Wiktionary:Categories and templates

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This page attempts to document the use of categories and templates in Wiktionary. Categories allow entries to be tagged with category names, which the Wikimedia engine automatically tracks. Templates allow blocks of text to be given short, convenient names. Templates may take parameters, allowing a fill-in-the-blanks approach. Templates may include category references.

Please note that some uses of templates and categories are fairly long-standing, while some are very recent. This article does not make any great effort to distinguish the two, but instead concentrates on the the conventions of using categories and templates.


The full list of categories may be found at Special:Categories. A category page consists of two parts:

  • Descriptive text, which the engine treats like any other page text. It is updated manually. If it is missing, a link to the category will appear in red, even if there are terms in the category.
  • An automatically maintained alphabetical list of terms in the category. This will be maintained even if there are no terms in the category.

There are currently several kinds of categories in use:

Administrative Categories[edit]

Since categories are tracked automatically, they allow an editor to mark an article for future work. The category list then shows which artcles need the particular kind of work. The most prominent examples are Category:Requests for deletion, Category:Requests for verification by language and Category:Requests for cleanup.

Grammatical Categories[edit]

In the course of defining usage for terms, it becomes clear that some terms obey rules beyond those described by the usual parts of speech. For example, some nouns are uncountable in certain senses. That is, they are grammatically singular and shift meaning when used with articles and numbers. Some adjectives may be used as complements to linking verbs (This number is binary.) but not be used in the comparative (*This number is more binary than that one.). These are categorized as not comparable. Some phrases have meanings which cannot be easily guessed from their constituent parts. These are classed as idioms.

Most of these categories are not yet well-populated. In most cases, the definitions carry tags like (uncountable), but no category designation. The {{cattag}} template can help in this regard.

Usage categories[edit]

Many terms are limited in their use in various fairly common ways. For example, some terms are considered slang or colloquial.

Topical Categories[edit]

There is currently a topical list of terms in Wiktionary. The coverage of this list varies greatly in breadth and depth. As is, the topical list must be kept up to date manually. If one topic is contained in another, there is some confusion as to whether to file a term in one place or both. If a topic might belong in two parent categories — Software Engineering might legitimately appear under both Software and Engineering — then every term in both topics must be manual entered twice.

A much simpler alternative is to assign topics directly to the appropriate senses of terms, using the most specific topics applicable. The Wikimedia engine then maintains the details of the topical list. Categories may be designated as sub-categories, with the contents again maintained automatically.

The topic list is currently being rearraged using categories. Currently, the manual text portion of categories is being used to contain the existing manual lists, but it is quite feasible to migrate these to use categories directly. For an example, see the basketball category.


Administrative templates[edit]

List of all templates[edit]

Templates and Categories[edit]

Adding a category link to the text of a template provides an easy way to put articles in a template. For example, the rfc template contains a link to Category:Requests for cleanup. Adding this template to an article automatically puts it on the list of articles to be cleaned up.

The same technique works with grammatical, usage and topical categories. The more common categories, such as uncountable already have predefined templates. A few topical categories like basketball and music also have pre-defined (mini-)templates. Adding more is easy.

There are several conveniences available for either tagging articles directly or creating new mini-templates.

  • {{cat|category}} Adds a link to the given category
  • {{tag|tag}} Inserts the text (tag)
  • {{cattag|name}} Inserts a tag with the given name and adds it to the given category
  • {{cattag2|name1|name2}} Does the same for both names given (e.g., basketball and colloquial)
  • {{cattag3|name1|name2|name3}} Does the same for all three names.