Talk:set phrase

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I still felt that this definition was over-specific so I gave in and looked it up on dictionary.com. Their definition comes from WordNet and states quite the opposite:

an expression whose meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up [syn: idiom, idiomatic expression, phrasal idiom, phrase]

I'm not 100% sure that's right either. I tend toward thinking it's a phrase whose parts cannot be replaced by synonymous words whether it's idiomatic or literal. But I might also be wrong. — Hippietrail 00:22, 13 Jan 2005 (UTC)

This is fundamental to the issue. It is not clear whether "set Phrase" and "idiom" can be used interchngeably in most cases. There are no references on the page so I have no way of knowing where the definition came from. I have no idea where to go to verify the definition, which could just as easily be a POV from the writer's imagination. Eclecticology 08:28, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

RFV discussion: November 2014–July 2015[edit]

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The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Requests for verification (permalink).

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set phrase

2nd sense: "A common expression whose words cannot be replaced by synonymous words without compromising the meaning. " --- Isn't this the definition of "idiom" and actually a special case of the previous definition "A common expression whose wording is not subject to variation"? --Hekaheka (talk) 13:40, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

Dictionaries that define set phrase often have idiom as the definition or as a synonym. DCDuring TALK 14:05, 24 November 2014 (UTC)
If we accept that "set phrase" and "idiom" are synonyms, we still need to judge how many definitions we need. The Onelook dictionaries which list "set phrase" use the following wordings:
  • Oxford: "An unvarying phrase having a specific meaning, such as “raining cats and dogs,” or being the only context in which a word appears, e.g., “aback” in “take aback.”"
  • Vocabulary.com, Rhymezone, Free Dictionary and Look WAY up: "An expression whose meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up."
None of them has two definitions. I'm not convinced we should either. --Hekaheka (talk) 21:53, 24 November 2014 (UTC)
If "idiom" is an exact definition of one way people use the term and others use it to mean a particular type of idiom, to wit, "an idiom which allows no substitution of synonyms or insertion of modifiers" and both are attestable, how can we exclude one? Very few people would accept the second as a definition of idiom.
The Gang of Four above are using the WordNet definition, which is exactly the same as one of the WordNet definitions for idiom and indeed for any in the synset consisting of idiom, idiomatic expression, phrasal idiom, set phrase, phrase.
The Oxford definition is more like the narrower definition, but "unvarying phrase" abstracts from inflection and pluralization, one or both of which may be possible, eg, rain can inflect in rain cats and dogs but neither cat not dog can be in the singular. I didn't find WP much help. DCDuring TALK 23:02, 24 November 2014 (UTC)
It appears to be essentially the same as definition #1, which is undisputed. Renard Migrant (talk) 10:43, 26 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Part of what adds to the confusion are the usage notes, which present in prose what should be in synonyms and hyponyms sections, once the distinct senses are recognized and straightforwardly defined. DCDuring TALK 13:32, 26 November 2014 (UTC)
'Setness' is something that is not quite as absolute as a naive user of the entry might think. Word order, inflection, grammatical transformations (eg, passivization), substitution of synonyms, insertion of determiners, and insertion of adjectives or other modifiers are all departures from the strictest sense of 'setness'. The set of phrases what allow absolutely no variation is relatively small. ('Kick the bucket' allows some verb inflection. Some proverbs might be absolutely invariant, but are not typical set phrases.) Some of the use of the term set phrase seems to include semantically transparent expressions that are nonetheless "invariant" because of their role as speech acts, broadly defined, or simply by dint of repetition, eg, catchphrases. Moreover, some uses of 'set phrase' seem to refer to expressions that do allow substitution of synonyms though one form is often significantly more common, especially in a specific time period and usage context. Rather than incorporate specific criteria such as "substitution of synonyms" into the definitions, we could use multiple (at least two) definitions as stakes that are not too specific, but near the boundaries of the range of meaning.
How about replacement of the definitions as follows?
  1. An common expression whose wording is not subject to little variation.
  2. Any idiomatic expression A common expression whose words cannot be replaced by synonymous words without compromising the meaning.
I know this is RfV, but I am not really happy trying to specifically cite the definitions as currently worded and I would like opinions before changing the entry. DCDuring TALK 14:13, 26 November 2014 (UTC)
FWIW, your first definition corresponds to my understanding of the meaning. SpinningSpark 17:37, 26 November 2014 (UTC)
I find DCDuring's suggestion good. Can we close this case? --Hekaheka (talk) 15:45, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
Reworded. - -sche (discuss) 04:00, 15 July 2015 (UTC)