeable pairs, or pseudantonyms. Other pairs are flammable/inflammable; regardless/irregardless; caregiver/caretaker; restive/restless; iterate/reiterate; candescent/incandescent; loosen/unloosen. —Stephen (Talk) 04:17, 28 January 2012 (UTC)


Wiktionary currently has two senses relating to women:

  • 3. A young (especially attractive) woman. Three cool chicks / Are walking down the street / Swinging their hips
  • 4. A woman. Check that chick out.

I wonder about the following:

  • Do we need two senses? (Dictionaries often have only one sense relating to women.)
  • Age
    • Is being young a necessary condition for a chick as a woman?
    • Is being young an "especially" condition for a chick as a woman?
    • Is being young a condition at all for a chick as a woman?
  • Attractiveness
    • Is attractiveness a necessary condition for a chick as a woman?
    • Is attractiveness an "especially" condition for a chick as a woman?
    • Is attractiveness a condition at all for a chick as a woman?

See also chick at OneLook Dictionary Search. I am interested in informal perceptions of native speakers, and, formally, in attesting quotations. --Dan Polansky 09:55, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

My informal perception as a native speaker is that young is an "especially" condition for a chick as a woman, but not an absolutely necessary one. Attractiveness is not a condition at all for a chick as a woman--I myself have been known to refer to women as "chicks", but for me the properties "woman" and "attractive" are mutually exclusive. —Angr 10:11, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree. Chick is a slang term for a woman, particularly a young women. As for attractiveness, however, Google Books returns 500+ hits for "ugly chick". bd2412 T 20:09, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
I'd say they are a single sense, but it needs to be broadly worded to include what bd2412 says, which is almost exactly what I was going to say. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:18, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
I've long noticed the striking similarity between American English slang chick and Spanish chica. Perhaps the formation of the American English slang term was inspired (or at least reinforced, given that the metaphorical sense of chick(en) referring to humans seems to be much older, but not necessarily particularly frequent prior to the 20th century) by chica in the area of North America where Spanish and English are in heavy contact – as in, for example, monolingual AmE speakers picking up the term chica in English context and re-interpreting it as chick. Possibly, this idea could be supported with evidence if one looked into it. I notice that Wiktionary mentions an attestion from 1927, and etymonline.com even speaks of an origin in "U.S. black slang" (AAVE, then), which wouldn't necessarily contradict this. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:32, 20 April 2012 (UTC)


Can someone research this and/or flag the entry? I've added an note on the discussion page, but have some doubts that this is an accepted word...?? About the only authoritative place I've found it is here! Samatva 19:22, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

It’s okay. Valid citations are easy to find. For example, this one. —Stephen (Talk) 00:01, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it's certainly an accepted word. Good source cited above by Stephen G. Brown (talkcontribs). -- Cirt (talk) 23:28, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

Places for language-specific discussions

Is there a place where aspects particular to a single language can be discussed? I was thinking maybe the 'WT:About' page for that language, but is that common practice? —CodeCat 21:48, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

I think so. --Yair rand 22:52, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
The "WT:About" pages are to discuss how we treat languages. (what are the templates, POS headers, definitions, romanizations, etc.)
I'd use the Information desk for linguistic questions like "WTF is the difference between 'tu' and 'você' in Portuguese anyway?" or "How is the order of words in this Egyptian Arabic phrase?" --Daniel 08:30, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
But for consensus-building discussions about a single language? —CodeCat 11:30, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
Wiktionary talk:About Languagename.​—msh210 (talk) 19:16, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

be be a form of be!

In a sentence like "I try not to offend them: I be polite, I take off my shoes when entering their house, etc", what form of "be" am I using? The infinitive? A conjunctive/subjunctive form? I am aware that I could also say "I am polite", but isn't "I be polite" also grammatical, if literary? What form am I using in the sentence "I'll make you a deal: I be nice to your friend John, you be nice to my friend Jane"? Phol 07:54, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

You be nice is imperative. I be polite is, I believe, an antiquated form of the present indicative. —Stephen (Talk) 09:31, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
That use of be is part of AAVE. Some linguists who study the dialect assert that it is usually used to indicate a habitual or characteristic or, at least, continuing state or condition. Superficially, it seems to me to be used to cover more tenses, aspects, and moods than that. DCDuring TALK 15:04, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
It's not just AAVE. It's relatively rare, but I remember noticing it in a preview for Bratz: The Movie; one of the lead characters asks, "What do we do?" and another replies, "We be ourselves." (N.B. I don't know if this exchange occurred in the actual movie; previews are not always accurate.) I think everyone can agree that "We are ourselves" would not have worked (though I'm sure that many speakers will find that even "We be ourselves" will not work for them). As for what form — I think it's just a regular old non-third-person-singular present indicative form, but of a certain, defective sense of be. ("Defective" in that it doesn't have a complete conjugation; I'm fine with "We be ourselves", but I would not be fine with "So what did you do?" ?"I be'd myself!". Some speakers, however, do accept "be's" and "be'd", so for them I guess the conjugation isn't defective.) CGEL, by the way, refers to this sense of be as "lexical be", giving the example of "Why don't you be more tolerant?"[2]RuakhTALK 15:23, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
This work has be's as an inflected form sometimes occurring in the corpus used. OTOH, be'd seems much rarer. DCDuring TALK 17:24, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I think we need to backtrack a bit. Above, I wrote, "It's not just AAVE"; but really what I should have written was, "it's not AAVE at all". I disagree with your statement above, "That use of be is part of AAVE." There is a use of "be" that is part of AAVE, but Phol is (I believe) asking about a different use. My comment was about the use that (s)he is asking about. So the book that you link to, with its AAVE quotations that use be's, is not relevant to my comment. —RuakhTALK 18:23, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
See under Observations. —Stephen (Talk) 18:32, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
All these non-subjunctive senses might well be archaisms reflecting the Old English dual conjugation of the copula, see beon-wesan. In fact, ic bēo(m), þū bist, hē/hēo/it biþ, wē/gē/hī bēoþ, which would then be continued more or less directly in I be, thou beest, he/she/it be, we/ye/they be (which is also found as the general paradigm dialectally), do seem to have had a habitual sense originally. Note that AAVE can very well continue dialectal/archaic features conveyed through Southern American English dialects. Fascinating stuff. --Florian Blaschke 19:43, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
@Stephen G. Brown: Yeah, that may be what Phol has in mind; I wouldn't have thought so, except that (s)he describes it as "literary", which is a fair description of that use, and not a fair description of the use that I mentioned. —RuakhTALK 19:44, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
Thinking over it again, the usage that Phol describes (and you, Ruakh, too, in your movie example) may rather be something else than an archaism – just an infinitive with a pronoun prepended: "What do we do?" – "We? Be ourselves." or "We, be ourselves." Though this might eventually have been supported by the archaic or (also) AAVE usage. --Florian Blaschke 19:59, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
Re "What do we do? ―We be ourselves", is that because there's an elided "do" in there ("We [do] be ourselves"), copied over from the question? Does the answer to that question make any difference?​—msh210 (talk) 22:01, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
This source characterizes non-imperative "do be" as part of Irish English and not part of Standard English, the latter being in accord with my ear.
There are a few things you can't quite say without it. "So what do we do? Do we be ourselves?" Definitely cannot use "are" here. Equinox 20:25, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
I would be nice to know more about the context of the usages Phol has offered for discussion. DCDuring TALK 22:27, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
sorry, i've just been following this discussion rather interestedly. Perhaps this is actually a (rare) example of a first-person plural imperative being attested in English? Piddle 05:14, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
CGEL's "lexical be" seems like a simple infinitive to me, at least in the example given. Phol 06:52, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
No, sorry, you misunderstand me. CGEL's "lexical be" is not a form, but a sense. Like, the word "child" has one sense where it means "young human" (as in "hundreds of children attend the school") and one sense where it means "a human's offspring" (as in "all of her children are in their thirties"). In the example sentence, "Why don't you be more tolerant?", the form is the infinitive, but the sense is the so-called "lexical be". —RuakhTALK 14:47, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
Ah, gotcha. Phol 21:12, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
So would a good definition be "To exist or behave in the manner specified" with a usage note about how it differs from the usual be?​—msh210 (talk) 22:01, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
Ah, now I gotcha (I hope); it is easier to handle this as a sense (with its own conjugated forms), rather than as a conjugated form. [[Hang]] might be a model for how to explain the differing conjugations of the different senses. Phol 00:30, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
I can't be sure it's the same form, because I'm not sure what the form is, but I think "what do we do? we be ourselves" is great example of the form I'm thinking of. An alternate indicative rather than a subjunctive seems like a good explanation. In fact, I would guess that Ruakh's defective conjugation of "be" is Stephen's archaic conjugation, which just lost a few forms as it made its way into the modern era. (It's not missing past tense forms for me; I'd say "what did I do? I was myself"; but I am missing a third person singular indicative.) The difference between the conjugations for me is that "I be" connotes doing, whereas "I am" is static. "I am polite to them" means I am unremarkably showing them the politeness I generally show everyone (and note this as I list everything that should lead to them not being offended), whereas "I be polite to them" emphasizes that I show them politeness (even when they test me with rudeness, or even when my politeness is not sincere). Hence I wrote "I be" in an e-mail, but then I questioned the grammar. (And FWIW I would say "We’re in Japan! What do we do? We be ourselves.") Re: my second, hypothetical example: I suppose whether "I'll make you a deal: I be nice to John, you be nice to Jane" is subjunctive or imperative depends on whether it's truly an offer or a demand. Phol 06:52, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
Re: "'I be' connotes doing, whereas 'I am' is static": Yes, exactly: "I be polite" is a lexical be, whereas "I am polite" is a regular copula be. —RuakhTALK 14:47, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
So, how's this for a usage note? (Maybe we should have a giant collapsible table of forms like rechercher#Conjugation.) Phol 21:12, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
In the case of I'll make you a deal: I be nice to your friend John, you be nice to my friend Jane? ... That's a subjunctive form. Fee, fie, fo, fum / I smell the blood of an Englishman; / Be he alive or be he dead, / I'll grind his bones to make my bread. (Jack and the Beanstalk) --AnWulf ... Ferþu Hal! 15:29, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
This is correct. --Jtle515 (talk) 23:20, 16 April 2012 (UTC)

Irish sí and English sidhe

Isn't sidhe/Sidhe simply borrowed from the pre-reform spelling sídhe/Sídhe of ? Both words mean "(of the) fairy-mound", and seem to be pronounced identically; however, the pages note no connection, and lacks an etymology.

Note that the pages sídhe and Sídhe have been deleted for unclear reasons. Also note Scottish Gaelic sìdh, sluagh sìdhe, bean-shìdh and the like.

More precisely, I think the derivation is (and MacBain agrees): Proto-Celtic (Nom. Sg.) *sīdos, (Gen. Sg.) *sīdesos (a neuter s-stem) 'seat' > Old Irish síd, síde (neuter, I think) 'fairy dwelling/hill/mound' > Modern Irish sídh, sídhe (modern spelling: , ) and Scottish Gaelic sìdh, sìdhe, with the genitive abstracted from set phrases such as fir síde, daoine síde and áes síde already in Old Irish as síde 'fairies', from whence Modern Irish sídh ~ sígh (modern spelling: ) 'fairy', Scottish Gaelic sìdh ~ sìth. Proto-Celtic *sīdos is apparently also the origin of Old Irish síd 'peace' and its modern descendants. A mailing list post suggests that the ambiguity could be employed in Old Irish deliberately, to interpret the Áes Síde as 'people of the peace'. --Florian Blaschke 20:44, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

judgment of Solomon

Has anyone else heard of judgment of Solomon to mean 'really good judgment'? It's one of those things where I say it, and I'm not sure if anyone else does. Compare patience of Job. Mglovesfun (talk) 22:41, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm familiar with wisdom of Solomon. I'm not sure it's idiomatic.​—msh210 (talk) 20:13, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
I've heard it in connection of decisions that appear to be impossible to make. "It will take the judgement of Solomon to make a fair settlement in this divorce". SpinningSpark 22:16, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
I've had a go. feel free to improve. SemperBlotto 22:22, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
Daniel come to judgement is similar. In the case of Solomon, the famous judgement seems to be the one about cutting a baby in half to appease two woman claiming to be its mother. (The one who refused to have this done was the real mother.) Equinox 21:27, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I'd have to agree I've certainly heard it used in that fashion. -- Cirt (talk) 23:24, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
In German, we rather use salomonisches Urteil, i. e. "Solomonic judgment", and it seems that variant is in use in English, as well. A salomonisches Urteil is a wise judgment that satisfies all involved sides. Apparently the German sense is different from the English (and from the original story), or simply more general. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:33, 2 March 2012 (UTC)


The noun meaning of batshit is given as "alternative spelling of bat shit", but bat shit redirects batshit leaving no definition at all. Also, this does not have a plural, surely. SpinningSpark 22:36, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

Fixed. JamesjiaoTC 22:43, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
The etymology is simply fascinating! -- Cirt (talk) 23:20, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

lord of creation

In the entry for weaker vessel there's this quote:

    • 1868, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, ch. 41:
      When women are the advisers, the lords of creation don't take the advice till they have persuaded themselves that it is just what they intended to do. Then they act upon it, and, if it succeeds, they give the weaker vessel half the credit of it. If it fails, they generously give her the whole.

Does "lord of creation" refer to men? If so, is it a common enough usage to merit an entry? I searched Google for this term, but found little evidence, but perhaps it's dated. Capitalized it seems to refer to God. In Finnish there's the expression luomakunnan kruunu (crown of the creation), which refers to men, and I would want to find a proper translation for it. "Men" will do, of course, but I want something that catches the spirit. --Hekaheka 05:51, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm not familiar with that phrase in lowercase referring to mortal men, either. But I suppose patriarchal Judeochristians may hold a doctrine that Yahweh created Adam in his image to be lord over Yahweh's creation. ~ Robin 06:57, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
Plenty of bgc hits in the plural. I'm not sure if it means men, though, or has some other meaning with men as the most common referent.​—msh210 (talk) 15:55, 27 January 2012 (UTC)


Could someone not previously involved in editing this entry please check it over and make sure it conforms to this project's policies, please? Definition 2 seems particularly gratuitous. --Anthonyhcole 14:31, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

Note: Admin CodeCat (talkcontribs) has dutifully explained matters pertaining to site policy at the talk page for the entry, and admin Robin Lionheart (talkcontribs) has been quite helpful with adding additional sourcing and referencing for the page, both at its main definition page with quotes, and at the citations page with additional referencing. -- Cirt (talk) 16:14, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Definition one is absolutely solid. Definition 2 is a bit more precarious, and I will be happier when we get more printed citations and fewer usenet ones. But it still looks like it passes CFI. (Arguably, the two could be combined without much loss.) Ƿidsiþ 08:45, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
  • I made this edit to the etymology to correct some POV. The wording "equated homosexuality with bestiality" was particularly nebulous IMO. Equated in what way? You could read that as "he said that homosexuality was equally as bad as bestiality" whereas his opinion was really that bestiality is another thing that a "healthy family" is not. It was enough to say that his views were "perceived as anti-gay" in the spirit of NPOV. Although even for NPOV it wouldn't be a too much of a stretch to say that they were anti-gay, someone might take exception to that and WT:NPOV does say "It's OK to state opinions in articles, but they must be presented as opinions, not as fact." —Internoob 03:56, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Update: Admin Robin Lionheart (talkcontribs) created a Citations page for this entry, at Citations:santorum. Cheers, -- Cirt (talk) 04:04, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
  • I just realised we copied the definition verbatim from spreadingsantorum.com and several other sources. Isn't that a copyright violation? Shouldn't we reword the definition? —CodeCat 21:11, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
If it originated at spreadingsantorum, I wouldn't worry, since that site's name (and the fact that the definition is its entire contents) makes it clear that it wants people to share and distribute the definition. I wouldn't even be surprised if such a site was using our definition — perhaps cause and effect are reversed here? If it comes from somewhere else then we should think about it more. Equinox 21:14, 6 March 2012 (UTC)


This Italian word is defined as meaning morphosis, which doesn't appear to be an English word at all. Is morphosis a word that needs to be added, or is morfosi bogus/unclear/otherwise problematic? Metaknowledge 23:45, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

  • Added English word. I know we have nearly three million words, but there are just as many that we haven't got yet. SemperBlotto 08:40, 29 January 2012 (UTC)


How come this is defined as an alternate form of gelatine? In my experience, it is exactly the opposite. Can we switch these two? Metaknowledge 21:00, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

The label of "alternative form" does not mean "lesser" or less common. It means that the spelling is an alternative, and the difference may be regional. --EncycloPetey 21:13, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
It's probably a US/UK variation. In these cases our normal policy is - whoever bothers to actually add the word gets to choose which is the primary form and which is the alternative. It is considered impolite to swap them around later. SemperBlotto 21:17, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
What about a case such as this in which gelatin is 75 times more common than gelatine in the US and just one-third as common in the UK (based on COCA and BNC)? And generally are evidence-based changes rude? DCDuring TALK 23:07, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
Interesting. I suppose we could use ((mostly|UK)) and ((mostly|US)). IMO, in general, if one form is significantly more common than another, and without large variation between major Englishes, we should put the main content at the common form and have others link to it. But (i) ideally those "links" should probably be drawing in the content from the main entry, rather than forcing us to click again, and (ii) the commonness of forms is definitely variable across the time dimension. Equinox 23:19, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
I have a package of "Gelatine" which clarifies itself by saying "Ingredients: Gelatin" :P - -sche (discuss) 00:44, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
The other ingredient is an E number. Equinox 00:46, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
@ -sche on my packet of ibuprofen it says "do not take if allergic to ibuprofen". Mglovesfun (talk) 12:26, 2 February 2012 (UTC)