From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
UTC-5 This user's time zone is UTC-5 and observes Daylight Saving Time UTC-4 (c March 11 — c November 4).
en-US This user is a native speaker of American English.
de-1 Dieser Benutzer hat grundlegende Deutschkenntnisse.
fr-1 Cet utilisateur peut contribuer avec un niveau élémentaire de français.
la-1 Hic usuarius simplici lingua latina conferre potest.
grc-1 Ὅδε ἐγκυκλοπαιδειουργὸς ὀλίγον ἀρχαίως Ἑλληνιστὶ γράφειν οἷός τ’ ἐστίν.
Search user languages or scripts

I don't believe in some of the practices followed as they have changed.

This is not a dictionary I would rely on without checking other authorities or data.

A mathematics professor is giving a lecture and has made an assertion as part of his presentation. A student, not understanding the basis for the assertion, asks why it is true. The professor responds that "It is obvious." Then the professor steps back, stares at the board and ponders for several minutes. Then he turns and walks out of the lecture hall. He is absent for a fairly long time and finally one of the students goes to look for him. He sees the professor in his office working on the blackboard which he has covered with mathematics. The student returns and reports to the class. Finally, just before the class is scheduled to end the professor reappears, and announces "Yes, it is obvious."

My idiolect

  • Parents not native speakers (German [Lower Franconia] and Letzebergisch). My father's accent was about as thick as and similar to Henry Kissinger's (Middle Franconia)
  • Born and schooled (through grade 8) in Brooklyn, NY, 9-12 in Manhattan, 12-14 in Indiana, 4 years in Boston area, balance of time in Manhattan and Westchester.
  • No cot-caught merger.
  • No pin-pen merger.
  • No r-dropping.
  • bad does not rhyme with had.
  • father rhymes with bother.
  • I don't do the prototypical New York pronunciations except in jest:

Usability stages


The Nielsen-Norman Group posits 8 stages of usability development, of which the first four seem somewhat relevant to en.wikt.

  1. Hostility toward usability: We don't need no stinkin' users
  2. Developer-centered usability: Hey, I'm a user! (WE ARE HERE, mostly!)
  3. Skunkworks usability: I'm too smart to be a typical user.
  4. Dedicated usability budget: (which might mean a respected cadre of admins and users with such a focus).
    The above are summarized at [1].

Our motto, annotated


All1 words2 in3 all4 languages5

The ordinary-word meaning of this slogan is somewhat misleading. The following notes explain the qualifications:

1Not every word is included at all, let alone in a meaningful way. Obviously we haven't gotten around to all of them. Attestation requirements exclude many. Due to the narrowness of our contributor base many languages are unrepresented and many specialized contexts are unrepresented, even in English.
2"Word" can include letters, numbers, symbols, abbreviations, proverbs, idiomatic expressions, some non-idiomatic expressions, clitics, affixes.
3Some "words2" could fall between languages. A multi-word expression borrowed from a foreign language could be non-idiomatic in its original language and thereby not includable in that language. It may also only be found in italics or quotation marks in running text in other languages, indicating that authors and editors don't think it has entered the lexicon in that language.
4See Vote on Serbo-Croatian.
5Translingual is not a language. Many non-words are better characterized as things. Things that are not words are not part of languages.


On excuses
17 And he sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden. Come, for all things are now ready.
18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23 And the Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

Luke XIV 17-23

  • 951, Abd al-Rahman III, first Caliph of Córdoba (15 October 961)
    I have now reigned above fifty years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: they amount to Fourteen: — O man! place not thy confidence in this present world!
  • 1600, John Marston, Antonio's Revenge:
    fie, 'tis not in fashion to call things by their right names. Is a great merchant a cuckold, you must say he is one of the livery. Is a great lord a fool, you must say he is weak. Is a gallant pocky, you must say he has the court scab.
  • 1611, King James Bible, 2 Corinthians 11: 19:
    For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
  • 1650 August 3, Oliver Cromwell, to the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland:
    I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.
  • a. 1680, Samuel Butler (poet), “Paedants”, in Satires and miscellaneous poetry and prose‎[2], page 165:
    For Paedantry is But a Lewd Caprich / Which Pupills Catch of Tutor's like the Itch; / And many nere Recover, till th' are Men, / But still grow worse till th' are twice Boys agen;
  • 1778, Samuel Johnson
    It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentional lying, that there is so much falsehood in the world.”
  • 1790, John Adams, “Discourse Three”, in Discourses on Davila:
    The poor man’s conscience is clear; yet he is ashamed. His character is irreproachable; yet he is neglected and despised. He feels himself out of the sight of others, groping in the dark. Mankind take no notice of him. He rambles and wanders unheeded. In the midst of a crowd, at church, in the market, at a play, at an execution, or coronation, he is in as much obscurity as he would be in a garret or a cellar. He is not disapproved, censured, or reproached; he is only not seen. This total inattention is to him mortifying, painful, and cruel. He suffers a misery from this consideration, which is sharpened by the consciousness that others have no fellow-feeling with him in this distress. If you follow these persons, however, into their scenes of life, you will find that there is a kind of figure which the meanest of them all endeavors to make; a kind of little grandeur and respect, which the most insignificant study and labor to procure in the small circle of their acquaintances. Not only the poorest mechanic, but the man who lives upon common charity, nay, the common beggars in the streets; and not only those who may be all innocent, but even those who have abandoned themselves to common infamy, as pirates, highwaymen, and common thieves, court a set of admirers, and plume themselves upon that superiority which they have, or fancy they have, over some others. There must be one, indeed, who is the last and lowest of the human species. But there is no risk in asserting, that there is no one who believes and will acknowledge himself to be the man. To be wholly overlooked, and to know it, are intolerable. Instances of this are not uncommon. When a wretch could no longer attract the notice of a man, woman, or child, he must be respectable in the eyes of his dog. “Who will love me then?” was the pathetic reply of one, who starved himself to feed his mastiff, to a charitable passenger, who advised him to kill or sell the animal. In this “who will love me then?” there is a key to the human heart; to the history of human life and manners; and to the rise and fall of empires. To feel ourselves unheeded, chills the most pleasing hope, damps the most fond desire, checks the most agreeable wish, disappoints the most ardent expectations of human nature.
  • 1842, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Sir Galahad”, in Poems:
    My strength is as the strength of ten, / Because my heart is pure.
  • 1847, Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, Chapter 7
    A person who has not done one half his day's work by ten o clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.
  • 1859, Charles Darwin, On the Origin of the Species, page 492:
    There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
  • 1861, James Legge, transl., The Chinese Classics Vol.1 Confucian Analects, the Great Learning, and the Doctrine of the Mean, page 128:
    If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on successfully. When affairs cannot be carried on successfully, proprieties and music will not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not properly be awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore the superior man considers it necessary that names should be used appropriately, and that his directions should be carried out appropriately. A superior man requires that his words should be correct.'
  • 1876, Charles Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin: Including an Autobiographical Chapter, page 282:
    But then arises the doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions ?
  • 1924, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Chosen Thoughts (unknown translator), quoted in The Neuroscience of Intelligence (2017), Richard J. Haier, page xiii
    Nothing inspires more reverence and awe in me than an old man who knows how to change his mind.
  • 1930, D.H. Robertson, Economic Commentaries:
    It is his [the economist's] function to emit a warning bark if he sees courses of action being advocated or pursued which will increase unnecessarily the inevitable tension between self-interest and public duty; and to wag his tail in approval of courses of action which will tend to keep the tension low and tolerable.
  • 1958, Nelson Algren, A Walk on the Wild Side‎ (novel), page 312:
    But blow wise to this, buddy, blow wise to this: Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom's. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own. Never let nobody talk you into shaking another man's jolt. And never you cop another man's plea. I've tried 'em all and I know. They don't work.
  • 1968, “Good Morning Miss Brown”, in Taj Mahal (music), The Natch'l Blues[3]:
    Good morning Miss Brown  / Mamma how do you do? / I said good morning Miss Brown / Mamma how do you do? / She say I'm feelin' fine and lookin' good / Maaan what about you? / I say I got the misery and the back ache baby / And my feets hurtin' me when I walk / You know I got the misery and the back ache baby / And my feets hurtin' me when I walk / And you know too much conversation hurt my tongue to talk
  • 1995, Herbert C. Morton, The Story of Webster's Third, page 80:
    Native speakers of English take the great variety of senses in stride. No conscious sorting and selecting are required. The context of an utterance (or writing) makes clear the sense that fits the occasion. They are not aware of having to decide when magazine means reading matter and when it means storehouse. CS Lewis refers to this as "the insulating power of context"; that is, "the sense of a word is governed by the context and this sense normally excludes all others from the mind."
  • 2001, Bruce Sterling, Digital Decay[4], retrieved February 7, 2012:
    Originally delivered as the keynote address for Preserving the Immaterial: A Conference on Variable Media at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on March 30, 2001
    Bits have no archival medium. We haven't invented one yet. If you print something on acid-free paper with stable ink, and you put it in a dry dark closet, you can read it in two hundred years. We have no way to archive bits that we know will be readable in even fifty years. Tape demagnetizes. CDs delaminate. Networks go down.
  • 2008, June 26, Geoffrey K. Pullum, Language Log
    The problem I am pointing to, however, is not about web programming or sorting technicalities. It is a simple problem that afflicts us all: people with any kind of technical knowledge of a domain tend to get hopelessly (and unwittingly) stuck in a frame of reference that relates to their view of the issue, and their trade's technical parlance, not that of the ordinary humans with whom they so signally fail to engage. I have written about this before — in Per bus per journey, for example, and probably on several other occasions. The phenomenon — we could call it nerdview — is widespread.
  • 2009, Fiona Talbot, How to Write Effective Business English[5], page 25:
    Let's say you are a non-NE writer, you are online and you type a word in your own language for 'outcome'. I tried this in German once and the online dictionary offered, amongst other words: corollary and consecution. Corollary is a word that people may know but would use only in a specific context. Consecution, though? That is definitely online dictionary-speak.
  • 2012, Robert Trivers, The Folly of Fools, page 314:
    Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the the proof.

Based on his own direct subjective and other experience, DCDuring is a fallibilist.

Things I favor in making Wiktionary choices

  • Economizing on user time
  • Making the first screen that a user sees have as much as possible of what is needed while encouraging the user to look for more
  • Not misleading users or WP editors (an important retail channel of distribution for Wiktionary)

Level 1 is an exaggeration of my language capabilities in any of the four languages shown in the box on the right.

Topics of interest

  • How to give WT users access to generic names given trademarked names. (easy: redirects or {{only in}})
  • Improving the requested entries list by having some kind of structure for new entries designed to elicit more info from requester. (Maybe, but not soon and probably not with help or push from me.)
  • Improving the handling of those trying to make a contribution to WT for the first time. (More patrolling, commitment to hand holding. Yuck.)
  • Measures of Wiktionary success (search engine hits, click-throughs, etc.). (Not enough of those with skills care, esp in light of community indifference)
  • Wiktionary user data (demographics, interaction) (deemed against the rules. see immediately above)
  • Accommodating dialectical entries. (Not a big problem)
  • Accommodating new terms rapidly. (We try)
  • Making entry pages more loaded with what users want, not what they don't (Evidence ignored)
  • Linguistic theories:
w:Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG),
w:Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG), and
w:Tree-Adjoining Grammar (TAG).
w:Discourse-Functional Grammar
w:Cognitive Grammar, and
w:Construction Grammar.





If we were a different wiki (possibly with radical differences in the interface for users and contributors), we could be the best phrasebook ever. We could be tuned principally for mobile devices with pronunciations recorded for all entries, with different stress patterns and usage advice for those patterns where warranted. We could take requests, including in the forms of recorded sounds and images.

But we are what we are: a participatory but otherwise largely conventional dictionary of pan-lingual ambition and multilingual accomplishment, that competes ably with commercial sites, exploiting timeliness, flexibility, and completeness, against selectivity and uniformity of quality.


  • Autocategorization of diachronic etymological and synchronic morphological derivation. BOTH.
  • Construction grammar (snowclones)
  • Ostensive definitions
    rhetorical and grammatical examples
    other classes for use of examples boxes
  • New Latin
  • Modernizing definitions
  • Quality improvement of English entries
  • Remove overly technical terms from labels, eg, ergative

To Do




Lawn wildflowers













Planned, running, and recent votes [edit this list]
(see also: timeline, policy)
Jun 30Make No personal attacks an official policyfailed
Aug 21Remove "Quotations" sectionsstarts: Jul 23
(=2)[Wiktionary:Table of votes](=41)