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A glossary of terms used in the body of this dictionary. See also Wiktionary:Glossary, which contains terms used elsewhere in the Wiktionary community.

Table of Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


"Ante" (Latin for "before"). Hence, a quotation from "a. 1924" is a quotation from no later than 1923.
A shortened form of a word, such as an initialism, acronym, or many terms ending in a period.
ablative case
A case that indicates separation, or moving away from something. It is used alone or with certain prepositions. For example, if English had a fully productive case system that included the ablative case, then in the phrase came from the city, either "the city" or "from the city" would likely be in the ablative. In some languages, such as Latin, this case has acquired many other uses and does not strictly indicate separation anymore.
In Proto-Indo-European, or any of its descendants (the Indo-European languages), a system of vowel alternation in which the vowels that are used in various parts of the word can change depending on meaning. The system is used for purposes of inflection and word derivation. In the Germanic languages, it forms the basis of the strong verbs.
abstract verb
In the Slavic languages, a verb of motion whose motion is multidirectional (as opposed to unidirectional) or indirect, or whose action is repeated or in a series (iterative). Also called an indeterminate verb. The opposite type of verb, which expresses a single, completed action, is termed a concrete verb (or a determinate verb). Motion verbs in the Slavic languages come in abstract/concrete lexical pairs, e.g. Russian ходи́ть(xodítʹ, to go (abstract)) vs. идти́(idtí, to go (concrete)), бе́гать(bégatʹ, to run (abstract)) vs. бежа́ть(bežátʹ, to run (concrete)), носи́ть(nosítʹ, to carry (abstract)) vs. нести́(nestí, to carry (concrete)). English does not make this distinction. For example, "I went to the post office" could be abstract (if I went there and came back, i.e. multidirectional) or concrete (if I am there now, i.e. unidirectional), and different Russian verbs would be used to translate "went" in these two circumstances. In Polish coming back does not cause abstract verbs to be used, only doing something many times (Chodzę do biura. 'I go to the office (every day).' vs. Idę do biura 'I am going to the office (now).') or moving without target (Chodzą po pokoju 'I am walking around the room.' vs. Idę przez pokój. 'I am walking across the room.') does. Abstract verbs are always imperfective in aspect, even with prefixes that are normally associated with the perfective aspect (e.g. Polish przybiegać).
accusative case, acc.
A case that is usually used as the direct object of a verb. For example, if English had a fully productive case system, then ball in "The man threw the ball" would most likely be in the accusative.
An abbreviation that is pronounced as the “word” it would spell, such as NATO.
active voice
the voice verb form in which the subject is the person or thing doing the action, cf passive voice. (see also Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Voice (grammar) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia )   e.g.: The boy kicked the ball.
Anno Domini. Year-numbering system equivalent to CE.
A word like big or childish that usually serves to modify a noun.
A word like very, wickedly or often that usually serves to modify an adjective, verb, or other adverb.
Relating to an adverb. For example, an adverbial participle is a participle that functions like an adverb in a sentence.
agent noun
A noun that denotes an agent who does the action denoted by the verb from which the noun is derived, such as "cutter" derived from "to cut".
The American Heritage Dictionary. For historical reasons, this abbreviation is sometimes used here to identify a respelled pronunciation that is given in enPR form.
ambitransitive verb
Either transitive or intransitive. For instance, eat and read optionally take a direct object: "I eat daily", "She likes to read" (both intransitive), "Read this book", "I do not eat meat" (both transitive). Note: Although ergative verbs are ambitransitive, a single definition could only refer to an unergative verb.
Having a referent that includes a human or animal. Many languages (such as the Slavic languages) classify nouns based on animacy, using different inflections or words with animate and inanimate nouns.
A word form derived by removing an initial unstressed sound, like scarp from escarp.
A word form in which the word is lacking the final sound or syllable. Occurring in Italian, Spanish and other languages.
No longer in general use, but still found in some contemporary texts that aim for an antique style, like historical novels or Bible translations. For example, thee and thou are archaic pronouns, having been completely superseded by you. Archaic is a stronger term than dated, but not as strong as obsolete. See Wiktionary:Obsolete and archaic terms.
A type of determiner that is used as a grammatical indicator in some languages, and is usually central to the grammar and syntax of that language. In English, the articles are the definite article the, and the indefinite articles a and an. Some languages may have more articles, such as the French partitive articles du, de la and des, while many languages lack articles altogether.
A property of a verb form indicating the nature of an action as perfective (complete) or imperfective (incomplete or continuing).
aspirated h
In French, an initial < h> that is treated as a consonant; that is to say, liaison and elision are not permitted at the beginning of a word with an aspirated h.
A noun or adjective (or phrase), that names a real object with the attributes of another real object. This is in contrast to an substantive noun or adjective, which names a real object that is the actual substance named by the noun or adjective. Often used specifically to refer to nouns modifying other nouns, such as wagon in wagon wheel or chicken in chicken soup. Some languages, e.g. the Slavic languages, have special adjectives that serve this function, having the meaning "related to X" for a noun X. An example of this type of adjective is кури́ный(kurínyj, related to chickens), used for example in кури́ный бульо́н(kurínyj bulʹón, chicken soup). Generally, adjectives of this sort cannot be qualified by more, less or very.
In some Indo-European languages, a prefixed vowel (usually e-; έ or ή in modern Greek, a- in Sanskrit) indicating a past tense in a verb.
A word form expressing large size, importance, intensity, or seniority.
auxiliary verb or auxiliary
A verb that accompanies another verb in a clause. It is used to indicate distinctions in tense, mood, voice, aspect or other grammatical nuances. English examples are can, will, have, be.
avoidance term
A word standardly used to replace a taboo word.


A term formed by removing an apparent or real prefix or suffix from an older term; for example, the noun pea arose because the final /z/ sound in pease sounded like a plural suffix. Similarly, the verb edit is a back-formation from the earlier noun editor. Not to be confused with clipping, which just shortens a word without changing meaning or part of speech.
Before Christ. Year-numbering system equivalent to BCE.
Before the Common Era. Year-numbering system equivalent to BC. To automatically switch most dates to use the "BC"/"AD" style, visit WT:Per-browser preferences.
A word or name that starts with the start of one word and ends with the end of another, such as smog (from smoke and fog) or Wiktionary (from wiki and dictionary). Many blends are portmanteaus.
borrowing, borrowed
See loanword.
The removal, from a text, of words or phrases that are considered offensive or vulgar.


c., ca.
"Circa" ("about"). Hence, a quotation from "c. 1924" or "ca. 1924" is a quotation from approximately 1924.
"Of common gender". Some languages have a distinct common gender that combines masculine and feminine but is distinguished from neuter. In other languages, a "noun of common gender" is epicene; that is, it is a pair of nouns, one masculine and one feminine, that are identical in form, and that have the same sense except that one refers to men and the other to women.
A borrowing by word-for-word translation: a loan translation.
One of the forms of a noun, used to indicate its function in the phrase or sentence. Examples include: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative.
Abbreviation for category.
Without the period, the ISO 639-3 code for the Catalan language.
A collection of entries, used to categorize or group entries of words that are similar in syntax (for example, English plural nouns) or in sense (for example, English words pertaining to sports); see Wiktionary:Categorization.
causative verb
A transitive verb that is derived from another verb, and expresses the act of making someone/something do the action of the base verb. Examples in English are: lay (cause to lie), set (cause to sit) and raise (cause to rise).
Common Era. Year-numbering system equivalent to AD. To automatically switch most dates to use the "BC"/"AD" style, visit WT:Per-browser preferences.
"Confer"; "see"; "compare"  – often used to indicate a word with similar, or opposite meaning.
Chinese, Japanese, Korean, (and Vietnamese); CJK characters.
See counter.
A shortening of a word, without changing meaning or part of speech. Not to be confused with back-formation, which changes meaning.
Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Clipping (morphology) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
A word that attaches to a phrase and cannot be used on its own, such as English -'s. Many languages have clitic pronouns, which may be contrasted with emphatic or strong pronouns; for example, English 'em is a clitic version of them, and always attaches to the preceding word (usually the verb).
Used primarily in casual conversation or informal writing and not in more formal written works, speeches, and discourse. Compare the similar tag informal. Do not confuse with slang or nonstandard.
Note: It is a common misconception that colloquial somehow denotes "location" or a word being "regional". This is not the case; the word root for colloquial is related to locution, not location.
(of an adjective or adverb) able to be compared, having comparative and superlative forms that end in -er and -est (adjectives only), or in conjunction with the words more or most, or in some cases further or furthest. Examples: big, bigger, and biggest; talented, more talented, and most talented; upstairs, further upstairs, and furthest upstairs. Some adjectives are truly uncomparable, such as daily, additional, and else. Many other adjectives, such as unique, existential, and bearable are generally considered uncomparable, but controversially so, where examples can be readily cited of something being "more bearable" or "most perfect".
An inflection, or different form, of a comparable adjective showing a relative quality, usually denoting "to a greater extent" but not "to the ultimate extent" (see also superlative and degrees of comparison). In English, the comparative form is usually formed by appending -er, or using the word more. For example, the comparative of hard is "harder"; of difficult, "more difficult".
A word or name that combines two or more words without altering them, such as dishcloth (from dish and cloth) or keyboard (from key and board). Compound terms are indicated in etymologies using {{compound}}; see also WT:ETY#Compound.
concrete verb
In the Slavic languages, a verb of motion whose motion is unidirectional and expresses a single, completed action. Opposed to abstract verbs, whose motion is multidirectional or indirect, or whose action is repeated or in a series (iterative). Also called a determinate verb. See abstract verb for more discussion.
conditional mood
The mood of a verb used to signify that something is contingent upon the outcome of something else. The conditional mood in English is normally introduced by the word would, as in If I were rich, I would be happy.
The inflection of verbs. See also declension.
construct state
In some languages, notably the Semitic languages, a word form, usually of nouns but in some cases of adjectives, modifying a noun in a genitive construction. The construct state of a noun X can usually be translated to English as X of.
Influence of one term on the development of another term whereby they come to have similar meanings or similar sound, conflation.
A shortened word or phrase, sometimes with the missing letter(s) represented by an apostrophe (e.g. do notdon't).
coordinate term
A term that is a different type of the same hypernym. Car and sled are coordinate terms to each other, both being hyponyms of a shared hypernym vehicle. Although the term can be applied broadly, e.g., car and asteroid are both things, such usage is not useful in Wiktionary.
countable, countable noun, count noun
Describes a noun which can be freely used with the indefinite article (a or an in English) and with numbers, and which therefore has a plural form. Antonym: uncountable, or mass noun.
In linguistics, counters, measure words or classifiers are words that are used in combination with a numeral to indicate an amount of something represented by some noun. They denote a unit or measurement and are used with mass nouns, and in some cases also with count nouns.


Formerly in common use, and still in occasional use, but now unfashionable; for example, wireless in the sense of "broadcast radio tuner", groovy, and gay in the sense of "bright" or "happy" are all dated. Dated is not as strong as archaic or obsolete. See Wiktionary:Obsolete and archaic terms.
dative case, dat.
"Dative". A case that is usually used as the indirect object of a verb. For example, if English had a fully productive case system, then him in "She gave him the ball" would most likely be in the dative.
The inflection of nouns and words like them, or used together with them (i.e. nominals). See also conjugation.
Normally would be expected to have a full set of inflected forms, but some of the inflections do not exist or are never used. English examples are the defective verbs can and shall, which do not have infinitive forms (there is no to can or to shall).
defective spelling
In languages with matres lectionis (consonant letters representing vowels), the form including no additional ones, this may still include a mater lectionis.
refers to forms of words that present something as known, identified, or immediately identifiable; in English, this is the basic meaning of the article the; in some languages, this is a nominal or adjectival inflection.
degrees of comparison
Inflections of adjectives and adverbs which allow comparisons. English has three degrees of comparison: positive, comparative and superlative. Some other languages have other degrees, e.g.: comparative superlative, relative superlative, elative.
Derived from a noun.
(In Greek and in the Gaelic languages) A verb form which is not used independently but preceded by a particle to form the negative or a tense form.
(In Greek, Latin and some Gaelic languages) A verb with an active meaning which conjugates in a passive manner.
derived terms
A post-POS heading listing terms in the same language that are morphological derivatives.
determinate verb
In the Slavic languages, another term for concrete verb.
A noun modifier that expresses the in-context reference or quantity of a noun or noun phrase. Determiners are often considered adjectives, but in fact are not quite the same; for example, in English, big is an adjective, so “the big car” is grammatical while *“He saw big car” is not, but some is a determiner, so *“the some car” is not grammatical while “He saw some car” is. In English, adjectives can sometimes stand alone without a noun, while determiners nearly always can (contrast *“He saw big” with “He saw some”), such that they are sometimes considered pronouns as well as adjectives.
  1. Of or relating to a dialect.
  2. Not linguistically standard.
A word form expressing smallness, youth, endearment, unimportance, or contempt.
ditransitive verb
(of a verb) taking two objects, such as give in “Give me the ball” (where me is an indirect object and the ball is a direct object). Compare intransitive verb and transitive verb.
dual, dual number
A grammatical number that indicates exactly two items or individuals. Usually contrasts with singular and plural.
dummy pronoun
A pronoun that has no referent. For instance, it in it is good to know that you are okay is a dummy subject. It is used in order to provide the verb is with a syntactic subject, because English does not allow a null subject.


"Editor" (or sometimes "edition"). This abbreviation is often used in attributing quotations; the editor of a compilation is generally the individual in charge of selecting what works to include.
In Semitic languages, a stage of gradation that can be used both for a superlative and comparative (see also degrees of comparison).
elative case
A case which expresses "moving out of".
The removal of a phoneme or sequence of phonemes from a word, particularly at the beginning or end.
With letters added for emphasis, like "stoooop!" Usually this is nonstandard writing, but in some cases like interjections, this is normal: "awwwww!", "shhhh!"
Taking particular stress. English's reflexive pronouns double as emphatic ones, as in "I myself have not seen it" (where "myself" emphasizes the role of the speaker); some other languages (such as Greek) have emphatic pronouns that they distinguish from weak or clitic pronouns.
The phonetic joining of a word with the preceding word. In modern Greek this may result in an extra stress on the first word, thus:
"το όνομα μου είναι"("to ónoma mou eínai") becomes "το όνομά μου είναι"("to óno mou eínai")
Wiktionary's English Phonemic Representation system. Details in the English pronunciation key.
ergative verb
A verb that can be transitive or intransitive, where the intransitive subject is the patient, the same role as the transitive object. Essentially, an ergative is an intransitive verb that is its own causative when used transitively. For example, break is an ergative verb. The same thing happens to the window in "The window broke" (subject) as in "I broke the window" (direct object), but in the second case, there is also an agent which causes the window to break.
ergative case
A case used in some languages, which marks the subject of a transitive verb, but not the subject of an intransitive verb.
A term that is less vulgar or less offensive than the one it replaces.
eye dialect
A nonstandard spelling used to show a speaker's pronunciation, especially when it is a pronunciation the writer considers dialectal or nonstandard. Some distinguish eye dialect from pronunciation respelling, and separate templates exist (Template:eye dialect of, Template:pronunciation spelling.)
excessive spelling
In languages with matres lectionis (consonant letters representing vowels) a form including one or more additional ones. For example in Hebrew אדום(red) of אָדֹם, an added ו(vav) indicating /o/.


"Feminine"; said of a word belonging to the feminine gender, which is usually contrasted with the masculine gender, and also often with a neuter gender.
"Feminine plural"; of feminine gender and plural number.
Describes a context where those conversing, through speech or written word, are well acquainted with one another and in casual situations often use more informal or colloquial terms to communicate.
Not literal. Of words in metaphorical usage, such as 'pig' of a greedy person, or metonymic, as 'crown' to mean the monarchy.
first person, 1st person
A grammatical person that indicates the speaker him/her/itself, or a group to which the speaker belongs. Examples are the English pronouns I and we.
α/β/γ/… form(s)
Denoting forms of a word that are grouped together because of an important shared characteristic which is not shared by forms in the other group(s). Spellings may be grouped in various ways: simply by surface features (such as scion), by the different pronunciations they represent (as for sny2), by inflexional differences (as for finocchio), by dialectal differences (as for traveler's diarrhea), or for a variety of etymological (e.g. thrombendarteriectomy) or other reasons.
Describes a context where word choice and syntax are primarily limited to those terms and constructions that are accepted by academia or official institutions as most appropriate and correct. Informal terms, frequently those that originate through casual speech (colloquial), are often inappropriate in formal contexts. Examples with varying degrees of formality include: official or legal documents, formal essays, job interviews, etc.
future tense
The tense of a verb used to refer to an event, transaction or occurrence that has not yet happened, is expected to happen in the future, or might never happen. An English example is will go in I will go home tomorrow.


A way of classifying nouns in some languages. In such languages, each noun has a specific gender (often determined by its meaning and/or form), and other words (especially adjectives and pronouns) will often change form to agree with the noun's gender. See also noun class.
genitive case
A case that expresses possession or relation, equivalent to the English of.
Any of various non-finite verb forms in various languages. In English, a "gerund" is a verb in its -ing form when used in a way that resembles the use of a noun.


The elision or deletion of a part of a word (a sequence of phonemes) that is repeated (either exactly or with slight change). Contrast with reduplication, the repetition of a part of a word.
Describing an object or concept which is no longer extant or current; for example, Czechoslovakia, stomacher, or phlogiston. Distinguish: a historical term is still in use but refers to a thing which no longer exists; an obsolete term is no longer in use, while the thing it once referred to may or may not exist.
A term describing something that is formed by other smaller, somehow combined or related things. For example, tree is a holonym of leaf; body is a holonym of arm; Canada is a holonym of British Columbia etc. The opposite of holonym, which describes things that are part of a whole, is called meronym.
hot word
A newly coined term, or newly adopted sense of an existing term, that has become very popular in a short time. It is kept provisionally as it is likely to remain in usage, even though it fails the "spanning at least one year" requirement of the Criteria For Inclusion on Wiktionary.
Incorrect because of the misapplication of a standard rule; for example, octopi used as the plural form of octopus is hypercorrect because -us-i is the rule for forming plurals of originally-masculine nouns of the Latin second declension, whereas octopus actually derives from Ancient Greek and has the plural form octopodes consistent with its etymology.
Incorrectly applying foreign reading rules, such as in pronouncing the "j" in Taj Mahal as [ʒ] rather than [dʒ], or dropping the [t] in claret.
hypernym or hyperonym
A term indicating a category another term is part of. For example, animal is a hypernym of bird, which is in turn a hypernym of eagle. The opposite of hypernym, which indicates terms pertaining to a category, is hyponym.
The splitting of a word across a line boundary, with a hyphen at the end of the first part. For example, the hyphenation of hyphenation is given as "hy‧phen‧ation" meaning that it is split across a line break as hy-phenation or as hyphen-ation.
A specific term within a category described by another term. For instance, alternative rock is a hyponym of rock, which in turn is a hyponym of music. The opposite of hyponym, which describes larger categories, is hypernym.


A phrase whose meaning is unapparent or unobvious from the individual words that make it up, such as beat around the bush(avoid uncomfortable topic), come a cropper(suffer misfortune), or pay through the nose(pay an unusually large amount). Idioms are often, but not always set phrases, and are usually distinct from proverbs. See also Appendix:Glossary of idioms.
Pertaining or conforming to the mode of expression characteristic of a language. Idioms, collocations, and modal verbs are examples of idiomatic language.
The imperfective past tense of a verb, indicating that the action described happened repeatedly, habitually or continuously.
imperative mood
The mood of a verb expressing an order or command. An English example is the command go!
An aspect of the verb which denotes an action or condition that does not have a fixed temporal boundary, but is habitual, unfinished, continuous, repetitive or in progress. Common in Slavic languages such as Russian. Contrast perfective. (see Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Imperfective aspect on Wikipedia.Wikipedia )
imperfective past
A verb form of imperfective aspect and past tense, which is used to describe an action or event which was happening habitually, continuously or repeatedly in the past, as in “Tom was painting the fence” or “Tom used to paint the fence.”
A lack of grammatical person altogether, or an indefinite/undefined person. An example is the English pronoun one.
impersonal verb
A verb that cannot take a subject, or takes a third-person subject pronoun (e.g. it) without an antecedent. The term weather verb is also sometimes used in some texts, since such verbs of weather (e.g. rain) are impersonal in many languages.
Having a referent that does not include a human or animal. Many languages (such as the Slavic languages) classify nouns based on animacy, using different inflections or words with animate and inanimate nouns. For verbs, this indicates that they are usually applied only to inanimate objects or concepts, and rarely used in the first or second persons.
indeclinable, undeclinable, invariable or invariant
In languages with inflection, lacking distinct inflected forms when they would be expected to exist. Indeclinable words have the same form in all cases. For example, the English noun sheep is invariable because its plural is also sheep. Acronyms and loanwords are often indeclinable in many languages.
refers to forms of words that present something as not yet identified or not immediately identifiable; in English, this is the basic meaning of the article a; in some languages, this is a nominal or adjectival inflection.
indeterminate verb
In the Slavic languages, another term for abstract verb.
indicative mood
The mood of a verb used in ordinary factual or objective statements.
A morpheme or affix inserted inside a word.
A non-finite verb form considered neutral with respect to inflection; depending on language variously found used with auxiliary verbs, in subordinate clauses, or acting as a gerund, and often as the dictionary form. In English, the infinitive is formed with the word to, e.g. to read.
Denotes spoken or written words that are used primarily in a familiar, or casual, context, where a clear, formal equivalent often exists that is employed in its place in formal contexts. Compare similar tag colloquial.
The change in form of a word to represent various grammatical categories, such as tense (e.g. past tense, present tense, future tense) or number (e.g. singular, plural). For example, the verb run may be inflected to produce runs, ran, and running. In highly inflected languages, such as Latin, there will be many more forms. Two major types of inflection are conjugation (inflection of verbs) and declension (inflection of nouns, adjectives, and pronouns).
An abbreviation that is formed from the initial letters of a sequence of words. Initialisms that are pronounced as words, such as UNICEF, are usually called acronyms, so the term initialism is generally only used for those that are pronounced letter by letter, such as USA.
instrumental case, ins.
A case used to express means or agency—and is generally indicated in English by "by" or "with" with the objective.
intransitive verb
Of a verb: not taking a direct object; not transitive. For example, the verb listen does not usually take a direct object; one cannot say "I listened the ball".
Of an adposition (such as a preposition), or of an adverb: not having a nominal complement. For example, using the following prepositions or adverbs without a complement (here in parentheses): down (the stairs), under (the bridge), inside (the building), aboard (the ship), underneath (the table), here, there, abroad, downtown, afterwards, …
see: indeclinable
see: indeclinable
A specific occurrence of palatalization that occurred in the Proto-Slavic language, in which a consonant combined with the palatal approximant /j/ to form a palatalized consonant. Also, any similar process occurring in a later Slavic language or elsewhere. For example, under certain circumstances in Russian, underlying s; z; t; d; k; g are iotated to š; ž; č or šč; ž; č; ž respectively (pronounced /ʂ/; /ʐ/; /t͡ɕ/ or /ɕː/; /ʐ/; /t͡ɕ/; /ʐ/ invalid IPA characters (/;//;////;//;//;/) respectively). See Appendix:Russian verbs#Slavic iotation for the full iotation rules in Russian. Other Slavic languages behave similarly.
The International Phonetic Alphabet; a standardized system for transcribing the sounds in any spoken language.
Also called desinential inflection; in Arabic: إِعْرَابٌ(ʾiʿrāb, ʾiʿrābun). A number of inflectional endings, applied to Arabic nouns, adjectives, and verbs, which—with minor exceptions—do not appear in writing, and moreover are not pronounced in pausa, i.e. at the end of a sentence or before a pause. Nevertheless, these endings are a regular and required element of Qur'ānic and Classical Arabic. In Modern Standard Arabic, however, they are rather often avoided due to dialectal influence. In nouns and adjectives, the ʾiʿrāb primarily has the function of marking the cases (nominative, genitive, accusative), while in verbs it marks the moods (indicative, subjunctive, jussive). All of these are only occasionally distinguishable without application of the ʾiʿrāb. See ʾIʿrab on Wikipedia.
Not following the usual rules of inflection; for example, the plural of English man is men, which is irregular; the regularly formed plural would have been *mans.


jussive mood
In certain languages (e.g. Hebrew, Arabic and Esperanto), a mood of a verb used to indicate a command, permission or agreement with a request (distinct from the imperative).


The classically based artificial Greek language created at the start of Greece's independence from the Ottoman Empire. It was used for all formal and official purposes until 1976. In Wiktionary, Katharevousa terms are entered under (modern) Greek.


The headword or citation form of an inflected word, especially the form found in a bilingual dictionary. For verbs this is usually the infinitive or the present tense first person singular, for nouns it is usually the nominative singular. (In linguistics, the word is sometimes used in a sense that includes this definition plus all the inflections; compare lexeme). The plural of lemma is traditionally lemmata, but the form lemmas exists as well. See also Wiktionary:Lemmas.
The abstract "word" underlying a set of inflections; for example, gives and given belong to the same lexeme, which is usually identified by its lemma form give. See also: (1) Wikipedia's article on lexemes, (2) Wiktionary:Languages with more than one grammatical gender, (3) conjugation and (4) declension.
Exactly as stated; read or understood without additional interpretation; not figurative or metaphorical.
loanword (also loan or borrowing)
A word that was adopted (borrowed) from another language, rather than formed within the language or inherited from a more ancient form of the same language. Loanwords may still be recognisably foreign (having non-native spelling or unusual pronunciation), or have become completely assimilated into the language (no longer perceived as foreign). For example, in English, schadenfreude is still recognisably German, while cellar is fully assimilated and no longer recognisably Latin (from cellārium). Compare loan translation (calque).
(from Ancient Greek λιτότης) better known as an understatement in English, is a rhetorical figure that consists of saying less to mean more. E.g.: he is not very clever instead of he is a stupid idiot ; she's not very pretty instead of she's ugly, etc. Not to be confused with euphemism, although litotes can be used for the purpose of euphemism.
locative case, loc.
"Locative". A case used to indicate place, or the place where, or wherein. It corresponds roughly to the English prepositions "in", "on", "at", and "by". Some languages use the same locative case construct to indicate when, so the English phrase "in summer" would use the locative case construct.


Of masculine gender.
mass noun
see uncountable noun, below.
measure word
See counter.
See middle voice.
men's speech
In certain languages (for example, Karajá language), men and women use or historically used distinct words and inflected forms.
A term that denotes a part of the whole that is denoted by another term. The word "arm" is a meronym of the word "body". The term which describes the whole, as being an opposite of meronym, is holonym.
middle voice
The voice verb form in which the subject of a verb performs some action upon itself, it falls somewhere between the active and passive voices. Found in a few languages (e.g. Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, Icelandic). (see Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Voice (grammar) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia )
minced oath
A euphemism based on a profanity that has been altered to reduce or remove the objectionable characteristics of the original expression.
Used of a grammatical form accomplished with one word (cf polylectic and periphrastic).
One of the forms of a verb, used to indicate the speaker's attitude toward what they are saying (e.g. a statement of fact, of desire, of command, etc.). Examples include indicative, subjunctive, imperative, conditional. (see Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Grammatical mood on Wikipedia.Wikipedia )
Masculine plural.
mute h
In French, an initial < h> that is treated like a vowel; that is to say, liaison and elision are permitted at the beginning of words that have a mute h.


Of neuter gender.
negative polarity item
A term or construction that is generally found only in questions, negative sentences, and certain other “negative polarity” contexts; for example, anyone is a negative polarity item, as one can say "I did not see anyone" and "Did you see anyone?", but not *"I saw anyone."
A newly coined term or meaning. See Wiktionary:Neologisms.
Related to nouns. See also denominal.
As a noun, it refers to any part of speech that is noun-like in some way, and normally includes nouns themselves along with adjectives, pronouns and determiners. The inflection of nominals is commonly called declension.
nominative case
A case that is usually used as the subject of a verb. For example, if English had a fully productive case system, then (the) man in "The man threw the ball" would most likely be in the nominative case.
non-past tense
The tense of a verb that does not pertain to the past; in particular, applicable to both the present and the future. Common in some languages, such as Arabic. In English, the main verb in the sentences I am running tomorrow and I am running now can be said to be in the non-past tense, since the same verb can be used to express both the present and the future.
Not conforming to the language as accepted by the majority of its speakers.
In Slavic languages, a plural gender used for all groups that do not contain men, as well as plurals of masculine animate, masculine inanimate, feminine and neuter nouns. See virile.
An object such as a ball, a chair or an animal, or a concept such as happiness, joy or loveliness. See also countable, uncountable and plural.
noun class
In some languages (especially the Bantu languages), a way of classifying nouns much like gender, but determined by other considerations such as the type and shape of an object, whether it is animate or inanimate, a person or non-person, and so on.
number, grammatical number
A grammatical category that indicates how many items or individuals. Examples are singular, plural and dual.


The entity that is acted upon by a verb. For example, in the sentence Tom studies grammar, the word grammar is the object.
oblique case
Any case that is neither nominative nor vocative. The term is therefore often plural ("the oblique cases"); but in some languages, such as Hindi and Old French, the oblique is a particular case form, used for example (in Old French) for the direct object and with prepositions.
obsolete, obs.
No longer in use, and (of a term) no longer likely to be understood. Obsolete is a stronger term than archaic, and a much stronger term than dated. See Wiktionary:Obsolete and archaic terms.
Oxford English Dictionary. Also SOED (Shorter), OED1 (1st edition), OED2 (2nd edition), NOED (New).
A word that is meant to sound like what it represents. English examples are kaboom, cuckoo, tweet and ding dong.
see dated
With the stress upon the final syllable (e.g. εθνικός(ethnikós)). Compare with paroxytone and proparoxytone.


post or after, often used in quotations. Hence, a quotation from "p. 1924" is a quotation from no earlier than 1924.
In some cases, the state or quality of being palatalized, i.e. of pronouncing a sound with the tongue against the palate of the mouth that normally is not so pronounced. Some languages, such as Russian and Irish, have pairs of palatalized and unpalatalized consonant phonemes.
In other cases, a sound change that involves a change of consonants to become palatalized or move in the direction of the palate; one of the most common of sound changes, and usually triggered by a following /e/, /i/ or /j/. In English, palatalization (known as yod-coalescence) converted /t/ /d/ /s/ /z/ invalid IPA characters (//////) to /t͡ʃ/ /d͡ʒ/ /ʃ/ /ʒ/ invalid IPA characters (//////) before a /j/ (which was later lost), resulting in the sounds found in nature, procedure, pressure, azure, where the spelling still indicates the sound as it was prior to palatalization. Palatalization still operates synchronically before a /j/, producing, for instance, the pronunciations gotcha and didja from got you and did you. (See also Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Palatalization on Wikipedia.Wikipedia )
With the stress upon the penultimate (second to last) syllable (e.g., εθνολόγος(ethnológos)). Compare with oxytone and proparoxytone.
part of speech (abbreviated POS or PoS)
The category that a word belongs to, with respect to how it's used as part of phrases and sentences. Examples are nouns, adjectives and verbs. The part of speech is inherent in the word itself, and is independent of any specific role that the word may have within any given sentence (e.g. subject, direct object). Words may belong to more than one part of speech: English this is both a determiner and a pronoun, while coat is both a noun and a verb.
A form of a verb that may function as an adjective or noun. English has two types of participles: the present participle and the past participle.
A word that does not fall into the usual part of speech categories, but which modifies another word or the sentence as a whole. The English term like is used as a particle in many dialects. Particles are more common in other Indo-European languages (e.g. German doch, which marks a sentence as being surprising or rebutting a previous statement) and in East Asian languages (e.g. Japanese , which marks the topic of a sentence). Many clitics are particles.
Indicating partialness or indeterminateness, such as "some water" or "something nice". In Dutch, it is a word form that is used when referring to undetermined things or amounts. French has special partitive articles which qualify indefinite mass nouns.
partitive case
A case that expresses a partial object or an action that is not performed to completion.
passive voice
the voice verb form in which the subject is not the person or thing doing the action, and is usually having the action done on them, cf active voice. (see also Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Voice (grammar) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia )   e.g.: the ball was kicked (by the boy).
past tense
The tense of a verb used to refer to an event, transaction, or occurrence that did happen or has happened, or an object that existed, at a point in time before now. An English example is saw in I saw my friend yesterday.
past perfect
Same as pluperfect.
The aspect of a verb, indicating that the action described is completed. Consists of the verb 'have' + the past participle e.g., 'Tom has painted the fence' 'Tom has taken medicine'. Depending on the tense of 'have' one can have present perfect, which are represented in the previous examples, or past perfect: 'Tom had painted the fence', 'Tom had taken medicine'. 'To have painted' is a perfect infinitive. See also Imperfect. Not to be confused with perfective.
The aspect of a verb, which denotes viewing the event the verb describes as a completed whole, rather than from within the event as it unfolds. For example, "she sat down" as opposed to "she was sitting down". Since the focus is on the completion of what is expressed by the verb, this aspect is generally associated with the past and future tenses. Common in Slavic languages such as Russian. This term is often used interchangeably with aorist aspect. Not to be confused with perfect. (see Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Perfective aspect on Wikipedia.Wikipedia )
Using more words to produce a grammatical effect. For example more fair is a periphrastic form of fairer. The English future tense requires periphrastic usage: "I will write an essay." (Compare monolectic and polylectic.)
person, grammatical person
A grammatical category that indicates the relationship between the speaker and what is being spoken of. Examples are first person, second person and third person.
(Sometimes called a "set phrase".) A string of words which have a special meaning. In other words, if one of the words in the phrase is changed for another word of similar meaning, the entire phrase is altered. Flight simulator is a phrase because it has a special meaning that flying simulator doesn't. Compare idiom.
A verb form of perfect aspect and past tense, which is used to describe an action or event which is regarded as having been completed in the past, in relation to a time already in the past. E.g., Tom had painted the fence before I got there.
plural, plural number, pl., p.
A grammatical number that indicates multiple items or individuals. Most languages contrast it with singular, in which case plural indicates two or more. Some languages also possess the dual or even trial numbers; in these cases the plural indicates more than the highest specific number.
plurale tantum
A noun (or a sense of a noun) that is inherently plural and is not used (or is not used in the same sense) in the singular, such as pants in the senses of "trousers" and "underpants", or wheels in the sense of "car". However, in practice, most pluralia tantum are found in the singular in rare cases. (See Category:English pluralia tantum.)
Used of a grammatical form accomplished with more than one word (cf monolectic and periphrastic).
A blend that combines meanings.
The 'normal' form of the degrees of comparison of an adjective or adverb. Thus big is the positive form of the trio big, bigger, biggest.
Placed after the word modified.
prepositional case
A case used in certain languages, especially Russian, after certain prepositions. In Russian, it corresponds to the locative case in other Slavic languages.
present tense
The tense of a verb used primarily to refer to an event, transaction, or occurrence happening now or at the present time. The verb see in I see my friend in the window is in the present tense. In many languages, including English, the present tense may also be used to refer to past or future events in certain contexts: My plane leaves tomorrow morning (where leave is a present verb that refers to the future), or: John Lennon dies of gunshot wounds (as in a headline, where dies is a present verb that refers to the past; see historical present). While such uses are somewhat exceptional in English, the present tense is used much more widely in many languages. For example, the German present tense also covers some or most of the uses of the English future (I will do) and present perfect (I have done).
preterite-present verb
In Germanic languages, a verb that displays (or historically displayed) ablaut in the present tense, and thereby had present tense forms resembling the past (or preterite) tense of a strong verb. Most languages have no more than a handful of such verbs, and they are often used as auxiliary verbs. English examples are shall, can, may. Contrast strong verb, weak verb.
Used to form new words and phrases. For example, when a new verb appears in Modern English, the productive suffix -ed is used to form its past participle; by contrast, the suffix -en appears in many existing past participles, but is not productive, in that it is not (usually) used to form new ones.
The aspect of a verb, indicating that the action described is, was or will be continuing, uncompleted or repeated. A verb form indicating that an action is in progress. In English, formed from a combination of 'be' + the present participle ('-ing' form) of the verb. So one can have present progressive e.g., "is painting", past progressive e.g., "was painting", future progressive e.g., "will be painting", etc. Similar to, but less general than, the imperfective aspect. See also continuous.
With the stress upon the antepenultimate (third to last) syllable (e.g., εθνικότητα(ethnikótita)). Compare with oxytone and paroxytone.
proper noun
A kind of noun that usually refers to a specific, unique thing, such as Earth and the Alps, though one language's proper noun may translate to another language using a common (not proper) noun. In English, proper nouns are usually capitalized, as are common nouns and adjectives derived from proper nouns. The same word may have both common-noun and proper-noun senses (such as German, which is both a proper noun denoting a certain language, and a common noun denoting a person from Germany), and most proper nouns can sometimes be used as common nouns (e.g., John is a proper noun that is a first name, but can be used a common noun with plural Johns meaning “people named John”).
Some educators or other authorities recommend against the listed usage.
The prepending of phonemes at the beginning of a word without changing its morphological structure, as in nother, from other (“a whole nother thing”), or Spanish esfera from Latin sphaera(sphere).


Analyzing a lexeme with a different structure from its original, often by misunderstanding. For example, hamburger, which is originally Hamburg + -er, was reanalyzed as ham + -burger, which produced words like cheeseburger.
The process by which a word originally derived from one source is broken down or bracketed into a different set of factors. The understanding of hamburger as ham + burger (rather than Hamburg + -er) is an example of rebracketing.
A word that is not recorded in actual texts or other media, but has been recreated from its descendant forms, using the comparative method of linguistics.
The repetition of a word or a part of a word (as few as two phonemes in a word, or the whole sequence of phonemes in the word) with no change or slight change. Compare haplology, the elision of a repeated part of a word.
related terms
Words in the same language that have strong etymological connections but are not derived terms.
Marking a relative clause. Often used of pronouns, such as the tree which....
In the Bantu languages, a part of speech that resembles an adjective in function, but behaves morphologically and syntactically like a relative clause.

A new word or phrase coined for an old object or concept whose original name has become used for something else or is no longer unique (such as acoustic guitar where guitar used to mean this but can now also refer to an electric guitar).

1. The art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing. 2. A string of words that are designed to impress or confuse, rather than communicate.
rhetorical question
A question to which the speaker does not expect an answer
Romanization, Romanisation
Transliteration of a string in a non-Latin script into the Latin or Roman one: for instance, συγγνώμη can be romanized as singnómi.
The part of a word that forms its core and gives its most basic meaning; also the part of the word that is left when all affixes are removed. For example, in insubordination, the root is ord, while in unspeakableness it is speak. The root is often the first part of the word (as in Uralic and often in Indo-European languages), but it may also be the last part, or it may only consist of the consonants of the word (as in the Afro-Asiatic languages).


s., sg.
SAMPA, a set of systems for representing the phonemes of various languages in plain ASCII text. Not to be confused with X–SAMPA, the system for representing the full International Phonetic Alphabet in plain ASCII text.
second person, 2nd person
A grammatical person that indicates the person or group that one is speaking to. Examples are the English pronouns you and thou.
A verbal aspect, a subclass of perfective, which denotes a momentary or punctual event (e.g. to sneeze, to blink, to knock). In Slavic languages such as Russian, often used to express actions performed once. (see Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Semelfactive on Wikipedia.Wikipedia )
set phrase
Set phrase, a common expression whose wording is not subject to variation, or alternately, whose words cannot be replaced by synonymous words without compromising the meaning. Set phrases may include idioms, proverbs, and colloquialisms.
A shortened form of a word(s), including abbreviations, acronyms, contractions, initialisms, short forms.
short form
A shortened term which is itself a stand-alone term: eg Acts, a short form used to refer to Acts of the Apostles.
A Latin adverb meaning "thus, so". It is traditionally placed inside square brackets and used in quotations to indicate that the preceding is not a copying error, but is in fact a verbatim reflection of the source. (For example, if a source contains a typographical error, someone quoting the source might add [sic] to make clear that the error was in the original source.)
A figure of speech in which one thing is compared to another, in the case of English generally using like or as.
singular, singular number, sg. , s
A grammatical number that indicates exactly one item or individual. Usually contrasts with plural, and, in some cases, with dual.
singulative, singulative number, SGV
The marked singular form of an unmarked mass noun.
Refers to pronunciations in Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese languages (grouped with Chinese as CJKV) of terms or components derived from medieval Chinese.
Denotes language that is unique to a particular profession or subject, i.e. jargon. Also refers to the specialized language of a social group, sometimes used to make what is said unintelligible to those who are not members of the group, i.e. cant. Such language is usually outside of conventional usage, and is mostly inappropriate in formal contexts.
A type of cliché which uses an old idiom formulaically in a new context.
The part of an inflected word that the ending is attached to. For example, Latin mens- (stem, "table") + -ae (ending, 1st declension nominative plural) → mensae (full word, "tables", nominative plural).
strong pronoun
(Greek) An emphatic pronoun.
strong verb
In Germanic languages, a verb that displays ablaut. More specifically, a verb that has a change in vowel between present and past. An English example is drink, drank, drunk. Note that some verbs show a vowel change, but not as a result of ablaut (e.g. think, thought); these are not considered strong verbs. Contrast weak verb, preterite-present verb.
subjunctive mood
The mood of a verb expressing an action or state which is hypothetical or anticipated rather than actual, including wishes and commands. An English example is were in if I were rich, ....
A noun or adjective (or phrase), that names a real object with substance. This is in contrast to an attributive noun or adjective, which names a real object that carries the attributes of the named noun or adjective.
An inflection, or different form, of a comparable adjective showing a relative quality, denoting "to the ultimate extent" (see also comparative and degrees of comparison). In English, the superlative form is often formed by appending -est, or using the word most. For example, the superlative of big is "biggest"; of confident, "most confident".
A term for an infinite verb form in some languages. In Latin, a type of verbal noun, used for the ablative and accusative case of an infinitive. In Swedish, a form related to the past participle, used to form perfect tenses.
surface etymology
The apparent etymology of a term based on components occurring in the modern form of the language, such as earth + -en for earthen, which actually occurred in Old English as eorthene.
The deletion or elision of sounds inside a word (not at the beginning or end), most often a single vowel, but sometimes a consonant or a sequence of vowels or consonants.


One of the forms of a verb, used to distinguish when an action or state of being occurs or exists. The basic tenses in many languages are present, past, future. (see Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Grammatical tense on Wikipedia.Wikipedia )
third person, 3rd person
A grammatical person that indicates someone or something that is neither the person or group to which the speaker belongs, nor the person or group that the speaker is speaking to. Examples are the English pronouns he, she, it, this, that, and so on. All nouns are generally considered third person.
tr., tran.
translator or translated, often used in quotations.
a verb form in some Balto-Slavic languages that expresses a coincidentally proceeding or following action.
transitive verb
a verb which requires one or more objects (e.g. I kick the ball), cf. intransitive verb.
the conversion of text in one script into an equivalent in another script. This may include the conversion of diacritical marks into alternate forms without diacritical marks (e.g. Mörder → Moerder).
A verb that indicates more precisely the manner of doing something by replacing a verb of a more generalized meaning.


UK English, i.e. the English of the United Kingdom.
uncomparable, not comparable
(of adjectives) unable to be compared, or lacking a comparative and superlative function. See comparable. Examples of adjectives that are not comparable: annual, first, extra, satin, six-figure.
uncountable, uncountable noun, mass noun
A noun that cannot be used freely with numbers or the indefinite article, and which therefore takes no plural form. For example, the English noun information is a mass noun, and at least in its principal senses is uncountable. For those senses, we cannot say that we have *one information, nor that we have *many information (or *many informations). Many languages do not distinguish between countable and uncountable nouns. Antonym: countable, or count noun.
see: indeclinable
usage notes
Additional information on current and historic use of the term in written or spoken language.


A word that indicates an action, occurrence or state of being. The inflection of verbs is commonly called conjugation.
In Slavic languages, a plural gender used for groups that include men and for masculine personal nouns.
vocative case
A case which indicates that someone or something is being directly addressed (spoken to), often by name. For example, in the English phrase He's dead, Jim the name Jim would be a vocative.
A verb characteristic (expressed in some languages by inflection) indicating its relationship with the subject. The usual voices are: active, passive and middle. see also Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Voice (grammar) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
Language considered distasteful or obscene.


weak pronoun
A pronoun of one syllable which is dependent on another word and cannot be used on its own; sometimes called clitic. Compare with emphatic or strong.
weak verb
In Germanic languages, a verb that forms the past tense using a suffix containing a dental consonant (d, t, ð or similar). Verbs of this type are considered "regular" in most Germanic languages, but there are also irregular weak verbs, such as English think, thought and have, had. Contrast strong verb, preterite-present verb.
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., the parent organization of Wiktionary and other projects.
women's speech
In certain languages (for example, Karajá language), men and women use or historically used distinct words and inflected forms.


Extended SAMPA, a system for representing the full International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in plain text (ASCII). For a template that converts X-SAMPA to IPA, see {{x2i}}.



In Proto-Indo-European linguistics, an ablaut form of a root characterized by the absence of the basic ablauting vowel phonemes */e/ and */o/. For example, *bʰr̥- is the zero-grade of the Indo-European root *bʰer- meaning ‘to carry, bear’.