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Wiktionary uses glosses extensively to link parts of an entry with the right definition. This page tries to explain why we use them and how to use them effectively.

What are glosses for?[edit]

A gloss exists to link some information in a Wiktionary entry with a certain definition. They primarily allow human readers to be able to look up information without having to scroll around the page trying to work out which bits are connected together. As a side-effect, they can also allow robots, and other automated users of Wiktionary to do the same.

How are glosses constructed?[edit]

In the simplest terms, a gloss should be a set of words that uniquely identify a definition. A good gloss has several other properties:

It is short
The idea is to point to a definition, not to define the word.
It uses fragments from the original definition
By using the same words in a similar order, it is easier to find which sections match without having to decipher the meaning of the gloss or definition.
It is used consistently throughout the entry
While it doesn't matter greatly if the Synonyms have a different gloss to the Translations for a definition, it's nicer if this is not the case.
Should not contain links
The gloss points to a definition on the current page, that definition will contain any necessary links. Templates should also be avoided.
Some examples for some plausible definitions of log
  1. The trunk of a dead tree, cleared of branches.
    gloss: trunk of a dead tree, cleared of branches
  2. Any bulky piece as cut from the above, used as timber, fuel etc.
    gloss: bulky piece of timber
  3. (nautical) A floating device, usually of wood, used in navigation to estimate the speed of a vessel through water.
    gloss: nautical: device for measuring the speed of a vessel
  4. A logbook.
    gloss: logbook
  5. (figuratively) A blockhead, very dumb person.
    gloss: blockhead
  6. (surfing slang) A longboard.
    gloss: surfing: longboard
  7. (figuratively) A rolled cake with filling; Swiss roll.
    gloss: rolled cake

How are glosses formatted?[edit]

In the Synonyms section, and other places where you have a horizontal list of words, the gloss should be formatted:

 * {{sense|gloss1}} [[branch]], [[twig]]
 * {{sense|gloss2}} [[record]]



In the definitions of foreign-language entries (or some English terms), {{gloss}} is used:

 ==Foreign Language==
 ===Part of Speech===
 '''foreign term'''
 # [[translation]] {{gloss|gloss}}

In sections like Derived terms, where long, hidden lists are used:

 ====Derived terms====

In the Translations section, {{trans-top}} is used:

 * French: {{t+|fr|couper}}
 * French: {{t-|fr|livre de bord|m}}

Why not just use numbers?[edit]

Originally, the definition numbers were used instead, but this caused problems as entries evolved. In short, the advantage of using a gloss is that:

  • When the definition is updated, the gloss is likely to still be relevant, and a human editor can easily fix it to match more closely.
  • If the definitions are moved around, or definitions are added or removed, the gloss will still match, whereas numbers will point to the wrong place.

Why use a gloss if there's just one definition?[edit]

Although it can seem like a waste of effort, including the gloss makes the entry much more stable.

  • It helps people who use the [edit] links on sections; because they cannot see the definition line, the gloss serves as a reminder of what the word means.
  • It is not uncommon for entries that start with only one definition to gain more over time, and if the editor adding the second definition is not careful, it becomes unclear to which definition the unlabelled information refers.