Wiktionary:Tea room/2013/November

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discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← October 2013 · November 2013 · December 2013 →


Does this word occur anywhere other than in the Christmas carol This Endris Night? What is its etymology? Is it Middle English or Early Modern English, or both? (The carol is apparently from the 1470s and thus right on the cusp between the two stages.) —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 11:03, 2 November 2013 (UTC)

It's Middle English, and it's a form of the word ender that apparently was only used in set phrases such as this ender/enders dai, this ender/enders night and this ender/enders yer. In this context it means "a night not long ago". Chuck Entz (talk) 12:40, 2 November 2013 (UTC)


Hello, Wilson is a rare given name ? 12:56, 2 November 2013 (UTC)

No it is not. --WikiTiki89 16:39, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
(Not especially rare, that is, with something like 34,000 of them in the US. I've personally worked with a man named Wilson, and Wilson Tuckey is a famous former member of Australian parliament --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 21:49, 2 November 2013 (UTC))
I've never heard of that. In general, given names created from surnames are much rarer in the UK than in the US. Equinox 20:14, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
But not really that rare. Just looking through the last 100 years of British prime ministers I find a Gordon, a Winston, a Neville, a Stanley, and a Ramsay—all given names derived from surnames, and the List of people with given name Wilson includes no fewer than five Brits: Wilson Baker, Wilson Benge, Wilson Carlile, Wilson Jameson, and Wilson Jones (footballer). It's not going to give names like David and James and William a run for their money, but it's not really rare (like, say, Hrothgar is nowadays). —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 22:51, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I know several people with the first name Wilson here in northern England. Dbfirs 09:16, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Benge's is a nickname (real first name George). Jameson's is a middle name (or double-barrelled surname, or equivalent?). Jones's ditto, a middle name. Gordon and Stanley must be rather older. Not sure about Neville. Equinox 22:57, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Pretty much all first names that are derived from surnames became first names through the mediation of being middle names, although some (like Scott) have become so well known as first names that people barely remember that they originated as last names. Some people get first names in -son simply because they're literally the son of someone with the base name, i.e. a boy may be named Johnson because he's John's son or Wilson because he's Will's son. Beats John Jr. and Will Jr. in my opinion, but it doesn't work with all names. (My father's name was Douglass, but I'm very glad he didn't attempt to name me "Douglassson".) —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 23:09, 4 November 2013 (UTC)


I created this entry, but I am not sure we need it: "-szczyzna" = "-ski" + "-czyzna". I think -czyzna should suffice as a suffix. Should I bring it to RFD or something? Keφr 11:00, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

IMO, they may be related but different suffixes (dependent on the last consonant of the word they are attached to). Russian (less productive) suffixes are -чизна (-čizna), -щизна (-ščizna) - or more commonly: -чина (-čina), -щина (-ščina) (not created yet). Or they could be grouped as alternative forms of each other. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 13:11, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, and Czech has -čtina and -ština… but I think the equivalent to the latter would be -szyzna (though pierwszyzna may be the only example — these two are not very productive in Polish any more either). Keφr 13:48, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Or maybe they could be even reduced to -yzna/-izna… We have robocizna, for example. But that too might be an only example. Keφr 14:00, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

молодым везде у нас дорога, старикам везде у нас почёт[edit]

For some reason, the phrase, well-known in Russia is often given as a translation to "age before beauty". There seem to be a big gap in meanings, though. I would have removed the translation from English "age before beauty" and from Russian "молодым везде у нас дорога, старикам везде у нас почёт" but after searching on the web, the original translator was not alone. The entry has an explanation of the literal meaning, not sure if there is a closer English equivalent. (Also searching for a better Russian translation for "age before beauty"). --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 02:32, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

when in Rome, do as the Romans[edit]

Supposed to be an alt form of when in Rome, do as the Romans do. (Note missing last word.) It seems grammatically okay, but a bit dated and odd (like when Webster 1913 says something along the lines of "to lay eggs, as a hen" — i.e. as a hen does). Also, the headword (which includes the final do!) makes me suspicious. Anybody else familiar with this form? Equinox 21:04, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

I've turned "when in Rome, do as the Romans" into a redirect and labelled its mention in "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" dated. - -sche (discuss) 17:20, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
But is that case? Equinox was referring to this usage of as in general, not specifically to the case of do as the Romans. Unless we find a citation of when in Rome, do as the Romans, I would say we should remove it. --WikiTiki89 17:24, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
google books:"when in Rome, do as the Romans and" turns up citations, several of which are actually not dated at all. (Perhaps the do-less variant should just be labelled "less common"?) - -sche (discuss) 17:53, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

"the golden rule" translated into sanskrit[edit]


this is my first time using wiktionary and my first time in a chat room, so not sure if it's going to work...

i was hoping someone knew how to translate the phrase "the golden rule" into sanskrit??? or does anyone know who i could get in touch with to do a translation for free/next to free?

thank you in advance for your time/efforts! —This unsigned comment was added by Nicollewade (talkcontribs) at 01:35, 5 November 2013‎.

We have a special page for such requests: Wiktionary:Translation requests. --WikiTiki89 01:42, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
I would say स्वर्णसिद्धान्त (svarṇasiddhānta), but it would be a modern translation, not something that was ever used when the language was spoken. —Stephen (Talk) 04:39, 5 November 2013 (UTC)


Wiktionary is rendering these as two separate pages with the former hard redirecting to the latter, as it seems I cannot access the former directly. It's a one-stroke difference in aesthetics between the two characters (cf. http://jisho.org/kanji/details/%EF%A8%B3 and http://jisho.org/kanji/details/%E5%8B%89) but I think it's worth noting for the purposes of differentiating jinmeiyō and jōyō characters. Would it be appropriate to ask the devs to implement some sort of hack for this? TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 09:37, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

I don't think it would be appropriate to hack around with something that is purposely built into the Unicode standard. U+FA33 is part of the CJK Compatibility Ideographs range for a specific reason and any "hack" would kind of undermine Unicode's goal of unifying Han characters with the same translingual readings and definition(s). Country-specific display issues are dealt with via fonts (glyphs are not codepoints). Bumm13 (talk) 02:34, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Are you saying we should be directly supporting Unicode's goals? I personally find this wiki's role much more interesting in the preservation of languages and even older styles/words of current ones. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 22:41, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
We should be working with, not against, the systems we have to use. Unicode is the universal character set; trying to go against it is unproductive and is a good way to get corrupted data or data that people can't decode. Unicode and thus our systems can not reliably distinguish between the two characters. There is probably a standard variation selector that can be applied to specifically distinguish one variant of the character from the unified characters; I don't know if we want those in entry names, though.--Prosfilaes (talk) 23:17, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
IMO, we should take an NPOV and try to include most of the languages and language varieties. Take for example the difference between and . I would also like to note that Wikipedia has managed a workaround to this (see here) by using 勉 vs 勉 . That depends on whether you perceive Wikipedia as working with or against the Unicode 'system'. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 00:52, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
This has absolutely nothing, completely, totally, and in all ways nothing to do with including languages and language varieties. We can keep all the same data; the question is merely whether it will be on two pages or one. Note that your Wikipedia cite has absolutely nothing to do with the question of using these characters in page titles.--Prosfilaes (talk) 17:47, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Alright, since discussion is stale I want to make one thing clear. Do we at least agree at a minimum that these two characters should have separate entries? We simply disagree on how to best implement it, whether the entry should be on a separate page or the same page. Am I reading this correctly? TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 00:04, 20 December 2013 (UTC)


Surely all these abbreviations should be initialisms (or vice versa) 17:32, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Random 1990s Idiom/Proverb?[edit]

"If you got beef, you brought it to the street." I came across that sentence at the Cracked website; and wondered if it pertained to disputes of any kind. --Lo Ximiendo (talk) 13:11, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

grow some balls[edit]

Isn't this idiomatic? --Fsojic (talk) 22:32, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

I think so and, even more so, so are grow some and grow a pair. DCDuring TALK 22:40, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
Sure it's idiomatic. Growing a weak, vulnerable, and sensitive body part doesn't suggest "be brave" at all. ~ Röbin Liönheart (talk) 23:06, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, Betty White. Speaking of grow a pair, "to play fantasy football"? Really? Would that sense survive RFV if someone were to challenge it? —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 23:37, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
It should be RfVed. And then, if it survives, it should probably be RfDed. DCDuring TALK 01:41, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
The problem is, like many of these phrases, balls could replaced with any number of euphemisms for testicles. "Grow some nuts" or "bollocks" is easily citable, for example. ("Grow some family jewels" is not available on Google Books, but there's web cites for it, and maybe Usenet.)--Prosfilaes (talk) 06:34, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
That is true of most idioms, especially those involving "vulgar" terms for which there are a plethora of synonyms. Other forms of variation in idiomatic constructions include inflection of the verb, insertion of modifiers ("big, hairy"), and alternative determiners ("a pair of"). If we limited included idioms to set phrases that permitted no variation, we would miss most idioms.
We don't have a great way of handling the variation except by having a large number of redirects or alternative forms entries (to direct users to a main entry) and usage notes in the main entry indicating the scope of variation. I would be nice to semi-automate the process of generating these. DCDuring TALK 15:51, 7 November 2013 (UTC)


While we are in the topic of discussing balls, I'd like to ask whether there's an English equivalent for this word, meaning "the act of of a male secretly toying with his genitals while keeping the hands in the pocket"? --Hekaheka (talk) 09:44, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

Thx! --Hekaheka (talk) 20:21, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

bit (or bits)[edit]

I accidentally came across this Yahoo Answers answer from five years ago about peanuts and cashews (emphasis mine):

No, cashews and peanuts are different types of bits, but their allergy effects are the same. When you are buying candy or any other type of food made in a plant, make sure that the product that you are buying doesn't come from the same plant that makes peanuts, cashews, etc. Many of the candy bars that you get from Halloween ( which is coming up in a few weeks, goodie!) may not contain bits in their ingredients, but are made in the same plant that makes peanut or any other legum candy bars. That is why you must never eat anthing that is chocolate without checking the label first. If the label doesn't warn you of nuts that may have touched the bar, it is safe. If you eat the bar and still get an allergy attack, sue their @ss, cause what they did was illegal, making a candy bar that has contact with bits and not giving a warning lol.

Now I know that Yahoo Answers is notorious for people with horrible grammar, but this particular answer seems to have good grammar (unlike the question itself), except what puzzles me is this usage of bit (or perhaps bits), which I have never heard before and doesn't exist on our entries for either the singular or the plural of bit. Is this just a nut job who made a word for "nuts and nut-like foods", or does this usage actually exist? --WikiTiki89 19:25, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

I suspect he's just using "bits" to mean "traces", as in "This product may contain traces of peanuts", which you sometimes find as a warning on packages of food that doesn't actually contain peanuts but was packaged in a factory where there are peanuts around, and some people are so severely allergic to peanuts that they can have a reaction just from traces of peanut dust on the packaging. I don't think he's using "bit" as any sort of technical term. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:06, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
That wouldn't make sense in the first sentence though, although it would work for the other two uses. --WikiTiki89 21:09, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, I thought about that too, and I think even in the first sentence it makes a kind of sense. He means cashews and peanuts are different kinds of things, using bit in its bits and pieces sense. Obviously I can't get into the guy's head, but I still don't think he's using it as a technical term for culinary nut or anything like that. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:36, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

(nuclear) transmutation[edit]

   I've added a fourth sense to transmutation, since it seems there is no uniformity among definitions: some imply nuclear transmutation always involves a change of element, while others imply producing a different isotope of the same element is also a nuclear transmutation. (Note that neutron emission or absorption changes the isotope (atomic wt) without changing the element (atomic number and chemical element name)). I don't recall what definition i was given in school, and frankly it's hard to think of a specific context where it matters unless the question is "Is this an instance of transmutation?", which kind of amounts to a trick question. But the fact is that some definitions specify change of element and some change of isotope.
--Jerzyt 09:53, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Re: "I've added a fourth sense to transmutation": No, you didn't . . . ? —RuakhTALK 17:00, 12 November 2013 (UTC)


This Latvian word means (and is cognate with) "stiff", but I'm not sure some of its uses corresond to English "stiff"... Can you "walk stiffly", or "have a stiff look, stare"? "Rigid" sometimes fits, though again, it seems to me, not always... Perhaps one of you native speakers, if you have some time, could have a look at my translations of the examples in stīvs and tell me if they sound OK to you? Thanks in advance! --Pereru (talk) 20:01, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

You can certainly walk stiffly. To me that implies that one's joints are stiff, especially the hips or the knees. (I might walk stiffly after too long in the car, or after riding a horse. Some elderly folks seem to walk stiffly as a matter of course.) Dunno about "have a stiff look, stare", though. I wouldn't know how to interpret that. One can "stare fixedly"; is that what you mean? —RuakhTALK 05:02, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
One can have a "mechanical" stare, although I'm not actually sure what that means. One can have a "cold" gaze (one that is "unfriendly, emotionally distant or unfeeling"). - -sche (discuss) 05:58, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

Dobra — Audio File — Polish[edit]

Do we really need an audio file for the Polish section of dobra? —This unsigned comment was added by Esszet (talkcontribs).

Why wouldn’t we need? — Ungoliant (Falai) 23:05, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
It's relatively minor; I don't think it needs an audio file. Esszet (talk) 23:35, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Ideally, every page should have audio files. --WikiTiki89 23:42, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
It would be unproductive to divide entries to those that "need" an audio file and those that don't. Let's be happy of every audio file somebody bothers to upload. --Hekaheka (talk) 05:33, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Exactly. I wonder, why even this question? If the pronunciation of a word is clear to one person, it doesn't mean it's obvious to everybody else. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 01:58, 11 November 2013 (UTC)


So, there is a New Zealand sense of rumpty that means "sub-standard, poor shape", and there was a World War I airplane nicknamed the Rumpty, which was a really flimsy airplane. My instincts tell me the two are related, but I cannot determine with certainty which gave rise to the other (which came first). Certainly, the WWI use predates the earliest NZ sense I've found, but that begs the question of why the flimsy plane was called a "Rumpty". --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:08, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

It seems rumpty was a slang term among WWI aviators for a certain make of plane, not just the name of a specific plane (if that's what you meant). 'A "rumpty" is a particular machine in which most novices make their earlier venture into the air; the term, besides being descriptive, is one of affection, [...]' (The argot of the air, Ohinemuri Gazette, Volume XXVIII, Issue 3826, 28 September 1917, Page 3, reprinted from an article in the Daily Mail earlier that year). It was also called a rumpity[1] or rumpety, apparently in imitation of the noise it made.[2]
I haven't found earlier NZ usages of the adjective, but here's an Australian quote from 1899: "That rumpty, rotund, rubicund, roaring, raving, ranting, rancous rascal, Wriggler Reid and his equally conscientious colleague and concupiscent congener, Cocky Carruthers".[3] It's hard to be sure of its meaning there though. Also rumpty-stumpty was a Cumberland term meaning "anything that is coarse in make", according to E. W. Peevost and S. Dickson Brown's 1905 A supplement to the glossary of the dialect of Cumberland. Oddly, The Oxford Dictionary of Slang (1998) lists rumpty as meaning "excellent" in Aus/NZ. --Avenue (talk) 16:46, 12 November 2013 (UTC)


This new entry may be just barely attestable outside of dictionaries (it's hard to tell with all the hits for the place name), but the dictionaries mostly qualify it as Scottish. Would we be better changing the language header to Scots (I know most of the dictionaries don't make that distinction)? Or might it be both English and Scots? Chuck Entz (talk) 23:01, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

To be "Scots", it would have to be used in Scots-language quotes and listed in Scots dictionaries. Right now, we just have it in an English-language quote and English dictionaries. So for now, at least, we only have evidence that it's an English word in Scotland. --EncycloPetey (talk) 16:41, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
FWIW, here's another quote, in somewhat broader Scottish English/Scots(?), where it appears in the variant spelling yeelin' :
1804, Robert Couper, Kynophontis Macguldrochiana, in Poetry chiefly in the Scottish language, p 60:
His bonny, various, yeelin' frien's
Cam a' in bourrochs there;
He clap't the head, he stroak't the birse,
The mousie and the bear.
Neither spelling seems to be listed in the online Dictionary of the Scots Language. --Avenue (talk) 22:07, 11 November 2013 (UTC)


This entry is missing a sense, imo: in Category:English words suffixed with -ity, there are words such as clickity, bumpity, flappity, yeppity, etc, which don't fall under the given senses. Is this a diminutive? — E | talk 16:58, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Perhaps "alternative form of -ety"? —RuakhTALK 18:02, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
Why? (And, if so, how would you define "-ety", since it doesn't exist on this site?) — E | talk 21:02, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
Do all of these exist on their own, rather than in fairly rigid association with other words clickity-clack, bumpity-bump, yackity-yack, hipity-hop, etc? Without knowing the answer, I'm not sure how one could characterize "ity". It doesn't seem to convey meaning and may not even be imitative. Could it be intended to convey repetition of the sounds represented by the adjoining words? DCDuring TALK 18:05, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
X-ity X is the most common usage in my experience. I don't know how that would be represented. Reduplicative? Is it even a suffix usage of "-ity"? — E | talk 21:02, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
I think it's some kind of prosodic filler inserted between the root and its reduplication to give the right rhythm. Chuck Entz (talk) 01:57, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Is -ety used anywhere but in lickety-split?
Yes. It does seem as if "ety" and "ity" just make alternative spellings.
Are either "ity" and "ety" used other than to join these somewhat onomatopoetic words/morphemes? If not, then Chuck's suggestion would seem to cover it. If clickity et al are attestably used independently, then we would need to evaluate such use as well and possibly come to different conclusion. DCDuring TALK 03:21, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
I see "ity"/"ety" used almost always in the interior of a sequence of more-or-less onomatapoetic words, very rarely at the end. DCDuring TALK 03:35, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
There's rickety, but that may be a special case. There are some cases like hot diggety from hot diggety dog where the free-standing terms are really shortened from the predicted pattern. The last example is a pretty obvious case of modification from hot dog, so the reduplication-with-prosodic-filler explanation is true in at least some cases. If you ignore the spelling differences there are also nonsense song titles like w:Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and W:Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah where it's used strictly in its prosodic role. Chuck Entz (talk) 04:07, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Do clickity, bumpity, flappity, yeppity etc. seem like entry-worthy words, given that they don't have meaning and are compositional, using -ity/-ety as suffix or -ity-/-ety- as infix? They don't seem so to me, but I suppose there might be someone, somewhere, reading something who might look them up. DCDuring TALK 04:46, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
They're not entirely compositional, and some of them do have a bit of meaning. For example, bumpity shows up in a quote I've added to the entry describing a sound ("...listening to the bumpity sound of the wheels..."). I'd be in favor of having entry for prosodic filler words, provded they show up with regularity in poems, songs, etc. Ebven nonce words can have an etymology, pronunciation, and usage. --EncycloPetey (talk) 05:53, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Compositional or not, they are attested (and even appear in other dictionaries). bd2412 T 17:59, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

reflexive verbs[edit]


do reflexive verbs get their own entry? I find three different ways to handle them:

note: inflected forms of reflexive verbs do never get a separat page.--Bigbossfarin (talk)

I would think it would depend on whether the reflexive sense was distinct from any ordinary transitive sense. In English, even if there might be a somewhat distinct meaning, there is not normally an entry dedicated to the reflexive, though a definition might be labeled "reflexive". Other languages have may have different customary treatments. DCDuring TALK 22:12, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
The redirect is the remnant from a move- we don't generally do redirects, with a few exceptions. We've had considerable debate about several related issues having to do with including particles in entry names in things like separable prefixes and phrasal verbs, and I seem to remember that the debate strayed into this topic at one point. I'm not sure if we have a solid consensus on this, but I could be wrong. Chuck Entz (talk) 02:19, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Quote from Wiktionary:About_French: "Reflexive forms should be given as separate definition lines on the standard non-reflexive infinitive page, with a {{context|reflexive}} tag.". Languages without such policies get into Category:Reflexive verbs by language. Russian (other East Slavic, Spanish, Lithuanian) reflexive verbs have reflexive suffixes (e.g. Russian -ся (-sja)/-сь (-sʹ)) merged with the verb forms and they are considered separate words. See also Wiktionary:Requests_for_deletion#vorstellen. The fate of German reflexive verbs is undecided at the moment. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 02:38, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

kotcheled, kotchelled[edit]

There's a 1990s rave track by the Shamen, Ebeneezer Goode, whose lyrics describe somebody "kotchelled in the corner laughing by the bass bin". (A bass bin is a big bass speaker for music.) What is "kotchelled" — or does everybody have the words wrong? It sounds a bit Yiddish. Equinox 00:13, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

It means ‘stoned’, ‘caned’. London/SE slang. In my head I always spell it with a C rather than a K, but I have absolutely no idea where it comes from – ‘c(/k)otchel’ also means ‘a lot’, but I don't know if that's the same word or not…. Ƿidsiþ 17:43, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

kynsin hampain[edit]

This is a Finnish idiom for which I would like to find an English idiomatic translation if there's any. Literally it translates as "with nails and teeth" and means "with all the strength and means at one's disposal". My Finnish-English dictionary proposes the translation "with hook and claw" but I did not find much usage, nor is it mentioned by any of the Onelook dictionaries. --Hekaheka (talk) 13:49, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

with all one's might --WikiTiki89 15:57, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Or more idiomatically in English: tooth and nail. --EncycloPetey (talk) 17:26, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
I wouldn't say more "idiomatically", but more "closely". --WikiTiki89 17:39, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, more idiomatically; notice that you "fight tooth and nail" rather than "fight with tooth and nail". See fight with all one's might, fight tooth and nail at Google Ngram Viewer, with all one's might, tooth and nail at Google Ngram Viewer, hook and claw, tooth and nail at Google Ngram Viewer, fight tooth and nail, fight with tooth and nail at Google Ngram Viewer. --Dan Polansky (talk) 18:33, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
I had the impression he was comparing to my suggestion. --WikiTiki89 18:35, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Whatever the case, the searches that I have provided are wrongly chosen. Better searches, looking hugely more favorable to your item: with all my might, tooth and nail at Google Ngram Viewer, with all their might, tooth and nail at Google Ngram Viewer, with all his might, tooth and nail at Google Ngram Viewer. --Dan Polansky (talk) 19:06, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Thank you again. --Hekaheka (talk) 00:34, 14 November 2013 (UTC)


Ivan and I are having a polite disagreement at Appendix talk:Proto-Semitic/šalām- about whether the word schlemiel should be included in a list of English words deriving from Proto-Semitic *šalām. If anyone else can give a third-party opinion, that would be very helpful. --WikiTiki89 14:37, 15 November 2013 (UTC)


On that page, someone asked for quotations from Milton using the word. The two that I found were "for i defer the peasantly rudeness" from Colasterion: A Reply to a nameless Answer against the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce and "the peasantly regard of wages and hire" from Animadversions upon the Remonstrant's Defence against Smectymnuus.

Would some kind and intelligent editor be willing to add this to the entry in the correct manner? -- Ccady (talk) 15:11, 16 November 2013 (UTC)


Do makin's fit to have an article? That's an olde (verge of XX c.) slang for "material for self-rolled cigarettes" (mostly tobacco). Stumbled upon it in "Days of Heaven", a 1978 movie. Usage example. (and at Wikicommons) --CopperKettle (talk) 17:12, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

makin's would be an alternative form of or eye dialect for makings (necessary ingredients). Similar would be fixin's for fixings, pickin's for pickings. et al. DCDuring TALK 17:27, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
True, DCDuring. I just thought that if it was for some period used predominantly as a slang for "sacked tobacco" (in cases where no overt context pointing to non-tobacco meaning was present) it might merit a mention. Maybe below the more generic meaning of "necessary ingredients". In the movie a girl explains to the other "That's what you call a makin's.. a cigarette.. its tobacco in a bag..". --CopperKettle (talk) 17:48, 16 November 2013 (UTC)


This looks citable, but being equivalent to con + ellos and the fact that it may be only obsolete, I'm worried about the himand effect. Do others have an opinion on whether this is entry-worthy? —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 17:32, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

Add it. Too widespread in 16th century Spanish to be a mistake, and the parts are in same phrase unlike himand. — Ungoliant (Falai) 20:52, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Belarusian vs. Belorussian[edit]

Obsolete terms with the same meaning? Or distinct terms for distinct states? Belarusian states the former, and I recently reverted (perhaps too hastily) diff. The editor contested it (see User talk:Hyarmendacil#Belorussia.2C_diff), but with a rather 'theoretical' argument. Does anyone know the relationship of the two terms in actual usage? Hyarmendacil (talk) 08:36, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

My instinct is to use Belarusian in reference to the modern country of Belarus and Byelorussian in reference to the former Byelorussian S.S.R. (and would thus probably mark it historical); I wouldn't use Belorussian at all, but if I encountered it I would expect it also to refer to the former SSR. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 10:44, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Belarusian is the official name used by the government of Belarus, and it's the name they promote abroad as well. So most map makers and such have followed along. Belorussian is an older name, but it can refer to the country as well as the SSR (for those who haven't adopted the official name yet). —CodeCat 11:37, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

Note:in Belarus only the noun, denoting the name of the state, not the adjective deriving from the noun, is decreed by the national law to be transliterated in other languages. I agree that there were changes in the Belarusian statehood, but why should we say in English "Belorussian language" before 1991 and "Belarusian language" after 1991, though the language is quite the same !? It does not make sense, does it? Yogi555 (talk) 19:17, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Let’s not forget “White Russian.” Of course these all mean the same thing, but there are some differences in usage, specifically diachronically (i.e., chiefly historical, dated, since 1991, or whatever). The word means “of Belarus” (which is the “land of the Belarusians”), regardless of whether we are referring to the Middle Ages or the 21st century. The dictionary definition is not dependent on who sits in office or the location of the customs shed. Michael Z. 2013-11-18 19:59 z

Some background: The names of the former Soviet republics and their place names is a topic of ongoing debates in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc. Belorussia (Bielorussia) became Belarus at about the same time the Ukraine lost "the" and became Ukraine, Moldavia - Moldova, Kirgizya - Kyrgyzstan. In Russian, instead of "на Украине" (in Ukraine) "в Украине" was preferred by Ukrainian nationalists - they wanted Russians to refer to Ukraine in this way. Cities of Ukraine, Belarus were known in the world by their Russian names - Kharkov (Харьков), Lvov (Львов) (Ukraine), Gomel (Гомель), Borisov (Борисов) (Belarus). After the break-up of the Soviet Union, the native languages were used to transliterate into English - Kharkiv (Харків), Lviv (Львів), Homel (Гомель, same spelling in Cyrillic), Barysaw (Барысаў). Russian names of the cities haven't changed, they're still called Харьков, Львов, Гомель (same as Belarusian), Борисов and they can't change due to the grammar and the way Slavic languages work. E.g. in Polish Kharkiv and Lviv are called Charków and Lwów, before and now. Similarly, Ukrainian and Belarusian names of Russian places didn't change, again it's grammar and spelling rules. For the West, unlike ex-USSR and Slavic countries, there is not much difference between Belarus or B(i)elorussia, there is no cultural or gramatical problem. If the country is called Belarus, then the derivative is also Belarusian. Belarus was only known as part of Russia (even though the country was called the Soviet Union). There was much more focus on Belarus after it has become independent. Belarus requested most countries to call it so, to match "Беларусь". In Russia, new names were introduced - Молдова, Кыргызстан and Беларусь, which were not accepted by the majority who continued to use Молдавия, Киргизия and Белоруссия. At some stage, when Russian-Belarusian relations were good, Belarusian government asked Russia to use "Беларусь" and it was even announced that it was the preferred name. Russian purists and nationalists rejected this request, saying it was illiterate, didn't follow Russian orthography and the derived demonyms (белорус, белоруска, белорусский). Estonia requested that Таллин (Tallinn) should be spelled Таллинн, which was also rejected, even though Russian speaking Belarusians now use Беларусь, Russians in Estonia use Таллинн. It's a long topic, most of the arguments are driven by nationalism with no flexibility. English seems to be more flexible in adopting changes in the name. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 22:21, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Be noted: The most amazing thing about this adjective is that after 1991, the spelling of the adjectives: белорусский (Rus) беларускi (Bel) did not change either in Russian or in Belorussian languages (both of them are official in Belarus today!!!). Not a single letter has been changed. As to the English and some other languages they have gone further than the Russian and Belorussian languages. Yogi555 (talk) 07:40, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

It's not that English is more flexible, it's just that English speakers as a whole don't have much of a connection with that part of the world and therefore couldn't care less about what countries are called, whereas in Russia, people who lived their whole lives calling their neighbor Белоруссия are not inclined to give up old habits and start calling it Беларусь. If Mexico decided to change its official English name to Mehico, think how many English speakers would be willing to suddenly start calling it that. --WikiTiki89 22:48, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Agreed that it's hard to give up old habits but "Беларусь" is more friendly towards Belarus than Белоруссия, same with Молдова/Молдавия, Кыргызстан/Киргизия, Башкортостан/Башкирия, Татарстан/Татария, Таллинн/Таллин. Not that this word is completely alien to Russians, especially now that most citizens of Belarus prefer this name. Renaming happens all the time and a dozen of cities have changed their name to pre-1917 revolution names. It's OK to change names when the speakers want it so much. Peking was renamed to Beijing because the Chinese wanted so, despite all habits. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 23:17, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
I still hear Ленинград quite frequently. I'm not saying that renaming doesn't happen, just that it takes more time in areas that have close ties than in places halfway around the world. --WikiTiki89 23:29, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
They must live in the past, especially those who emigrated long ago. Ленинград was often called Питер even in the Soviet times. However, "Ленинградская область" is the name of the oblast around St Petersburg, excluding the city itself. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 01:24, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Dear colleagues, let's discuss the adjective, but not the noun. The spelling of the adjectives: белорусский (Rus) беларускi (Bel) did not change either in Russian or in Belorussian languages (both of them are official in Belarus today!). Not a single letter has been changed in the adjective in both languages of the country. As to the English language and some others they have gone further than the Russian and Belorussian languages and devised a new form of the adjective. Why? —This unsigned comment was added by Yogi555 (talkcontribs).

I'll repeat what Hyarmendacil (talkcontribs) told you: Wiktionary is descriptivist and not prescriptivist. The term exists is used and is recorded here and it's only natural to form adjectives from nouns - Belarusian = Belarus + ian. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 13:20, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
It’s not exactly a change in spelling. Clearly, English publications stopped using the romanized Russian name and started using the Belarusian one. Specifically, following the wishes of the Belarusian state in 1991 (according to w:Belarus#Etymology).
The “native” English name would be White Russia – it hasn’t changed, but it is far too long out of fashion for anyone to care about it. Michael Z. 2013-11-26 20:18 z
AFAIK, Bielorussia was the most common English name before 1991. Weißrussland, Vitryssland and similar calques were more common in other Germanic languages. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 21:35, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
It is a change in spelling. The Russian words Белору́сский (Belorússkij) and Беларуский (Belaruskij) and the Belorussian word Белару́скі (Bjelarúski) are all pronounced identically to the point that hearing one of these words alone would not allow anyone to determine whether the speaker is speaking Russian or Belarusian, nor which spelling speaker is using. This is because they are the same word, only Belorussian adopted a phonetic orthography.
Also, I wouldn't call White Russia a "native" name, as it is merely a calque of Белору́ссия (Belorússija). --WikiTiki89 20:27, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Note that original poster's point was that Russian adjective is still белору́сский (belorússkij) - unchanged, despite dual Russian names: Белару́сь (Belarúsʹ) (preferred by Belarusians of any ethnicity) and Белору́ссия (Belorússija) (preferred by most Russians), the former considered a borrowing from Belarusian. The forms in Russian белару́ский (belarúskij) or белару́сский (belarússkij), which would more correct grammatically, seem to exist on the web but I don't think they are considered standard by anyone, linguists cringe at them. The adjectives are in lower case, of course. The form Белару́сь (Belarúsʹ) was known to Russians because of the tractors Белару́с (earlier Белару́сь. Бе́лая Русь (Bélaja Rusʹ) ("White Rus") is a poetic term used in both Russia and Belarus for a long time, further popularised by a song famous Belarusian band Pesniary (Песняры́) (in Russian). --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 21:14, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
The Belarusian parliament didn’t phone everybody, they published a written declaration. It wouldn’t matter if the Russian name Belorussiya and Belarusian Belarus’ did sound the same. The adjectives Belorussian and Belarusian are English descendants of the two different foreign borrowings.
Interesting to compare the usage of the nouns and adjectives, in Google Trends. The official name of the state overwhelms the historical forms. But it looks like some people are still familiar with the old adjective, and are gradually adopting the new one.
It is trends like this that this dictionary is documenting. Any theory about the “right” name is only significant as long as the speakers and writers of the language ascribe to it. Michael Z. 2013-11-26 20:43 z


I am studying beginners' Arabic and suck at it. Why doesn't this word end in the letter noon (N), since the English transliteration does? Equinox 13:35, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

See w:Nunation. The final n is supplied by a diacritic, rather than a letter. Chuck Entz (talk) 15:45, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
See also ـً (an) (fatḥa tanwīn) - on some computers it's not easy to use the link I've given, Arabic diacritics act a bit strange. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 06:43, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Another question: in أتكلم (atakallam, I speak), why is the alif-lam ligature not used? Can this not be used when it's a double-lla? Equinox 14:40, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

Because there's no alif. You have to realize that, as far as the writing system is concerned, waw and alif are consonants, not vowels: w and the glottal stop, respectively. Arabic writing, in theory, only has letters for consonants, though in practice there are exceptions where the consonant actually represents a vowel. Nunation is an example where a consonant is unwritten, as if it were a vowel. These are things you just have to learn, which is what the diacritics are for. Arabic is not one of those languages that you can read out loud without knowing the language- it's more of a reminder of what words are to be supplied than a complete representation of the sounds. The diacritics are the work-around for that, but they aren't used in most actual text outside of educational material. Chuck Entz (talk) 16:17, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Arabic alif has several uses. It can be the bearer of hamza (the hamza isn’t always written), which is a consonant; initial alif is usually the alif al-wasli, or liaison (it can be pronounced if it is in a position, such as the beginning of a phrase, where a vowel is necessary, since Arabic words cannot begin with a consonant cluster...but more often it is just a silent placeholder, and the vowel you hear is the final vowel of the preceding word); otiose alif is a calligraphic device used to emphasize certain personal endings of the verb, and it is not pronounced; and, most commonly, the alif of prolongation, which is like our macron...it indicates that the inherent vowel of the preceding consonant is long (the alif of prolongation is associated with the vowel fatHa, so it indicates a long ā. If the alif of prolongation is absent, it is a short a. In atakallam, all of the vowels are short, so there is no place for the alif of prolongation. If you put it, then you would have atakallām. In final position, as in شكرا, it may be the accusative with nunation (if a word in the accusative case, i.e., that needs a fatHa, is nunated and does not end in a taa marbuuTa or hamza, then it requires an alif to carry the nunation): شكراً —Stephen (Talk) 06:51, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
True, alif is not a vowel, not even a consonant but a seat for hamza but in the middle position it works as a long vowel "ā". --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 06:43, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
The more of this sort of discussion I see, the less bad about myself I feel for not getting Arabic orthography, and the more grateful I am that my native language is English, where the orthography is always regular and predictable. --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 07:01, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
...English, where the orthography is always regular and predictable.
LOL Perhaps you might be surprised to hear that English orthography is one of the least regular and predictable. Not only do letters not predict sound, but you can't tell where the tonic accent (stress) goes, either. A classic example that bedevils learners of English as a foreign language is the pronunciation of words containing -ough-. Even German spelling is much more regular than English, Spanish even more so, and Hungarian almost completely so. Mathglot (talk) 11:57, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Okay, never mind. You didn't include a sarcasm smiley, so I didn't read you correctly. Please ignore my previous remark! ;-) Mathglot (talk) 12:01, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

"realtor" pronounced with schwa between L &T in their ad![edit]

   There's a 15 or 30 second ad running on TV, from the Realtors' association, that clearly pronounces a vowel between the consecutive consonants. ree-luh-tor.
   Any reading on whether this reflects incompetent oversight twd their advertising agency, or some kind of strategy??
--Jerzyt 04:20, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

In the U.S., realtor is frequently mispronounced /ˈɹiləɾɚ/, generally by the same people who pronounce nuclear nucyular. Some may think of them more as dialectal differences, but I have always considered them common mispronunciations. —Stephen (Talk) 06:21, 18 November 2013 (UTC)


A native speaker - Mahmudmasri (talkcontribs) doubts that توبوت or تابوة (in alternative forms) are Arabic words. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 22:33, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

It seemed fishy to me too. Especially the second one (تابوة). --WikiTiki89 22:50, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
They are very archaic forms of the word that's why you haven't seen them before. Look here http://ejtaal.net/aa/#HW4=132,HW3=117,LL=1_358,LS=2,HA=81,SG=212,BR=163,PR=32,AAN=96,VI=92,MGF=140,UQW=209,UMR=169,UMS=124,UMJ=98,HW4_HIDE Rakkalrast (talk) 23:03, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Moved from Talk:تابوت

I have never encountered توبوت (táwbūt) or تابوة (tābūh). Are they even Arabic? --Mahmudmasri (talk) 21:16, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

These questions may not be visible to other users. You can use {{rfv}} to request verification of terms (if not verified, they will be deleted) or {{rft}} to request derived forms, alternatives, etc. I'll do it this time and you can observe the changes. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 22:33, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, we tend not to use talk pages as much as Wikipedia does. --WikiTiki89 22:49, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
They are very archaic forms of the word that's why you haven't seen them before. Look here http://ejtaal.net/aa/#HW4=132,HW3=117,LL=1_358,LS=2,HA=81,SG=212,BR=163,PR=32,AAN=96,VI=92,MGF=140,UQW=209,UMR=169,UMS=124,UMJ=98,HW4_HIDE Rakkalrast (talk) 23:00, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Would you please give me the number of the page? I can't seek all the infinite pages in the link :( --Mahmudmasri (talk) 00:16, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
After tirelessly searching:
I'm not sure what does the CḲ mean, but, that sequence is the etymology of the word, not other forms. They should be listed under other section, not the generic Arabic section. --Mahmudmasri (talk) 00:52, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Plural of Maddah[edit]

I'm not precisely sure what the plural of maddah would be. My best guess would be maddahs, but that still seems incorrect to me. Воображение (talk) 04:32, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

maddahs is correct. Unless you use the Arabic plural, which could possibly be spelled maddat, maddaat, or maddāt; or unless you spell the singular madda, in which case the plural would be maddas. --WikiTiki89 04:40, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

exprimo vs squeeze[edit]

Squeeze lists exprimere as meaning ‘applying pressure from two or more directions at once’. Given how exprimere is built up, that sounds odd to me.

If the translation is correct, please provide a citation and please indicate if this was the most common word to use in this sense.

I've consulted a few dictionaries, and it looks like exprimo means "to squeeze out". A better translation for "squeeze" would be comprimo. I've edited squeeze accordingly. Mr. Granger (talk) 01:39, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Romansch, Romansh[edit]

There are a lot of ways to spell Romans(c)h (the Romance language whose speakers call their language ruma(u)ntsch). On my talk page, Hekaheka has pointed out that although Romansch is currently the lemma and the spelling used as the language's name in entries (see Category:Romansch language), Romansh gets more Google hits and is the name used by the ISO. I have countered that Google counts are unreliable and the situation on Google Books is ambiguous at best; the unsmoothed data suggests that the two spellings are about as common, except that Romansch enjoyed an ~80 year period of higher popularity, whereas Romansh spiked a couple of times (once in 1860, once in 1980). (Smoothing the data makes their waveform-like oscillation of which one is on top more apparent.) would anyone else like to weigh in on which spelling we should use? Feel free to treat "which entry should be the lemma?" and "which spelling should be used in L2s?" as separate questions. - -sche (discuss) 15:51, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Changing doesn’t seem necessary in this case. Who is our primary Romansch contributor? — Ungoliant (Falai) 16:08, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Just looking at the period since World War II it seems Romansh (the spelling I've always used in English myself) is slightly more common in modern times, though the two spellings are neck-and-neck most of the time. I personally prefer the c-less spelling in English, but not strongly enough to make an issue out of it. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:25, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
While there's no final truth, let's look what the lemmings do:
  • Dictionaries presenting the two forms as equal: Collins, MacMillan, Dictionary.com, FreeDicyionary (3)
  • Dictionaries preferring Romansh: Merriam-Webster Online, Wikipedia, Farlex FreeDictionary, American Heritage, Vocabulary.com, Compact OED, Infoplease, Online Etymology Dict., Rhymezone, Webster's 1828, Mnemonic Dictionary, LookWAYup (12)
  • Dictionaries preferring Romansch: Webster's New World, Online Plain Text Dictionary, Webster's 1913 (3)
  • Dictionaries merely citing or copying other dictionaries: Wordnik, AllWords (2)
  • Collins displays a trend graph, according to which Romansh is on the rise and Romansch is on the decline
Then, let's look what the Swiss do:
  • The official website of the canton of Graubünden or Grison [4], in which Romansch/Romansh is spoken, uses the form Romansh.
  • Swissinfo.ch [5], the International Service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation uses Romansh
-sche already mentioned ISO 693 [6], which has chosen to use Romansh. To be fair, I need to add that Ethnologue.com [7] uses Romansch. I would conclude that there's at least some grounds for a change of the lemma. --Hekaheka (talk) 23:41, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Based on Hekaheka's comprehensive scientific research, I would support changing both our lemma forma and language name to "Romansh". --WikiTiki89 23:45, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Also supported. A few additional points:
  • Firstly, the Wikipedia article Romansh language uses Romansh for the main topic (and includes a parenthetical list of alternate names in the body) so for consistency's sake, wouldn't that be almost decisive?
  • More dictionaries weigh in:
  • American Heritage 1968 has: " Romansch, Also Romansh ". (American Heritage New College Edition)
  • NOAD 2001 uses Romansh (New Oxford American Dictionary).
  • Webster's 1956 has: " Romansh, Romansch ". (Webster's New International Dictionary, 2nd ed. Unabridged)
  • Romansh doesn't have a single recognized standard, and the print and spoken languages are not completely in sync. For example, I have two copies of Le Petit Prince translated into two different dialects of this language. My copy of Rumauntsch Puter - Romanisch: Ein Kleiner Sprachführer für den Alltag (in German) lists five major varieties of Romansh, which exactly match the ones listed in the Wikipedia article.
  • > Then, let's look what the Swiss do:. Why? What the Swiss do should be irrelevant to an English Wikipedia. We're not going to change our article on the country to "Schweiz" just because that's what they (some of them) call it, or the one on Germany to "Deutschland". We should concentrate on what it's properly called in English. Now, the fact that the Graubünden site has an English version--should their word choice carry some weight with us because it's in English, or not? Answer, it depends: if the English was composed by some translation company in Brussels from a French or German original written in Graubünden, then very likely not, as translators are poorly paid and don't exactly have time to track down native-English speaking linguistic experts in minority Swiss languages. The translator probably did a Google search like everybody else. We could maybe email and ask where they got the English word from.
  • But rather than look at that, we should go with the consensus of informed English speakers do, if there is such a consensus. Dictionaries ought to reflect that, but there appears to be a lot of disagreement. Even at Linguistlist, the list of languages in Switzerland shows Romansh in the table under Language Name, multiple spellings to the right under Alternate Names, and clicking the Romansh link there takes you to Multitree where they spell it Romansch.
  • If there's no consensus even among experts, can we kick the can back to Wikipedia, let them fight it out, and then just do whatever they do? And if they've been stable for a while, let's just go with that. So, Romansh.
Mathglot (talk) 11:38, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I think what Hekaheka meant by what the Swiss do, is what the Swiss do in English. --WikiTiki89 13:53, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I used Romansch for a long time because I thought that was more correct, and because that's what the lemma is here, but then I've noticed a lot of at least modern documents in English tend to use Romansh, but it varies a lot. Finally, as others have stated, Wikipedia seems to use Romansh now for their main entry. Since Wiktionary is its sister project and often links to it, shouldn't these two be consistent or standardized in this respect? It doesn't personally matter to me all that much, though. Word dewd544 (talk) 08:33, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
What the Swiss do in English is irrelevant, because they don't have native competency. Mathglot (talk) 10:37, 26 November 2014 (UTC)


The following transitive uses are completely unfamiliar to me. Are they archaic? Rare? Incorrect?

For his great deeds respond his speeches great.
The prisoner was held to respond the judgment of the court. 18:18, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

his turned temples[edit]

Added a quote to campion, a stanza of G.M.Hopkins; since I'd first read it, it's still puzzles me what's the meaning of the word "turned" there. Any thoughts?

    • 1878, Gerard Manley Hopkins, The Furl of fresh-leaved dogrose down
      Then over his turnèd temples—here—
      Was a rose, or, failing that,
      Rough-Robin or five-lipped campion clear
      For a beauty-bow to his hat
I imagine that GMH wanted four syllables {"turnéd temples") instead of two ("turned head"), though he actually may have meant to more specifically place the rose. DCDuring TALK 12:25, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I suspect it means something like "sculpted" (i.e. well shaped). See the sense at turn relating to shaping something symmetrically on a lathe. Equinox 13:16, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
As he was a poet, not a woodworker, that might be. Turning doesn't make concave shapes like the hollow at one's temples, it only makes round shapes.
There is a sense, extended from the lathe sense, in Webster 1913: "Hence, to give form to; to shape; to mold; to put in proper condition; to adapt.": exemplified by this, from Alexander Pope: His limbs how turned, how broad his shoulders spread. I would not expect this to find this much used in current English, except in poetry imitative of 19th century style, in further derived senses, and in collocations that are almost set phrases like a "well-turned phrase" and the curiously ambiguous "well-turned ankle". DCDuring TALK 14:27, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank, you, Equinox and DCDuring! I would never had guessed. --CopperKettle (talk) 04:18, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

English pronunciation of "Bayern"?[edit]

Just idly wondering: Does Bayern (as in FC Bayern, the German association football club) rhyme with iron, even in rhotic accents?

It's often hard to predict how foreign names will end up when Anglicised in pronunciation – I wish Wikipedia had more Anglicised pronunciation guides for foreign names. These would be helpful for native English speakers too, especially when they are not only in IPA but also our respelling system. Original pronunciations are of course important but realistically speaking, many if not most English speakers (unless they are unusually apt at pronouncing the language in question, or even non-English languages in general) will find it very difficult to reproduce non-English pronunciations even roughly in many cases, whether they are presented with IPA, respelling or even a sound file. (Of course that isn't a problem specific to Anglophones. Analogically, German, French, Spanish etc. approximations would be helpful in the respective language versions.) Most Wikipedians seem to be too myopically focussed on native foreign pronunciations to think of the abilities and needs of the average reader: No German native speaker will bat an eyelash if a foreigner simply says [ˌdʒəʊsəf ˈgʌbɫz] (rhyming with doubles) or [ˈgɛbɫz] (rhyming with pebbles) or even [ˈgɜːbɫz], without even an attempt to reproduce the subtleties of German pronunciation (which vary regionally and idiolectally anyway): the worst that can happen is that the German native speaker will be momentarily stumped by Joseph Gerbils, even though the magic of context will usually likely prevent this kind of mishap. So what does it hurt to add gerr-bəlz (as long as it is made clear that this is not the native pronunciation)? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:55, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

I don't see what rhoticism has anything to do with this. The only question here is whether people are more likely to pronounce it /baɪ.ə(ɹ)n/ (i.e. rhyming with iron) or /beɪ.ə(ɹ)n/. Personally, I would go with the latter, but I'm not sure about English speakers who don't know much about German. --WikiTiki89 00:34, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Florian can correct me if I'm misunderstanding, but I think the point about rhoticism is that the closest approximation of the standard German pronunciation ([ˈbaɪ̯ɐn]) that uses only English phonemes is /ˈbaɪən/. That is the only approximation one would expect in non-rhotic accents; the question is: would rhotic accents also use that pronunciation, and so rhyme Bayern with Mayan, or would they insert rhoticism, and rhyme Bayern with iron?
As for /beɪ.ə(ɹ)n/ ... I suppose people who had never heard Bayern before might pronounce it that way, but I don't think "how people who've never heard certain words before guess they might be pronounced" is helpful information. (Certainly, it's not information we should include in our entries... although it would make pages like [[sovereign]] more entertaining!)
Poking around Youtube, I can find some interviews where people mention FC Bayern in English, e.g. this video (41 second mark). However, I don't pay enough attention to football to know if the narrator of that video is actually German or English. - -sche (discuss) 04:58, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Then the answer is that people with rhotic accents generally don't bother approximating non-rhotic accents. This even causes some interesting pronunciations such as the use of /ɝ/ for for French and German /ø/ or /œ/, which makes sense in a non-rhotic accent as /ɜ(ː)/ is fairly close to that sound. --WikiTiki89 13:57, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree with -sche that the way any of the populations of English speakers pronounce an unfamiliar word does not help normal users and thus does not belong in an entry. I'm fairly sure that speakers:
  1. try to avoid pronouncing such words (eg, by using circumlocutions like "the German team", "the team in the red")
  2. imitate the pronunciation heard and remembered
  3. pronounce "as spelled", following usual English patterns, unless they can guess at the pattern of the origin language, if they know what that language is, or some generic "foreign" or "European" pattern.
And the choice is influenced by the audience.
This would yield a large number of conceivable pronunciations. On what defensible basis would we justify excluding any of the pronunciations? How would we collect them all? DCDuring TALK 14:44, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree; to poke at a word I'm more familiar with, quinceañera, at least here in Las Vegas, I suspect all the English speakers who are frequent users are also either Spanish speakers or English speakers who had a Spanish coworker repeat it until one of them said "Ok, close enough."--Prosfilaes (talk) 20:13, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Clearly some (frequently used, especially when taught at school, and with a long tradition) names have established Anglicised pronunciations, just check w:Ludwig van Beethoven, where one is actually given, or w:Vincent van Gogh, where several competing variants are listed in a note (so that's no reason to exclude such information) for the benefit of not only puzzled schoolchildren. (On the other hand, neither w:Corinth nor w:Ancient Corinth give the (distinctly unpredictable) English nor even the Ancient Greek pronunciation, only the Modern Greek. Not good. At least there's Corinth to help out.) I just happen think such approximations (basically, exonyms) are very helpful – more helpful than native pronunciations for many speakers. For an extreme example, see w:Kwakwaka'wakw, where I see a reasonable Anglicisation is actually present now (I've just added the respelling), while people have finally wisened up at w:Squamish people and returned to the exonym. Sḵwx̱wú7mesh was a real eyesore, and a confusing mess: we could as well have articles titles with Chinese characters. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:44, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
But Bayern is spelled Bavaria in traditional established English. I'm not sure why you think the pronunciation for Corinth in English is distinctly unpredictable; as an English speaker, core + in + th or cor + the inth part of labyrinth. (If the r should be /ɹ/; I'm not sure if that's a mistake or if Wiktionary accepts that looseness in English transcription.)--Prosfilaes (talk) 01:21, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
As far as I know, there is still no consensus for /r/ vs /ɹ/ in English for loose phonemic transcriptions. I think most editors prefer /ɹ/, but that's just my impression. I agree that Corinth has a 100% predictable pronunciation. Even Beethoven and van Gogh are pretty predictable. --WikiTiki89 01:30, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
On Wiktionary, standard English 'r' is transcribed /ɹ/, per Wiktionary:Votes/2008-01/IPA for English r. (If you like migraines, see also this follow-up BP discussion.) - -sche (discuss) 09:51, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

English, French, Italian and some other words in German are pronounced the way they are pronounced in the original language or very close. In French and English, the original pronunciation is only retained occasionally, in my observation. French is the luckiest - it's still a fashionable language and often the best known to English speakers after English, Italian and Spanish are followed. German is less lucky. German words with S /z/ (single, in front of vowels), V /f/, W /v/, Z /t͡s/ and J /j/ are usually mispronounced: Salzburg, Volkswagen, Johann, Zeiss, etc. The same problem with vowels and diphthongs. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 05:07, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

To return to the original question, I've always heard BBC reporters pronounce it /ˈbaɪ.ə(ɹ)n/ (depending on the rhoticity of the speaker), so yes, to rhyme with iron. I do find it amusing that they generally call it "Bayern Munich", translating München into English but keeping Bayern in German. I don't know why they don't call it "Bavaria Munich". —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 09:52, 25 November 2013 (UTC)


I'm not sure how to edit this page — so I'd like to note it needs a correction. It incorrectly states that vea is the second-person singular imperative of ver. Rather, vea is the first-person singular imperative of ver.



I don't think there is such a thing as a first person singular imperative in any language. --WikiTiki89 00:38, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
According to Евгений Афанасьевич Кузьменков (Yevgeniy Kuzmenkov), first-person singular imperative forms in Mongolian have a prescriptive/inviting or a prescriptive/appealing function; the first-person singular imperative is described as a wishing form.
véase and véanse are impersonal imperatives, which are third-person forms. —Stephen (Talk) 10:53, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Just looked at véase and véanse...both definitions are incorrect. They have nothing to do with usted and ustedes, they are simply the 3rd-person se. The articles lead one to believe that you choose véase or véanse depending on whether you mean usted or ustedes. This is wrong. The difference in number depends on the number of objects: véase página 6; véanse páginas 6 y 7. Literally, these phrases mean something like this: page 6 lets itself be seen; pages 6 and 7 let themselves be seen. The personal pronoun usted does not enter into it anywhere.
I’m not going to make the changes myself because I refuse to get into an edit war with someone who thinks it means usted/ustedes. —Stephen (Talk) 04:12, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Who would you think you'd be getting into an edit war with? I personally don't know enough Spanish to make the changes myself or I would have already. --WikiTiki89 04:25, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Whoever wrote the current definitions that claim it means usted. I did not check to see who wrote it. I made the changes, but I could not get it to work with {{es-compound of}}. That template does not recognize impersonal imperatives. —Stephen (Talk) 08:16, 24 November 2013 (UTC)


How does the humorous pronunciation "diabeetus" differ from the regular pronunciation of "diabetes"? --Komischn (talk) 09:26, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

The former ends in /-əs/, the latter in /-iz/. —Stephen (Talk) 10:35, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't think it's humorous. It's based on the notion that diabetes must be a Latin word with a -us ending. A similar kind of confusion occurs with the tinnitis misspelling of tinnitus which is based on the common ending for medical terms -itis. DCDuring TALK 01:50, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Most usage I’ve encountered in the wild was humorous. Maybe for some people it can be blamed on the Latin ending, but if this were the sole reason the ee digraph wouldn’t be used. — Ungoliant (Falai) 08:56, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
What Ungoliant said. - -sche (discuss) 09:37, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
This question was cross-posted to the Wikipedia Language Reference Desk. I copy my answer there below:
"Know Your Meme" refers to it as a "mispronunciation" but it isn't. I do think it's a rather old-fashioned pronunciation though, and kids find it amusing to make fun of old folks' pronunciations that are different from their own. Kenyon and Knott lists the "diabeetus" pronunciation first and the "diabeeteez" pronunciation second, but that's a pretty old dictionary with many pronunciations that are now out of date. John C. Wells in the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, 3rd edition (2008) lists "diabeeteez" first for British English, but for American English actually lists "diabeetus" first. But he's British himself and isn't always aware of how American English has changed over the years.
However, I observe we're not really answering the OP's question, namely how the two pronunciations differ. If you go to [8] and click on the loudspeaker icon you can here a pronunciation of the "diabeeteez" pronunciation (in IPA, [daɪəˈbiːtiːz]) and if you go to [9] and click on the loudspeaker icon you can here a pronunciation of the word "Epictetus", which rhymes with the "diabeetus" pronunciation (in IPA [daɪəˈbiːtəs]). You just have to mentally replace the "Epict-" part with "diab-". Since you (OP) are German, you may have trouble hearing the difference between /z/ and /s/ at the end of a word, but you should definitely be able to hear the difference between the /iː/ and the /ə/ in the last syllable. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 11:57, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I think of it as perhaps being more common among older speakers and in more rural parts of the US. The humor comes from making fun of how folks outside your group speak, especially if they also have different values. DCDuring TALK 12:39, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you all. --Komischn (talk) 12:44, 26 November 2013 (UTC)


I'm disputing the Usage Note for littler as it concerns the comparative and superlative forms. The current text is based on a 1903 version of the OED. This usage note should be revised to take modern usage into account, which has been evolving over the last century since that was written.

The entry for littler quotes the OED in the Usage Note section, saying that:

"the adjective [little] has no recognized mode of comparison. The difficulty is commonly evaded by resort to a synonym (as smaller, smallest); some writers have ventured to employ the unrecognized forms littler, littlest, which are otherwise confined to dialect or imitations of childish or illiterate speech."

It's true that the OED does contain this, and it is quotted correctly. The problem is, that although this was copied from the current, online edition, the entry is from the 1903 print edition, and they haven't gotten around to updating this entry since then. (If you know the OED and how it works, you won't be surprised at this.)

You can view the entry directly at oed.com if you have a login there, otherwise, you can get to the article by logging in to your own public library using your personal library card, go to their Articles and Databases section, find Oxford English Dictionary, and use the link found there. (Most major libraries have access, check with a reference librarian if you can't get to it.)

However, other, more recent sources paint a somewhat different picture, which also seems to be changing over time:

Websters (1956) has:

lit'tle (lĭt'l) adj. LIT'TLER (-lẽr); LIT'TLEST; both chiefly dial. or familiar, comparison being regularly made by LESS or LESSER, LEAST, except in some special applications.

-- Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Ed. Unabridged (1956)

American Heritage (1969) says,

lit·tle (lĭt'l) littler or less (lĕs) (especially for senses 2, 3, 4), littlest or least (lēst) (especially for senses 2, 3, 4)

1. small, or smaller in comparison. 2. short in extent or duration, brief: little time. 3. Small in quantity or degree: little money. 4. Unimportant; trivial; insignificant; little trouble.

{Five other definitions follow.} --American Heritage Dictionary, New College Dictionary, 1969

Bryan Garner, MAU (1998) says:

littler; littlest. These forms--the comparative and superlative for little--are perfectly good, although some writers have gotten the odd idea that they're not.

Modern American Usage, 1998 edn., Bryan Garner

Based on many examples I've used over the years, I've come to trust Garner's command, data, and instincts about many issues of usage, over other references I have or am familiar with.

NOAD (2001):

NOAD has a long section, starting with the adjective (lit·tle |'litl| adj. ) and omits the comparative and superlative, which by the rules of this dictionary means the forms are regular--i.e., littler, littlest. Following that, it lists the adverb, not duplicating the headword ('little') because it's the same, but adding the other forms, because they're irregular:

adv. (less |les|, least |lēst| ) to a small extent: he reminded me a little of my parents.

--New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2001.

Rather than copying everything here into the topic, I'd suggest that a new Usage note be crafted to replace the current one, saying something about how littler, littlest used to be frowned upon long ago, and that although there is not complete unanimity on the topic, this has been evolving and is on its way to full acceptance and has already achieved it in some quarters. Along with references, perhaps, or a Talk page article reproducing some or all of the discussion above. Mathglot (talk) 10:17, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Speaking as a data point, my own (native, aging) feel for the word says that it is somewhat childish, not wrong.
Speaking as an analyst, we need to reflect the fact the littler has just 0.03% of the usage that little has, whereas smaller has 16.9% of the usage that small has at COCA. (About 20% of the usage of littler was actually of Littler as a proper name and about 2% of the usage of small was actually of Small, which give littler an even (?)littler relative frequency.) Littler also appears to be on a modest downtrend relative to smaller, based on the COHA corpus.
We try to describe usage rather than prescribe it. We also try to avoid long usage notes, but we sometimes report word usage frequencies when their import is readily understood. DCDuring TALK 14:21, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for that comment, your data seem persuasive at first glance. I'm all for descriptivism, and your comparison of two feature pairs is the right way to do it of course, since in isolation the counts mean nothing. However, the choice of 'small'--a one syllable adjective--to compare with 'little' is not the best choice imho to prove something about the relative prevalence of littler, as given the English rules for forming the comparative, the proportion of smaller::small will of course be far greater than littler::little.
The rest of what I have to say is really addressed more to the general case of deciding such questions like this one, as the littler entry in no way deserves this level of analysis, and furthermore I don't really care how that page turns out. But I think there are some lessons here that could be helpful in the general case, going forward. So I'll continue here, using littler more as an illustration, as a platform for the discussion of the larger topic of using SE hit counts for analyzing frequency, rather than specifically directed at the content of the littler page. (If I should move this to somewhere else, please tell me where.) So, carrying on:
I'm not sure stopping at bigram frequency goes quite far enough here, and I had some question on the queries and numbers. However, as your values seem to lean almost three orders of magnitude in one direction, it seemed very likely that your conclusion was the right one, even if minor tweaking here and there might affect the numbers somewhat, so at the outset I was content with your conclusion. But I didn't stop there, and found some interesting results which I'm preparing for exposition later.
COCA is a much larger repository than the ground-breaking Brown corpus (which is where I started off, so perhaps we're contemporary) and permits some good analysis with unigram and bigram frequency counts, as you have shown. The question here is, whether there is anything further to be gained from inspecting trigrams and four-grams, or will it merely jigger the numbers a bit and still confirm the same result. For rare glosses or higher n-grams, the COCA corpus may not be sufficient. So, whereas "more little" has 93 hits in COCA for example and "more small" has 135, there are no hits at all for "is more little than", "is more small than", or "more small than", while "is littler than" has just one hit. Even bigram "littler than" has only 8. If higher n-grams are needed, then these numbers are just too low to work with to draw a reliable conclusion. And I believe they are needed, for reasons I will show presently. COCA is still minuscule compared to the size of the Web and to illustrate my point further, I'll move to using search engine hit counts. (COCA apparently has a 155G-word database from Google books, but I don't know how to access that, and that's still minuscule, relatively speaking.)
I'll have more later. Mathglot (talk) 07:26, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I stopped because the ratios were so different and because the next steps in improving the validity of the comparison would more than the PoS tagging of COCA could support and more than the amount of effort I was willing to put in for a better analysis. For example, we would need to exclude all usage of little as adverb and, especially, as determiner. I suppose I could make an estimate based on a sample of a hundred or two at COCA.
Using Google's counts is very unreliable. I think Google NGrams are better. DCDuring TALK 12:56, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, stopping made sense; I alluded to that also, as this entry just isn't worth this amount of effort. However, I think the effort might be worthwhile, if there is a general point to be made here. Whether that's the case, remains to be seen. Agree also about SE counts being unreliable--or rather, the raw counts themselves are fairly reliable (modulo SE query rewrite rules that aren't visible) but the conclusions associated with them aren't. That is, I think it's not the counts that are unreliable, but the conclusions that one draws based on improperly chosen queries. For example: in a Google search site:us "more little" we get 167k results, but a manual inspection of the first 50 results shows zero cases of a comparative form, so the comparison or ratio with hit count for "smaller" vs. "littler" is unfair, as except for the proper name, a higher proportion of "littler" hits are actually comparatives. A better search comparison is a 4-gram: site:us "is more little than" resulting in 5 hits all of which are comparatives, vs. site:us "is littler than" (the first 25 at least of which are comparatives), which seem less likely to be confused with adverbs, proper names, or other false positives. (They, of course, fail to include all comparatives, but hopefully they're representative.) The COCA bigrams suffer from the same problem, though I haven't inspected all 93 "more little"s in the database, scanning the list reveals entries like There's just one more little detail about Eudocia that I forgot or Columbo-like, Just one more little thing. I saw no cases of a definitive comparative till I got bored and stopped. That's where the 4-grams seem unambiguous to me, but force the switch to a larger db, such as Google. More later. Mathglot (talk) 09:08, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
(From the UK) In my book, "littler" and "littlest" are without question non-standard. They tend to have a childish or "deliberately wrong" feel. 03:33, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
(also from the UK) Despite the OED and the opinions of those versed in "proper English", the comparative and superlative are very common in British dialects. I agree that I wouldn't use them in formal written English. Dbfirs 08:43, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

air commodore[edit]

I created this entry (as well as a few others for the rest of the ranks of commissioned officers in the UK RAF and then realised that there is an entry for Air Commodore. I am not sure whether I should request the deletion of one of the two entries, or whether I should use a redirection for one of the two. In both cases, which one is the entry that should be kept? The lower or upper case? Jenniepet (talk) 19:29, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

At least English wikipedia uses the lower case so it is an alternative form and both should be kept. In that case the translation, definitions etc. should probably go either to the entry first created or the one most in use in order to avoid duplication. Matthias Buchmeier (talk) 20:55, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Air Commodore Leonard Joseph Birchall is a proper name with a title, but the subject of three air commodores walked into a bar is a common noun. So the main entry should be in lowercase. Michael Z. 2013-11-21 21:52 z
I agree with Michael. We should also move Lieutenant General, and probably Air Chief Marshal. - -sche (discuss) 22:24, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Update: I have moved Lieutenant General, Air Commodore and Air Vice Marshal. - -sche (discuss) 22:34, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
By the way, we should not use the abbreviation RAF in our definitions. It's better to write it out as Royal Air Force. --WikiTiki89 23:22, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! I guess now I remove the tearoom tag from the page? Jenniepet (talk) 00:00, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Sure. :) - -sche (discuss) 09:29, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Caaba, Kaaba, Ka'ba[edit]

Based on this Google Ngram and on my personal experience, I think the lemma form of this word should be changed to Kaaba. --WikiTiki89 02:03, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

I agree. - -sche (discuss) 09:21, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Done. --WikiTiki89 17:44, 9 December 2013 (UTC)


I just added some synonyms to circumlocutory (the entries of which all need cleanup and expansion), but I am now wondering whether these are actually all synonyms of each other. In particular, circumlocutionary has some decent defs which don't quite match the others.

I wonder also if periphrastic could be considered a synonym? This, that and the other (talk) 09:07, 22 November 2013 (UTC)


One of the senses of this word is "A cautionary tale about overconfidence." Is that a non-gloss definition, or a substitutable definition? (Can I get a usex?) Is that sense attested at all? I wasn't sure whether to list this sense here, on RFC, or on RFV, or on all three... listing it here seemed like a good first step. - -sche (discuss) 04:50, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Maybe something like a disaster or an unexpected disaster. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:26, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Allusion to the Titanic is common. And the overconfident belief that the ship was unsinkable is probably what folks most commonly focus on when drawing lessons. We have rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic, which owes part of one interpretation of its meaning to the assumption that the Titanic was unsinkable.
I don't think a bare allusion makes for a good entry. But otherwise inexplicable use of Titanic in dialog might be found. What else would make for a good citation for such an allusion-based definition? DCDuring TALK 15:18, 24 November 2013 (UTC)


Superlative of charming. Um, seems unlikely to me. Perhaps there's a nonstandard adjective charm? Mglovesfun (talk) 12:11, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Awful citations, e.g. "Meanwhile you follow this rules, Titi will be the charmest friend youl have." Clearly an error by non-native speakers. Equinox 14:12, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
The other citations seem surprisingly good. It's hard to see this as part of anything close to a main line of English. Could there be some kind of pidgin English in which this formation occurs? DCDuring TALK 15:04, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Can't we delete the "Meanwhile you follow this rules..." example? Even if "charmest" is a valid word, which would certainly be a surprise to me, the linked text is littered with errors of English and surely cannot be a valid source for anything. 18:19, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
Treating this like an rfv, there's one example in Books that looks like it might be a nonce word here (it's a book of German and English poetry), one in pseudo-archaic poetry here, one in an Italian journal here, and a few in Groups here, here, and here. Aside from the pseudo-archaic poetry example, they all are by people who are, if not bilingual, at least bicultural. I agree that the "Meanwhile you follow this rules" one isn't an example for English, since the writer obviously isn't quite fluent, and might be trying to represent the Ferengi as speaking in broken English. It looks to me like a very rare variant that arises when people who don't know the correct superlative are guessing what it might be- in other words, a serial protologism. Perhaps we should move this to rfv. Chuck Entz (talk) 19:54, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

matriarchy and related wording[edit]

The following two passages, with editing, is from a recent revision of the English Wikipedia's matriarchy article and I offer them here in case they're useful, since I don't know enough to validate them or to edit Wiktionary for this content and would rather that other editor/s considered them. Thanks. Nick Levinson (talk) 18:50, 24 November 2013 (UTC) (Added nowiki elements & deleted unnecessary pronoun and brackets: 18:56, 24 November 2013 (UTC))

Etymologically, matriarchy is from Greek μήτηρ (matēr), 'mother', and -archy (archein), 'to rule'. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word matriarchy is first attested in 1885, building on an earlier matriarch, formed in analogy to patriarch, already in use in the early 17th century. By contrast, gynecocracy (gynæcocracy), meaning 'rule of women', has been in use since the 17th century, building on the Greek word γυναικοκρατία found in Aristotle and Plutarch.<ref>[http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0058%3Aentry%3D%237148 Liddell, Henry George, & Robert Scott, ''An Intermediate Greek–English Lexicon'', entry ''γυναικοκρατία''].</ref><ref>[http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2323035 Liddell, Henry George, & Robert Scott, ''A Greek–English Lexicon'', entry ''γυ^ναικο-κρα^τέομαι''].</ref>

Gynocentrism was simplified by using the reduced prefix gyno- for gynæco-.


We're missing a sense here, possibly UK only, but I can't seem to define it. I think it would mean something along the lines of "an old hand", but that's not quite it. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:15, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Are you sure the meaning isn't related to true blue, in turn derived from a meaning "constant" or "constancy" used by Chaucer because, for some reason, blue was considered the color of "constancy"? Is it related to sacrebleu? DCDuring TALK 19:29, 25 November 2013 (UTC)


A while ago there was a discussion about the prominence of the strange spelling "drempt" at dream. Unfortunately I cannot now locate the discussion, but I just happened across this entry again and it still looks as peculiar as ever. Maybe someone could take another look at it. 03:42, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Did you search for the earlier discussion in "Discussions" when the first search, which only searches entries, failed to yield a result? The only page that mentions drempt is Talk:dream. See this search, which uses a search reachable using the "Search" (not "Go") button under the search box. DCDuring TALK 15:22, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I found it here. Looks like it was deleted. Hmm, that's useful... 18:21, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
We don't normally archive stuff on the Feedback page. Things like this should be discussed here in the Tea Room. Tea Room discussions are then archived on the word's talk page. --WikiTiki89 18:27, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
That they "should be discussed here" is not apparent to the person who responds to the invitation to "leave us a note". 18:30, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
True. Some sensitivity on the part of folks cleaning out the file would be nice, but that converts trivial housekeeping to something more time-consuming. Perhaps a veteran contributor engaged in a discussion on a topic should move a topic worth keeping to WT:Tea room, especially if it needed a broader audience anyway. DCDuring TALK 19:15, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I guess the person deleting it just assumed that it had been resolved. As far as I can recall now, I probably left the discussion also assuming that it would be actioned, based on seeming general consensus. As I say, I still think it looks weird, and anyone referring to that section who didn't already know, and who happened not to spot the note further down the page, would most probably come away thinking that "drempt" was a normal or usual form. 21:02, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
We do not have a good way of showing whether the second item on a list of alternative forms is almost as common as the first (eg, US vs UK spelling) vs. rather uncommon, but not meriting the label "rare". DCDuring TALK 23:21, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I disagree with calling it "eye-dialect". It is just an alternative spelling or a misspelling. I don't think people use it to indicate that someone speaks with a dialect, which eye-dialect implies. --WikiTiki89 01:17, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
You can RfV the sense if you'd like. I believe it could be cited in literary works over the past century in running text with other words that one would consider dialectal or eye-dialect. DCDuring TALK 01:48, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I'll take your word for it. I'm satisfied with the citation that's there (I just didn't look too closely at it before). --WikiTiki89 01:53, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
That citation was formerly at dream, where it contributed to the gross overweighting of the importance of this spelling. I can't tell the scope of the other use, which is a pronunciation spelling, seemingly occurring among the less lettered. DCDuring TALK 02:37, 26 November 2013 (UTC)


"Incorrect second-person singular form of will It was actually wilt." Can someone confirm this? Is this formatted right? Mglovesfun (talk) 13:02, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

I wouldn't be surprised if that was the correct form for the meaning "to want". But the correct form of the future tense auxiliary verb was in fact wilt. --WikiTiki89 13:31, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I've reformatted the entry using our standard templates (to match dost, etc), at least. - -sche (discuss) 20:12, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

merlin - another definition[edit]

The noun "merlin" is correctly defined in Wiktionary as a type of falcon. However, there is a second definition which is missing, which could be stated as follows: Merlin is a protein found in humans which is thought to play a role in cell shape, cell movement, cell communication and tumor suppression.

"The NF2 gene provides instructions for the production of a protein called merlin, also known as schwannomin. This protein is made in the nervous system, particularly in specialized cells that wrap around and insulate nerves (Schwann cells). Merlin is believed to play a role in controlling cell shape, cell movement, and communication between cells. To carry out these tasks, merlin associates with the internal framework that supports the cell (the cytoskeleton). Merlin also functions as a tumor suppressor protein, which prevents cells from growing and dividing too fast or in an uncontrolled way."

Source: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/NF2

I leave it to the community to decide whether it should be added to Wiktionary.

-- 03:31, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

It has enough uses in Google Books, and it seems to be mostly attested as lower-case, so I think we should add it- I just don't know the science well enough to do it right, or I would do it myself. Chuck Entz (talk) 04:02, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Added. SemperBlotto (talk) 08:20, 26 November 2013 (UTC)


Isn't there a UK equivalent of 'fiberize', something like 'fibrise' or 'fibreise'? CokeHanx (talk) 18:21, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

google books:"fibreise" gets a several hits from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. google books:"fibrise" gets hits from both the late 19th and all through the 20th centuries. google books:"fiberise" gets hits mostly from the mid to late 20th century and a couple from 2001. None of them get any Google Ngram results. --WikiTiki89 18:31, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
There is also the form fibreize, which would probably be the primary spelling in Canada. Links: fiberize, fiberise, fibrize, fibrise, fibreise, fibreizeMichael Z. 2013-11-26 20:57 z
None of the variants is even nearly as common as "fiberize", so I would assume that they use that even in the UK and Canada. --WikiTiki89 02:28, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
In the UK it would most often be -ise. 18:36, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
In general, yes. But that does not mean it's always the case with every word. --WikiTiki89 22:05, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
You mean there are clear-cut examples of -ise/-ize words where -ize is more common in modern British English? Such as? 23:54, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't know of any. But you can't just assume, you have to prove it with attestation. --WikiTiki89 23:58, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
  • They all look attestable. They all seem simply alternative forms of the overwhelmingly most common form fiberize, fiberise being indeed the second most common. They are all added as alt forms, the -ise ones as chiefly UK, based on first impressions at Google books. I didn't check to see if any of the variants might be trademarked, but that doesn't seem likely. DCDuring TALK 19:14, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
    google books:"fiberise" gets suspiciously few results, so if you are going to say that it is the second most common, you're gonna have to show some numbers from somewhere. --WikiTiki89 22:05, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
I searched for all four forms of the verbs. In no case were there fewer that 24 raw Books hits. There is the possibility that all or almost all of the hits were for the -ing form (I didn't inspect), which could lead to that being included but not the inferable, but unattestable lemma. I suppose that, for an English verb, if we had all but the lemma form (or 2 out of 4?) attestable we would say the lemma was attested. DCDuring TALK 23:14, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
The lemma is certainly attestable, I just don't see the evidence that it is common or that it is the main form used in the UK. --WikiTiki89 23:22, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
The OED does not record the existence of the word, so I assume that it is very rare in the UK (I've never seen it used, but that's no proof). We tend to avoid the "ization" of nouns, whichever way we spell the ones we have adopted. We would normally just say "shred" or "break down into fibres", so I don't think a standard British spelling exists. Dbfirs 08:31, 28 November 2013 (UTC)


Did "stommy" ever actually exist, as it says it the etymology section? 02:24, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

  • 1859 K.N. Pepper, and other condiments, p.233:
    "Poor Stummy [which playful Term means Stomach], he gits Sick."
  • 1879 The Canadian Monthly vol.2 p527:
    'I like my little stummy,' he had once frankly observed, on being rallied on his devotion to the delicacies of the table.
  • 1896 Exposures of Quackery p.136:
    One little Cowes boy,/ His “stummy” felt so bad;/ Fennings gave him but one dose,/ And that settled the —/ Confound it! Our pen has suddenly become prosaic again; neither “ stomach-ache” nor “ bowel complaint ” will rhyme to “bad,” and we ...

-- Catsidhe (verba, facta) 03:22, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Well it seems like it was actually spelled "stummy", not "stommy". I've corrected such in the etymology section. 23:47, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
I've included it as its own lemma and added it in the appropriate places in tummy and stomach. --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 00:38, 29 November 2013 (UTC)


We don't have a definition for "with plenty of time to spare" on the spare page, do we? --ElisaVan (talk) 10:24, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Isn't it definition 2.3? There is even a quote "All the time he could spare from the necessary cares of his weighty charge..." which seems the same meaning to me. 18:08, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
The wording of the definition isn't very good. We could also use more contemporary usage examples or citations. DCDuring TALK 16:02, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
It would also be nice if one could tell what definition was transitive or intransitive, what was archaic or not etc. It looks like a candidate for significant improvement. We have no place to submit requests for improvements rather than cleanup, so it must not be important to us. DCDuring TALK 16:11, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Prior efforts to structure the entry put semantics before basic syntax (ie, transitivity), which seems to me to make the semantics harder to grasp. Is it ever a good idea to do so? It seems to increase the risk of relying on one's own idiolect as the source of definition wording, which often means using polysemic words, ie, the inherently ambiguous. DCDuring TALK 16:29, 28 November 2013 (UTC)


I noticed something with the "magazine" article that puzzles me. I am not a trained linguist but I do have a small nack for spotting phonetic drifts and root connections between words of different languages. There is such a connection here that does not make sense:

The etymology section indicates magazine has roots from Middle French, Italian, and Arabic.

Certainly the first two sources being both Romance languages and geographically proximate make sense and we are left to try and determine which came first? Alternatively we might ask is there an older common root word? yet to be identified.

The non sequitur arises with the Arabic root. Arabic is not a Romance language yet it is brutally obvious that "maxzan" and "magasin" are phonetically connected and so the which came first? question become much more significant. Is the Middle French borrowing from the Arabic or the other way around? 01:20, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

I'm not an experienced linguist, but I've been surprised by the extent of Arabic influence on European languages. I would expect the influence for names of any civilized object or activity to flow from the Arabs to the Europeans until perhaps the 15th century, but for there to be some flow for items not native to the Arab world in the opposite direction. DCDuring TALK 02:02, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
I can't tell you about the Arabic, but, according to the OED, the Arabic word appeared as a borrowing into Romance languages early in the 13th century (Spanish almacén in 1225; post-classical Latin magazenum in 1228 in a document from Marseilles). It seems that these borrowings were the route to Middle French, but perhaps an expert can comment on this? The French Wiktionary agrees that the word comes from "l’italien magazzino", borrowed from the Arabic "makhâzin". Dbfirs 08:09, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't think there's any non sequitur here: the Wikipedia article Muslim conquests discusses how the Arabic-speaking Muslims got as far as Spain and Southern Italy. Not forgetting peaceful trade on top of that. http://www.cnrtl.fr/etymologie/magasin cites 1389 as the first known usages in French of magasin (in this case maguesin) which we count as Middle French because it's after 1360. The French Wiktionary neglects to say 'borrowed into Middle French' because it's not terribly important. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:44, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, Middle French seems to have acquired the Arabic word from Italian or Mediaeval Latin (rather than from Spanish), and passed it on to modern French and English. I assume that the Arabic is hundreds of years older. Dbfirs 15:08, 29 November 2013 (UTC)


In this New York Times article, Damien Cave asserts that the Spanish noun berrinche ("tantrum") is also used as a noun meaning "one who throws a tantrum"; especially when the tantrum thrower is a person of privilege. My Google searches found no evidence of this usage. Anyone care to corroborate? Ringbang (talk) 15:36, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

I can’t find anything either. — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:54, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. Ringbang (talk) 18:44, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

more oblique[edit]

The entry for "oblique" (adjective) says:

oblique (comparative more oblique, superlative most oblique)
1. Not erect or perpendicular; neither parallel to, nor at right angles from, the base; slanting; inclined.

But what does "more oblique" mean? Does it mean more nearly parallel and less nearly perpendicular? Or does mean more nearly perpendicular and less nearly parallel? NCdave (talk) 16:37, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

Why can't it mean less nearly parallel and less nearly perpendicular? --WikiTiki89 16:43, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
My assumption: suppose you look at a clock face and the hand is pointing to 1. That's slightly oblique (with respect to the perpendicular formed by 12 and 6). When the hand reaches 2, it is more oblique. Equinox 16:44, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm of the opposite opinion, thinking of oblique as a sort of antonym of perpendicular, as in oblique view. Thus lines that meet at 80 degrees would be slightly oblique, and at 45 degrees would be more oblique. Perhaps the comparative and superlative meanings depend on context? Dbfirs 16:52, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
I think that's the same opinion and not the opposite opinion. --WikiTiki89 16:55, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Oblique (PSF).svg
That's a strange oblique view to take! I wasn't agreeing with either you or Equinox. In my interpretation, lines at ten degrees would be more oblique. Dbfirs 17:33, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Couldn't one say both:
"GH is oblique to the horizontal and AB is more oblique than GH"
"AB is oblique to the perpendicular and GH is more oblique than AB"?
In other words, isn't the meaning of the comparative form determined by what is being referred to, which must itself be oblique to something? Even if there is no prepositional phrase (often headed by to) to define the ultimate reference, it is probably usually defined by context. An example would be in vertabrate anatomy where the ultimate reference is probably the spine or equivalent. DCDuring TALK 17:21, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, we have four differing interpretations already! Dbfirs 17:33, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure that they are different, except that the comparison and reference my be implicit rather than explicit. I think that if something is implicit and not determined by context, then and only then is there potential for different interpretations. Perhaps including one or more drawings (not photos!!!) in the entry would help once we were sure of ourselves. DCDuring TALK 18:07, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
In that respect, oblique is the same as slanting and inclined, where the amount of slant or the inclination depends on the comparison and the reference line. It's only when we try to say the two lines are more or less oblique to each other (without a context or reference) that we end up with three different interpretations (though in the case of "inclined", for two lines, the acute angle is normally taken to be the inclination, so "more inclined" would mean nearer to perpendicular). Dbfirs 18:56, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
I recently used "more oblique" to mean "less acute" or "more nearly perpendicular." But I think that was wrong. The Wikipedia entry for "oblique angle" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblique_angle suggests that, in geometry, there's no such thing as "more oblique." Any angle which is not an integer multiple of 90° is "oblique." It says, "acute and obtuse angles are also known as oblique angles." NCdave (talk) 13:52, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
That suggestion goes against actual usage.
There is ample evidence of "more oblique than" being used in English in ways that can be understood in context. The word is often used in specialized contexts where it can be interpreted quantifiably. Looking at use in newspapers shows mostly use that more figurative and less quantifiable: "Eisenhower's approach was more oblique than frontal.".
I think we demonstrated (and embodied) the ambiguity of the meaning of the comparative without a goodly amount of context. Thus, if we were a prescriptive dictionary or usage guide, we might end up advising against use of "more/less oblique than" in a quantifiable sense to a general audience or to any audience without sufficient context to make the meaning unambiguous. DCDuring TALK 14:48, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Also, in most of its usage oblique is not used to describe an angle pure and simple. A definition which suggests that virtually any angle is "obtuse" make the word virtually useless. It is used to describe the angular relationship of the line of one thing with respect to the line of another, which other thing is a relevant and obvious reference. DCDuring TALK 14:57, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
To nitpick: is "Eisenhower's approach was more oblique than frontal" actually using a comparative form of oblique, or is it analogous to "his shirt was more polyester than cotton" and "her pants were more red than yellow"? - -sche (discuss) 04:26, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure, but at least oblique is not a noun, as cotton and polyester are. The other example is better. I've often just followed the form. If we expand the sentence to "E's approach was more oblique than E's approach was frontal.", it still seems essentially comparative in its surface form. I wouldn't mind an explanation of why it isn't really comparative at all, if indeed it is not.
In any event my concern was more semantic than syntactic. DCDuring TALK 04:51, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
I agree with -sche that that's not a true comparative use; rather, I think it's what's called a "metalinguistic comparison" (see CGEL pp. 1121–2), and according to the CGEL it doesn't even imply gradability (it gives the example of "more dead than alive"). (But then, CGEL says that your "E's approach was more oblique than E's approach was frontal", which sounds fine to me, is ungrammatical for metalinguistic comparisons, so maybe I'm missing something.) —RuakhTALK 18:52, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
I certainly agree that it is distinguishable. I shouldn't have used the example. OTOH, I'm glad it came up. The question of the nature of that type of expression has nagged at me for years now. Thanks for drawing my attention the relevant section of CGEL. I had tried and failed to come up with some natural alternative wording for the comparison consistent with my understanding of the meaning, which I am delighted to find out is called metalinguistic. I could not come up with one that used the comparative form of the adjective. DCDuring TALK 19:03, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
In my opinion, "more oblique" in "Eisenhower's approach was more oblique than frontal" is definitely not a comparative form of oblique. This is demonstrated by the fact that, assuming we allow "obliquer" as word, we can't say "Eisenhower's approach was obliquer than frontal". 18:14, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
I want to say "thank you" to everyone here for this very enlightening discussion. NCdave (talk) 21:51, 3 December 2013 (UTC)


This entry has an interjection POS with the sense "Expression of earnestness or reverence, used before the name of a deity or revered person in impassioned speech."
and a particle POS with the sense "The English vocative particle (always in upper case), used for direct address, including in translations from languages which have the vocative case."
Are those actually different, or should they be combined? - -sche (discuss) 03:45, 30 November 2013‎ (UTC)

Here's my opinion: English does not have a vocative at all. O is only used as an expression of reverence or to translate the vocative case from other languages. According to this analysis, that makes the definitions distinct.
If, however, it is demonstrated that English does in fact have use O as a vocative particle that does not express reverence and is not a translation of another language, then that would mean to me that the definitions should be merged. --WikiTiki89 03:58, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Reminds me of Winston Churchill's recollection of his schoolmaster explaining Latin declensions: "O table – you would use that in addressing a table, in invoking a table [...] You would use it in speaking to a table." http://www.brianmicklethwait.com/education/archives/000822.htm —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).
Oh, use of "O" as a vocative particle is very common, especially in older (pre-1860) works, but even today. Search for "O" followed by any common name or even a common occupation and you'll find examples. Some may be reverential, but that seems incidental, since others are not reverential. I've seen bloggers who support [such-and-such political thing] say "what do you say to that, O opponents of [such-and-such]?" For that matter, I've seen it followed by outright insults, e.g. in Otis Adelbert Kline's 1946 The man who limped: and other stories, page 64:
"So, O consort of a flea-bitten camel," she snarled, "you thought to play a trick on your little Moorish cousin. For this, O mangy dog, shall your head and shoulders part company this day."
"I but carried out your wishes, ya sitt," I said. - -sche (discuss) 04:30, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
I think the reverent connotation comes in due to the practice of using archaisms to signal a "biblical" or "medieval" register, which tends to be more formal and distant, as would befit speech addressed to a deity or a sovereign, but which isn't restricted to that (think of, for example, the expression "O ye of little faith!"). As to the modern-day political example, that looks to me like sarcastic use of archaisms for a mock version of the same effect. Chuck Entz (talk) 05:04, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
I've placed a couple more not-reverential examples of "O" here. There's also the line "O coward conscience!" by Shakespeare. I agree that it can have a reverent connotation nowadays because it calls to mind reverential biblical phrases. I'm not sure whether it would be better to handle that with separate senses, by making that note part of the non-gloss definition, or by having a usage note. In any case, the reverential and non-reverential senses would have the same part of speech, wouldn't they? (They currently don't, which is why I started this thread.) - -sche (discuss) 05:42, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
The "Interjection" POS is definitely wrong, because it's not a complete utterance on its own. Interjections are made up of terms with normal parts of speech- it's only the manner of their use as a whole that makes them an interjection. "O" is no more of an interjection by itself then "hot", "my", "up", "no", "Jehosephat", "oogly-moogly" or any other term that's part of an interjection. It's a vocative particle that gets its connotations from the fact that it's not used in normal speech anymore, so its presence is a marker of archaic or elevated/poetic speech. Chuck Entz (talk) 09:29, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
What would really satisfy me, is if we cite it in an instance of casual conversation, such as "O father" or "O friend" or "O [someone's name]", without any sort of implied epicness. --WikiTiki89 01:22, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
That would be nice, but it really does serve as a marker of different sociolinguistic register. That's not necessary for merging the definitions, though. Its use in modern speech is definitely as a vocative particle. As the vocative has disappeared from ordinary speech (as a morphologically-marked category- nouns still have different syntax in direct address, but the form is the same as the nominative), its mere presence has become a marker of archaic speech.
Someone who used to portray historical figures at events once told me that he didn't have to actually speak Early Modern English to play an Elizabethan, he just had to sprinkle things like "yonder", and "good sir" here and there, and people could tell he was speaking like someone from another era. That doesn't mean that yonder merits a second definition to the effect that it's "used to convey old-fashioned-ness", but it might merit a usage note if it were used that way by more than just a historical-reenactor or two.
I think that the use of O as marker of archaic, "flowery" or religious speech belongs in a usage note, but not as a separate definition- and absolutely not under an "Interjection" header. Chuck Entz (talk) 05:08, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
Just to be clear, by "casual conversation" I did not mean "modern casual conversation". I expect it to be something from Shakespeare or the like. --WikiTiki89 00:07, 2 December 2013 (UTC)


Both here and here the word "parlous" is descrbed as "archaic or humorous". I thought it was a perfectly good word that could be used in modern English without humorous intent. What do you think? 04:32, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

dumb as a bag of hammers[edit]

We show the comparative "dumber than a bag of hammers" and a blank superlative. I feel that this isn't a true comparative form, in the way that e.g. "bluer" relates to "blue", but I find it hard to articulate why. Any thoughts? Equinox 15:55, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

  • I suppose it is because we are comparing two things (a person and a bag of hammers). And you can't have a superlative of only two things. SemperBlotto (talk) 16:00, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
I think I've got it. An adj like "blue" doesn't say how blue. You can imagine the adj having a scale from 0 (not at all blue) to 10 ("bluest"). Anything above zero on the scale is "blue" (to some extent). But with "dumb as a bag of hammers", the standard form already specifies an absolute (like "bluest"), so you can't go further along the scale with "more" — at least, not with the same sort of meaning. I don't think we should show a comparative for it. Equinox 16:10, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree that it is not a comparative, certainly not grammatically and not really semantically either. I would prefer not showing it as such.
For the snowclone that this exemplifies, both (1) (as) dumb as a [collective] of [X]s and (2) dumber than a [collective] of [X]s are attestable and obviously related, but the relationship is not that 2 is the comparative of 1 in the same way that dumber is the comparative of dumb. The grammatical structure prevents that from being strictly true, it seems to me. If so, it is somewhat misleading to use the inflection line rather than some other part of the entry to show the relationship. I fear that, whatever choice we make, some contributor will prefer another presentation and revise the entry to fit that preference. Does a strictly grammatical (related-terms-type) presentation seem less likely to attract pointless editing than the comparative one? DCDuring TALK 16:31, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
I think the problem is that this is a metaphor that can't be analyzed as the sum of the literal meaning of its parts. The expressions "dumb as a bag of hammers" and "dumber then a bag of hammers" both mean "really, really dumb". The use of a comparative instead of a plain adjective is just a matter of style, not of grammar. If it weren't for the fact that the variation happens to coincide with a grammatical relationship, it would be obvious that the two expressions aren't grammatically related at all. It would be like saying that dumb as a box of rocks is stronger than dumb as a rock because we're talking about more rocks. By the way, we seem to be rather weak in our coverage of these expressions. Is there a reason we don't have dumb as a doornail, dumb as a a dodo, dumb as a doorknob, dumb as a donkey, to name a few? Chuck Entz (talk) 18:39, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
The reason is mostly historical: For a time we did not view similes as normally includable. I personally still don't like them very much as entries, but at least some are probably idiomatic.
OTOH, I just now guessed that d-alliteration (dumb) would make dough a candidate for such a simile. Dumb as dough would indeed be attestable from our usual sources, as would dumb as dung. Does that make them good entries? I think not. But we do not have a basis for discriminating between attestable terms based on relative frequency.
I don't know in general what would make a simile idiomatic and includable rather than not. DCDuring TALK 06:16, 1 December 2013 (UTC)