Wiktionary:Entry layout explained/POS headers

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Accessories-text-editor.svg This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. Specifically it is a policy think tank, working to develop a formal policy.


In our jargon POS is shorthand for Part of Speech.


While some of the information below may represent some kind of "standard" form, it is not a set of rigid rules. You may experiment with deviations, but other editors may find those deviations unacceptable, and revert those changes. They have just as much right to do that as you have to make them. Be ready to discuss those changes. If you want your way accepted, you have to make the case for that. Unless there is a good reason for deviating, the standard should be presumed correct. Refusing to discuss, or engaging in edit wars may also affect your credibility in other unrelated areas.

The part of speech header in English[edit]

This is basically a level 3 header but may be a level 4 or higher when multiple etymologies or pronunciations are a factor. This header most often shows the part of speech, but is not restricted to "parts of speech" in the traditional sense. The classical parts of speech are:

Additional commonly used grammatical headers are:

In addition to these headers, there are other descriptors that identify the usage of the entry, but which are not (strictly speaking) parts of speech:

Certain oddities of the way in which numbers are used in English has led to the use of:

Acronyms, Abbreviations, and Initialisms[edit]

While Acronyms, Abbreviations, and Initialisms are non-POS L3 headers, they do not replace POS headers – rather, they give etymology and pronunciation information, but the actual uses of the term require their own L3 headers. See SMS for illustration – in addition to an Initialism header, it also requires a Noun (for the sense “a text message”) and a Verb (for the sense “to send a text message”).

Use of Verb form and the like[edit]

Use of Verb form has been routinely changed to "Verb" but is being discussed. Use of Noun form and Adjective form for other languages (they are inapplicable to English) is also being discussed.

Use of Ordinal number[edit]

The Ordinal number header is not currently used in English, but is used in Latin. It is proposed for use in English as well, but the discussion of merits/disadvantages has not yet begun.

Variations for languages other than English[edit]

Entries for terms in other language should follow the standard format as closely as possible regardless of the language of the word.

Some languages do have characteristics that require variation from the standard format. For links to these variations see Wiktionary:Language considerations.

Headers in use[edit]

The headers presently in use are described here, divided into four sections:

  • Standard POS headers, used for English and all other languages as appropriate
  • Standard level 3 headers that are not parts of speech.
  • Other headers in use, often for languages other than English.
  • Non-standard headers that are observed, but are deprecated and should be cleaned up.

The tables are presented in (some) logical order, from more to less significant. The headers in an entry (or nested within an etymology section) should always be in (English) alphabetical order, except that non-POS headers describing characters or syllables should come first.

Standard POS headers[edit]

Header Category Notes
Adjective (language) adjectives
Adjective (language) adjective forms For languages that decline adjectives, e.g. Japanese.
Adverb (language) adverbs
Article (language) articles
Conjunction (language) conjunctions
Interjection (language) interjections
Noun (language) nouns
Noun (language) noun forms For languages, such as Russian, with noun declension.
Noun (language) plurals In languages, such as English, which do not decline nouns other than the plural form.
Proper noun (language) proper nouns
Preposition (language) prepositions
Prepositional phrase (language) prepositional phrases
Pronoun (language) pronouns
Verb (language) verbs Verbs in the infinitive. (Or the standard lemmata form, in e.g. Latin)
Verb (language) verb forms Conjugated forms of verbs.

Standard non-POS level 3 headers[edit]

Header Category Notes
Diacritical mark (language) diacritical marks
Idiom (language) idioms It appears that English idioms are categorized in (just) Idioms.
Letter (language) letters
Phrase (language) phrasebook, phrases category "(language) phrasebook" is for the sort of thing that appears in tourist translation phrasebooks: var är toaletten?, all others go in "(language) phrases"
Prefix (language) prefixes
Punctuation mark (language) punctuation marks
Suffix (language) suffixes

Debated POS level 3 headers[edit]

Header Category Notes
Number (e.g.) Kurdish numbers No consensus has been reached on which of these six headers should be used or the category names.
Cardinal number (e.g.) French cardinal numbers Should be Number or Numeral with {{cardinal}} on the definition lines as appropriate. (?)
Ordinal number (e.g.) French ordinal numbers Should be Number or Numeral with {{ordinal}} on the definition lines as appropriate. (?)
Numeral (e.g.) German numerals
Cardinal numeral (e.g.) French cardinal numbers
Ordinal numeral (e.g.) French ordinal numbers

Note that a number of languages have these categories named inconsistently. Not all cardinal numbers function grammatically as cardinal numbers, and not all forms of ordinal numbers are words (some are abbreviations or symbols), hence the topical categories as subcategories under Mathematics. The safest route is to use Category:fr:Cardinal numbers as a topical category, with Category:French numerals or Category:French numbers as the POS category containing the subcategories for specific kinds of numbers.

Other headers in use[edit]

These headers are usually language specific. (Some may be moved to standard or deprecated later, or left here as language specific.) Mostly these are not POS, but other level 3 headers used as is Symbol for individual letters, characters, or for CJKV languages, syllables and readings. (Other headers in use may be added to this table regardless of the warning above note to modify this policy page without a vote; the appearance of a header in this table is not strict policy.)

Header Category Notes
Abstract pronoun used (only?) in same
Adjectival noun な-Adjectives Japanese "quasi-adjective", probably should be Adjective.
Adjective or Adverb E.g. quite.
Adnominal e.g. in
Brivla Lojban
Classifier Thai
Clitic E.g. 'm 'd 's 't
Combined-kana character Japanese
Combining form (might not be used at all?)
Conjunction particle Latin que and ve only
Correlative Esperanto
Counter Japanese counters Count word, used for plural forms. (should also be other languages that use count words)
Definitions Han characters Used in Chinese for single characters. E.g.
Determiner E.g. all, each, little, most, whichever.
Demonstrative determiner Czech demonstrative determiners
Expression Used variously; should probably be Phrase, Idiom, or Proverb
Gerund Used in Latin only.
Gismu Lojban
Han character Han characters Used in Translingual and Vietnamese for single characters
Hanja Used in Korean for single characters
Hanja reading Used in 겸#Korean
Hanzi Used in Chinese languages for single characters
Hiragana character
Hiragana letter Japanese kana
Infinitive particle Icelandic particles Used once, in
Infix E.g. -bloody-.
Interrogative auxiliary verb e.g. have
Jyutping syllable
Kanji Japanese kanji Used for the single character entries, gives the readings and compounds.
Kanji reading Used in hiragana entries that are readings of single kanji.
Katakana character
Katakana letter Japanese kana
Lujvo Lojban
Measure word Mandarin
Noun class Only m#Swahili
Noun stem Taos
Participle Used in some Russian, Lithuanian, and many Latin entries.
Particle (language) particles CJKV languages, and some others; see tok, ne.
Personal pronoun E.g. moai.
Phrasal verb And even Intransitive phrasal verb (go away) or Transitive phrasal verb (churn out).
Pinyin Mandarin pinyin Used for individual character syllables. Never for words.
Pinyin syllable
Possessive adjective Russian possessive adjectives
Postposition Postpositions Has the same function as preposition, but comes after the main word: in Estonian, Hindi, Finnish, Urdu, Turkish ...
Predicative Russian
Prenoun Ojibwe
Prepositional article not used?
Preverb Ojibwe
Pronominal adverb e.g. daarna
Proverb (language) proverbs Used in Chinese languages and one Spanish entry.
Quasi-adjective な-Adjectives Japanese, probably should be Adjective.
Root Used in Hebrew, may be useful in others (Arabic)
Verb prefix Russian verbal prefixes Should be Prefix with verbal on the definition lines as appropriate.

Non-standard, deprecated headers[edit]

These headers are deprecated, but are in use. Note that deprecated does not necessarily mean they were wrong in the past, only that they should not be used now.

Header Category Notes
Adjective form Should be Adjective
Noun form Should be Noun
Verb form Should be Verb
Nominal phrase Should be Noun, or in some cases Phrase or Idiom
Noun phrase Should be Noun, or in some cases Phrase or Idiom
Verb phrase Should be Verb, or in some cases Phrase or Idiom
Intransitive verb Should be Verb with (intransitive) on the definition lines as appropriate.
Reflexive verb Should be Verb with (reflexive) on the definition lines as appropriate. Used in some French and Spanish verbs.
Transitive verb Should be Verb with (transitive) on the definition lines as appropriate.
Cmavo This is a Lojban word, should probably be Particle
Romaji Romaji, Japanese romaji Should be replaced with the POS header(s).
Hiragana Hiragana, Japanese hiragana Should be replaced with the POS header(s).
Furigana Hiragana, Japanese hiragana (not even a script form) Should be replaced with the POS header(s).
Compounds Appears in single character CJKV entries as a level 3 heading, probably in most cases because an appropriate level 3 heading (e.g. Kanji or a standard POS) is missing. If used, should be level 4, under the character heading.
Kun-reading of: Japanese (including colon, see WT:AJA)
On-reading of: Japanese (including colon, see WT:AJA)