Wiktionary:Information desk/2018/March

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discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← February 2018 · March 2018 · April 2018 → · (current)

Insular script code[edit]

Is Insular script coded as latg or latn? – Gormflaith (talk) 23:54, 1 March 2018 (UTC)

We don't use Insular script here, since all variants of Latin script can be normalised as Latn. See WT:SCRIPTS for the exhaustive list of script codes we include and exclude. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 03:51, 2 March 2018 (UTC)

that's the wrong direction[edit]

About this sentence in English:

"That's the wrong direction."

Is has 395,000 Google results. But isn't it technically a mistake, unless there are exactly two directions to choose?

If I need to go North, but start walking East by mistake, that's not "the" wrong direction, that's "a" wrong direction, right?

It seems it's normal to say that sentence in English even though it's often technically a mistake. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 04:17, 4 March 2018 (UTC)

It's not a mistake, it's a common construction. Discussion, key point: "You use "the" when the item of discussion has somehow been identified, "a" when it is anonymous." DTLHS (talk) 04:19, 4 March 2018 (UTC)
I agree. "The wrong direction" doesn't necessarily mean "the only wrong direction"; it means "a direction that isn't the right one". —Mahāgaja (formerly Angr) · talk 15:14, 4 March 2018 (UTC)
I see. Thank you both. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 17:49, 4 March 2018 (UTC)
It does seem illogical. We don't say "that's the bad idea" or "that's the moot point". Why "the" with "wrong" specifically? Equinox 17:51, 4 March 2018 (UTC)
Indeed. Looking at google books:"That's the wrong", I also find "that's the wrong question", "but that's the wrong way" and the like. Something odd is going on there. Generally, predicates assigning an individual to a class usually use an indefinite article, like "He's a smart guy", not "He's the smart guy". --Dan Polansky (talk) 18:03, 4 March 2018 (UTC)
We should learn from Czech and just stop all this article nonsense, eh? Equinox 18:11, 4 March 2018 (UTC)
Apparently the English language is broken. Where can I send a bug report? --Daniel Carrero (talk) 18:34, 4 March 2018 (UTC)
You send a bug report by placing "proscribed" on the word in Wiktionary; done ;). --Dan Polansky (talk) 18:45, 4 March 2018 (UTC)
I've grown to like English articles. They need some getting used to, sure. But once I got used to them, I sometimes need them in Czech, and emulate them using certain words or phrases.
I think I saw an article (a journal article, that is :)) reporting that men use definite articles more often than women, or at least that's what a particular study quantitatively found. What that suggests is that the article choice is not so grammatically clear-cut as one might think. --Dan Polansky (talk) 18:40, 4 March 2018 (UTC)
At least English doesn't have gendered articles. In Portuguese we have: "the pencil" = "O lápis", "the pen" = "A caneta".
We also use articles for uncountable nouns a lot: "love is in the air" = "O amor está no ar".
And articles for proper nouns: "Daniel is late to the party" = "O Daniel está atrasado para a festa".
So now that I think about it, article usage in English seems simpler/easier than in my mother tongue. Which seems good for English, I guess. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 15:07, 5 March 2018 (UTC)
I suspect that you have to have a choice of options for this construction to work- it would have to be something where one could ask "which one?". There's more to it than that, but I think you have to have that, to start with. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:30, 5 March 2018 (UTC)
I'm speculating, but maybe "the correct / right X" came first (which makes grammatical sense), and this construction transferred to "wrong / incorrect". DTLHS (talk) 18:41, 4 March 2018 (UTC)
Here's a wrong direction,the wrong direction at Google Ngram Viewer; at the beginning of the 19th century, the indefinite article held sway.--Dan Polansky (talk) 18:49, 4 March 2018 (UTC)
I'm sure this isn't universal, but when somebody says something like "You're going the wrong direction", I assume they specifically mean the opposite direction. Otherwise I would use, and expect to hear, the negative construction "You're not going in the right direction." --SanctMinimalicen (talk) 14:23, 18 March 2018 (UTC)

One of the jargon[edit]

lemming heuristic cannot be attested, and as I researched further it seems to strictly be Wiktionary jargon. It's an RFD-related term. Can someone explain this to me, and the background behind the term, etc. if you know it? Thanks! PseudoSkull (talk) 07:05, 7 March 2018 (UTC)

I think it's Dan Polansky's rewording of lemming logic. --Per utramque cavernam (talk) 16:35, 7 March 2018 (UTC)
A "lemming" in RFD jargon is another dictionary; there's a heuristic for or test of includability that in effect says: if other lemmings (dictionaries) have jumped off a certain cliff (included a certain word), perhaps we should, too. It's documented at WT:LEMMING as one of a number of (not all binding, but informative) tests. - -sche (discuss) 17:10, 7 March 2018 (UTC)
@PseudoSkull: The way I see it, it is Wiktionary that is the lemming, not the other dictionaries. A heuristic is a rule or method of procedure that is merely good enough, not guaranteed to yield optimal result. An advantage of a heuristic is that it is computationally or cognitively cheap. A BP discussion is at Wiktionary:Beer parlour/2014/January#Proposal: Use Lemming principle to speed RfDs. I may have confused people by using the word "heuristic". I like the word since it points out to the merely-good-enough + cheap or fast nature, which the word "principle" does not do.
The lemming heuristic says that, in RFD, if a term is in certain dictionaries, it should be kept even if it seems to be a sum of parts. These dictionaries include Merriam-Webster, but exclude WordNet since WordNet has a general tendency to include sum of parts anyway. --Dan Polansky (talk) 09:24, 10 March 2018 (UTC)
Perhaps it would make sense to say both Wiktionary and other dictionaries are lemmings. (I see DCDuring refer to other dictionaries as lemmings, in any case; as in "among the lemmings, only Webster has this".) They are lemmings that we, as a fellow member of the species, must decide whether to follow or not. - -sche (discuss) 16:25, 10 March 2018 (UTC)

Animal commands that are also used more broadly[edit]

I am not proposing to add animal-specific senses to sit or stay or roll over, because the sense used when commanding a dog seems no different from the general use of the verb in the imperative, but should such terms nonetheless be added to Category:English animal commands due to their commonness as animal commands? - -sche (discuss) 17:42, 8 March 2018 (UTC)

I see no reason not to, for the sake of completeness. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 17:44, 8 March 2018 (UTC)

English name for this hole on the street[edit]


What's the English name for this hole on the street? The 3rd man in the picture is sitting above it. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 10:54, 9 March 2018 (UTC)

It's a storm drain. —Mahāgaja (formerly Angr) · talk 12:02, 9 March 2018 (UTC)

How can I search only for Spanish words?[edit]

I am currently given a list of all the languages which happen to contain a word with the same spelling. As I am looking up a lot of words, having to scroll through to the Spanish section is cumulatively wasting a lot of time. —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

You can add incategory:"spanish lemmas" or "spanish lemmas" to the end of your query. —suzukaze (tc) 00:59, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
If you add "#Spanish" (the capitalization has to match) to your search term, it should take you to the Spanish section on the page, if there is one. That is, search for "hay#Spanish" instead of just "hay". Chuck Entz (talk) 09:38, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
You can also click on "Spanish" in the table of contents. Redboywild (talk) 13:44, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
How can I get to the table of contents (where I can then select "Spanish) from the main page (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Main_Page)? I can see how to select the Spanish language version of Wiktionary (but I'm an English speaker of course) and also the Index:Spanish, but that doesn't seem to allow me to search it. I want the functionality of adding "#Spanish", as suggested by Chuck Entz above, but without having to type "#Spanish" everytime. Thanks!
I doubt we have any built-in way to do that, but your browser might allow you to set up an address-bar shortcut which will add #Spanish automatically. See User:Equinox/How_to_be_fast#Custom_searches and your browser's documentation. Equinox 02:22, 14 March 2018 (UTC)
If you sign up for an account you can enable the "Tabbed Languages" gadget (language sections will be converted to language tabs) that should send you to Spanish if it was the language of the last tab you viewed. —suzukaze (tc) 04:36, 14 March 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. I've enabled the "Tabbed Languages" gadget, but it's not remembering the last language I viewed. I think a better solution would be to add a drop-down box below the "Search Wiktionary" field, in which any user can select the language they want to search. The default can be "All languages". Is anyone reading this capable of making that change? And if not, do you know how I can go about getting this implemented?
No, tabbed languages no longer remember the last language you visited. They used to, but that was changed a while back so that you always go to the English section if there is one and the top of the page otherwise. That makes following links in glosses easier: if I click on [[teach]] in the entry for Irish múin, I want it take me to the English word teach, not the Irish homograph that means "house". —Mahāgaja (formerly Angr) · talk 10:29, 16 March 2018 (UTC)

Stephen Hawking[edit]

αθάνατος.   sarri.greek (talk) 04:51, 14 March 2018 (UTC)

Apparently not. —Mahāgaja (formerly Angr) · talk 09:29, 14 March 2018 (UTC)

English transgender[edit]

Is it just me, or it's accented on the first syllable on the audio file? --Per utramque cavernam (talk) 22:03, 14 March 2018 (UTC)

No, but the speaker seems to be trying to put equal stress on both syllables, which doesn't sound natural at all. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:17, 15 March 2018 (UTC)
The audiofile appears to be by @Romanophile. I agree that it sounds very unnatural; perhaps he could reupload it? —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 03:20, 15 March 2018 (UTC)
I guess the stress differs depending on the context/person. I usually say tránsgender, but in certain contexts I'll say transgénder. Perhaps it's just idiolectal in my case though... PseudoSkull (talk) 03:44, 15 March 2018 (UTC)
I say tránsgénder too (I think. I don't really understand the intricacies of English phonetics). a tránsgénder person; a tránsgéndér wóman. —suzukaze (tc) 03:55, 15 March 2018 (UTC)
The audio clip sounds like the speaker is trying to pronounce a noun meaning "a gender that is trans", not an adjective. DTLHS (talk) 03:59, 15 March 2018 (UTC)
I agree the particular clip was odd. I have heard it stressed on all the syllables described above, transgénder, tránsgender, and tránsgénder. Other dictionaries' transcriptions [that I saw] say it's stressed on the second-syllable, but their audio files are not so unanimous. I imagine many factors influence stress placement; someone who often contrasts transgender and cisgender, or often uses/hears trans, might stress the first syllable (as the "important"/"distinguishing" one) or stress both equally. Actually, although other dictionaries likewise say cisgender is also stressed on the second syllable, that (and their audio clips) sounds odd to me... - -sche (discuss) 05:33, 15 March 2018 (UTC)
The actual pronunciation and stress in the audio recording seems fine to me, but something about it seems robotic. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 15:41, 17 March 2018 (UTC)
Maybe it's a matter of dialect. To me, the audio file sounds fine, perfectly natural. —Stephen (Talk) 15:22, 18 March 2018 (UTC)
To clarify, the audio file that's in the entry now is a different one from what was there when the discussion started. - -sche (discuss) 17:23, 18 March 2018 (UTC)


What should be done with the many citations pages which are like this one? It's in Category:English citations of undefined terms because all-destroying hasn't been created yet — but it's trivially attestable, and so could be created — but it seems SOP-y and might fail an RFD. I suggest adding a parameter to {{citations}} to allow suppressing the aforementioned category, so that the category can consist only of terms that would get entries if they had enough citations, though I expect opinions might differ on whether it was OK to add the parameter and suppress categorization of an entry without first RFDing it... - -sche (discuss) 05:51, 19 March 2018 (UTC)

  • Or we could just admit that the term exists, and actually create it. Just a suggestion. SemperBlotto (talk) 22:03, 19 March 2018 (UTC)
    Obviously, but see RFD. - -sche (discuss) 22:25, 19 March 2018 (UTC)


Either the audio file is cutting earlier than it should, or it's misnamed, but I'm hearing the first syllable only ("жёст"). --Per utramque cavernam (talk) 11:01, 20 March 2018 (UTC)

The audiofile is fine. There's been a perennial issue with the ends of audiofiles cutting out for certain people, and I don't remember how it's been solved, but I think that it's always been short-lived. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 04:48, 22 March 2018 (UTC)
For me too, the file removed here was only the first syllable. The other file is fine. - -sche (discuss) 05:05, 22 March 2018 (UTC)
Yes. As far as I can tell, the old file is actually the file for жёсткость (žóstkostʹ) cut in half. --Per utramque cavernam (talk) 14:47, 22 March 2018 (UTC)

"Fade dog", "rot dog"?[edit]

In this Pink Panther cartoon episode [1], at about 4 min 30 sec, the disgraced dog is surrounded by signs. What are "fade dog" and "rot dog" supposed to mean? Is it old slang? Equinox 20:05, 20 March 2018 (UTC)

fade does have an adjective sense, although it is marked as archaic. Maybe some contemporary (to the show) uses could be found. DTLHS (talk) 21:04, 20 March 2018 (UTC)
"Rot[,] dog" could be a verbal imperative. The signs don't seem to be all of one type, some are insulting while others are "dogs not allowed", so I suppose that's not implausible. - -sche (discuss) 15:02, 22 March 2018 (UTC)
I take "rot dog" to be a pun on hot dog, but I can't imagine what "fade dog" is supposed to be. —Mahāgaja (formerly Angr) · talk 11:05, 23 March 2018 (UTC)
Urban dictionary's entry may be relevant: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fade Andrew Sheedy (talk) 03:52, 25 March 2018 (UTC)


The second audiofile is... interesting. I've never heard this word pronounced with such passion. --Per utramque cavernam (talk) 22:12, 20 March 2018 (UTC)

If you look at the contribs, this is the user who also recorded a lot of swear-words. I suspect it's a joke. (The plot thickens: some are the female voice and some are a male voice, and the latter sounds possibly like WF.) Equinox 03:26, 22 March 2018 (UTC)
It seems there are several male voices, actually. --Per utramque cavernam (talk) 14:49, 22 March 2018 (UTC)
Interesting... many of the files are good, although the one for clunge is also not the best quality. - -sche (discuss) 14:58, 22 March 2018 (UTC)
@-sche: rofl --Per utramque cavernam (talk) 19:38, 22 March 2018 (UTC)

To follow or not to follow - what's next?[edit]

So I misspell the word as "non sequitor" and search says 'nope'. Wander around more and finally realize it is "non sequitur". Uh... why can't search be more helpful?

I peek at Help:Redirect about redirects at Wiktionary and it seems to say 'nope!' But a redirect from "non sequitor" to non sequitur seems so useful. Are redirects here so bad? Shenme (talk) 03:14, 22 March 2018 (UTC)

We should improve the search rather than add lots of bad redirects. You'd expect your spell-checker to show a red squiggly line, not to add the wrong spellings to its dictionary. Equinox 03:20, 22 March 2018 (UTC)
Bad redirects are one of the worst things around here. We definitely don't need those. I mean it when I say they're BAD! PseudoSkull (talk) 03:30, 22 March 2018 (UTC)
Google's Ngram Viewer finds "non sequitor" to be 1/100th as common as "non sequitur", a relatively common misspelling, so I've created an entry for it as a misspelling. I will note that, before I did that, when I typed "non sequitor" into the search bar, "non sequitur" was the first suggested result. - -sche (discuss) 03:22, 22 March 2018 (UTC)
Really? When I said it said 'nope', I meant it suggested exactly nothing. Perhaps this is even more disconcerting, yes? Maybe it had a rest and a think, and decided that next time it would suggest something more useful? (I wish I was kidding) Shenme (talk) 03:22, 25 March 2018 (UTC)
The search field has auto-completion that will suggest existing entries while typing, if javascript is enabled and your connection fast enough to load the suggestions. Rhyminreason (talk) 20:20, 29 March 2018 (UTC)

Pronouns in idioms[edit]

Wiktionary:Criteria_for_inclusion#Pronouns says the pronoun should be "one" or "one's" unless there's a specific reason not to. Appendix:English idioms used to recommend "one" or "somebody". I see entries with "someone" or "someone's" like breathe down someone's neck. I'm assuming I should make redirects from the "somebody" variant to "someone"? Should the CFI page say that "someone" is also OK to use? Is there a particular rule to decide whether to use "one" or "someone"? -- Beland (talk) 22:01, 24 March 2018 (UTC)

"One" is used when the usage is reflexive, "someone" when an action is being done to someone other than the subject. So hurt someone's feelings (although there is a redirect from the variant with "one"), but get one's foot in the door. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 22:29, 24 March 2018 (UTC)
Right. - -sche (discuss) 22:31, 24 March 2018 (UTC)
That makes a lot of sense. I put in a request to update the policy text here. Thanks for clearing that up! -- Beland (talk) 03:53, 26 March 2018 (UTC)
I agree with this. There's an important contrast between kiss someone's ass and kiss one's ass goodbye. —Mahāgaja (formerly Angr) · talk 14:52, 26 March 2018 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done. - -sche (discuss) 16:39, 26 March 2018 (UTC)
Wouldn't foot in the door and hurt feelings be enough? Likewise, there is no difference between the definitions at kiss ass and kiss someone's ass (to take your examples). The CFI page mentions "For the main entry, prefer the most generic form". Rhyminreason (talk) 00:18, 30 March 2018 (UTC)

'Alt form' template vs 'alternative form of' template[edit]

I've seen both of these used in entries in the same contexts, and I assume one is an antiquated version of the other. They seem to produce the same result--which is the proper one to use? --SanctMinimalicen (talk) 01:02, 25 March 2018 (UTC)

@SanctMinimalicen: There’s actually only one template with two different names; {{alt form}} is just a redirect to {{alternative form of}}. In short, it doesn’t matter which one you use. — Vorziblix (talk · contribs) 01:53, 25 March 2018 (UTC)
@Vorziblix: Ah, I'm glad to hear that. Thank you! --SanctMinimalicen (talk) 01:56, 25 March 2018 (UTC)

Need a word for..[edit]

Suggest a usage of Wiktionary for discussion of ideas for non-extant words, where the idea is delivered without an associated trans-scribable sound, as words might exist in another language, or else need to be coined. -Inowen (talk) 00:50, 26 March 2018 (UTC)

Our purpose is more about documenting real words. There are sites like Urban Dictionary for inventing new ones (which never seem to catch on in practice). Equinox 01:19, 26 March 2018 (UTC)
Urban Dictionary is proprietary, and therefore irrelevant for creative collaborative purposes. -Inowen (talk) 04:45, 26 March 2018 (UTC)
Please read our Criteria for inclusion. Wiktionary is a descriptive dictionary- if it's not already in use, it's not allowed in the dictionary. Of course, your wording is rather vague and unclear, so I might be misinterpreting what you're suggesting. Chuck Entz (talk) 05:41, 26 March 2018 (UTC)
WT:Protologisms and AP:List of protologisms might be what you're looking for. Redboywild (talk) 16:26, 26 March 2018 (UTC)
Or if you're wondering if there's already a word for a certain concept, you could ask in the Tea Room, as I asked about words for "an organization that provides useless jobs" and "nonsensical color". - -sche (discuss) 16:45, 26 March 2018 (UTC)


At cheese, I read "Proto-Germanic *kāsijaz developed into early Old English or Anglo-Frisian *kǣsi by Anglo-Frisian brightening and loss of the last syllable."

What do we mean by "brightening"? Is this worthy of a new sense in the entry? @Erutuon, Mahagaja --Per utramque cavernam (talk) 20:38, 26 March 2018 (UTC)

@Per utramque cavernam: I don't know of the full ancestry of the word and the context it grew up in, but I imagine that it means fronting or raising, and implies that front vowels are brighter in sound than back vowels. The sense should certainly be added if the word is used in this sense in other places than just this phrase. The OED doesn't have a phonetics-related sense in the entries for either bright or brightening. — Eru·tuon 22:27, 26 March 2018 (UTC)
I think it's related to the concept of dark and light vowels, which our entries don't cover either. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:32, 27 March 2018 (UTC)
I've never heard "brightening" to mean fronting of a vowel in any context other than that of Anglo-Frisian brightening, making me wonder whether Anglo-Frisian brightening would be a better entry than a new sense to brightening. —Mahāgaja (formerly Angr) · talk 18:16, 27 March 2018 (UTC)

Italian abbreviations for all those abbreviations found in Italian DICTIONARIRES[edit]

It probably does NOT help that I do not know the common abbreviations in ENGLISH (my mother tongue) dictionaries. But I am trying to learn Italian, and I finally NEED to know the abbreviations. So, if anyone can update the Italian abbreviations page with them, I would really appreciate it. For example succo s. m. pl. -chi I can figure out as Singular Masculine and the Plural is succhi. Great. But what the heck is "ant. o lett. suco"? I can guess "antiquated or literary" but guessing. Any help would be most appreciated.

I don't speak Italian but I would assume it's something like "antico o letterario", i.e. "archaic or literary": an old form that's now only found in books. Equinox 00:19, 28 March 2018 (UTC)
At least in older dictionaries s. often means "substantive", which is another way of saying it's a noun. I just checked the translation table for noun, and, sure enough, the Italian is sostantivo. I would translate that as "noun, masculine, plural succhi". We have suco defined as an obsolete variant of succo. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:39, 28 March 2018 (UTC)

French audio files[edit]

A great many of the French audio files sound weird. Either they're pronounced with a somewhat nasal voice (héritage), or even worse, with a lisp (Héraclès). I find it personally annoying, but more to the point, I don't think they should be featured on a dictionary, which is a fairly normative project in essence; that's just going to confuse people.

I mean, I appreciate the effort, but these two guys just aren't made for this stuff. --2A02:2788:A4:F44:3D32:DFED:6183:8B92 23:35, 28 March 2018 (UTC)

I see nothing wrong with the audio for héritage, but I agree the audio for Héraclès sounds more like /e.ʁa.klɛɬ/ than like /e.ʁa.klɛs/. —Mahāgaja (formerly Angr) · talk 22:09, 29 March 2018 (UTC)
Nothing wrong with the first one. Agreed that the second recording should be removed/replaced. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 19:35, 1 April 2018 (UTC)


The entry for inclement lists the definition "merciless, unrelenting" as obsolete, but I'm not sure it is obsolete. The introduction to Theories of Resistance: Anarchism, Geography, and the Spirit of Revolt, edited by Marcelo Lopes de Souza, Richard J. White and Simon Springer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) has the following sentence: "'And this was indeed,' as Castoriadis, one of the most radical and inclement critics of Marxism during the second half of the twentieth century, conceded himself, one of the essential intuitions of the young Marx'." (p. 2). I note that Merriam-Webster lists roughly the same definition as archaic rather than obsolete, while Dicionary.com and Collins list it as neither. I'm offering these comments here because I don't really know how Wiktionary decides these things – whether we're encouraged to simply change things like this, or whether discussion or sources are expected first – and because the editnotice on the entry talk page suggested I come here instead. All the best, Arms & Hearts (talk) 22:20, 31 March 2018 (UTC)