Wiktionary:Idioms that survived RFD
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- 1 About
- 2 Tests of idiomaticity
- 3 Lemming test
- 4 Failed entries
- 5 See also
- 6 References
This is a list of generally multiple-word entries which have meanings that may appear to be sum-of-parts (SoP) but which have survived a request for deletion (RfD) specifically because they are identified as idiomatic, or are found in other dictionaries.
Note: Please do not add a term to this list unless there was discussion during RfD that concluded in keeping it, initially doubting the necessity of including the term but leading ultimately to the decision that the term should be retained.
Tests of idiomaticity
Where possible the list is partitioned by test, in each case listing under the most applicable test for idiomatic status. Tests can be used as guides during RFD, but they are not hard/fast rules and are subject to interpretation, and thereafter change.
Tests are proposed by contributors as a way to rationalize how and why some terms are idiomatic when others are not. Besides original basis on the Pawley List, these tests are derived from the list of terms that survived RFD, not the other way around.
These tests are considered inclusive and incomplete, meaning that each needs to be narrowly written so as not to include any non-idiomatic terms. Please do not add tests before discussing whether that criterion is met.
In a jiffy test
Terms which would have passed at some point in the history of the English language, under current criteria for inclusion. For instance, in a jiffy can be understood by looking up the individual words, but the word jiffy (“short time”) once only existed within, and derives from, that phrase. Thus, in a jiffy passes. (This is not a grandfather clause. If criteria for inclusion change, a term can be re-evaluated.)
Terms that have specific restrictions to the meaning of constituents, which could not be surmised pragmatically. For instance, a fried egg is pan fried, not deep fried, and also not scrambled.
Light bulb joke test
Terms that imply certain social knowledge that could not be derived from any of the constituents, nor from their combination. For instance, a light bulb joke requires a scenario where a differing number of people are required to change a lightbulb based on a certain characteristic of those people.
Tennis player test
Terms normally regarded as designating professions.
In hospital test
Terms that are not recognized in a different dialect although all constituents are understood. Formerly known as the "fancy dress" test.
Once upon a time test
This category includes terms that are irregular or archaic syntactically and polite formulations.
Prior knowledge test
Terms that have a specific technical meaning in a certain field.
In between test
Terms that are tightly bound, in which a pause cannot be inserted, or for which concatenation seems natural, if not standard.
- See also: Wiktionary:Votes/pl-2009-12/Unidiomatic multi-word phrases to meet CFI when the more common spelling of a single word
Terms that are not necessarily idiomatic but are the significantly more common forms of attestable single words. For instance, coal mine is the more common form of coalmine. This criterion was voted upon.
Rocking chair test
Terms signified as logical units by unusual patterns of stress or intonation.
Terms in which at least one constituent is ascribed a meaning that it does not have outside the compound. For instance, red does not mean “small, relatively cool, and of the main sequence” outside the term red dwarf.
Empty space test
The frequent use of terms appearing to contain elements of redundancy is sometimes used as an argument for inclusion.
Terms that appear to be sum of parts, yet have entries in general monolingual dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster but not WordNet. However, there is no consensus for automatic application of this test.
For comparison, here are some entries that failed RFD because they are not idiomatic:
- art exhibition = art + exhibition
- broken English = broken + English
- go for a drive = go for + a drive
- intelligent being = intelligent + being
- invisibility cloak = invisibility + cloak
- legendary progenitor = legendary + progenitor
- mackinaw shirt = mackinaw + shirt
- mesh with = mesh + with
- middle voice verb = middle voice + verb
- ROM image = ROM + image
- smoking fetish = smoking + fetish
- vulgar slang = vulgar + slang
In some cases a term is reduced to a minimal idiomatic part, such as: