Talk:Egyptian pyramid

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  1. The IPA and American dictionary pronunciations give completely different guidance in how to pronounce these words.
  2. Most of the translations are in the plural.
  3. At least the most famous Egyptian pyramids are not rectangular but square, in fact their geometrical precision is one of the things which make them so enigmatic and famous. — Hippietrail 14:31, 12 Jun 2005 (UTC)

<Jun-Dai 06:31, 13 Jun 2005 (UTC)> Any pyramid with a square base would, by definition, have a rectangular base. </Jun-Dai>

So I guess we should say polyganal base by the same reasoning? — Hippietrail 02:21, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

<Jun-Dai 02:35, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)> We certainly could, except that by my understanding, if it didn't have a rectangular base, then it wouldn't be an Egyptian Pyramid as we know them. In any case, rectangular covers any cases where the pyramid might have a rectangular base but not a square one. If they all have square bases, then square would be the more appropriate word, particularly if we wanted to exclude any that had non-square rectangular bases. </Jun-Dai>

I'm rfd'ing this again. It's totally absurd. The definition here is very close to that of sense 1 in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, The Macquarie Dictionary, Colins Word Exchange, Microsoft Encarta dictionary, and Merriam Webster onine for plain old unadorned "pyramid".

Let's take the last one as a base:

"an ancient massive structure found especially in Egypt having typically a square ground plan, outside walls in the form of four triangles that meet in a point at the top, and inner sepulchral chambers"

So, more concisely, "Egyptian pyramid" might be:

An Egyptian ancient massive structure found especially in Egypt.

Idiomatic? Not in the least. The only time anybody would use the phrase "Egyptian pyramid" is when contrasting against some other sense, type, nationality? of pyramid, or contrasting against some other type of ancient Egyptian monument. Where are the citations illustrating otherwise? If we're going to go against all the other reputable dictionaries out there we better have a good reason for innovation.

What we really need to do is work on our own article, pyramid. — Hippietrail 02:21, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

<Jun-Dai 02:35, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)>

My point was never that it was idiomatic--i.e., that it had additional meaning that could not be gleaned from square and pyramid--but that it was in some sense restrictive, and also that, as a cultural reference, it was related to a fairly specific concept. These we should have in the Wiktionary.
In addition, I disagree with your assertion that "[t]he only time anybody would use the phrase "Egyptian pyramid" is when contrasting against some other sense, type, nationality? of pyramid, or contrasting against some other type of ancient Egyptian monument". In fact, I'd say the opposite: in most cases that Egyptian pyramid is used, it is not being contrasted against any other type of pyramid (or other monument); it is only being used as an identifier to refer to something specific that we all know about by the term Egyptian pyramid.


Please provide some citations for this to move forward.

Some very relevant concepts have just been presented to me. The various kinds of definitions and which are applicable in a dictionary context:

  1. w:Lexical definition - what prior books calling themselves dictionaries seem to be based on.
  2. w:Stipulative definition - "a type of definition in which a new or currently-existing term is given a new meaning for the purposes of argument or discussion in a given context."
  3. w:Precising definition - "a definition that extends the dictionary definition (lexical definition) of a term for a specific purpose by including additional criteria that narrow down the set of things meeting the definition."
The Wikipedia article on definitions may also be helpful: w:Definition

I believe "grounds for inclusion" is of primary interest to a dictionary so we need to take great care to settle this so as not to blur the scope of what Wiktionary is. — Hippietrail 03:11, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

<Jun-Dai 03:28, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)>

Those links are very interesting to me, though I'm not sure what they have to do with this argument. Now I understand that we are trying to construct a lexical definition of Egyptian pyramid.
Citations? Okay.
  • "I should get back to it tomorrow. I want to make a two piece pyramid puzzle. It's amazingly complex to solve for two pieces cut out of a pyramid. I saw at a science museum in Portland. I took a photo of it to remember how it was constructed but didn't develop the film until late today. In the intervening days I ran across the puzzle description at a museum in Waterloo, Canada. Their description misled me to think I had to build an Egyptian pyramid. When I did build one out of wood, it was realy easy with a simple jig, I couldn't possibly see how it could be cut in any clever way to form a puzzle. The Waterloo web site shows an Egyptian pyramid but the puzzle pyramid is a tetrahedron, 4 faces and not 5 like the Egyptian pyramid. Tomorrow I'll construct the tetrahedron. It's a little trickier, since the base is an equilateral triangle and not a square. I'll slice it properly and turn it into the puzzle" [1]
    The writer here is using the adjective "Egyptian" to narrow the term to m-w's #1a as opposed to m-w's #2 and is thus no more idiomatic than "geometric pyramid". — Hippietrail 03:55, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • "You're saying that Egyptian Pyramid Numerology is proof of the Bible? " [2]:*: here "Egyptian" is not being used to contrast against other types of pyramids, and "pyramid" is not being used to contrast against other types of Egyptian monuments. They are simply an identifier being used together. This is not an odd way to use the term.
    It is unclear whether the adjective "Egyptian" applies to "Pyramid", "Numerology" or "Pyramid Numerology". The fact that the 3 words are capitalised makes it seem like a proper noun and therefore referring to something specific known between the communicating parties but not available in this snippet - possibly the title of a book or pamphlet. — Hippietrail 03:55, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • "Just like many people I am very interested in the problems around Egyptian pyramid construction. " [3]
    Sh/e's using the adjective because he's only interested in how the pyramids of ancient Egypt were build, not how any other pyramids are built. This is what adjectives are for. — Hippietrail 03:55, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • "An Egyptian pyramid was believed to be the body of the deified king, so the above equation may be understood as Pharaoh's transformation into Ra or Re" [4]
    I don't actually understand this quote. It's perfectly parsable as a plain old adjective + noun. In any case we don't have to prove that something is a "well-known idea" - that may be grounds for an encyclopedia. A dictionary is a word of lexicology and is interested in "lexemes" - not "ideas" or "concepts". Not unless we decide to break away from the established history of dictionaries at least. — Hippietrail 03:55, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    I thought we were dealing with terms. In any case, according to w:Lexeme, "[u]nlike words, which are defined by paraphrases or synonyms in a dictionary, lexemes are concepts in the mind." In any case, Italian dressing and red cross are hardly more idiomatic than Egyptian pyramid, yet they are in M-W. Wordnet has farm worker. Jun-Dai 04:14, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    Term is a loose term with many meanings, lexeme is more precise. I do not know what type of dressing Italian dressing might be - is it more like Thousand Island dressing or more like vinagrette? I'm sure it's not just any old dressing from Italy. Any old cross may be red but the charitable organization is never just "cross". As for "farm worker" my guess is that it might be along the lines of our own police officer. It could be more politically correct ect. I doubt it is a very old term. I would consider it the most doubtful on the list, but not as doubtful as "Egyptian pyramid". — Hippietrail 04:23, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    <Jun-Dai 04:33, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)> Term is indeed a loose term, and it does have many meanings. I also happen to think it better serves to define what we are trying to capture here. My confusion with lexeme is that the Wikipedia directly contradicts what you were saying--i.e., it states that a lexeme is a concept as opposed to a word. Is the Wikipedia wrong? (that's certainly a possibility.
    Police officer is another excellent example. A police officer is simply an officer that works for the police. Nothing idiomatic there. In any case, an Egyptian pyramid is not just any pyramid from Egypt, as I pointed out in round 1 of this argument. It is a specific type of pyramid (large, monumental tomb; square/rectangular-based) much as Italian dressing is a specific type of dressing. If an Egyptian now were to build a triangle-based pyramid-shaped structure made out of solid steel that was not designed to be a tomb, it would not be called an "Egyptian pyramid" except humorously. If Italian dressing is not in any way Italian, then the example falls apart, as the term has taken on an idiomatic sense (much like English horn). Red cross, similarly, is a specific type of cross that is red. I'm not talking about the organization in this case, and neither is M-W; we are talking about the emblem itself, which is red and a cross. </Jun-Dai 04:33, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)>
    If police officer is a modern coinage to replace policeman and policewoman then it has a place here. Nobody says "I was arrested by an officer". In stating "just any pyramid from Egypt" you again ignore the fact that the primary sense of pyramid is precisely "large, monumental tomb; square/rectangular-based" etc. This is a forced retronym based on some kind of premise that the interdictionary sense #2 or #3 is primary, and is as such a neologism. With Italian in Italian dressing does not tell me what kind of dressing it is. Pyramid does not require Egyptian to be a "large, monumental tomb; square/rectangular-based" since that is what a pyramid primarily is. As for Red Cross, MW's definition of a specific symbol seems perfectly valid. In fact it's based on another term I do not know without looking it up: Greek cross. Also parts of the definition not included within the term is that the cross be on a white background. — Hippietrail 04:54, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    <Jun-Dai 05:01, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)> What do you mean by "primarily"? </Jun-Dai>
    By sense number one. Most monolingual dictionaries are on a historical basis so the sense numbers reflect the order of the appearance of the word in the language. Bilingual (translating) dictionaries may well order senses by how common common they are and hence how important for the language learner. — Hippietrail 05:17, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    <Jun-Dai 04:36, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)> In that case, then either American Heritage ( is wrong, or m-w ( is wrong, or it is unclear in this case, or one of them is using a separate set of criteria. </Jun-Dai>
    <Jun-Dai 04:36, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)> I disagree that officer is not used to mean the same thing as police officer (I assume that is what you meant by the example), though I admit that the latter is more common. What I see is that there is a spectrum between something like police officer on the one side and something like Pacific island or Japanese house on the other, and with Egyptian pyramid in the middle somewhere. Clearly we cannot have every possible adjective+noun combination in here (e.g., Pacific island) or even ever such combination where there are certain understood attributes, generalizations, or cultural assumptions (a Japanese house has sliding doors made with rice paper). Yet, I think that really common sets like police officer, which is in no way idiomatic, pretty clearly has a place here. Something like Egyptian pyramid, which is a fairly common set--certainly more common and more set than, say, Japanese house, but also less common and less set than police officer--is a somewhat more difficult call. I would argue that the primary reason for most dictionaries not to include the term is the goal of concision, which we do not necessarily share with regard to the number of entries that we have. This is a pretty low-priority term, but moderately-set expressions like this are not in grave danger of overwhelming the Wiktionary, and I would not be in favor of deleting them.
    As you are arguing against the term categorically, Hippietrail, I don't think there's much chance of convincing me at this point unless you bring up something that you haven't already. It seems pretty clear to me that Egyptian pyramid belongs to the same class of terms as police officer, red cross (which in both m-w and ah is highly encyclopedic material), armed forces, etc.--just to a lesser extent. I'm sure that my chances of convincing you are pretty low at this point, so I'm going to stop trying to think of ways of articulating my position. Meanwhile, I'm still in favor of keeping this entry. </Jun-Dai>
It just goes on and on. I think it's pretty clear that Egyptian pyramid exists simply as term that refers to a well-known idea that is more specific than would otherwise be clear from the two words individually.


I'm impressed that we don't have an entry for a single term linked from the definition.  :) Jun-Dai June 29, 2005 19:27 (UTC)

RFD result[edit]

Also here: --Dan Polansky 07:30, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Green check.svg

The following information passed a request for deletion.

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, but feel free to discuss its conclusions.

1) Plural, 2) Not dictionary material, 3) No more than the sum of each word. SemperBlotto 07:06, 30 May 2005 (UTC)

1) So what? As little as 82,000 pages for "Egyptian Pyramids" vs. 46,000 for "Egyptian Pyramid" in Google. Definitely a candidate to be placed in a dictionary. They (strictly speaking, Great Pyramid) round up or are a part of Seven Wonders of the World. They are also known as "the pyramids of Egypt".
2) Not encyclopedic material for sure.
3) Not quite so, see 1). --Dennis Valeev 07:17, 30 May 2005 (UTC)
I agree with SemperBlotto:
  1. Plural entry - if anything, it should go at "Egyptian pyramid"
  2. There being multiple Google hits is not a reason per se for inclusion of a phrase - "my name is John" returns more hits than either "Egyptian pyramid" or "Egyptian pyramids", but we're not going to include it in Wiktionary.
  3. What is so special about an Egyptian pyramid as oppposed to, say, an Aztec pyramid or a French pyramid (the outside the Louvre) or an Icelandic pyramid? How would you define "Egyptian pyramid" other than "a pyramid in Egypt", which is apparent from the component words anyhow?
  4. Wrong capitalisation.
If "Egyptian pyramid" can be shown to have a sense greater than that implied by its component words, we can keep these (subject to changing the capitalisation), otherwise it must go. — Paul G 12:07, 31 May 2005 (UTC)
Sad. It would have been a nice entry. ;) Dennis Valeev 12:19, 31 May 2005 (UTC)

Delete. It's not idiomatic and not even a set phrase. Just like "Mexican pyramid" and "Guatemalan pyramid". A good example of an idiomatic phrase for comparison would be step pyramid. — Hippietrail 03:45, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

  • Move to Egyptian pyramid. Jun-Dai 18:15, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    We ought to have an entry for Egyptian pyramid as the meaning is not clear from the two words individually. Together, however, they form a recognizable concept, and it is more than common enough to warrant an entry. This is not to say that we shouldn't have Aztec pyramid as well (though French pyramid is beyond stretching it, since that would never be used idiomatically). An Egyptian pyramid is a specific type of pyramid, distinct from an Aztec pyramid, or a simple geometrical pyramid. Anyways, this has way more reason to be here than, say, awe-inspiring, which is uncontroversially not idiomatic at all (or at least I've seen no argument that it is), yet sees enough use to get support amongst Wiktionarians.
    As for what goes in the definition? I'll take a stab. Jun-Dai 23:56, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    There, I was a little bold, and I moved the article to Egyptian pyramid. Now we can go back to arguing about whether Egyptian pyramid, the proper location for the article, should exist.
    Incidentally, how long do we keep the rfd tag on there? Jun-Dai 18:15, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • We keep the rfd tag until a decision has been made. Personally I find the difference between "Egyptian pyramid" and "awe-inspiring" to be that the former is a mere collocation and the latter is a set phrase. A good test would be to check some reputable dictionaries for entries for both of these.
  • Now I'm not sure whether "Egyptian pyramids" were ever built by non-Egyptians or build outside of Egypt, but the Aztecs were certainly not the only culture to build pyramids in Mesoamerica. Teotihuacan was discovered already ruined by the Aztecs who concluded the gods must have built it. You'll have to back up your claim that An Egyptian pyramid is a specific type of pyramid. I'm quite sure there are several types of Egyptian pyramid and in fact the Egyptian step pyramids look remarkably similar to the Mesoamerican step pyramids.
  • My recommendation is that this decision should be made after adequate research rather than on gut feelings and such. Let's find some citations and look what some professional dictionaries have decided before us. — Hippietrail 03:45, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • <Jun-Dai 07:15, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)>
    • So, at what point do we decide that a decision has been made? More importantly, isn't deletion one of those things where we have to unanimously agree to delete it before it gets deleted? Or haven't we decided on a policy for that yet?
      Usually when everybody seems to agree or when the discussion dies off. — Hippietrail 22:44, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    • By type of pyramid I did not mean that any pyramid of a particular structure was an Egyptian pyramid, which seems to be what you thought I meant. It's actually pretty easy to back up: what I meant was that it was a category of pyramids, defined by a certain combination of physical attributes as well as it's geographical location, historical origins, and cultural context. That there are several types of Egyptian pyramids isn't entirely relevant, since most types have subtypes. There are, after all, bound to be multiple types of tree frogs, and there are definitely multiple types of green tea, Assam tea, and Darjeeling tea. What's more important is it has achieved a level of cultural understanding (much like green tea and Assam tea) such that most people will have a particular image, or one of a particular set of images in mind when encountering the term, and people can therefore use the term to conjure up that image.
  • </Jun-Dai>
    • Well that's all philosohpical or Platonic or something but none of that makes "Egyptian pyramid" any more dictionary-worthy compared to other phrases. Of the list you give here I would definitely include "tree frog" and "green tea", "Darjeeling tea" probably but I would check first, "Assam tea" is less familiar to me so I would definitely check that. "Oolong tea" would go straight in.
      PS. The Mayans were the other famous pyamid-building culture of the Americas - slipped my mind earlier. I certainly wouldn't consider "Mayan pyramid" dictionary-worthy either for what it's worth. — Hippietrail 22:44, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
      • <Jun-Dai 23:10, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)>
          Well, first of all, you didn't explain why you feel tree frog, green tea, and probably Darjeeling tea should go in, but not Egyptian pyramid. None of those are particularly idiomatic, though they identify something fairly specific. And of course there are others: Balsamic vinegar, sand dune, red wine, etc. My point is simply that Egyptian pyramid is a reference to something specific in our cultural consciousness that is not simply served as a combination of the two words. By putting the words together, the concept is narrowed down beyond simply referring to anything that is Egyptian and a pyramid. If someone in Egypt makes a large, paper, six-sided pyramid, it would be odd to call it an Egyptian pyramid, even though the words, individually, would fit. If it is possible to illustrate something that is Mayan and a pyramid, but wouldn't really be considered a Mayan pyramid, then that too, belongs in the Wiktionary (I'd say it probably does).
        To me, the question is not whether Egyptian pyramid belongs in the Wiktionary, but rather where to draw the line in the spectrum that ranges from something that is as recognizable and specific as Darjeeling tea or Balsamic vinegar or moon landing on the one side and something that isn't really more than the combination of two words (i.e., totally lacking in set-phraseness and ready identifiability in the cultural consciousness) as California highway (which would, without problem, include any and every highway in California) and midwestern U.S. river (same idea) on the other. I don't really see Egyptian pyramid as a problem, because it has a certain level of set-phraseness (for lack of a better way to articulate the idea) in that you frequently see the terms paired together, and the paired terms have a referent that could easily exclude other terms that would fit into the type in a purely descriptive sense.
      • </Jun-Dai>
Out of interested I checked my hefty 1977 Shorter Oxford English Dictionary and the only one of all these terms it contains is tree frog. — Hippietrail 08:21, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • I'm inclined to delete this one. The features that distinguish Egyptian pyramids from the Mayan and other pyramids are encyclopedic rather than lexicographic. Eclecticology 17:26, 2005 Jun 15 (UTC)
I agree with Jun-Dai that Egyptian pyramid is idiomatic: not only would a paper six-sided pyramid five inches tall in Cairo not be an "Egyptian pyramid", it would be the wrong kind: "Egyptian" here is specifically a reference to Egypt, the ancient civilization, not Egypt, the modern Arab civilization, nor even Egypt, the location. (If Snofru built a pyramid at Athens, it would still be an Egyptian pyramid.) I would also add Pyramids of Egypt as the usual collective term. Note that the fact that it is "Egyptian pyramid" is valuable information: it's not *Egyptic pyramid or *Egyptish pyramid (cf. nl:Egyptische piramiden); it's not *Egypty pyramid or *Egyptiac pyramid (cf. the Latin adjectives for "Egyptian" Aegyptius, later Aegyptiacus); you might think these alternatives obviously strange or wrong, but a second-language speaker trying to translate pirámides egipcias might not find "Egyptian" spring so easily to mind. BTW the translations at Egyptian pyramid are still in the plural. —Muke Tever 15:50, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • OK. I'll give in on this one. Eclecticology 03:01, 2005 Jun 20 (UTC)
  • Everybody seems to be overlooking the fact that all other kinds of pyraminds came after the ones in Egypt. The word originally means "large monument or building with 4 tringular sides meeting at an apex such as those found in Egypt" or somesuch. Go check a print dictionary and you'll see that the first Latin cites for "pyramis" or however the Latin spelling went, are for these structures.
    What next? six-legged insect? flying bird? round circle? — Hippietrail 08:05, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • Delete. Not idiomatic. Ncik 09:51, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

RFD results from June 2005: 4:3:1 or 4:4:0 for deletion. For deletion: SemperBlotto, Hippietrail, Paul G, Nick. Against deletion: Dennis Valeev, Jun-Dai, Muke Tever. Unclear: Eclecticology. --Dan Polansky 07:45, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

RFD discussion: January–June 2017[edit]

See Talk:Aztec pyramid#RFD discussion: January–June 2017.