Wiktionary:Tea room

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Tea house party in Japan (not tea ceremony)-J. M. W. Silver.jpg

A place to ask for help on finding quotations, etymologies, or other information about particular words. The Tea room is named to accompany the Beer parlour.

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February 2019


The current definition of legitimize is "to make legitimate". I'm wondering about appropriate subjects for this verb. If a street gang attempts to transition into legal business, is it proper to say that it is legitimizing itself? Is legitimize about whether the activities of the subject are actually legitimate, or only about them being recognized as legitimate? In other words, is it up to a politician to legitimize the gang through public recognition? I tend to think of legitimize as referring to expanding the boundaries of social norms, as recognizing and accepting as legitimate what was formerly regarded as illegitimate, with no change in the subject itself. Daask (talk) 10:46, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

I think that legitimize refers to both a process and an achievement. An illlegitimate entity or an entity of uncertain legitimacy can be both the subject and the object of legitimize. I don't think that an entity that is legitimate can legitimize itself or be legitimized by another. The substance of the legitimacy achieved can include lots of things. The IRA could be said to have been a legitimate reflection of the goals of a population before it became a legitimate political party. DCDuring (talk) 13:21, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
One main use of the verb is for the recognition by the natural father of an illegitimate child, that is, one born out of wedlock. Then, I think, it can mean something like to confer legitimacy in the sense of being recognized and respected, thereby regularizing something that was irregular. Like for example when a squatter receives a deed of the squatted land, legitimizing his occupation. Legitimizing oneself would seem a bit difficult, but one can legitimize one’s business by getting all necessary permits and paying the requisite fees. Anyone can attempt to legitimize Hamas, but to pull this of will be a major accomplishment of international diplomacy.  --Lambiam 22:22, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

会 pronuciation "ēre"[edit]

In the entry for the traditional form of , a pronunciation is given for Min Nan as "ēre". In the expanded form, you see POJ ēre and Tai-lo erē. Are these all elaborate typos for "ēr" /ɤ22/?

MGorrone (talk) 16:31, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

@MGorrone: No. It's meant to be something like /əe/, only used in the "Old Anxi" accent spoken in certain areas of New Taipei, such as Sanxia, as well as the "Old Nan'an" accent spoken in parts of Changhua and Yunlin. See this for details on these uncommon vowels/rimes. — justin(r)leung (t...) | c=› } 17:32, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
@Justinrleung: Would that be stressed on the er or on the e? /ǝe̯/ or /ǝ̯e/? And what countour? Is it the 22 that MoE 台湾闽南语常用词辞典 associates to the tone marked by a macron? MGorrone (talk) 21:49, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

student, sense 2[edit]

Why do we need the sub-senses? They're essentially 2: someone who studies at an institution, 2.1: someone who studies at university, 2.2: someone who studies anywhere else. If it's about separating translation tables, sense 2.2 already lumps elementary and high school together, plus students of any other kind of institution. A search of "vocational student" turns up entries in several languages. We might as well have every level of education under one sense and in one table with qualifiers, rather than point people to schoolchild (and fail to point them to the hub high school student). Ultimateria (talk) 18:31, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

See Wiktionary:Tea room/2018/August#student. Some dialects only call a university-level studier a "student", and don't call a schoolchild a "student" (but rather a "pupil", etc), which is why the first subsense ("university enrollee") is there. I can't recall why the second subsense ("a schoolchild") was not folded into the super-sense (that encompasses both university- and school- enrollees). I seem to recall that there was some reason, but if not, subsense 2 (but not IMO subsense 1) could be folded up. - -sche (discuss) 19:35, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
Someone can be a student of Sumerian while not studying at any kind of institution; for example, a retired professor who now finally has the time to write their magnum opus on the unrealised-volitive mood in Sumerian in the quiet of their study in the attic. Someone else can be enrolled at a prep school and thus be registered there as a student, while actually spending all their time on enjoying drinking beer and anything else that does not require one to take notes or open a textbook. These are truly different senses.  --Lambiam 22:38, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, but this thread is about the subsenses of sense 2, I think. - -sche (discuss) 23:08, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
Oops, my bad. Then the only reason I can think of are the in particular labels. However, I question that these are relevant. The term student is also used rather freely in the UK for sense 2.1, like here: “Third of students at many British boarding schools come from overseas”.  --Lambiam 03:35, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
Judging from a quick search for "kindergarten students" site:.gov.uk, British English can also refer to schoolchildren / primary-/secondary-school pupils as "students"... still, the term is sometimes used 'restrictively' in sense 2.1, "university enrollee / studier", so I left that sense for now, for the reasons mentioned above and in the previous discussion. But I can't think of any time that "student" refers exclusively to a schoolchild and not a university student, so I merged that subsense into the main sense... - -sche (discuss) 05:40, 3 February 2019 (UTC)


The turnout of voters in an election isn't mentioned; it would come under sense 1, I think. DonnanZ (talk) 21:55, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

Add some usex like “Bad weather has been often blamed for low voter turnout” [1]? (I would have written, “has often been blamed”.)  --Lambiam
Yeah, I have a translation for that, but I'm not sure what to do with it yet. DonnanZ (talk) 23:23, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
Sense 1 was awkwardly worded; I tried to improve it, and added mention that it applies especially to elections. (But not just elections; a meeting can have good turnout, too.) If some translations are specific to election turnout, you could provide them with {{qualifier}}s (like some of the age-specific translations of brother). - -sche (discuss) 04:58, 2 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, that's a definite improvement and reads much better; and yes, I used a qualifier for the translation. Cheers. DonnanZ (talk) 09:59, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

"there's something serious wrong"[edit]

Are these mistakes for seriously, or is serious serious used as an adverb? Per utramque cavernam 16:54, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

(Some? Many?) adjectives can be pressed into service as adverbs in a pinch (awful, powerful,...); I don't know if we have any clear way of deciding when it's lexical (compare pressing adjectives into service as nouns: rich, deaf, Irish,...). However, the results I see for google books:"something serious wrong" are simply using the adjective "serious" to modify "something", in a way that's neither an error nor an adverb: they're saying that something serious (i.e. some serious, important/weighty thing) is wrong. - -sche (discuss) 17:18, 2 February 2019 (UTC)


Definition of adverb "how" from Oxford Dictionaries [2]:

"In what way or manner; by what means."
Examples: "he did not know how he ought to behave", "he showed me how to adjust the focus"

Definition of conjunction "how" from M-W [3]:

"the way or manner in which"
Example: "asked how they could help"

Our definition of conjunction "how":

"In which way; in such way"
Example: "I remember how to solve this puzzle"

Is there any logical basis on which "how" is classified as an adverb in the first two examples and a conjunction in the second two? Mihia (talk) 22:59, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

Maybe Oxford is taking the position that what others call a subordinate clause is "really" a complement of the adverb how or that the clause/complement is an "adverbial clause". DCDuring (talk) 07:36, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

Template problem showing components of 茭白[edit]

On the 茭白 page the box showing the division into words has markup in the column header for 茭. There are double square brackets around w:Zizania aquatica and w:Oenanthe javanica. Vox Sciurorum (talk) 23:21, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

I suppose recent changes to the definition section of (Chinese etymology 1 definitions 2 and 4) broke the expansion in the component character boxes. Vox Sciurorum (talk) 23:38, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

Thank https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/User:Shāntián_Tàiláng https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=Module:zh/data/glosses&diff=51268312&oldid=51167474

Thanks for tracking that down. I don't understand how that part of Wiktionary works. Can somebody revert the change if it ought to be reverted? Vox Sciurorum (talk) 10:51, 7 February 2019 (UTC)


Is sense 2 a different sense/group, or is it just that the grouping "birds" is sometimes considered its own thing, and sometimes considered a subclass of Reptilia, in which case we only need one sense and no subsenses AFAICT? - -sche (discuss) 23:33, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

There are two approaches to taxonomy, the old-school Linnaean form of taxonomy, and the new-fangled cladistics. In general, taxa in the two approaches may not be comparable. For example, in the Linnaean system, the class Reptilia (the reptiles) does not include birds, while it does cladistically. However, as it is, the respective taxa in the two approaches that cover the birds are coextensive in the sense that they cover the same set of species. Moreover, the name of the Linnaean taxon has been retained for the clade. That is not a coincidence, of course, but it is also not a matter of course. So the term Aves is a term, shared between two taxonomic schools, for two conceptually different entities that happen to be coextensive.  --Lambiam 04:13, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
It so happens that the accepted membership in Aves is the same whether it is considered a subclass of Reptilia or a class more directly in Vertebrata, at least if one restricts oneself to extant species. We are also fortunate that there is an English vernacular name (birds) that corresponds to the taxon (Aves). Often there is no such name, in which case the definition of a genus might something lame like "certain molluscs" (molluscs constituting a phylum, several ranks above genus, in which case "certain' serves as a marker of a definition that could stand improvement. It is virtually impossible to provide definitions of taxa that are both useful to normal humans and complete, whether providing an intensional (hypernym and differentia) or an extensional (member taxa). At the species level one can provide useful ostensive definitions using pictures, at least sometimes for macro fauna and flora. Sometimes all one can usefully say is where on Earth members of the taxon can be found or why they might be of importance or interest. Sometimes it is just the taxonomic name itself that is of some interest (eg Han solo, Ba humbugi). But there are taxa that do not have well-known ranges; have no known use to mankind, no vernacular name, and uninteresting taxonomic names; have uncertain placement in the tree of life and uncertain membership, and are not photogenic.
IOW, definitions of taxa are challenging and cannot readily be reduced to formulas, much like definitions of ordinary words. DCDuring (talk) 07:07, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
I took the liberty of adding some explanatory verbiage. The formatting was too close to the way we do subsenses everywhere else to avoid the implication that these were two separate taxa rather than separate ways of classifying the same one.
The table of hypernyms has problems with the hierarchy of the ranks, but I have yet to see a classification system with ranks that can deal with the way a whole huge hierarchy can arise from within the lower levels of another hierarchy: cladistically speaking, birds are dinosaurs, and tetrapods (including reptiles, birds and us) are lobe-finned fish. It does seem particularly strange, though, to have Aves as a class within the class Reptilia. Chuck Entz (talk) 16:24, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
I'll try to remember to put something like your explanatory wording in similar cases. I have settled on using one comprehensive hierarchy, which has been accepted by a few of the comprehensive taxonomic databases (ITIS, WoRMS, IRMNG), as a standard or default (See {{R:Ruggiero}}) for all taxa except plants (APG system instead) and have downplayed unranked clades (except for plants) and older terms like division which are no longer fashionable. I simply accept that we will have taxonomic definitions whose defects are much more obvious, though not necessarily any worse, than those of normal words. The purpose of the reference sections is to aid users in finding more current and, possibly, more definitive sources for definitions. The reference databases may facilitate updating entries as well. DCDuring (talk) 17:51, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
The Hypernyms section for the class placement of Aves is an example of how hard it is to maintain a "complete" cladistic hierarchy. The terms used often have usage limited to a small number of taxonomists and a short useful life. They may be as worthy as any to be definienda but it is hard to justify their use in definiens. DCDuring (talk) 18:03, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks! - -sche (discuss) 05:35, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

y avoir anguille sous roche[edit]

I don't think the cited English idiom with "similar syntax" in this entry it is particularly relevant or insightful. Instead it seems to me to imply that the French idiom might also have an offensive meaning/contain a slur. There is already limited value in including an English idiom in an entry to a French idiom which has no etymological connection to the English.

While I understand and believe that dictionaries must contain racial slurs as well as every other word in usage, it does not seem in this case that the slur adds any particular information to this entry, and instead is an unpleasant surprise for anyone who wants to understand the unrelated French idiom.

Agreed; removed. There are plenty of syntactically similar phrases, e.g. skeleton in the closet. Equinox 04:44, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

Another sense for "wild"?[edit]

In the "making of" material for the "Runaway Jury" DVD, the set designers talk about "wild" elements of the scenery - i.e. elements that can be moved aside or away to allow or facilitate camera access. This sense is not covered in the entry for "wild". I am reluctant to add this sense to the page for "wild" because I don't know how widespread the term is. But someone else might have a better take on whether this would be a good thing to add. 22:31, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

"deep enough punk in turpitude"[edit]

1941, The Spectator - Volumes 166-167 ((Please specify the language of the quote)), page 228:
The general rule, I suppose, is that if the assassinee is deep enough punk in turpitude the assassin may secure an honourable place in history.

What does this mean? Is it one of our existing sense of punk? DTLHS (talk) 23:36, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

Typo for sunk? Per utramque cavernam 23:39, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, thanks... interestingly Google Books gives results for both "enough punk in turpitude" and "enough sunk in turpitude" for the same passage in the same book. DTLHS (talk) 23:40, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I've noticed that too. There seems to have been a problem at printing. Per utramque cavernam 23:47, 3 February 2019 (UTC)


Two noun senses of truck (9 and 10) share the same quote:

10. (Britain, rail transport) A flatbed railway car.
Far away he could hear the sharp clinking of the trucks on the railway.
11. A pivoting frame, one attached to the bottom of the bed of a railway car at each end, that rests on the axle and which swivels to allow the axle (at each end of which is a solid wheel) to turn with curves in the track. The axle on many types of railway car is not attached to the truck and relies on gravity to remain within the truck's brackets (on the truck's base) that hold the axle in place
Far away he could hear the sharp clinking of the trucks on the railway. No, it was not they that were far away. They were there in their places. But where was he himself?

Which sense does it belong with? At the very least, if it's ambiguous, it should be removed from under one sense, or possibly just removed to the Citations page. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 03:08, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

D.H. Lawrence probably didn't know much about railway terminology. Sense 10 is a flat wagon, and 11 a bogie. He probably meant wagons as a general term, they were normally four-wheel wagons without bogies in his day. I suggest removing the quote from what is now sense 10 (pivoting frame) at least. DonnanZ (talk) 10:51, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
Why is sense 10 (former sense 11) so wordy (~80 words)? DCDuring (talk) 15:43, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
I simply deleted the sentence after the definition, which still seems too long. Also, def. 3 (nautical) is too long. DCDuring (talk) 15:46, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
I'm sure Lawrence had a normal grasp of English English, in which a "truck" is what the Americans call a "wagon". It looks as though these definitions are being written in American, in which quite possibly "truck" has a technical meaning relating to parts of a (Am) wagon. I don't know exactly what the scope of (Am?) "flatbed railway car" is, but it sounds too specific for Lawrence's reference to ordinary (Br) "trucks" / (Am) "wagons". Imaginatorium (talk) 16:49, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
A "flatbed railway car" is called a flatcar in the US. I agree with Imaginatorium that such a sense is unlikely to be what Lawrence intended. However Americans call goods wagons freight cars, though goods wagon seems to specifically refer to what American call box cars. DCDuring (talk) 18:44, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
To be clear I've never heard or read of railroad freight-carrying vehicles being called wagons in the US. Perhaps in Canada. In the US they are (railroad) cars, flatcars, box cars, hopper cars, tank cars, refrigerator cars, cattle cars, trailer cars, container cars, etc. They almost always ride on trucks (def 11 above). DCDuring (talk) 18:55, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
Well, first of all, any claim I make about American, is unreliable; I remember my childhood trainset was called "Transcontinental" (Triang), and the things for carrying goods were called (TTBOMR) "wagons", while we called normal (local, England) ones "trucks". (Lorries were never called "trucks" in those days...) I'm not clear quite what "flatbed" means: I think that generally all UK goods carrying vehicles were much shorter than corresponding NAm ones (going partly on the trainsets), with two fixed axles, no bogies. I am 95%+ certain that Lawrence was simply referring to the noise of a passing goods train, probably carrying coal in open trucks, in the Nottingham coalfields. Except that I don't understand the "flatbed", this more or less matches meaning 10.
Meaning 11 on the other hand is suspect (engineering-wise). If you made a vehicle with one axle at each end, and let the axles pivot freely, the vehicle would immediately crash, because there is nothing to keep the axle perpendicular to the line of the tracks. This definition can only be a mangled attempt to describe a bogie, with at least two axles under the pivoting frame. Imaginatorium (talk) 15:47, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
I agree with you about the bogey-truck definition.
In the US a flatbed is usually a truck ("lorry") or a semi-trailer. They transport logs, building materials, and heavy equipment of all kinds. Nowadays it often refers to the vehicles also called no-tows, roll-backs, or tilt-beds that transport disabled automobiles and vehicles too precious to move on their own over normal roads. In the rail context a flatbed is a flatcar, flatbed car, or flatbed railroad car.
Two-axle railroad cars were not at all common in the US as far back as the late 19th century, though there were some for special applications. I always took great pride that North American railroad locomotives and cars (and over-the-road trucks) were so massive compared to those in most other countries. It must mostly be attributable to the longer distances the average carload had to travel, eg, fruit from California to the East Coast cities. DCDuring (talk) 17:43, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
I've gone ahead and removed the quote from the "bogie" sense. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 03:07, 3 March 2019 (UTC)

bogey vs. bogie[edit]

Someone got bogey (sense 4) confused with sense 4 at bogie (now elevated to sense 1 as the main sense). The correct spelling is bogie. I have added references. DonnanZ (talk) 11:35, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

The translations in particular should be moved to bogie. DonnanZ (talk) 13:07, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

I fixed it myself. DonnanZ (talk) 16:36, 4 February 2019 (UTC)


  1. 1968, E. H. Cookridge, The Third Man: The Truth about 'Kim' Philby, Double Agent ((Please specify the language of the quote)), page 2:
    A novator is the 'planner' who devises the operational plans in the 'target' country.
  2. 1978, Rolfs Ekmanis, Latvian literature under the Soviets, 1940-1975 ((Please specify the language of the quote)), page 154:
    A novator not only aims at setting a good example, but also at educating up to his level the members of his family or his friends.
  3. 1999, Glenn Horowitz, Véra's butterflies: first editions by Vladimir Nabokov inscribed to his wife ((Please specify the language of the quote)):
    In modern Russian literature I occupy the particular position of a novator, of a writer whose work seems to stand totally apart from that of his contemporaries.
  4. 2014, Ian S. MacNiven, "Literchoor Is My Beat": A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions ((Please specify the language of the quote)):
    [] but, as he cautioned J, he was a “novator” in Russian literature whose works were banned in his homeland, read only by a handful of intellectual Russian expatriates.
  5. 2017, Alexander M. Sidorkin, Reforms and Innovation in Education: Implications for the Quality of Human Capital ((Please specify the language of the quote)):
    Teachers Gazette was instrumental in promoting national exposure for so-called novators (Novatory), a group of teachers who were especially successful in (re)inventing and applying allegedly innovative tools for class instruction.

There seem to be several senses here. How should this be defined in English? There are enough non-italicized uses that it seems to deserve an entry. (The current entry which is from Webster 1913 probably needs another etymology). DTLHS (talk) 20:36, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

Do the three cites that are not mentions support any one specific meaning? The cites above don't give enough context to tell. DCDuring (talk) 21:49, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
Can’t we just define it as a transliteration of Russian новатор (novator), meaning “innovator”? The Horowitz quote is actually taken from a letter by the hand of Nabokov written in January 1941, less than a year after he had arrived in the United States.  --Lambiam 09:10, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
That's the etymology, but "innovator" doesn't fit the 1968 cite, so we'd be lacking one. It would be a novation for us to allow non-gloss definitions like Used to translate Russian новатор (novator) when the translator can't find a better term. DCDuring (talk) 09:33, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
That one may have a different etymology: “NOVATOR — KGB term, an acronym of the Russian words novye, for new, and torit, to flatten. It referred to a newly recruited agent abroad: a novalor [sic] was newly flattened and owned by the KGB.”[4]. (The term acronym should have been blend or portmanteau, новые is actually a plural, and I don’t know what Russian word is being transliterated as torit.) That does not perfectly fit the 1968 cite either, but perhaps everyone thought it wiser not to tell Philby the unflattering ἔτυμον of his job title. I did not immediately find independent confirmation of this etymology and meaning.  --Lambiam 00:14, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
The verb referred to is presumably торить (toritʹ) “(literary) to tread, to clear (a path or road) (by frequent walking or traveling)”.  --Lambiam 14:02, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

해초 and 海草[edit]

Can a Korean-language editor check these entries? I just found a mistake in the Chinese. It was previously defined as "seaweed" (海帶) which is incorrect, it is actually "seagrass". However, the Korean entry still says "seaweed". Presumably the Korean should mean the same as the Chinese and Japanese, but I thought I would check with someone who speaks the language well before changing anything. ---> Tooironic (talk) 07:25, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

The entry was created by Tbot, and has never been carefully edited by a Korean speaker. w:ko:해초 unambiguously refers to seagrass, so I have changed it accordingly. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 15:32, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
Many thanks! ---> Tooironic (talk) 02:53, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

mocha: "strong Arabian coffee"[edit]

Does the definition "strong Arabian coffee" refer to the Mocha coffee bean or something else? ---> Tooironic (talk) 12:37, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

In modern uses is short for caffè mocha (Wikipedia: Caffè mocha), seen used e.g. here: [5], [6], [7]. So it refers to the beverage, which is made with any bean suitable for making espresso (usually not Mocha beans), but has some chocolate flavouring added to approximate the taste of Mocha coffee. In older uses it does refer to coffee made (or claimed to have been made) from Mocha beans, but then I expect the word to be capitalized, just like Java in the sense of a coffee beverage.  --Lambiam 14:27, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, that modern use is not the problem; it corresponds to sense #1 "coffee drink with chocolate syrup added", right? But what about sense #4 "strong Arabian coffee"? There seems no mention of it on the Wikipedia page. ---> Tooironic (talk) 02:57, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
I wondered about this back when I edited the entry in December. The sense is in other dictionaries. Dictionary.com says only that such coffee is from Arabia, but Merriam-Webster says it's from "small green or yellowish beans", which suggests Mocha beans are indeed meant. I poked around for citations, by no means exhaustively, and couldn't find any that were clearly this sense with this capitalization, but the existence of the modern sense and of capitalized Mocha [coffee] made it hard to search, and the sense is plausible. Both dictionaries, incidentally, also have a leather sense we lack. - -sche (discuss) 03:28, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
Mocha, Yemen, is an Arabian city, so Mocha coffee can reasonably be called “Arabian coffee”. Conversely, Yemen is the only country on the Arabian peninsula that is a significant exporter of coffee (or used to be before the Saudi/US war), which was naturally shipped from the port that was closest to the coffee-growing regions, Mocha.  --Lambiam 06:43, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
Hmm, so I guess I will have to translate it literally as "Arabian coffee", since the Chinese word for "mocha" pretty much only refers to the first senses AFAIK. Thanks. ---> Tooironic (talk) 11:45, 7 February 2019 (UTC)


The pronunciation is uncertain. This had the stress mark after the /b/, which certainly isn't valid. Collins [8] has the stress on the first syllable but Forvo's Turkish pronunciation [9] has it on the second. For now, I have moved the stress mark to match Collins' pronunciation. Can anyone confirm which pronunciation(s) we should give? — 07:47, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

I assume the enquiry is about the English pronunciation, which does not necessarily have the same stress pattern as the Turkish pronunciation. I bet that English speakers more or less randomly select where to put the stress, with a predilection of Britishers for the first syllable (like for borrowed words such as valet and buffet), while Americans, recognizing the foreignness of the word, may be open to putting the stress on the last syllable.  --Lambiam 22:48, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

heap big[edit]

I don't see any mention of the American English "heap big", meaning "very big" but you're trying to sound like an Indian in an old Western. Does it deserve a new page? A mention on heap? Vox Sciurorum (talk) 10:56, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

Never heard of it. Examples? DTLHS (talk) 22:49, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
See https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-317323.html for example. Vox Sciurorum (talk) 12:49, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Reminds me of some "Red Indian" song in my sister's beginner piano book, which had a line something like "we eat um pig and big chow chow". It isn't necessarily the job of an English dictionary to cover deliberate brokenness that is explicitly supposed to suggest "bad English" — especially when that's grammatical rather than lexical. Equinox 23:07, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
This is a well-known expression supposedly stereotypically said by "Red Indians" back in a time before today's political correctness. It definitely deserves an entry, probably at "heap", since "heap" can potentially modify other words as well as "big". Mihia (talk) 18:26, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Hmm. I'm inclined towards Equinox's view that deliberately (or dialectally) broken grammar is generally not something to cover, and there's some precedent in that direction—we had a few entries that gave hate (et al) as a dialectal third-person singular and hates (et al) as a dialectal first-person singular ("I hates grammar, I hates it real bad"), and we decided to not have those. Of course, those phenomena apply to every verb in the dialects that have them, whereas "heap" is one of only a few words used this way (right?? or no??), so there's a stronger case for including it on the same basis as, say, real#Adverb. How would it be labelled? "(fictionalized American Indian speech)"? - -sche (discuss) 08:01, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

non-parental Papa, Mama, Daddy[edit]

Sometimes if someone is e.g. shaking dice hoping for a money-winning roll they might say "come on, Daddy needs a new car" or "Mama needs a new car", or they might guide something they want towards them by saying "come to Papa" ... even if they are not parents. Our entries don't seem to cover this kind of use at all, and I'm not sure how to word it. (It seems, to me at least, more idiomatic than the fictive kin of referring to a fellow connected by a common cause as a "brother", which we do have a separate sense for.) Any ideas? "An affectionate or jocular term for oneself."? And should it be at Mama, etc, or mama? - -sche (discuss) 17:06, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

In a sense it's the "informal term of address for a man" that we already have: perhaps sth for a usage note? Equinox 22:21, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
I suppose that sense could cover this usage, though it's only present at [[daddy]] at the moment and is labelled "dated". Can "mama" and "papa" also be used that way, of a third person? Could e.g. a waitress say to a single person, without assuming she was a parent, "what'll mama have tonight?"? If not, or if it's uncommon, then consistency between entries and Lambiam's phrase below may suggest that a first-person sense is still appropriate. (Probably at lowercase.) In any event, a sense to cover this is entirely missing from "mama" and "papa" right now. - -sche (discuss) 04:54, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
The quintessential use of the self-reference is found in the phrase “Ooh, daddy like.”  --Lambiam 22:57, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

if pigs had wings[edit]

Is the definition right? Compare the rather different definition of the longer phrase. - -sche (discuss) 23:02, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

No, it's not. If it began with when, it could, but that would still seem like a clumsy expression to me. Sometimes I wonder about our contributors. DCDuring (talk) 12:56, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

brood countability[edit]

We have a sense: "(uncountable) The young of any egg-laying creature, especially if produced at the same time." Is that really uncountable? The creature "laid some brood", or "laid brood"? Equinox 01:35, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

Searching Books for '"much brood" -honey -bee -honeycomb' found ants, fish, lac-producing insects. Without preview the hit list included books with partridge, and more fish. I would delete any, possibly replacing it with certain, though I am actually uncertain about that. DCDuring (talk) 03:39, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
(edit conflict) In this case, broodeggs, so "laid" isn't used. What does come to mind is "a hen and her brood". It's uncountable when referring to the chicks, but it seems like a hen could have multiple broods over her lifetime. I would compare the behavior of "brood" here to collection terms like crowd, herd, etc. (perhaps also batch?).Chuck Entz (talk) 03:47, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
I will leave it to you biologists, but particularly please note that the en-noun template doesn't show uncountability (would require en-noun|-) yet some senses are uncountable. (Hey, imagine if the computer could tell you when data wasn't consistent! LOL just kidding, NoSQL...) Equinox 04:05, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
I'm more nearly a grammarian than a biologist. Much is the determiner that best indicates uncountability, many, a, and pluralization being the indicators for countability. DCDuring (talk) 04:12, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
By the way, one of the examples for the other uncountable sense, sense 4, "The children in one family", is "Conte had arrived a week early despite spending his summer with Italy at the Euros. Exhausted, he went home during the international break to see his family and brood." I wonder whether the ambiguity about whether "brood" is a noun or verb is some intentional clever wordplay (wouldn't "family" include "brood" anyway?), but let's assume that it is a noun, then is there any reason to believe it is uncountable? Mihia (talk) 20:32, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Context could give hints. Does Conte have to much or too little brood? Is this just one of Conte's broods? DCDuring (talk) 21:50, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
The written context is there to click on, and I see nothing in it to dispel my doubt that this is uncountable. I have deleted this example. If anyone is sure that it is an example of an uncountable noun then please reinstate it, but I would be interested to know why. Mihia (talk) 01:48, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
Here is a cite referring to Westmorland’s “second brood”. I think it is fine then to state that Westmorland, just like some birds, had several broods – not in a season, but in his lifetime. And this scientific book talks about “a set of children who are last-born in their respective broods”, where “brood” clearly means “a collection consisting of the children in one (nuclear) family”.  --Lambiam 14:36, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
OK, but this is the countable sense. The question here is about the uncountable sense. Searches for "much brood" show hits mainly for bees but also for some other creatures. Now that I have deleted the very doubtful "Conte" example, we have only an archaic citation for uncountable sense 4 "The children in one family" (presumably referring to a human family). I have not been able to find any modern examples of uncountable "brood" used for a human family. Mihia (talk) 20:22, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
... hmmm ... but having said that, the countable sense for humans does not actually seem to be mentioned, unless humans can be included in "certain animals". I think the "children in one family" sense should be labelled "countable and uncountable", which I will do, but a modern uncountable example would still be desirable if such exists. Mihia (talk) 20:36, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
The sense #2 of “young of a non-avian egg layer produced at the same time” can definitely also be countable: [10], [11], [12]; attesting unassailably uncountable uses is less easy. Likewise for human offspring. Ironically, it is much easier to find uncountable uses for sense #3 (like e.g. here) than countable ones, but this sense is not labelled at all.  --Lambiam 23:19, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

Angels - 5's the same as 9?[edit]

I think meanings 5 and 9 for angels (An affluent individual who provides capital for a startup, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity) are the same. And, related to that, does "angel" especially mean a theatrical backer (perhaps in a British context)? Maitchy (talk) 03:28, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

Thanks for noticing the duplication and bringing it to our attention. I think the general venture capital sense is an extension of the theatrical finance sense.
And MWOnline seems to agree:
" : one (such as a backer of a theatrical venture) who aids or supports with money or influence // Angels funded the start-up company."
DCDuring (talk) 04:24, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
angel in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911. has only "In modern theat. slang, one who advances money to put a new play on the boards: a financial backer."
DCDuring (talk) 04:26, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
I agree that the venture capital sense is an extension of the older (but still common) sense of backer of a theatrical production or some other not-for-profit venture, a significant difference being that angels in the older sense will usually not expect anything of material value in exchange; an acknowledgement of their support in the back pages of the playbill will do.  --Lambiam

far along[edit]

Would this entry merit inclusion? As in "how far along are you?" = "how long have you been pregnant?" It seems idiomatic to me. ---> Tooironic (talk) 03:53, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

The lemmings don't agree: far along at OneLook Dictionary Search. DCDuring (talk) 04:15, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Also, it's not limited to pregnancy. Any process or person undergoing a process can be far along. DCDuring (talk) 04:31, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
I can't personally think of a way this could be used (and understood) without context—such as gesturing with one's eyes at someone's pregnant belly—establishing that it was ellipsis of "how far along are you in your pregnancy?", since if someone was writing a book, working on a project, etc, one could ask "how far along are you?" then too (eliding "...in your work?", etc). To me it doesn't seem entry-worthy, and as DCDuring says, other dictionaries don't have it either... but hopefully more people weigh in... - -sche (discuss) 04:43, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Whatever we do with this as an entry, it should be in a usage example, possibly even at both [[far#Adverb]] and [[along#Adverb]].
Cassell's Dictionary of Slang (2005) has an entry to which their 'entry' for far along refers "far gone 1. exhausted, worn-out. 2. mad, eccentric, insane. 3. (also far along) drunk or otherwise intoxicated."
I've not heard far along in that sense, but have heard far gone. It still seems like a simple ellipsis.
Search for far along in dictionaries I haven't found other entries, but many dictionaries use the term in definitions(!!!) and in usage examples. DCDuring (talk) 13:13, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Here are a few uses in the sense of referring to the degree of advancedness of a pregnancy: [13], [14], [15], [16], [17]. I tend to think this is idiomatic: one cannot say something like, *“She is along, but not far.” When referencing the advancedness of pregnancy, the combination with far is obligatory. As DCDuring noted, the use is not limited to pregnancy; you can also ask someone compiling a list of works containing the phrase “Beam me up, Scotty!” how far along they are. Also there, the answer cannot be, *“Well, I am along, but not very far yet.” Comparative and superlative would be further along and furthest along, as seen here and here. In these uses along is short for “along some (generally unspecified) path to some (likewise unspecified) completion or closure”. But used by itself, along does not carry that sense, so I feel there is a strong argument we have an idiomatic collocation here – and the specific use with respect to pregnancy may deserve a special mention, e.g. in a usex or cite.  --Lambiam 14:15, 9 February 2019 (UTC)


"(obsolete) To incite; to provoke; to spur on. (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)"

Well, how about this, from Hamlet Act II sc ii:

"Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation holds it no sin to tarre them to controversy." (Rosencrantz) 10:50, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

Older dictionaries accepted a single use of a word from a great work or great author as meriting inclusion, as we did for more than a decade. As a result printing errors etc. from Shakespeare et al. have entries. We require three if someone challenges a term or definition, so we are very gradually weeding out such entries. The question naturally arises whether your cite is the one that has justified inclusion in older dictionaries and whether there are other independent uses. DCDuring (talk) 13:22, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
When I created this entry a decade ago, I’m pretty sure that Shakespeare quote was the only basis I was working from. That said, there’s a few more citations in the OED that show the word is indeed attestable by our current standards. — Vorziblix (talk · contribs) 02:20, 9 February 2019 (UTC)


The second definition given for treason is:

   2. (US, law) Waging war against the United States or providing aid and comfort to one of its enemies.

I wonder how truly appropriate is the inclusion of such an Americentric definition, at least to the level of specificity provided. It may very well be accurate that under US law, 'treason' is so defined, yet one could if so inclined provide equally-specific definitions of treason for nearly every country in the world. Should we likewise include the specific (Canada, law) definition of 'Using force or violence for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Canada or a province'? The specific (UK, law) definition of 'Compassing or imagining the death of our lord the King'? I use the logical extreme of including every specific national legal definition of the term by way of highlighting just how silly I find the inclusion of any specific national legal definition.

I should like to suggest this definition either be stripped entirely from the entry, or replaced with a more general gloss thereof, such as 'Waging war against one's own country, or providing aid and comfort to its enemies.' 17:04, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

It's undesirable to have definitions for every separate country, and it's also undesirable to include some countries but not others. From there it follows that the US definition shouldn't be included either. —Rua (mew) 17:12, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
Let me confirm my understanding of this line of reasoning by applying it elsewhere:
  1. Since we don't have all attestable regional or dated, archaic, or obsolete spellings of words, we should exclude the mainstream ones as well.
  2. Since we don't include every term relating to political controversy in other countries comparable to the US-specific term like Elevatorgate or Watergate, we should not include them either.
  3. If a term exists in English, but not in some other language, we should exclude it.
Please distinguish the case at hand from these other applications of the stated principle invoked. DCDuring (talk) 18:50, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
The sense given for (US, law) is not a general legal US definition of treason. It is, quite specifically, the definition of Treason against the United States given in the United States Constitution, Article III, Section 3. Should we decide that the term Treason against the United States is entry-worthy, that definition may be appropriate for that entry. For the entry treason it is not, in my opinion.  --Lambiam 20:01, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
I agree with the IP here and have gone ahead and removed the sense since that seems like an obviously appropriate course of action. - -sche (discuss) 20:07, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
The definition was wrong, too, because e.g. the Axis waging the Second World War against the United States was not treason...because, as definition 1 says, for aggression against a country to be treason, it has to come from someone who belongs to that country. (Yes, a while back, some American conservatives accused Julian Assange of "treason" for supposedly harming the United States by leaking documents... but they got corrected on what was obviously a factual error; Assange is not American and so him harming the United States is not treason.) - -sche (discuss) 20:17, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
I think you are missing the point. Under US law, which can only speak meaningfully about treason against the US, treason is limited to waging war against the US and to giving aid and comfort to its enemies. There is no discussion of betrayal of trust or general disloyalty, which is the thrust of most general definitions of treason. It was the explicit intent of the US Constitution to define treason much more restrictively than British courts had defined it, which was and is AFAICT much more vague. DCDuring (talk) 05:12, 10 February 2019 (UTC)


I think there's a sense missing, of an organism collected/analyzed/experimented upon. But sense 2 is vague enough that it might include this sense? Still I think a lab rat and a urine sample are pretty distinct. Ultimateria (talk) 02:24, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

Sense 2 covers it adequately, though what you're getting at is a real distinction that might be best suited for a usage note. In my experience, a lab rat is a always a "specimen", a stibnite crystal is a "specimen" or a "sample", and a millilitre of urine or a millibar of carbon dioxide is always a "sample". —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 02:46, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

Category:English words prefixed with back-[edit]

Apparently somebody indiscriminately added all words beginning with "back" to this category, even ones like "backboneless" that clearly weren't formed with a back- prefix. I'm working my way through it but it's a big category and help would be nice. Equinox 09:14, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

There's plenty of back words with hyphens, e.g. back-formation, but they're all terms derived from back (and should be listed there as such), not prefixes. The category can be deleted when empty. DonnanZ (talk) 10:18, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
Why do we have categories for words derived from prefixes and suffixes, but not for terms derived from other words by compounding? DCDuring (talk) 18:17, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
We already have ====Derived terms====, where terms are added manually. I'm not sure whether they can be added to a category automatically. Any system that gets rid of the current mess with {{der3}} etc. should be explored though. DonnanZ (talk) 19:15, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
  • @Equinox: The category is now empty, so it can be deleted. The derived terms section at back is now twice the size. The prefix back- also needs deletion, I suppose it will have to go to RFD. DonnanZ (talk) 22:50, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
OK, I've deleted the category. - -sche (discuss) 23:27, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for the help. I should add that I believed that only some words were wrongly in this category: "backache" is a simple compound "back" + "ache", but something like "backread" might perhaps be best interpreted with the prefix! In any case, this is something we should be doing with a template in the Etymology section and not with an additional category that might conflict with that. There's always more work to do... Equinox 02:14, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
In every case "back" is a separate or separable word, which I think is the key, and it doesn't appear to be a recognised prefix. One or two had suffixes: backie, backman, and backable (which I found). There could be different rules for prefixes and suffixes; -able and -man are both suffixes (when used in compounds) and standalone as able and man: a businessman, a man in business. Hmm. DonnanZ (talk) 10:59, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
I think "backable" is very important in terms of our idea of what a pre/suffix is. We have some weird things like -man that to me should be compounds, but apparently aren't. If these are hand-me-downs from Middle English then that isn't evidence of a Modern English -man suffix either! How do people feel about a deletionist rampage through the pre/suffixes. Oh you don't have time but I have. Equinox 14:02, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
I looked at the etymology given for piggyback, and thought for a while before adding it to derived terms for back. It is a ride on someone's back after all, and I think it's current usage that matters. DonnanZ (talk) 16:26, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

error on a page and I can't edit![edit]

Hello, on this page https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/y%27a there is an error... The title page is totally wrong ! Y'a is an error, it should not be written with an apostrophe! "Y a" is a contraction of "il y a"... No apostrophe. Please, can you correct this? I know french orthographe is difficult, but if some pages like yours keep making errors, it is normal than people can't write well.

Thank you.

D in handsome: silent?[edit]

I'm pretty sure the audios at handsome have a d in them, contrary to the IPA which doesn't. So which one is right? Is that d silent or not? MGorrone (talk) 14:57, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

The stop is sometimes pronounced, and sometimes (usually?) not. Most old (Century) and modern dictionaries I checked which give any pronunciation information at all only give the -n.s- pronunciation, but Collins does include the variant pronunciation with d and Merriam-Webster has it as an optional t. - -sche (discuss) 15:59, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
I pronounce the "d" myself, but having listened to the audio on Oxford (silent d) I would say it's optional whether it's pronounced or not. DonnanZ (talk) 16:07, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
I also pronounce it with the "d". Well, to be more accurate, the ds in spelling becomes /ts/ in pronunciation in this case, so I would pronounce it /ˈhænt.səm/. Tharthan (talk) 19:05, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
Same for me; I question whether it's optional or dialectic, however. For reference, my anecdotal concurrence with you is from Canadian English. 22:18, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
Well, I don't know which part of Canada you are from, and I don't know how much of an overlap there is between my dialect (a dialect of Eastern New England English that does not have the cot-caught merger) and your dialect of Canadian English (my knowledge of Canadian English is limited, although I do know some things about it. Also, I am particularly fond of Canadian Maritime English and [to a lesser extent {although my saying this is by no means a knock on it at all}] Newfoundland English), but I wouldn't be particularly surprised if there were some minor relation. However, with that said, I must note that the pronunciation of handsome is far from constant here. Although I have never heard /ˈhænd.səm/ in everyday life (to my recollection), when I think about it, I know that I have heard /ˈhæn.səm/ before (but because I pronounce it as /ˈhænt.səm/, I never really thought about it). I also ought to note that I come from a generation that restored the /ð/ to clothes, pronounces forehead as /ˈfɔ(ɹ)ˌhɛd/, pronounces waistcoat as /ˈweɪst(.)koʊt/, and uses /ɔɹ/ where /ɑɹ/ (not the /ɑɹ/ written as ar. The /ɑɹ/ written with or and the like) / /ɒɹ/ was used in previous generations, in contrast to previous generations here (including my parents [to some extent. However, they pronounce forehead and waistcoat as I do], grandparents, and great-grandparents). Tharthan (talk) 23:31, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
The difference between the two is a very slight difference in timing of the end of the nasality/voicing and the beginning of the sibilance- I have my doubts as to whether it means anything in normal speech. Also, due to categorical perception, different people will hear it differently. That is, the division of a stream of sound into individual sounds is something our brain does, and different brains can do it quite differently depending on what they've been trained to expect by exposure to different speech over the years. Chuck Entz (talk) 22:44, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
FWIW, I pronounce "handsome" to exactly rhyme with "ransom", i.e. no "d". Mihia (talk) 20:29, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

Quick help[edit]

How do I add a link to the RFE template on 𠄑𠄍? Johnny Shiz (talk) 15:33, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

The template does not allow adding a link. You could instead use something like

{{rfelite|zh}} ''(Related to ''[[孑孓]]''?)''.  --Lambiam 22:34, 10 February 2019 (UTC)


Aren't sense 2 "(collectively) Persons of the same race or family; kindred." and sense 3 "One or more relatives, such as siblings or cousins, taken collectively." the same? Ultimateria (talk) 23:21, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

To me that sense 2 seems an ill-defined sense; there is a huge difference between “same race” and “same family”. The second usex is misplaced (octopuses are not people of the same race or family as ammonites). Also, the first usex does not make clear which sense of “kin” is involved (in the full sentence, of which only the tail is shown, it is clear that the addressee (George Villiers, soon to become Duke of Buckingham) is of kin with “some near in blood” to him.  --Lambiam 11:23, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
MWOnline has three current definitions with synonyms clan, kindred, and kinsman, all limited to people, which is clearly narrower than usage. Since we like to make explicit obvious extensions, MW's definition would need to be extended to include other living things, both as taxa and individuals. To me it seems natural to extend the term to non-living things like designs of devices (transportation equipment, computers, phones, tools, ideas, documents), but that doesn't seem to show up in print much. DCDuring (talk) 14:05, 11 February 2019 (UTC)


We have two senses, one for a "bird, reptile, or other animal", and another sense for insects. These can be merged, right? Ultimateria (talk) 23:24, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

I've merged them. The sense was added by Fletcherjp, who was probably confused by the mangled translation section. (I removed the Bulgarian SOP translation that only refers to a bird.) —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 23:32, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

using "the" before abbreviations of international organizations[edit]

Is there any reason why we say "the UN", "the EU", "the WTO" and "the IMF" but NOT "*the NATO" and "*the ASEAN", among others? Doesn't seem grammatical to me. ---> Tooironic (talk) 08:07, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

I think there is no particular reason; in the competition between two forms (with vs. without article) one of the two won out mostly by chance. In German it is die NATO, and in French l’OTAN. There are also English uses of the NATO, but this form is less common. Possibly the English-speaking communication officers at NATO in its early days preferred the shorter “NATO”, and this then spread through communiqués and press releases to the media.  --Lambiam 10:45, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
One difference I notice in the examples here is that those with the definite article are initialisms, while those without are acronyms. I can't think of enough examples off the top of my head to test whether that holds in general, though. Chuck Entz (talk) 13:58, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
At least for organizations and institutions, where the acronym can function as a proper noun, this seems to hold most of the time: just ACORN, PETA and SCOTUS, but the ASPCA, the NRA and the YMCA. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, as illustrated by, e.g., “it highlights what a terrible rule the NASCAR has when it comes to relief drivers”. For early computers like the ENIAC, EDVAC and EDSAC, there are plenty of uses either way. And IBM, not an acronym, is normally not used with an article. I see one (non-organization) exception: in the FANBOYS, the article is obligatory, but that one may be special because it functions as a plural. When the acronym functions as a countable noun, we can of course have both the definite and the indefinite article.  --Lambiam 23:33, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
"The FANBOYS" still seems to fit the general divide Chuck mentions; things pronounced as words have no "the", those pronounced as letters have one. "The NASCAR" sounds as stodgy/formal as "the NATO" to me. - -sche (discuss) 20:11, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

chosen people, Chosen People[edit]

Worth an entry? Per utramque cavernam 09:54, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

Yes, I would agree to the former, which the latter would automatically redirect to. It is a biblical and/or religious term. DonnanZ (talk) 10:50, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
I agree. I know that some would complain that it seems to be little more than a sum of its parts, but this particular phrase has particular religious significance, I think. Tharthan (talk) 18:19, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

picture postcard, picture-postard[edit]

Worth entries (especially the latter)? Other dictionaries have it. Per utramque cavernam 21:10, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

I would settle for the first one. The latter, which is misspelt by the way, is an attributive adjective. DonnanZ (talk) 10:32, 15 February 2019 (UTC)



Čai is listed as an alternative form of shej but they have different definitions. How come?Jonteemil (talk) 01:33, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

About the ancient phoneme of 商(the ancient of Koeran)[edit]

Maybe I'm the world's only 甲骨音(B.C.17c Oracle phoneme) researcher. I've been looking for a researcher like myself all over the world, but I couldn't find one. It is already known that the Dongyi(東夷) people are the ancestors of Koreans. If people are equal, languages are the same. Therefore, the Chinese Shang(商) is Korean and Chinese characters are loaned to Korean. For example:

風(풍) bərə(ᄇᆞᄅᆞ)>bərəm(ᄇᆞᄅᆞᆷ)>bəram(ᄇᆞ람)>pəjam(ᄇᆞ얌/ᄇᆡ암)>pajam(배암)>pæm(뱀-蛇)

                     >brəm>prəm>pjəm>pi ̯um>piuN   
         > bɯrɯ(브르)>buru(부루)>pur(불-吹)>fur(Japanese)
         > bara(바라)>bere(버러)>per(벌)>per+ej(벌+에-虫)>(벌레) 
                                >pere ki(버러+기)>pere tsi(버러지-虫) 
                                               >per ki(벌기-虫)  

I am a Korean scholar. I can reach you through the publisher of my book <갑골음으로 잡는 식민사학 동북공정>. The publisher's name is BookLab in Koera.

hallow, Halloween, [possibly a small few other words][edit]

I initially grew up using the /ɑ/ pronunciation of these words (which I think that I largely inherited from my mother, as well as my early childhood schoolmates), although I now use the /æ/ pronunciation (something that I started doing many years ago after noticing that my father [who is from a close, nearby state in the region] used the /æ/ pronunciation, and that it seemed to make more sense if one compared it to other words with similar spellings [even though in some cases I will readily opt for an /ɑ/ pronunciation for a word, justifying it by the argument that the word had an /ɑ/ in Proto-Germanic/its source language / the word's /a/ in its source language was closer in practice to /ɑ/ than /æ/ / whatever]. Mind you, my father also uses the /ˈt͡ʃɔklᵻt/ pronunciation of chocolate, and I don't [although I would definitely do so if I thought that I wouldn't get raised eyebrows when doing it], so it's not like his pronouncing of the words with /æ/ was the sole factor in me changing my pronunciation of those words). To be more specific, I was taught /ˈhɑloʊd/ in the Our Father in Catholic school [here in the area of Eastern New England that I live in] as a child, and said /ˌhɑloʊˈwiːn/ {yes, not /ˌhɑləˈwiːn/ or /ˌhɑloʊˈiːn/}] for Halloween from as long ago as I can remember until my early-mid teenage years.

My question is, though, why do some North American English dialects have this alternative pronunciation? From where did it arise? Tharthan (talk) 03:57, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

A variety of (h)al- and (h)ol- spellings in Middle English (with some forms identical to those of hollow, e.g. a past tense holowid attested for both per the MED) and in English (the EDD has a cite of Hollow-eve, besides cites in the other direction of hallow (hollow)) suggest that variation in the pronunciation may be old. Otherwise, I would speculate that perhaps speakers unfamiliar with the uncommon word just guess /ɑ/ based on the similar hollow, hall, etc or /æ/ based on hallelujah, ally, etc. - -sche (discuss) 07:54, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Well, I'm not sure what hall has to do with it, considering that (in my dialect), hall is /hɔl/. However, you may indeed be on to something with that, because swallow and wallow both have /ɑl/ in them in my dialect. The word want also has /ɑ/ in it (although I knew an older history teacher also native to my area in high school who still said /wɔnt/, showing signs of lot-cloth split influence [common to varying degrees in areas of New England that lost historical /ɒ/ after other dialects of English in the United States had, but that also didn't go through the cot-caught merger. /ɒ/ has been replaced by /ɑ/, /ʌ/, or /ɔ/ depending on the environment that it is in, although most people nowadays {and I am no exception, more or less} have adopted the general pattern found in other dialects in the country, even with words where the historical /ɒ/ preceded /ɹ/--that class of words kept a distinction from /ɔɹ/ words far longer than any of the other /ɒ/ distinctions lasted. But, yeah, traditionally speaking, I do know elderly ladies in my area who pronounce forgotten as /fəˈɡʌt.n̩/, and got and gotten as /ɡʌt/ and /ɡʌt.n̩/ in very rare instances as well, and my mother still says /ˈpʌp.aɪ/ like her mother and father did. If I didn't know better, I would have considered the possibility that these instances could have simply arisen from vowel reduction or something similar, but the history of the area--and both the fact that words that have traditionally been, and still are, both pronounced with /ɑ/ and written with a are not generally subject to having /ʌ/ in similar instances, and the fact that /ɒ/ disappeared from my area seemingly late--indicate otherwise} in that word that has been dropped by the younger generations. Keep in mind, however, that there is quite a bit of variance in minor colloquial pronunciations in my area--and I'm not talking about significantly General-American-influenced pronunciations used by the very young here, either. I mean, I've even heard /ˈkæfl̩/ for careful amongst less educated speakers here! Furthermore, the typical pronunciation of parent (with /ɛə/) can be heard amongst some older people {although there are those of the same age from other families that pronounce it with the /æ/ that I, my family, and [most of] my schoolmates have always known}, and vary and various can be either /ˈvɛəɹi/, /ˈvɛəɹi.əs/ OR /ˈvæɹi/, /ˈvæɹi.əs/ depending upon the generation of the speaker. Note that the General American /ˈvɛɹi.əs/ is not a pronunciation used {at least not before the adoption--more or less-- of General American by a number of the very young people in the area started}]). Tharthan (talk) 10:51, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Is it possible that the pronunciation with /ɑ/ is an older, more original one, that survived only in the US?  --Lambiam 14:01, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Possibly. I can find some evidence suggesting that, but it's inconsistent. David Crystal's 2016 Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation does give hallow as /ˈ(h)ɑlə/~/ˈ(h)ɑloː/, but contrasts it with hollow and follow (and folly) with /ɒ/ and e.g. dally and hammer with /a/. Whereas, Wilhelm Viëtor's 1906 Shakespeare's Pronunciation says "there are two rimes in the poems where the riming vowels are [æ] and [o], viz. dally : folly RL 554, and hallow v. : follow VA 973"; his notation isn't IPA but is still asserting the same vowel in hallow and dally, in contrast to Crystal. And Charles Jones' English Pronunciation in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries mentions that John Jones' 1705 Alphabetical Spelling Dialogue records fallow/follow and hallow/hollow as homonyms (which would make Viëtor's rhyme work perfectly in contrast to what both Viëtor and Crystal think).
OTOH, by 1816 John Walker's Principles of English Pronunciation denounced pronouncing it like hollow, saying "this arises from not attending to the distinction made by a syllabication between the single and double l: the double l in the same syllable deepens the a to the broadest sound, as in tall; but when one of the liquids in carried off to the next syllable, the a has its short and slender sound, as in tallow; the same may be observed of hall and hallow." (I don't have time to look for possible counterexamples at the moment.) - -sche (discuss) 20:05, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Firstly, does this mean, then, that it is possible that at least some of the class of words belonging to the -allow category that are pronounced with /æloʊ/ nowadays were originally pronounced similarly (or identically) to those words in the -allow category that are pronounced with /ɒloʊ/ (intentionally broad transcription) nowadays? The first source that you referenced seems to indicate that one set (a set that today has /æl/) had /ɑl/, whereas the other set had /ɒl/, but that this was also distinct from the vowel used in other words not in the -allow category that have /æ/ today. The third source seems to indicate that they both may have had /ɒl/. I suppose that a third possibility (which looks more than just somewhat possible, I'd say) is that the exact pronunciation of the set (the /ɑl/ set) in question varied from dialect to dialect (and perhaps, dare I say, from speaker to speaker?), but then was largely made stable by some factor at a later point in time.
...Actually, that would make a lot of sense, considering that (from what I understand) Old English /æ/ and /ɑ/ (along with, in some instances, /æː/. [Also, there is that tricky diphthong that I think took part in some of this too, but I've always had some trouble fully understanding that one, so I won't try and go into that. Furthermore, I think that this may, in certain environments, have applied to /ɑː/ {which usually became /ɔː/ by the Middle English period, of course} as well]) merged to /a/ after the Old English period, but then split into multiple vowels again later. This would mean that, unless there was/were somehow some dialect(s) that had/have managed to elude linguists all of this time, of which there is/are no good written record(s), that never actually fully merged the Old English /æ/ and /ɑ/ (and the like) vowels (something which I think has pretty much no chance of having happened), the new /ɑ/ and /æ/ (by which I mean the ones that arose out of Middle English's /a/) may have had, at least in some cases, variable distribution at first.
Secondly, I have to thank you, -sche, for letting me know about that (relatively) recently published comprehensive Shakespearean English dictionary of pronunciation. I'll have a great time browsing through it! Tharthan (talk) 07:10, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
Intriguingly, Crystal has almost all other -allow words (ballow, gallow, sallow, shallow, tallow) with /a/, modern /æ/. Only fallow joins hallow in having /ɑ/. I can't offhand see a reason for the split, since there's no clear split in their etyma, and any influence fall and hall (which Crystal says had /ɑ/) might've had on fallow and hallow, ball and gall et al (likewise /ɑ/) should've had on ballow, gallow etc. The only difference that comes to mind is that follow and hollow exist, and not *(b|g|s|sh|t)ollow, if -ollow words might've pulled their -allow friends back for some reason(??). The difference must've levelled out in most dialects, since all the words now usually have /æ/. How do you pronounce fallow, vs gallow, shallow, tallow? That might provide at least some clue as to whether dialects with /ɑ/ might be preservations, or modern changes. (Crystal also has swallow with /ɒ/, like Apollo and hollow, but that makes sense, coming from ME o instead of a.) - -sche (discuss) 09:43, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
Well, unfortunately, I came to know the word fallow much later than I did hallow. I also do not recall how my parents pronounced it when I was a child (the word, although not particularly uncommon by any means, is not one that usually arose in everyday conversation), and I definitely do not recall ever hearing from my early schoolmates. So this is a bit of a roadblock, I am afraid. I suppose that I could ask my parents at least how they pronounce it/how they have pronounced it, but I am unable to do that at the moment. Tharthan (talk) 19:21, 13 February 2019 (UTC)


A usage note at withers (noun) reads:

This noun refers to one object; there is no corresponding singular form *wither for this word, the singular form being obsolete.

While contemplating whether to add an entry for this meaning under "wither" labelled "obsolete", which is presently lacking, I did a Google Book Search for "the horse's wither". This retrieved about 20 hits, many from relatively recent publications, versus about 90 for "the horse's withers". It does seem to suggest that "wither" is in some kind of current usage, so perhaps the usage note is just wrong? Anyone know anything further about this word? I see that M-W has it [18]. Mihia (talk) 15:03, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

Yeah, the usage note would seem to be mistaken, as the singular still exists. Even if it didn't still exist, previous existence would require some kind of entry on wither, even if just defined as {{singular of|withers||part of the back of a four-legged animal that is between the shoulder blades}}. I've added such an entry. - -sche (discuss) 15:46, 16 February 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: Thanks for doing that. Mihia (talk) 22:04, 19 February 2019 (UTC)


acontecer (verb) in spanish has a regular conjugation table, even though it's only used forms are infinitive, gerund, participle and 3rd person. Is it possible to make an irregular conjugation template?

I am sure it is possible - @DTLHS? It is not the only verb that is defective this way; alborecer is another example. It appears to me, though, that the defectiveness is more semantic than grammatical. In English “I occur” or “you dawn” are also not used.  --Lambiam 11:00, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

bwrw hen wragedd â ffyn[edit]

This entry translates the above phrase as Welsh for "raining old ladies and sticks". ("bwrw" is literally "casting, throwing", though in this phrase it's conventionally translated as "raining".) A key sticking point is it should be "a ffyn", not "â ffyn". With the accent, the meaning becomes "it's casting old ladies with sticks", or even possibly "it's hitting old ladies with sticks". Cythraul (talk) 21:03, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

Chinese Word- "Sandouping"[edit]

Today I made a page for 三斗坪, a town in Yiling, Yichang, Hubei, China. On the English Wikipedia page, we currently have the Mandarin pronunciation as Sāndòupíng and the traditional characters as 三鬥坪 (with a calligraphic jpg of the traditional form to boot), but I think it may be wrong- it could be Sāndǒupíng with the traditional and simplified forms both being 三斗坪. I probably need to find a pre-1956 book that talks about the area, and I'm looking on archive.org.

It sounds like it could be dǒu and not dòu, but I can't tell for sure because of the sandhi/变调 here: [19] [20]

If it is dǒu and not dòu, then 鬥 can't be the traditional form, and I will need to delete 三鬥坪.

Appreciate any help --Geographyinitiative (talk) 14:07, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

url=https://v.qq.com/x/page/a0314mssbf2.html |script-title=zh:三斗坪镇园艺村书记刘晓华|trans-title=Secretary Liu Xiaohua of Yuanyi Village in Sandouping Town|date=17 July 2016|quote=照片的主人公叫刘晓华,是三斗(dǒu)坪园艺村党支部书记(at 0:10){...}然后,又马不停蹄地赶到三斗(dǒu)坪镇中心幼儿园旁,组织人员(at 0:50)|accessdate=14 February 2019

url=https://v.qq.com/x/page/b0314muaygv.html |script-title=zh:三斗坪镇黄陵庙村书记杨年建|trans-title=Secretary Yang Nianjian of Huanglingmiao Village in Sandouping Town|date=17 July 2016|quote=在三斗(dǒu)坪镇(at 0:09){...}|accessdate=14 February 2019

If the pronunciation of the character '斗' were 'dǒu' here, it would be changed by tone sandhi with 坪 (píng) into a half-third tone (半上聲}. It definitely does not seem to be read with a fourth tone. --Geographyinitiative (talk) 10:50, 14 February 2019 (UTC) modified


Dear Community, Please note that TRANSTAINER is a term invented by PACECO Corp. and is a registered trademark.

We would be greatful if the pages TRANSTAINER and TRANSTAINERS be adapted to reflect PACECO Corp. trademark rights.

Thank you for your collaboration. LDIPBrussels (talk) 14:08, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

Hi! That might be true in some territories, and not in others. Do you own this trademark in every country in the world? Anyway, we define words by what they mean and not by what a lawyer says. If you have a serious problem with this and you want to put money and time into it then you should be suing the WIKIMEDIA FOUNDATION. You might find better things to do. Equinox 14:12, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
If it can be reliably sourced that the word was invented by this company, that would be suitable for inclusion in an etymology section. The entry itself, of course, can not reflect the asserted trademark status of a term. bd2412 T 16:02, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
If it was a trademark it's clearly been genericized for several decades (see cites). DTLHS (talk) 16:12, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I have found a citation that satisfies the assertion that this was coined by the referenced corporation, and added that to the etymology. Cheers! bd2412 T 14:15, 16 February 2019 (UTC)

'Cunning Linguist'[edit]

The phrase "cunning linguist" is not equivalent to the term "cunnilingus".
They are not homophonous (sounding the same) or synonymous (meaning the same), and differ in spelling, punctuation, and meaning.
The improper usage of a word or phrase does not automatically modify the proper definition of said word or phrase; while words can indeed change in meaning over time, this is not the case in this instance. "Gay" historically meant "lighthearted and carefree", yet modern usage of the term is primarily in reference to and synonymous of "homosexual".
The usage of "gay", which has two meanings, is significantly different than the usage of "cunning linguist", because "gay" (lighthearted and carefree) and "gay" (homosexual) are homophonous and have identical spelling and punctuation, while "cunning linguist" and "cunnilingus" are not homophonous and have different spelling and punctuation, and are made up of different letters (none of which are silent). It is my belief that this definition be modified to include the proper definition of 'cunning linguist', instead of the improper, inapplicable sexual definition of 'cunnilingus'. Walterblue222 (talk) 17:32, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

The phrase is used humorously to refer to one who performs cunnilingus. (This has been explained when you also brought this up on PUC's talkpage and your talk page (not to mention the entry's talk page). Our sister project Wikipedia has a term for what you're doing: w:WP:IDHT. - -sche (discuss) 18:25, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
Au contraire, -sche, I "get the point" - it's just not a good point. Just because someone uses a phrase humorously to refer to something else, does not mean that the definition of the phrase should be modified. Also, seeing as humor is subjective, basing an argument on a phrase being "used humorously" doesn't do much to support the argument.
People also occasionally use the term "pianist" (someone who plays the piano) to "humorously refer to" a "penis" (reproductive sexual organ) - this doesn't mean that the definition of the term "pianist" should be changed.
The fact remains that "cunning linguist" and "cunnilingus" are not synonymous, homophonous or homonymic, and differ in spelling, punctuation and meaning. Walterblue222 (talk) 20:54, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
I agree that, for me, "cunning linguist" has not reached the threshold to become a word or phrase proper, even in slang English. But I am having difficulty imagining what the cut off point between 'commonly-seen pun' and 'colloquialism proper' would be. Am I understanding the issue correctly? --Geographyinitiative (talk) 21:03, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
I don't believe this is a 'commonly-seen pun' OR 'colloquialism proper'; it's a phrase with a literal meaning (not slang either). I see how one could consider it a pun if you make the case for it being a double-entendre (a word or phrase open to two interpretations, one of which is usually risqué or indecent); however, that would require 'cunning linguist' and 'cunnilingus' to be homophonic or homonymic, which they are neither. Basically: they don't sound the same, look the same, or mean the same thing, therefor it is inaccurate to conflate 'cunning linguist' and 'cunnilingus'... Walterblue222 (talk) 22:55, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
It's "cunning linguist" and "cunnilinguist" that are near-homopones, not "cunnilingus". I don't know what you mean by "mean the same"; as a descriptivist dictionary, as one bound by WT:CFI, the question is what the cites mean, and two of the cites on the page clearly use the phrase to mean cunnilinguist. You could take it to WT:RFV and see if people could find a third or believe the third is clear enough, but the question of meaning is all about cites.--Prosfilaes (talk) 23:18, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Just to comment on the question of whether this has "reached the threshold to become a word or phrase proper", that would be an RfV question, except that there are already three citations in the entry. It would be easy to find dozens more if needed. Therefore, it certainly meets the CFI, and is clearly idiomatic, since neither cunning nor linguistics is a component of oral sex. bd2412 T 23:30, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I think it has two cites that are clear uses and one that's punny and at least somewhat debatable.--Prosfilaes (talk) 23:58, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I have added two more cites, from 1968 and 1970, respectively, the two oldest cites that I could find that unequivocally seem to invoke the innuendo. There is a 1951 cite that seems to play it much straighter ("I had some difficulty translating, but after six weeks in the Brass Rail with Salvador Dali, I could speak the language like nothing on earth — and still do. But, then, I always was a cunning linguist"). bd2412 T 02:54, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
  • It's worth reading the context before you put a quote in. That was from a humorous article and was anything but playing it straight. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 15:35, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
Uh, "near-homopones"? Do you mean "near homopHones"? If something is 'nearly homophonic', it 'sounds kinda like', right? Do you really think something sounding 'kinda similar' to something else is reason enough to negate the definition in favor of defining it to match 'something that sounds kinda like it'? This entire debate is absurd. Cunning linguist is one thing, cunnilingus something else. They aren't homophonic, they aren't homonymic, they aren't synonyms. How is this even an issue? This is pretty absurd. Walterblue222 (talk) 02:39, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
"The definition"? This is a modern descriptivist dictionary, and going along with modern lexicography, words are defined to mean what people use them to mean.--Prosfilaes (talk) 03:00, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
Its literal meaning is useless; I don't know if anyone has ever used "cunning linguist" to truly mean "cunning" + "linguist". In the cites in the article, the first two aren't really even puns; it's clear that they're using "cunning linguist" as a sort of euphemism, perhaps with an intent at humor. The third is a little more allusively, but if you demand one meaning, "one who engages in oral sex on a woman" makes more sense than "a sly or crafty person who studies linguistics".--Prosfilaes (talk) 23:18, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
Who are you to say what phrases are useless? In a language spoken by billions of people, with millions of dialects and variations? This is just absurd. The cites given for 1844, 1968, 1970, 2005, and 2009 make no mention of "engaging in oral sex on a woman"; the only cite that says anything like this is the one from 2003. Walterblue222 (talk) 02:46, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
None of those cites make any mention of the people involved being sly or professors of the field of linguistics, either. I have to wonder about the meaning of the cite of 1894 (1844 was a typo), given that Martial was not a linguist in any sense we include.--Prosfilaes (talk) 03:00, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
I have gone ahead and added the 1951 cite referenced above to the second sense, as it expressly references learning a language. bd2412 T 03:24, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
Woah, when was the criteria "professors of the field of linguistics"? EVERY cite could be considered to be from people who are linguists, considering that they are all authors; the only exception I can see for this is if someone was illiterate and had someone else write for them, but still, the person writing for them would be linguists... Walterblue222 (talk) 15:03, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
If there is a specific action you would like to propose with respect to this entry, why don't you propose it here, and the community can determine whether there is a consensus for it? bd2412 T 22:28, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

twelfe Obsolete form of twelfth[edit]

Why was the form twelfe used to represent the ordinal twelfth without adding the corresponding suffix? --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:52, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

I suspect that the suffix is present, as part of the f. /twɛlfθ/ can be tricky to pronounce, so it's sometimes simplified to /twɛlθ/ or (as twelfth mentions) /twɛlf/, which this spelling is a reasonable representation of. - -sche (discuss) 08:34, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: I thought the purpose of the <e> was to mark the <f> as intervocalic, and therefore the sound allophone /v/ --Backinstadiums (talk) 14:27, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
The e is just a holdover from Middle English twelfthe, where it was pronounced as a vowel. The voicing of intervocalic f was an earlier process that occurred in Old English and Early Middle English, so it wouldn't have affected the ancestor word if th (or earlier t) was still present in the word at that time. — Vorziblix (talk · contribs) 15:12, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

first time as adverb meaning "for the first time"[edit]

Can first time be used as an adverb meaning "for the first time", e.g. when I met him first time (Confession Tapes, third episode, 02:40) --Backinstadiums (talk) 19:18, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

Not in standard/native English, AFAIK. You can drop for ("when I met him the first time" is OK), but dropping the article makes it sound like the kind of dialogue that would be written for, or by, a non-fluent non-native-speaker. - -sche (discuss) 08:07, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
I think natives say this. I think I would/do. It's an ellipsis. It is true that dropped or inappropriate determiners are a pretty good indicator of non-native writing and speech. DCDuring (talk) 13:27, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
You can use first-time without article as an attribute, as in “first-time offender”, but also then it is not an adverb. (This is currently classified as an adjective; shouldn’t that be an (attributively used) noun?)  --Lambiam 18:29, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
There is also the use as in “I always brush my teeth first time in the morning”, which does not mean “for the first time”. Can this be explained as a SoP? If not, is this an idiomatic use of ”first time”, or is the idiom the whole phrase “first time in the morning”? (“First time in the afternoon” sounds silly, but ”first time tomorrow” is also OK.)  --Lambiam 18:41, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

After e/c:

Yes, if we should have an entry at all. The sole definition we have now seems to be the product of hormone-flooded youth, which endows any sex-related phrase with idiomaticity or, at least, entryworthiness. In context, many things can be referred to as being first time. There is nothing special about first time, last time, second time, next-to-last time, time before last, antepenultimate time, next time, etc. All of them can be used attributively, as temporal adverbs, as nominals, possibly in other ways. DCDuring (talk) 18:49, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

id cetera[edit]

Regarding this page, are id, ID, I'd, et cetera homonyms or anagrams? or both? neither? Note, for example, the section of id#Anagrams does not include ID and the rest, instead relying exclusively on the header's link to Appendix:Variations_of_"id".

i'm not looking up all of their pronunciations, but i know at least some of the listed forms are not (as the page says) homophones of I'd/eyed/ide. Should we remove that section from that page, or specify that it does not apply in all cases?

Thanks. 06:24, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

pbar = antiproton[edit]

Wy would pbar mean antiproton? --Pious Eterino (talk) 10:44, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

In the print version of the cited publication on arXiv, the authors use p. The only reason we see “pbar” on the web page is, apparently, that the authors who uploaded their paper to arXiv were unable to produce a p with an overbar, whether due to limitations in the site’s user interface or limitations in their knowledge of using css text-decoration options in html mark-up. (Based on perusing other pages on the website, I believe the problem is in limitations imposed by the site; for example, other authors use “+/-” and “10^-13” on the web page, but “±” and “10−13” in print.) My feeling is that such poor man’s approaches to getting around these limitations should not count for attestation purposes.  --Lambiam 14:48, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, the quote isn't real attestation, but the term is clearly attested in BGC. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 22:42, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
The wording of the definition is like that of an etymology. Can we revise the wording or find an image instead, to provide an ostensive definition? DCDuring (talk) 00:50, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for the excellent replies, everyone. You're great! I put a link to in the entry, too, which somebody may like to create. --Pious Eterino (talk) 13:33, 18 February 2019 (UTC)


What part of speech would CIM (cum in mouth) be? --Pious Eterino (talk) 10:46, 14 February 2019 (UTC)


Definition given as root mean square Optical Path Difference. Surely the word order is not right? --Pious Eterino (talk) 10:48, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

This is similar to an earlier case regarding CESAT voltage (see Talk:CESAT voltage). The symbol OPDrms (or OPDRMS) is used as a symbolic abbreviation for the rms of the optical path difference, like e.g. here. The paper from which the figure is taken also uses OPDNorm for “normalized OPD”. Possibly, OPD as an initialism of “optical path difference” is entry-worthy (it is listed as such on a Wikipedia dab page) , but OPDrms ain’t.  --Lambiam 15:09, 14 February 2019 (UTC)


French. It looks like, and sounds like, an acronym more than an initialism, but I'm not savvy enough on French to confidently change it. --Pious Eterino (talk) 10:49, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

If it is pronounced as indicated (which looks very plausible), it is definitely an acronym. Pronounced as an initialism, we should see six syllables instead of three.  --Lambiam 15:15, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
I changed the entry. --Pious Eterino (talk) 13:27, 18 February 2019 (UTC)


Why would this be an alternative form of OK? Mmm, okay??? --Pious Eterino (talk) 10:50, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

pronunciation of the pronoun ch[edit]

what is the pronunciation of the pronoun ch? --Backinstadiums (talk) 14:31, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

If it is an aphetic form of ich (possible only in unstressed positions), the pronunciation should be /tʃ/. Dutch has a similarly aphetized first-person pronoun 'k, pronounced /k/.  --Lambiam 15:26, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
This is confirmed here.  --Lambiam 10:21, 16 February 2019 (UTC)

noone Etymology 2 From Middle English nowne[edit]

noone "noon" From Middle English nowne, yet the entry for nowne only mentions noun --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:25, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

The electronic Middle English Dictionary has nọ̄n with several alternative spellings, which do not include “nowne”. That does not have to mean much; in early Modern English there was no fixed orthography and scribes used any spelling that when pronounced would sound right in their dialect.  --Lambiam 17:43, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
I've updated it to read noune, as that spelling does occur several times in Middle English texts. Leasnam (talk) 04:06, 15 February 2019 (UTC)


Can someone provide an etymology for this term? Could it perhaps be influenced by hi:झोपड़ी (Hindi term for hut). Also it would be great if the masculine form can be added as well. Thanks. Gotitbro (talk) 10:20, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

@AryamanA Per utramque cavernam 10:23, 17 February 2019 (UTC)
Completely off the mark lol. You can't just pick random words and assume they're related because they rhyme. I'll look into the etymology but I doubt anything will be found since it's a vulgar word and those tend to have murky origins. —AryamanA (मुझसे बात करेंयोगदान) 16:42, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

middle voice vs mediopassive[edit]

What are the differences between middle voice vs mediopassive? It'd be clarifying to add a brief mention in the respective entries --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:04, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

According to Wikipedia at Mediopassive voice: The mediopassive voice is a grammatical voice that subsumes the meanings of both the middle voice and the passive voice.  --Lambiam 23:05, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

so, usage note[edit]

It says: "Though common for a long time, the 'sentence-initial so' became controversial in the mid-2010s". Did it? I've heard of people complaining about sentence-initial "and" since forever. Any recent "so" controversy has passed me by. Equinox 13:19, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

Wikipedia has an article on this, and there are a few references there. Per utramque cavernam 13:24, 17 February 2019 (UTC)
Also, WF starts most of his posts with that word, so that obviously can't be a stylish thing to do. Per utramque cavernam 13:26, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

glaze vs glace vs glass[edit]

Wiktionary informs me that:

  1. glass comes from PG *glasą, meaning "glass", which comes from PIE *gʰelh₃-, meaning "green, yellow" or "flourish";
  2. glace comes from Latin glacies which comes from PIE *gel-, "cold";
  3. glaze is "partially" a descendant of glace, fact stated in glace but not even mentioned at glaze where the word is said to come from glass (or the Middle English term for that anyway).

Moreover, glace seems to only mean "ice" in OF, while in Modern French it also means "mirror". So I have the following questions:

  1. When is glace first attested as meaning "mirror"? Could this meaning be a semi-semantic loan from glass meaning the material? Also, is the fact that verre means both glass the material and glass the drinking vessel an English influence, or English influenced by French in this?
  2. Is there any known fact that suggests the two PIE roots may somehow be related?
  3. Do we have any clue as to how the PIE root evolved into PG *glasą semantically speaking?
  4. Where does glaze fit into all this? What is its relation to glace?

MGorrone (talk) 16:12, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

The Manufacture royale de glaces de miroirs was founded in 1665, so the French term used in the sense of “mirror” is at least that old. It is in fact already found almost five centuries earlier in the medieval poem Cligès (Que nule rien n’i feroit glace / Ne esmeraude ne topace ?); the sense derives from the polish of ice, at least according to the entry “glace” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).
It is implausible that the two PIE roots are related, so this is one of these incredible coincidences that are bound to happen occasionally: two etymologically unrelated words (in this case verbs; French glacer and English glaze) mean the same and happen to look very similar. We see the ice of glacer back in the icing on the cake.  --Lambiam 22:47, 17 February 2019 (UTC)
So is the "glass" sense of glace, and subsequently the "mirror" sense, perhaps adopted from or influenced by some Germanic source related to English glass ? It seems unusual to refer to glass (the substance) as "ice" as that would not only be ambiguous but ice normally melts at room temperature; glass doesn't. Leasnam (talk) 04:48, 18 February 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam: So to summarize what we've gotten so far about my questions:
  1. The "glass" sense of glace is attested as far back as a medieval poem which, I read here, dates ~1176. The question of glass influencing glace was reposed by @Leasnam:'s comment above. From "ice" to "glass", the path is that both are polished. As for «is the fact that verre means both glass the material and glass the drinking vessel an English influence, or English influenced by French in this», it hasn't been touched on yet.
  2. The roots' relatedness is implausible, which I take to mean nothing points to it, and in fact things exist which point against it. Correct?
  3. The evolution of the sense of *gʰelh₃- ("green, yellow" or "flourish") into *glasą ("glass") wasn't touched on.
  4. If, as you seem to say, glass and glace being semantically related and looking similar is just a random coincidence, why does glaze appear as a descendant of glace with the tag "partially"? Should it be removed from there?

MGorrone (talk) 14:40, 18 February 2019 (UTC)

The idea of there being a relationship is enticing; in particular, it is hard not to think that glace de miroir is somehow half a loan, half a calque of German Spiegelglas. Yet etymologists have not succumbed to its seduction. The following observation argues against the idea. Looking at uses of the French term glace in the mirror or glass sense, it appears to mean, specifically, a pane of glass. It is most of the time unambigously a count noun, as seen for example in its plural form in the name Manufacture royale de glaces de miroirs. The company was not manufacturing glass but glass panes. For window panes, we often see glace de verre, that is, a “glass pane”, e.g. in one 17th-century book and another 17th-century encyclopedic dictionary, the latter in defining miroir as a glass pane plated at its backside. It does not refer to the material; fait(e) de glace invariably means “made out of ice”.
Apart from the observation about the French term being a count noun, I am mainly reporting what etymological sources are saying. One place where (reportedly) the two came together is in the French term glaçure: an adaptation of German Glasur reusing the earlier glace(r) as applied to cakes. The ceramic sense of English glaze likewise reused the earlier verb for a culinary technique for what in German is called glasieren. The terms glaçure and Glasur are not used for the icing of a cake. While French glacer can be used for the ceramic technique, it is attested much later in this sense than the noun glaçure, so this may be (semantically) a back-formation. It looks as if the cooking-technique sense then was copied from French as an additional meaning of German glasieren.  --Lambiam 20:16, 18 February 2019 (UTC)

Appendix:88 modern constellations in different languages[edit]

Back in WP, the article "88 modern constellations in different languages" was deleted a while ago. I would like the contents transferred to an appendix here since the content is more suitable here on Wiktionary. FoxyGrampa75 (talk) 01:26, 18 February 2019 (UTC)

The problem with importing Wikipedia articles like this that the content is geared towards Wikipedia's standards, which are different from Wiktionary's. Also, they're redundant to our own content: we already have Category:Constellations and, more importantly, the translation tables in all the entries in Category:en:Constellations.
A multilingual list article like this tends to be the work of a small number of contributors looking things up in dictionaries for languages they mostly don't know, with very little information about the individual terms. Our entries and translation tables tend to be the work of a much larger number of contributors working in languages they know, and have much more information. Add to that the interwiki links to entries in other Wiktionaries and you have a much more comprehensive and reliable resource, albeit a bit less tidy and centralized. Chuck Entz (talk) 02:14, 18 February 2019 (UTC)


This Christian Science Monitor article, cited in the New York Times today, defines an institutionalist as "a veteran member of Congress who fervently believes in upholding its traditions and customs, even at the risk of alienating younger colleagues and outsiders clamoring for drastic change". Should this meaning be added to institutionalism? Or does it fall under the first definition, "Adherence to ... established codes of conduct"? Arms & Hearts (talk) 16:31, 18 February 2019 (UTC)

My feeling is that it is covered by the first definition. Curiously enough, the disambiguation page Institutionalism on Wikipedia lists eight senses but has no overlap with the senses given here on Wikitionary.  --Lambiam 00:33, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

"side length" versus "sidelength"[edit]

If the correct form is "side length", then the entry about "sidelength" should be edited.

But maybe both are “correct” forms.  --Lambiam 20:31, 18 February 2019 (UTC)
I would imagine sidelength instead of side length is an attempt to avoid SoP policy, which is all too prevalent. DonnanZ (talk) 11:07, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
What do you mean by SoP?  --anonymously. 15:52, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
The term "side length" seems to be correct as it has more than 100k hits in Google Books whereas "sidelength" has only about 5k. Therefore I propose to add an entry about "side length" and add a cross-reference to "sidelength". Secondly, "sidelength" might be incorrect: When searching for it in Google Books, it often appears only as some variable name in programming language source codes. But there are also cases where it appears as a proper word in some books. Therefore, I propose to check carefully whether "sidelength" is a correct form and if not, delete the entry.  --anonymously. 15:52, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
I agree. There seem to be nominally sufficient book hits for "sidelength" attestation, but it is not clear whether these are errors in which a variable-name style has been inappropriately used in ordinary language. Mihia (talk) 01:17, 22 February 2019 (UTC)

pronunciation of creetur[edit]

Was the pronunciation of creetur the same of the current one of creature? --Backinstadiums (talk) 00:17, 19 February 2019 (UTC)

Possibly in some instances, where it is just eye dialect (as labelled). But I can also find it in books on some dialects (e.g. Sussex) and in Webster and in the English Dialect Dictionary as a dialectal variant of creature with the pronunciation given as (what amounts to) /ˈkɹi.təɹ/. (The EDD gives other spellings, which have the same pronunciation or /ˈkɹiə.təɹ/, /kɹeɪ.təɹ/, etc: Lancastrian craiter, Scottish and Irish cratur, Scottish critur, Irish craythur, Northamptonshire crettur, Devonian creytur, and Lincolnshire [and many other dialects!] critter.) Incidentally, I can find uses from as late as the 1960s; more recent uses—even in newspapers indexed on Issuu—seem to mostly be reprints of older works, though it wouldn't surprise me if there were some actual recent uses somewhere. Creetshur also exists as a more unambiguously eye dialect spelling of the modern pronunciation. I'll update the entry. - -sche (discuss) 20:16, 19 February 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: Generally, the problem with the label eye dialect is its two meanings, i.e. "(non)standard pronunciation". creture shows "/kɹiːˈeɪtjʊə/ (archaic)", so I thought creetur was rather archaic than eye dialectal --Backinstadiums (talk) 20:29, 19 February 2019 (UTC)
The spelling of creetur suggests, and Merriam-Webster and the EDD say, the first part is /kɹit-/, so I don't think it's connected to /kɹiːˈeɪtjʊə/. As a dialectal variant pronunciation, it apparently goes back quite a ways, like critter, but I don't think it's archaic (I don't think people write creetur to try to seem old-timey, but rather as dialect). I suppose "or sometimes eye dialect" could be removed on the grounds that it's hard to prove it's not being pronounced /ˈkɹi.təɹ/ when it occurs. (This narrator pronounces it /ˈkɹi.təɹ/, I notice.) - -sche (discuss) 20:59, 19 February 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: I've just learned that in Appendix:Glossary archaic does not mean dated but archaizing; do you know which of the two terms, archai{c/zing}, is the most used in academic literature? --Backinstadiums (talk) 23:03, 19 February 2019 (UTC)


What does sense 3 refer to? "That with which anyone is invested; a vestment." Which sense of invest? The translation table's gloss is "that with which anyone is invested", and the existing translations to Mandarin and Finnish look like the financial sense, unrelated to clothing. Ultimateria (talk) 18:43, 19 February 2019 (UTC)

Based on the Shakespeare quote, it is the dated sense 2, “To clothe or wrap (with garments)”. So these translations are misplaced. A better gloss (easier to understand) would be vestment.  --Lambiam 00:09, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
So it's an obsolete synonym of vestment? I don't see this sense in the few modern dictionaries I use. If it is, I'd remove the table altogether. Ultimateria (talk) 02:59, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Definition replaced with vestment; translation table replaced with {{trans-see|vestment}}; additional archaic definition added at vestment. DCDuring (talk) 04:04, 20 February 2019 (UTC)


Are noun senses 1 and 2 distinct? They're "A sensation perceived by the ear caused by the vibration of air or some other medium." and "A vibration capable of causing such sensations." If someone or something makes a sound, it seems irrelevant to me that its perception may vary (I guess you could hear something that isn't there?), but either way the usage examples refer to the same thing: "the sound of footsteps" in 1 and "the sound of the tower guns" in 2. Ultimateria (talk) 18:52, 19 February 2019 (UTC)

I think the point of the "tower guns" example is meant to be that "the sound of the Tower guns smote again on the ear", while a "sensation" cannot itself smite on the ear. It is kind of a hair-splitting point though. Mihia (talk) 21:57, 19 February 2019 (UTC)
If we are into splitting hairs, the sensation is not perceived by the ear, but by the owner of the ear – unless “by means of” is meant, but then the definition is phrased ambiguously. Sense 1 fails in the common combinations “to make a sound” and “to hear a sound”, used in the two usexes for sense 1; it is weird to say that one makes (or hears) a sensation. This shows that senses 1 and 2 are indeed distinct. Conversely, replacing the term ”sound” by the definition of sense 2 in the noun phrase “a plaintive sound” results in “a plaintive vibration”. But, clearly, vibrations are not plaintive by themselves.  --Lambiam 23:49, 19 February 2019 (UTC)
That said, in the sentence “The poor creature uttered a plaintive sound” neither sense 1 nor sense 2 works; the meaning is an amalgamation of the two. So would this amalgamated definition work:
  1. A vibration of air or some other medium, in particular when perceived through the ear.
?  --Lambiam 00:00, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
I think our definitions should remain as close as possible to the direct experience of ordinary humans (not scientists or poets). "Vibrations" is not a word that comes to mind in the usual experience of sound. The "caused by" clause in def. 1 is a bit outside ordinary human experience but points to the physics of it, for those Wiktionary not satisfied with definitions based on ordinary human experience. We have WP links for just this purpose. DCDuring (talk) 04:19, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Compare our 4 definitions with the 12 senses and subsenses at MWOnline. DCDuring (talk) 04:25, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Sounds to me like the definitions here may be deficient. I don't know what the "experience of ordinary humans" has to do with anything, unless you are just saying to keep the language at an 8th grade level. As to these two definitions, they could either be kept separate or combined in a semicoloned fashion, but they should not be mashed together as if it were the same thing. -Mike (talk) 18:16, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
@Moverton Many of our users are literally 8th graders. Even more are 8th graders with respect to physics. In, say, Torres Strait Creole do they have a lot of scientific discussions of acoustics? I would not ban scientific definitions, of course, but we need to extirpate elitism in our definitions, whether intentional or accidental. Implying that one needs to know physics to properly use the word sound would seem the wrong way to go. DCDuring (talk) 12:55, 22 February 2019 (UTC)
They potentially give different answers to the question "if a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?". Of course, that's a pseudo-philosophical cliché, so the difference may not mean anything for our purposes. Chuck Entz (talk) 04:33, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
It does, IMO. It is now part of ordinary human experience that we can record a sound without hearing it. And we have always been able to make a sound, where our hearing it is not what is salient. DCDuring (talk) 12:53, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
I believe that sound can exist without anyone hearing it, but I don't think it's worth making two definitions, one for the heard type and one for the unheard. Mihia (talk) 20:24, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Don't tell Merriam-Webster. If they find out, we'll lose our edge. DCDuring (talk) 20:54, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Ah, but that's the rub. When the word is used, is the speaker/writer referring to the perceived sound or to the physical waves? It is perfectly valid to write about "an inaudible sound"[21] which can't be perceived. -Mike (talk) 18:16, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
Are there cases in which "sound" unambiguously refers to the perception and cannot refer to the physical sound waves? Mihia (talk) 01:12, 22 February 2019 (UTC)
Epilepsy and hallucinogenesis would be the topics to check here. Equinox 01:16, 22 February 2019 (UTC)
The center of any definition of any is NOT science unless the definition is of a word's use in a scientific context. Given the paucity of our definitions of sound, I hardly think that a specialized scientific definition is our top priority for this entry. We have WP if someone wants basic physics, acoustics, otic anatomy, neuroscience, etc. DCDuring (talk) 02:56, 22 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, when one refers to "the sound of" something, the perception of that thing is the sound. What is perceived may be caused by the physical sound waves, but it doesn't have to be. (One may also be talking about the perceived absence of it, as in "There was no sound of thunder, only the stillness.") "The sound of a ringing in the ears" might just be a medical problem, and likewise, a "hallucinatory sound". -Mike (talk) 18:31, 22 February 2019 (UTC)

evidentiary pronounced /-tri/[edit]

I've realized most Americans pronounce the final syllable /-tri/, not /ʃri/ or even /t͡ʃri/ with intrusive /t/; is it lexicalized? --Backinstadiums (talk) 01:52, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

Really? Most?  --Lambiam 23:48, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, I've never heard this, so I'm sceptical of it being "most". - -sche (discuss) 01:35, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
The only pronunciations that I can think of off of the top of my head for this word would be: the likely North American (and note that the precise pronunciation used for the -ary suffix varies from speaker to speaker, even in dialects like my own that lack the Mary-marry-merry merger. Now I personally use an unorthodox pronunciation not really used much elsewhere, but there are [generally speaking] at least a couple of different ways of pronouncing the suffix in North America. But for the sake of brevity, I will use the more traditional pronunciation here) /ɛ.vɪˈdɛn.ʃiɛəɹi/, and (I guess) /ɛ.vɪˈdɛn.tiɛəɹi/, and the more British /ɛ.vɪˈdɛn.ʃ(iə)ɹi/, and (I guess) /ɛ.vɪˈdɛn.t(iə)ɹi/. I've never heard it pronounced with /t͡ʃ/. Tharthan (talk) 02:42, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

New usage notes on (jiāng) page need more work[edit]

I started doing some clean up on the new usage notes on the (jiāng) page, but it needs more work. --Geographyinitiative (talk) 12:35, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

@Geographyinitiative: (chuān) could really use some usage notes too. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 18:49, 27 February 2019 (UTC)
@Metaknowledge The reason I made this post in the tea room was because I feel that there are some ephemeral cultural attitudes about the differences between these terms that are somewhat of interest. I did a thorough change to the original usage note just now, but I still don't think that it is really finished or good yet. --Geographyinitiative (talk) 01:04, 28 February 2019 (UTC)

What is the proper romanization of "植う"?[edit]

"ū", "uu", "u'u" or "uwu"? -- Huhu9001 (talk) 13:06, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

It should be uu. —Suzukaze-c 18:01, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
@Suzukaze-c: What's the source? -- Huhu9001 (talk) 08:19, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
ū isn't logical because the verb ending (u) gets mixed up with the verb root (u). u'u is not a romanization style I have ever encountered. The only time I have seen apostrophes used is to distinguish e.g. n'a (んあ) from na (な). wu does not exist in modern Japanese (but I seem to remember reading somewhere that the "w" in e.g. negatives あう -> あわない does stem from an original conception that the verb ended -wu). Mihia (talk) 15:04, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

Related: Inexorable spread of Japanese ou --Backinstadiums (talk) 18:57, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

Another related question. It is said that in Old Japanese vowel sequences were not permitted. But are ワ下二 verbs an exception? In man'yoshu 3746, we have "人の植うる 田は植ゑまさず". -- Huhu9001 (talk) 13:29, 23 February 2019 (UTC)

Rewording of the usage note of -fold[edit]

Don't the two examples given mean the same? --Backinstadiums (talk) 18:53, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

They have the same meaning, but the threefold is an adjective in the first example (modifying the noun increase) and an adverb in the second (modifying the verb increased). Ultimateria (talk) 21:31, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
Is the question about the usage notes or the usexes? Does “inflation saw an increase by twofold” mean the same as “inflation has increased threefold” (that is, an increase by 200% to three times the original value)? There is also the threefold path, which does not mean a path by a factor of three. And a “threefold insult” means something that is an insult in three ways.  --Lambiam 21:48, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam: Could you add a numerical example in the usage notes? That would clarify it --Backinstadiums (talk) 14:37, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

elvan: voicing of final /f/ or plural <elves> as base for the adjectival suffix?[edit]

Which alternative is the correct? in elvan, is there voicing of final /f/ or rather the plural <elves> is taken as the base for the adjectival suffix -an? --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:10, 22 February 2019 (UTC)

I guess that this is a term (there is enough sourcing for it), but... where did you come upon this? I have never seen this term before in my life. At first glance, it looks like a folk etymological alteration of elven (which, in a way, was itself a [since Tolkien popularised its general adjectival use, perhaps intentional] more modern interpretation of the word usually represented now as elfin [or at least closely related to that word, anyway] [which was historically spelt in various ways], which was [historically] a noun meaning "elf or fairy", but usually in practice "pixie, female fairy", which was also used as a quasi-adjective as well) by someone more accustomed to the -an suffix than the longer established, native suffix -en (which, admittedly, is [in practice] more oftentimes used for materials than it is for anything else). But I am utterly baffled as to why anyone would misinterpret (or misremember) elven as elvan, so perhaps it was intentional after all.
...As for the question at hand, if we assume that elvan is just an alteration of elven, then isn't the answer neither of the ones that you suggested? Wouldn't it just be because of the same process that has wolf, wolven, for instance? Tharthan (talk) 20:20, 22 February 2019 (UTC)

@Tharthan: check here --Backinstadiums (talk) 20:29, 22 February 2019 (UTC)

Looking at elfin and elven and the Middle English Dictionary's entries on elf and elve(n), I get the impression that elf comes from Middle English /ɛlf/ with final and thus voiceless /f/, while the various elv(V)n words come from attributive use of the Middle English noun /ɛlvən/, with medial and thus voiced /v/, being at least partially re-interpreted as an adjective with an adjectival suffix: -en in the case of elven, and apparently -an in the case of elvan (like sylvan? would it be too fanciful to suggest that the association of elves with woods might have influenced a few writers?). Elfin apparently took this a step further and switched to f and /f/ based on elf. - -sche (discuss) 05:37, 23 February 2019 (UTC)

Reason for the deletion of /v/ in e'er[edit]

It'd improve its entry just to explain how the deletion of /v/ in e'er came about --Backinstadiums (talk) 00:35, 23 February 2019 (UTC)

It might be done for the sake of the meter or rhyme in poems. Mihia (talk) 02:31, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
@Mihia Are you sure that that is the most likely explanation? Considering that, for instance, modern head came about during Middle English through something like: *heavèd (I would guess [forgive my poor Middle English pronunciation approximations] /heːv[e/ə]d/) → *hea'ed (I would guess /heːd/) -> head, why wouldn't you reckon that this was a somewhat "normal" change (at least in colloquial or poetic speech), in the English of particularly older eras? Tharthan (talk) 03:04, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
Another case with elision of v is Old English hlāford /ˈhlɑːford/ (< hlāfweard) > Middle English loverd /ˈlɔːvərd/ > lord, pronounced something like /lɔrd/ in Middle and Early Modern English. — Eru·tuon 05:51, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
had from haved and e'en from even are some others...however, I wouldn't call it "regular" but "occasionally featured", because in the vast majority of cases the v remained: ME haver "oats" features only a one-off hawer, but never a *har and we never see *lid for lived. Leasnam (talk) 19:06, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
All of these seem to me to be due to loss of the second vowel, causing loss of the v. There's apparently some kind of phonotactic restriction on having a cluster of v with a following consonant in the same syllable (the past ending seems not to count most of the time- perhaps the restriction sees it as a separate syllable). What's irregular is the loss of the vowel, not the loss of the v. Chuck Entz (talk) 19:41, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
The Middle English Dictionary suggests monosyllabic forms (er, ar) are attested in Middle English, which would support that idea, although their sourcing seems weak (AFAICT they list only a single work with "Wepen he mohte / Er his lyf syþ", where I'd be wary of mere scribal abbreviation unless there are more examples). - -sche (discuss) 05:54, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
Btw, if the loss of the v is indeed regular and occurs the same way in other words (never/ne'er also seems to have some monosyllablic forms in Middle English; what about over/o'er?), and that is something we deem worth explaining in the etymology section, perhaps it could be templatized, in the manner of Template:-a-o-x (incidentally there may be a better name for that template). - -sche (discuss) 06:08, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
And even/e'en. It seems to have been more regular (and persistent) in Scots and some English dialects. If I had to guess, I would say the only reason more words didn't permanently lose their V's was because of their persistence in writing. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 20:02, 24 February 2019 (UTC)
I also think that that is the most likely explanation, myself. Before this discussion began, that was what I assumed was the reason. Tharthan (talk) 20:06, 24 February 2019 (UTC)

an Uber, an Uzi,... /u:/[edit]

I've just realized about this pattern, an Uber/Uzi, without /j/, but does it apply to any native word as well? --Backinstadiums (talk) 13:24, 23 February 2019 (UTC)

If by "Uber", you mean that dreadful service that seeks to replace the taxicab industry, then I ought to point out something:
"Uber" is a shortening of the earlier "UberCab", which seems to be derived from über- + cab. Since über- itself has a few different pronunciations (which one is used truly does seem to vary from speaker to speaker. I know of no "regional" pronunciations of über-: they all seem to have to do with personal preference, and/or one's familiarity with German pronunciation), I wouldn't rely on it for evidence of a pattern. Furthermore, I daresay that the service has now surpassed the prefix in popular knowledge, and that more people are aware of the service than are aware of the prefix (or, rather, the prefix's use in English).
Regarding uzi, that is a special case, because it is a derivative of a foreign name. Similarly, when the name Yotam is used in English, it is (at least in my experience) usually fairly faithfully realised as something along the lines of /joʊˈtɑm/. On the other hand, the much longer established Jotham, which is (to all intents and purposes) the exact same name, has a Anglicised pronunciation: /ˈdʒoʊθəm/. So, again, not the best example for use as evidence for a pattern. Tharthan (talk) 14:09, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
Am I missing something, or isn't "an" the expected form before a vowel, which /u/ is? Yes, it applies to other words; "an oopsie", for example, like (with other vowels) "an aardvark", "an ugly person". It's "an" before a /j/ that would be weird (hence "a yew tree" exists, while hits for google books:"an yew tree" are mostly calling it out as an error). As the usage notes at an indicate, one can also find bare "a" before a vowel sometimes, but that's not the expected/standard article. - -sche (discuss) 16:51, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: the phoneme u does not show the possibility of /j/ before some contextual high-back allophones, even in a brief note, which I would add --Backinstadiums (talk) 19:29, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
Hm, true, the letter u can sometimes represent /ju/... but I kinda think the solution might be to remove the "phoneme pronunciation" section from [[u]] entirely, rather than add to it. (Hopefully more people will weigh in on that question...) I mean, consider what such a section at [[o]] would look like, since it can famously be pronounced like everything from /ɪ/ to /u/ to /wʌ/. (I don't think /ju/ and /u/ are allophones, btw, if you were saying that—or perhaps I am misunderstanding you?—because they're contrastive in minimal pairs like use (verb)~ooze.) - -sche (discuss) 21:00, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: It's a problem of "directionality", so that one /wʌ/ has come to be represented by <o> in <one>, not the other way round--Backinstadiums (talk) 21:28, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
The thing is, I really do think that a fairly large percentage of the general populace has at least some vague understanding that English spelling is generally historical and (quite often) etymological [I'm not saying that they necessarily fully understand, but I do think that they have at least some vague notion of the fact]. Yes, I have heard people say things like "Well, the reason why we pronounce ‘right’ as /ɹʌɪt/, but ‘ride’ as /ɹaɪd/ is because of the ‘gh’ in ‘right’", and nonsense of that sort (I've actually heard that particular one from two different people, of very different generations, of absolutely no relation). Nevertheless, it has been my experience that people that have received at least some level of formal education tend to realise that there is more than meets the eye about the spelling system used for the English language. They don't assume that it is purely arbitrary, or that is intended to cause unneeded strife for speakers attempting to put their thoughts into writing. I know that this isn't true everywhere in the English-speaking world, but I think that it likelily holds true generally amongst those that, again, have at least some level of formal education. Tharthan (talk) 01:47, 24 February 2019 (UTC)

What is the differences between immediate and prompt?[edit]

According to the Oxford dictionary, they share the meaning "done without delay". I am wondering is there any difference between them when using them. If you can replace one with the other, then why should there be two words which have the same meaning?

Usually "immediate" means right now, with no delay at all; "prompt" means fast/soon but perhaps a little later than now. Also you can say somebody is always prompt (i.e. they habitually do not delay things), but you can't use "immediate" that way. Equinox 13:26, 24 February 2019 (UTC)
You might weaken the Oxford definition of prompt to “done without undue delay”. I may add that the observation that something (e.g. a response) is immediate is merely a factual, objective statement. To say that something was prompt involves a value judgement (as expressed by the qualification “no undue”).  --Lambiam 00:51, 25 February 2019 (UTC)

Sanskrit verb भरति (bharati) has no conjugation table[edit]

If anyone here has it please add it. I've been googling a bit trying to find one but I haven't. Maybe it's in some grammar book?

career changer[edit]

What does this word actually mean? It was added in 2016 as a translation hub. ---> Tooironic (talk) 12:20, 24 February 2019 (UTC)

Someone who changes their career, e.g. a coal miner who becomes a programmer. Equinox 22:17, 25 February 2019 (UTC)
Well, that usage would be unexceptional, but IMO the combination much more often refers to an event that does, or especially should provoke a change in the career one pursues: e.g. R

recognition that advancement is rare, that one lacks a status, talent, or disposition that favors advancement, or that conditions have changed in a field, creating a new option or foreclosing a former one. Or embarrassing a boss or influential colleague, or the enterprise, by uncovering incompetence or malfeasance to the detriment of the wrong person or without foresight. One might e.g. thereby leave engineering, and become a chauffeur.
--Jerzyt 11:03, 26 February 2019 (UTC)


According to the wikipedia entry for twelve, "a group of twelve things is usually a "dozen" but may also be referred to as a "duodecad""; should the term be added? --Backinstadiums (talk) 13:48, 24 February 2019 (UTC)

Sure, thanks for spotting it. I've added it, although apparently (as with other duodeca- vs dodeca- words) the form dodecad is more common. Also, judging by ngrams, somewhere near half the uses of it (in either spelling) are capitalized in reference to various specific groups of twelve...which may mean we should have {{altcaps}} entries at Dodecad and Duodecad. (I know we wouldn't normally create e.g. Government just because government is sometimes capitalized, but if half the uses are capitalized, that might meet the threshold...) - -sche (discuss) 17:01, 24 February 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: Thanks. It'd be great to add a bit of etymology as well if possible. --Backinstadiums (talk) 23:00, 24 February 2019 (UTC)

distributive adjective of ten[edit]

According to the wikipedia enry for ten, "The ordinal adjective is decimal; the distributive adjective is DENARY"; what does it exactly mean? should it be added? --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:35, 24 February 2019 (UTC)

My best guess is that the editor who added this at Wikipedia meant the sense of “containing ten parts”.  --Lambiam 10:57, 25 February 2019 (UTC)

duodenary 2. "Of the twelfth order"[edit]

An example would clarify what sense of order is intended in duodenary 2. "Of the twelfth order" --Backinstadiums (talk) 13:18, 25 February 2019 (UTC)

The quotation on the "or" page.[edit]

Hi! The quotation used as an example for the usage of the word "or" is utterly incomprehensible. Here it is:

The sporophyte foot is also characteristic: it is very broad and more or less lenticular or disciform, as broad or broader than the calyptra stalk […] , and is sessile on the calyptra base […]

It contains an another occurence of the word in the phrase more or less. For a non-native speaker it might not be obvious that it's a part of the idiom. Also, the sentence is grammatically too complicated, and when it comes to vocabulary used, even for me (and I consider myself a fairly good non-native English speaker) it's full of words I've never heard or read in my life: sporophyte, lenticular, disciform, calyptra, stalk, sessile... "Or" is one of the most used words in the English language. Surely there must be a simpler quote to describe its meaning. Uostofchuodnego (talk) 18:12, 25 February 2019 (UTC)

This is so over the top that it becomes funny. I have replaced the quotation by two examples of use that are, hopefully, more friendly to native and non-native English speakers alike. (The noun stalk is actually a fairly common word, but most are not. I have to look up what calyptra means.)  --Lambiam 00:41, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
Thank you! I have to admit that despite using "or" for so many years, the old quote made me quite confused regarding its meaning and usage. --Uostofchuodnego (talk) 17:23, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

a day late and a dollar short[edit]

Entered as a noun; defined as "action that was taken too late and is too feeble to be of any use". This should be improved somehow. The day and dollar are not, in themselves, the action: "his work was a day late" isn't like saying "his work was a piece of jewellery". Should it perhaps be an adverb? Equinox 22:16, 25 February 2019 (UTC)

@Equinox: Wiktionary:Tea_room/2019/January#a_day_late_and_a_dollar_short_part_of_speech. Per utramque cavernam 23:01, 25 February 2019 (UTC)
I have now defined it as both an adjective and an adverb. It would be nice to have a joint PoS like “Adjective/Adverb”; in many languages there are many words that can assume either role.  --Lambiam 00:05, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
It's a PP with a null preposition. :trollface: Equinox 00:16, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
Are you fishing for a complement?  --Lambiam 01:06, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
Good fun, guys, and even admirably clever, but I'm willing to be the wet blanket who spoils the fun (or even the goat): there's also work being done here, and some jokes, like those, need to be spoiled by labeling them as puns or otherwise jokes, for the sake of those who might otherwise be confused, and thus discouraged from learning or contributing.
--Jerzyt 11:43, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
See also day late, dollar short. I still wonder if these should be defined as ==Phrase==s, on the grounds that they function the same way as "his apology was a week late", "help arrived a week late". - -sche (discuss) 19:19, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
Sadly, I can find next to no grammar books discussing this phrase. Sherwin Cody's old (1903) Grammar & punctuation says: "Many nouns signifying time, place, etc., are used in an adverbial sense without prepositions. To all intents and purposes they are adverbs; yet they retain the powers of nouns. Examples: 'I am going home;' 'He arrived a day late,' or 'a day later;' [...]." That's all I can see; Kumar E. Suresh's 2010 Communication Skills And Soft Skills only calls it an "idiom", and likewise Cambridge and McGraw-Hill's dictionaries of American idioms contain it but without any indication of POS. - -sche (discuss) 19:31, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
I find it very hard to accept Cody's treating home and day as similar. Consider home. In "They went home" there is not even a preposition that can precede home unless it has a determiner, in which case "They went [DET] home" is not acceptable. This and other non-nounish behavior strongly supports having an adverb PoS section for home, as most dictionaries, including Wiktionary do.
This is completely different from day and dollar. The phrases that use these nouns separately also work with many other quantified nouns that are units of measurement. These quantified nouns could be augmented by prepositions like by, which IMO confirms their adverbial nature, modifying late and short. It would also be perfectly acceptable to say "They came up late and short." (adverbial) "The profits were late and short (of expectations) (adjectival).
To me this behavior of the component terms with these modifications would seem to warrant having adjective and adverb sections in the case of this phrase and any closely parallel cases. DCDuring (talk) 20:16, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

Counts the elements before and after as two possibilities.[edit]

The heading is one of the definitions given for the English conjunction or. I cannot figure out what this means. Is the conjunction doing the counting? Before and after in a temporal sense, or in the textual order? What meaning of elements is intended? Examples?  --Lambiam 00:59, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

It must mean textual order. The elements must be linguistic constituents (from clause down to morpheme ("pre- or post-(mortem)"). The definition is formatted with {{non-gloss definition}}, yielding italics, but is not worded in a way that makes it perfectly clear that it is not to be read as a gloss. Maybe Used to indicate that the items preceding and following or in the text are possibilities, not the only ones. DCDuring (talk) 20:28, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

Top 20 scientific name entries with redlinked epithets[edit]

Anyone feel like adding some more Latin bits of scientific names?

  1. perfoliatum/perfoliatus adj (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
  2. pseudoacacia n (Robinia pseudoacacia)
  3. balsamea/balsameus adj (Abies balsamea)
  4. leucocephala/leucocephalus adj (Leucaena leucocephala)
  5. stercoralis adj (Strongyloides stercoralis)
  6. pentandra/pentandrus adj (Ceiba pentandra)
  7. phalloides adj (Amanita phalloides)
  8. mydas n (Chelonia mydas)
  9. macrochirus adj (Lepomis macrochirus)
  10. aucuparia n? (Sorbus aucuparia)
  11. sciureus adj (Saimiri sciureus)
  12. platanoides adj (Acer platanoides)
  13. haliaetus (Pandion haliaetus)
  14. vitulina/vitulinus adj (Phoca vitulina)
  15. guajava n (Psidium guajava)
  16. hippocastanum n (Aesculus hippocastanum)
  17. idaeus adj (Rubus idaeus)
  18. oceanicus adj (Oceanites oceanicus)
  19. hederacea/hederaceus adj (Glechoma hederacea)
  20. monogyna/monogynus adj (Crataegus monogyna)

In case someone happened to feel like adding some Latin entries. This list includes a monkey, osprey and raspberry. Based on the list of missing common epithets I made a few years back. Ranked by how often the word and its variations appear within known scientific names in the google book corpus. —Pengo (talk) 01:17, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

I have added my evidence-based, but not definitive beliefs as to the PoS of the missing items, some of which are feminine inflected forms of 1st/2nd declension adjectives. DCDuring (talk) 02:48, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
Some of these simply shouldn't have entries (e.g. the guajava of Psidium guajava). I'll try to deal with the legitimate ones, however. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 02:41, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks guys for having a look. Pengo (talk) 06:51, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
mydas appears to be related to emydas (ref ctrl-f: Geminus) —Pengo (talk) 07:30, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
guajava could perhaps have an {{only in}}, couldn't it? Like e.g. rimiculus (User talk:DCDuring#rimiculus). - -sche (discuss) 19:34, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
1 / 20. —Pengo (talk) 23:57, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

"ledge": rock formation and quarry product[edit]

   I tore an ad out of a placemat in a New England diner's placemat, that includes:

All Ledge, Gravel and Sand Products
Portable Crushing Services & Trucking is available
All your site work needs, excavating, bulldozing, etc.

(Sic as to what is ungrammatical, either by conjoining unlike components or subject/verb disagreement "Ledge" refers to sedimentary rock, but I can't tell whether to the consumer use of polished or cleaved stone for door-steps, shelves, or other surfaces, or to the source of that raw material from the horizontal formations that are excavated, and sawn parallel to the strata or cleaved along the weak layers that reflect temporal variations in deposition rate or composition.    Is this seemingly ambiguous usage likely to be intentional, and in any case, is the ambiguity worthy of lexicographic mention? (Any interested colleague should take it and run with it.) Hmm, does my wording hint that all the above was worded while watching Antiques Road Show?)
-- Oops, belated sig! Jerzyt 02:00, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

big-boy pants, big-girl pants[edit]

Might it be able to be accurately said that there is a nuance (albeit only slightly) to these words, of "slight mockery" or at least of "making a slight jab at one's masculinity/femininity", oftentimes when it is used? I am not saying that this is always the case, but I am saying that it seems to be the case in many instances of its use (and, I believe, intentionally so by those who are using it that way).

I mean, I have always taken it as a given that there is a difference between "Man up, Hal. We have a tough job to do!", and "Alright, Hal, it's time to put on your big-boy pants, now. We have real work to do." The first is merely reminding Hal (albeit with a good bit of force) that he is a grown man, and that (given such) he ought to act that way (especially given the current situation). The latter seems to be implying that Hal is usually not masculine or mature, and that he needs to "grow up", because this is not something some small child can do.

Again, the nuance is not there in the minds of every speaker, but I know for sure that at least some people are using this word with such a nuance, and I am pretty sure that they are intentionally using it in a way that one is supposed to interpret it understanding the nuance. The reason that I bring this up here is because I really do think that it is used widely enough with that nuance that it is significant enough to warrant the inclusion of a short usage note mentioning it in the entries for big-boy pants and big-girl pants.

Thoughts? Tharthan (talk) 04:14, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

It's making a jab at maturity. I don't see how it's making a jab at masculinity/femininity, unless you were to say "big-girl pants" to a man (or, less probably, vice versa?). Equinox 04:25, 26 February 2019 (UTC)


"1. The act of producing. The widget making machine is being used for production now. 3. The act of being produced. The widgets are coming out of production now." Are these really distinct senses or should they be merged? It seems to me that the act of production is the act of being produced; you can't have one without the other. Equinox 20:29, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

You are talking about concepts, not words.
In "The [Edsel/movie] was still in production." production would seem to have a passive meaning, though "the act of being produced" should probably be replaced by something like "a state of being produced". You could not substitute "the act of producing":
*The [Edsel|movie] was still in the act of producing.
DCDuring (talk) 20:39, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
BTW, it would be a service to the project to review all 96 instances in principal namespace of "act of being [] " and replace it with something at least as good as "state or condition of being [] ". DCDuring (talk) 20:42, 26 February 2019 (UTC)


I'm new here so forgive me if I'm doing this wrong, but regarding the page for the Latin word 'festum', I'm wondering whether instead of "fēstum" with a long 'e' it should be "festum" with a short 'e'. Indeed this is how it appears on the pages in other languages, and since it diphthongises in the Spanish to 'fiesta', I believe this means the vowel must have been short in the Latin? PaterAeneas (talk) 22:24, 26 February 2019 (UTC)


Defined as "a ballgame played with multiple balls, notably billiards". This doesn't seem strongly linked with billiards or similar games at all in the results on Google Books. Does anyone know of an association like this? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 12:57, 27 February 2019 (UTC)

The term is used for the game of billiards in the Camera Obscura, and the popularity of the book may have contributed at some time far in the past to such an association. Koenen does not have an entry for the term but uses it in the definition of the word biljart in the sense of a table. We see the term used in the billiards sense also here, but I think “notably” is far too strong. Historically the term appears to refer to all kinds of games involving balls: boules (like here), some game I don’t know but definitely not billiards here, the Aztec ballgame (like here), and so on.  --Lambiam 00:49, 28 February 2019 (UTC)


For the same reason as thang, should sang be added? --Backinstadiums (talk) 13:38, 27 February 2019 (UTC)

Related discussion: [22]. Equinox 13:42, 27 February 2019 (UTC)

salle from the Spanish verb salir[edit]

The orthographic form salle from the Spanish verb salir does not exist --Backinstadiums (talk) 18:36, 27 February 2019 (UTC)

I thought this change might do the trick, but I see no effect. Does the same issue not also apply to salles?  --Lambiam 00:09, 28 February 2019 (UTC)


Some clarification is needed regarding what is meant by "(Some southern English accents)" in the pronunciation section. Is this referring to dialects in Southern England, to dialects in, say, the Southern United States, or to something else?

The transcription /wɜː(ɹ)/ would almost seem to imply that it is referring to some dialects in Southern England. I cannot speak at all to the veracity of that (with my fairly limited knowledge of British English dialectal pronunciation, the only thing that I can think of off hand that would seem to potentially fit with that [if we are limiting this to Southern England] would be some kind of West Country dialectal pronunciation. But what do I know?).

I can say, however, that I have heard /wɝ/ used for we're by speakers of broad, Newer Southern American English (as opposed to Older Southern American English) plenty of times (unfortunately).

Would someone with more knowledge on the matter mind clarifying what is meant by "(Some southern English accents)" in the pronunciation section of the entry?

Thanks in advance! Tharthan (talk) 22:42, 28 February 2019 (UTC)

God's are be hard to find[edit]

Is be in God's are be hard to find "habitual aspect"? --Backinstadiums (talk) 23:30, 28 February 2019 (UTC)

I don't understand the sentence; the grammar seems entirely wrong. Equinox 00:46, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
Does anyone actually say that? I suspect those example sentences simply ought to be removed. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 00:58, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
Firstly, I think it should say "gods" (plural) not "God's" (possessive); secondly, unless there is very strong evidence for these wildly non-standard sentences then, yes, we should kill them. We need to explain widespread anomalies but not promote rare ones. Equinox 01:02, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
I think there may be some misunderstanding about the parsing of this. In this example, "are" is allegedly a noun, meaning "grace" or "mercy", so the sentence allegedly means "God's grace/mercy be hard to find", which, I suppose, may be a dialect form of "God's grace/mercy is hard to find". Mihia (talk) 01:30, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
According to the link Back provided are#Noun is a noun. In AAVE and probably in some other varieties of English spoken in the southern US, be can represent habitual aspect. See W:AAVE for more. DCDuring (talk) 01:32, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
I removed the "crazy, messed up world" and "suicide vest" usexes, which didn't seem to add anything beyond what the first part of the usage note says, that are#noun is used mostly in the phrase "God's are". As to "be", it's probably dialectal (AAVE etc as DCDuring says) if not just an error. - -sche (discuss) 06:15, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

what is the meaning of "seech"? --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:08, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

Nothing in OneLook, Century, MED, Scots dictionary. Maybe a full text search at Google Books. These usexes should probably be replaced by actual citations. Also I can't find are#Noun in dictionaries. DCDuring (talk) 13:28, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
It's an alternative form / phonetic development (possibly not actually attested past Middle English) of Old English sēċan, whence also the usual form seek. (Beseech, btw, did survive with this pronunciation.) I suspect this entry was taken from either a dictionary of Middle English like the MED, or one that conflates Middle and modern English like the OED. - -sche (discuss) 18:17, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
@-sche, DCDuring: seech --Backinstadiums (talk) 18:34, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
There are many thousands of words mentioned in regional dictionaries of English. The hard part is finding uses. DCDuring (talk) 18:50, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
OK, I managed to cite seech. Curiously, all the sources I found and all the citations in the EDD of this form are from Lancashire. - -sche (discuss) 19:47, 1 March 2019 (UTC)


The theoretical singular form for sonsabitches is lacking, or not attested? --Backinstadiums (talk) 23:36, 28 February 2019 (UTC)

Neither. The entry itself is telling you what the singular form is. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 00:59, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
Right. If you're wondering why there's no *sonsabitch, it's because the singular wouldn't start with the plural sons-. - -sche (discuss) 06:21, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
@Metaknowledge, -sche: I meant singular -of- is represented in the plural as -a- --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:04, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
@Backinstadiums: It's because of is followed by a consonant in the plural but a vowel in the singular; the final /v/ is usually only elided before consonants. — Vorziblix (talk · contribs) 16:20, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
Green’s Dictionary of Slang lists this as one of several variants of sonofabitch.  --Lambiam 12:34, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

The corresponding singular is sonabitch, phonetically deleting the second schwa and then /v.b/ not even regressively geminated, but simple /b/, yet my fav is sonuvabitches --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:48, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

Sonuva bitches wear Bulova watches.  --Lambiam 22:44, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

March 2019


The pages Firmingham and Mirmingham say that the forms are nonstandard, but how nonstandard are such Welsh mutations? The Welsh Wikipedia has a category called "Pobl o Firmingham" after all: https://cy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categori:Pobl_o_Firmingham 10:50, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

Pinging @I'm so meta even this acronym, BigDom, Mahagaja as the users I can think of who have some familiarity with Welsh. - -sche (discuss) 09:04, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Not a native speaker, but in general the usage note is true although there are common exceptions - Google Books has a few hits for "ym Mirmingham" (google books:"ym Mirmingham"), but standard "yn Birmingham" is much more common (google books:"yn Birmingham"). BigDom 09:54, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
I don't know a whole lot about it either, but I suspect that mutated forms like this are more commonly used by nonnative speakers who are so enthusiastic about mutations that they don't realize when not to apply them. I've certainly encountered that in Irish, and strongly suspect it happens in Welsh as well. —Mahāgaja · talk 10:20, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

soviet republic or Soviet republic[edit]

There is a page for Soviet Socialist Republic, which is a proper noun and formal title. I think we could do with a less formal countable noun entry especially for the plural form, but I'm not sure whether soviet should be capitalised or not; I suspect it should be. DonnanZ (talk) 13:50, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

The plural occurs here: "Etter den russiske revolusjon ble Sentral-Asia inndelt i sovjetrepublikker etter etniske skillelinjer, ..." DonnanZ (talk) 14:11, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

I think Soviet republic may be the most common on Google Books (google books:"a soviet republic"), but soviet republic and Soviet Republic are found as well. There doesn't seem to be much of a semantic split based on capitalisation either. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 14:29, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
Soviet is commonly capitalized, also when used as an attribute, so the best way to write this would indeed be Soviet republic. Also in news sources this is the most common form; often in the collocation “the former Soviet republics”.  --Lambiam 18:29, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
I'm inclined to go for soviet republic, as I think soviet should only be capitalised in proper nouns, like Soviet Union, Supreme Soviet. Our entries for soviet and Soviet reflect this confusion, and a citizen of the Soviet Union is only treated as Soviet. But I'm prepared to let that one go. Other forms would automatically redirect to whichever form is selected. DonnanZ (talk) 18:49, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Being prescriptive, I'd say that "soviet" should be used when soviet is the description of a system of government (like republican), but "Soviet" should be used when it's an abbreviated form of "Soviet Union" (like Republican).--Prosfilaes (talk) 01:02, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, I am contradicting what I said in the opening paragraph. Lingo Bingo Dingo, Lambiam and yourself all think it should be Soviet republic, so that's what it will be, I guess. DonnanZ (talk) 12:48, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
Oxford's example sentences for soviet (citizen) are worth looking at, which is why I'm letting it go. DonnanZ (talk) 19:11, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
I have now Yes check.svg done an entry for Soviet republic, feel free to criticise or revise it. DonnanZ (talk) 17:56, 3 March 2019 (UTC)

啇 'to stalk'?[edit]

I'm suspicious of the definition data in Unihan entry U+5547 啇: "to stalk; the stem; the foot; the base". What is "to stalk"?

  • Is it really a zero-derived verb from stalk 'stem'? We don't even record any such verb at stalk now! (Though OED does.) If so this is a bad gloss, bad enough that I'd think we should replace it with e.g. "to remove the stalk" regardless of any general norms for Unihan data.
  • Is it an error in Unihan for "the stalk"?
  • Or is it really to stalk 'to follow stealthily' vel sim.? If so that too could use more explicitness, given how much like a mistake it looks. 4pq1injbok (talk) 14:04, 1 March 2019 (UTC)
It would be an incredible coincidence if the same Han character can mean stalk both as a noun and as a verb, even though these English homonyms are not cognates (pace the OED). So I bet that this is an error. If so, it is an error replicated in our own entry.  --Lambiam 18:43, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
IMO the Unihan translations are not that good. I believe they were translated shoddily from some monolingual dictionary, based on comparison to other dictionaries. They were copied to #Translingual. —Suzukaze-c 01:12, 3 March 2019 (UTC)

mommy war, mommy wars[edit]

Should these terms for a political controversy about the role/integration of motherhood in society be included? Sense 3 of war would suggest this is SOP, though one might argue it is a fixed expression (compare culture war, which is however a lot more common). ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 14:11, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

My initial inclination is to think it's SOP, and to compare google books:"bathroom wars" (over trans people using bathrooms), google books:"pizza wars" (between pizza restaurant chains competing to be the most profitable / make the best pizza / etc), and the "war on Christmas". OTOH, I can see how it could be argued that some of these are "set phrases" and have somewhat more restricted meanings than a broad reading of their parts would suggest (e.g. "bathroom wars" these days, in the West being mostly about trans people using bathrooms), even though I'd argue that's due to non-lexical rather than lexical grounds (namely, trans people using bathrooms is what people are fighting over—but any time a specific locality has fought over e.g. siting bathrooms in a particular place or building more of them, I expect newspapers have probably referred to "bathroom wars" then too). I see we have "War on Women", though, not to mention lots of articles on wars like War of 1812 and World War II, and phrases like war of nerves. So, what do I know... - -sche (discuss) 08:58, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

punt (retreat, or make best nonideal choice)[edit]

Is anyone familiar with these two senses?

  • "To retreat from one's objective; to abandon an effort one still notionally supports."
  • "(colloquial, intransitive) To make the best choice from a set of non-ideal alternatives."

I'm not, and I don't see them in other dictionaries I checked. Is the second one possibly a poor attempt at the sense I just added as sense 2, "To equivocate and delay or put off (answering a question, addressing an issue, etc)"?? But I don't want to RFV them if they're real... - -sche (discuss) 08:51, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

  • One of the OED's many definitions is "To give up, back out; to defer or avoid taking action or responsibility, to ‘pass the buck’" - is that what we mean?SemperBlotto (talk) 08:57, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
    That almost seems like it's combining two senses. The "defer or avoid taking action or responsibility" seems like it probably corresponds to what Dictionary.com has as "equivocate or delay", as when politicians punt on answering tough questions. "Give up, back out" would seem to correspond to the "retreat from one's objective, abandon and effort" sense above, but how is it used? I searched Google Books for phrases like "punt from"+"goal" and "punt on"+"goal" and didn't see anything but uses of the sporting kick sense. - -sche (discuss) 09:18, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
We could try to explore the metaphorical source before trying to tease out meaning from citations. To punt in American football is to kick the ball to a receiver on the other team. One makes this choice almost always on the last of four downs in a series when the situation does not favor trying to win another set of four downs. Generally, one will have a subsequent chance to do better. One still has the objective of winning the game.
In its metaphorical use, punt is intransitive and informal. I usually interpret it as "to avoid committing oneself to a course of action with risk of failure, embarrassment, etc." DCDuring (talk) 17:19, 2 March 2019 (UTC)



I'm french and it's the first time I see aujourd'hui written like this. Unfortunately, the only reference is broken and so, I'm asking is there any other evidence this form exist?

Sorry for my poor level of english, ^^'. Lepticed7 (talk) 11:00, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

I have removed that reference because the term simply does not occur with this spelling in Le Trésor. Since aujourd'hui is a univerbation of au jour d'hui, the form aujour-d'hui has no right to exist, while au-jour-d'hui is a believable intermediate step. Looking for occurrences I found some cases where the term was hyphenated because it was broken across lines, but no genuine cases. This makes me think the entry should be deleted (and the mention of it at the etymology section of aujourd'hui removed), but the proper way to do that is through a request at Wiktionary:Requests for verification/Non-English – which is most easily done by adding a template {{rfv|fr}} at aujour-d'hui, publishing the change (or showing the preview), and clicking the (+) that you see in the yellow box.  --Lambiam 11:51, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

Korean War and Vietnam War[edit]

Why do we say Korean War but Vietnam War, not "Vietnamese War"? ---> Tooironic (talk) 13:40, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

Here is a very tentative theory: There is a default preference for the adjective, but if the adjective has more syllables than the (common) proper noun for the geographical entity where the war is or was fought, the noun form is used instead. Obviously, this theory needs more examples for testing it.  --Lambiam 15:35, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Looking over w:List of wars: 1945–1989, w:List of wars: 1990–2002 and w:List of wars: 2003–present, that holds much of the time, including for explaining the Iraq War and various Congo Wars. But there are a few exceptions; there were also the "Indochina Wars" where "Indochinese" would've been as many syllables, like "Korean" vs "Korea". (There was also the "Kosovo War", but Kosovan is rare.)
Among war names that include two parties, the Iran–Iraq War is explained by the proposed tendency, but the "Cambodian–Vietnamese War" and "Sino-Vietnamese War" are longer than "Cambodia-Vietnam War" and "China-Vietnam War" and also discrepant with the "Vietnam War". However, it seems like two-party names may generally use adjectives regardless of length and it's instead "Iran-Iraq War" which is the exception(?).
Civil wars seem to have a much stronger preference for adjectives, e.g. the Paraguayan Civil War (even though "Paraguay" would be shorter), Nepalese Civil War, Chadian Civil War, Iraqi Civil War, etc. The only exceptions to the preference for adjectives that I spotted were the North and South Yemen Civil Wars (but the forms with "Yememni" are also attested, and contrast the currently-ongoing Yemeni Civil War!), the Sierra Leone Civil War, and Guinea-Bissau Civil War, but in all those cases the state's name is two words (and in the last case, the adjective Bissau-Guinean is so rare Ngrams doesn't even plot it).
- -sche (discuss) 20:40, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Possibly relevant: "the war in Vietnam" sounds more natural to me than "the war in Korea". Perhaps the "Vietnam War" is influenced by or shortened from "the war in Vietnam". Of course, I have no clue why this difference exists. On the other hand, it's equally natural to say a soldier "served in Korea" as saying they "served in Vietnam". Chuck Entz (talk) 22:10, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
No lack of ghits, though, for “the war in Korea”.  --Lambiam 01:00, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

Whaddya "what are you"[edit]

Doesn't whaddya also represents "what are you", as in Whaddya doing? --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:39, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Equinox 16:47, 2 March 2019 (UTC)


I just corrected a spelling mistake here, but its a bit unclear to me what "common innovation" is supposed to mean. That makes it sound like the word arose in Ancient Greek and Phrygian through w:parallel evolution. But I would have thought it more likely to be due to descent from a common ancestral language. SpinningSpark 16:55, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

This very commonality is one of the arguments for the hypothetical Graeco-Phrygian language as a common ancestor. I have no idea how generally accepted this is. There is an article with the title Phrygian & Greek that appeared in the journal Talanta; it can be downloaded here.  --Lambiam 18:20, 2 March 2019 (UTC)


Can't it'll be also pronounced as a homophone of ill? --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:21, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

I don't think so. Only if it's rapid slurred speech, not in a way that dictionaries would include. Equinox 17:26, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Doesn't the word rhyme with little? According to the (US) pronunciations given, it doesn’t. As to the original question, even though lil' (as in Lil' Kim) is written the way it is, it is also not a perfect homophone of the (obsolete) verb lill: there is still a quick but noticeable flap between the vowel and the final consonant, as you can for example hear, quite pronounced actually, here. Same for it'll.  --Lambiam 17:57, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, to all points above. It can be pronounced without the t, but it would usually still have a glottal stop or flap. I'm not sure whether it's the kind of thing we should include or not. We do include the pronunciation of something as /ˈsʌʔm̩/ (though not the pronunciation as /ˈsʌm(ʔ)n̩/) that I was about to invoke as a comparison...! - -sche (discuss) 18:30, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
It would pain me hugely if we had to include glottal stop for "t" in the pronunciation of every word that contains non-initial "t", which is what it would amount to. Mihia (talk) 00:45, 23 March 2019 (UTC)

pronunciaiton of dancing[edit]

What is the pronunciation of dancing in Elvis's Jailhouse Rock or Daft Punk's One more time (minute 3:21 in the official video? I do not hear any /s/ --Backinstadiums (talk) 18:41, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

The Daft Punk lyrics are "celebrate and dance so free" (not "dancing"); they seem to have blended the two words together with a single /s/ sound in "danCE-SO": it's hard to tell exactly because of the robotic voice processing. Regarding Elvis: you can hear it here at 0'25 [23] and I agree, he has a strange pronunciation (of many words, not just that one). Equinox 18:48, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox: Elvis's "let's rock" sounds without /s/ and with a flap, for example. --Backinstadiums (talk) 19:07, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

every other[edit]

shouldn't the first meaning of every other show the label "Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning"? --Backinstadiums (talk) 19:09, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

I think so. DCDuring (talk) 22:30, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

Pronunciation of 小雨 in Japanese[edit]

The entry gives pitch accent info and IP for "harusame", but then the Romaji is "kosame" in the next subsection. I'm pretty sure "harusame" is an intruder from the comparandum 春雨 given for the etymology, but I don't know what the pitch accent is like, so can someone fix this? MGorrone (talk) 22:12, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

fixed ✅ —Suzukaze-c 01:15, 3 March 2019 (UTC)

Note on size[edit]

I feel like the entry for size should offer some remarks about some of its appositional usages, such as in the sentences it's the size of a brick; what size shirt/shoes do you take? Maybe also for words such as shape, color, age (I have a daughter your age), etc.

According to Quirk (1985:1293) "Some noun phrases of measure, denoting size, age, etc, can also be postposed : A man the size of a giant came up to me. Somebody her age shouldn't do such exercises".

--Backinstadiums (talk) 00:40, 3 March 2019 (UTC)

It isn't mere postposing that's involved. There are conventional constructions probably derived from ellipsis (omitted prepostions?) There are also many other words that used in this kind of apposition: style, cut, model, design, length, width, height, texture, finish, grade, grain, pH, brightness, saturation, weight, ply, fabric, fineness, carat, density, opacity. The number suggests that this is more a grammar matter than a lexical one. DCDuring (talk) 04:22, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: Thanks. References? where did you find that list of words? --Backinstadiums (talk) 09:39, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
In my native-speaker brain. Note the strings of association + random restarts. DCDuring (talk) 12:51, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
It's interesting to explore the semantic limits of this kind of construction: *"What veracity politician/salesman would you [vote for/buy from]?" ?"What hardness steel do you need for that?" !"What capacity laundry dryer do you want?" DCDuring (talk) 12:56, 3 March 2019 (UTC)

They're "plain NP minor determiners" in Cambridge Grammar of the English Language , page 355 --Backinstadiums (talk) 13:14, 3 March 2019 (UTC)

Cambridge University Press, Huddleston, and Pullum thank you for acknowledging that it is a matter of grammar. Me too. But they don't mean the word class, do they? They mean they serve a determinative function, like the possessive of a proper noun (or a common one). DCDuring (talk) 15:04, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: Does it work with the plurals, e.g. two cars the colors she wanted are available --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:57, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
I think so, but not as well, to my ear. I'd probably say ?"Two cars in/with the colors she wanted are available." I certainly wouldn't say: *"What colors cars does she want?". Rather: !"What colors does she want for her cars?" DCDuring (talk) 17:41, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
The problem with "what colors cars" wording seems to be the way English avoids inflecting modifiers: "what color cars" works, regardless of whether the cars are assumed to be the same or multiple colors. Chuck Entz (talk) 22:17, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
This says a little bit about this, although probably not much that helps us. (The words they list are size, color, length, weight, age, pattern, style.) They do say "with a wh-word the two nouns may disagree in number. That the verbal agreement goes with the second noun further supports the hypothesis that the latter is the head. [as in:] What size dresses *is/are left? What length skirts *is/are in fashion?". - -sche (discuss) 22:30, 3 March 2019 (UTC)

@-sche: Updated paper here --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:43, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

Plural of the measure unit foot[edit]

The usage note in foot could be more clarifying, with examples of itw own; furthermore, the reference to the "OE genitive plural" is not clarifying either --Backinstadiums (talk) 13:11, 3 March 2019 (UTC)

everyone /ˈɛvɹʷən/[edit]

I keep hearing this disyllabic pronunciation everyone /ˈɛvɹʷən/, and would add it becuase of the high frequency of use of this word --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:44, 3 March 2019 (UTC)

Are you certain there's a clear /v/ being enounced ?...I very commonly hear /ˈɛɹ(i)ʷən/ or /ˈɝːʷən/ used, especially among AAVE speakers. If so, your example is different and one I may not have heard yet. Leasnam (talk) 06:57, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

possessive with worth[edit]

I think it deserves a note; according to Garner Modern English Grammar "The idiomatic possessive should be used with periods of time and statements of worth —30 days’ notice (i.e., notice of 30 days), three days’ time, 20 dollars’ worth, and several years’ experience. Yet, six months pregnant vs six months’ time: the main word (e.g., time) is a noun, whereas pregnant is an adjective. Further, the sense is different: “six months of time” (idiomatic possessive) vs. “pregnant for six months” (no possessive at all). "

However, in the Oxford Study Genie PLus, there appear the following examples: £1 million worth of jewellery; 200 euros worth of books--Backinstadiums (talk) 17:53, 3 March 2019 (UTC)

"£1 million" is pronounced "one million pounds", so it's hard to place an apostrophe in that example, because "£1 million's worth" could no longer really be spoken as "pounds' worth" (IMO). The euro example in my opinion is an error and needs an apostrophe. Equinox 18:05, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
You would have to be careful where you put it though: 200 euros' worth. DonnanZ (talk) 18:23, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
@Donnanz, Equinox: What about coordinated nominals? I've just come across This is two Christmases and a birthday worth of presents --Backinstadiums (talk) 02:29, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
An odd one, I would hyphenate only birthday I think - birthday's worth. DonnanZ (talk) 09:25, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
Yes, it is unusual. If I were going to hyphenate either, I would hyphenate both, to be consistent: "two Christmases' and a birthday's". On its own "a birthday worth" (with no possessive) sounds strange to me. Equinox 02:12, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

You do that![edit]

I think the idiomatic meaning of You do that!, namely you had better do that! deserves its own entry --Backinstadiums (talk) 01:22, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

I disagree: in one sense (a warning) it's like "you stop that right now!", "you get it on my desk by Monday!"; in the other ("feel free") it's like "you go right ahead!", "you do what you want!". It's not just this one phrase that can have the emphatic "you" at the beginning. Equinox 01:58, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

introduce /ɪɾ̃ərˈduːs/[edit]

Does the pronunciation of introduce as /ɪɾ̃ərˈduːs/ reflect the metathesis of the word it derives from, interduce? --Backinstadiums (talk) 02:27, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

Probably not. It looks more like like the reduction of the second vowel, leaving what passes in American English for a syllabic r: ɚ/ər Chuck Entz (talk) 02:51, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

every with cardinal numbers[edit]

The second sense of every only mentions ordinal numbers; is there a specific reason for it? --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:56, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

Entry probably prepared in haste, without recourse to either modern dictionaries or an adequate sample of actual citations, but with supreme confidence. Not every dictionary gets it right IMO, but Oxford US has:
Used before an amount to indicate something happening at specified intervals.'
‘tours are every thirty minutes’
‘they had every third week off’
Note that "intervals" don't have to be equal, as the Oxford usexes imply:
'Every few hurricanes we have to evacuate.'
DCDuring (talk) 17:06, 4 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: Does every {second/other - third} day mean the same as every {two - three} days, respectively? Is ago the antonym of this meaning of every? --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:59, 5 March 2019 (UTC)
I can't think of a examples where there is a difference in meaning.
Ago is not an antonym, because it does not have any implication of seriality. DCDuring (talk) 14:49, 5 March 2019 (UTC)


Owing to their special grammatical order, does sinage such as "road closed/flooded" or "road closed to thru traffic" deserve an entry of its own? --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:54, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

The grammar of signage is shared with headlines of articles in newspapers and their descendants. DCDuring (talk) 18:04, 4 March 2019 (UTC)
And many other phrases that omit "is", e.g. "game over" and "case closed". Equinox 18:52, 4 March 2019 (UTC)
That's my point: the properties of being sinage is the main reason reinforced by the postnominal modification, not the other way round, so I'd add them --Backinstadiums (talk) 19:21, 4 March 2019 (UTC)
It's just some particular somewhat context-dependent grammar, not something lexical. Unusual, archaic, or obsolete grammar in a multi-word expression may warrant it's inclusion, not grammar that is current and common, even if limited to a specific context. In the case of signage and headlines, the semantics are almost always transparent. The biggest communication problem that arises is that they are prone to ambiguity, sometimes hilariously so, eg, "Teacher Strikes Idle Kids", "Pentagon Plans Swell Deficit", "Kids Make Nutritious Snacks", "British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands", "Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case", "One-armed Man Applauds the Kindness of Strangers", "Miners Refuse to Work After Death", "Squad Help Dog Bite Victim". There is a literature about this. DCDuring (talk) 21:30, 4 March 2019 (UTC)
You're not seriously suggesting we should have entries for thousands of signage phrases like "road closed to thru traffic"? Equinox 21:12, 4 March 2019 (UTC)
Are there thousands of these that are attested? bd2412 T 21:16, 4 March 2019 (UTC)
Are you suggesting that they need to be found in running printed text, when their essence is that they are not running printed text? Would Wikicommons be a durable archive? DCDuring (talk) 21:35, 4 March 2019 (UTC)
I'm thinking that any combination worth having as an entry would appear in a book or magazine. See, e.g., Perkins-Manistique 138 KV Transmission Line Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Volume II - Appendices (1998), p. B-15: "If the road must remain open for residential access, then a Road Closed to Thru Traffic sign would be used at the barricade location". bd2412 T 01:40, 5 March 2019 (UTC)
That seems mentiony. DCDuring (talk) 02:49, 5 March 2019 (UTC)
Still better than using pictures of signs as evidence of the use of the text of signs as "a word". bd2412 T 05:08, 5 March 2019 (UTC)
I agree with DCDuring. These are SOP; the grammar is common and indeed open-ended: not just "road closed", "tunnel closed", "railway closed", "tracks closed", "path closed", "planetarium closed", "building flooded", etc, etc, but if tomorrow someone builds a hyperloop or foobarium and then it needs to be shut for repair, one will see the headlines "hyperloop closed", "foodbarium closed". - -sche (discuss) 01:22, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

I can find on google books several references such as "the sign/notice read 'road closed'", but not "...read building/tunnel closed" etc. --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:27, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

From Google News (used because it offers easily searchable headlines—I'm not claiming these news sites are durably archived, but that the same phrases can surely be attested in printed papers' headlines, too): "tunnel closed", "bridge-tunnel closed", "tunnel closed", "tunnel partially closed" (the whole phrase shows other examples of journalese); "I-70 closed", "I-70 shut down", and then "I-70 reopened"; "DLR and roads closed", "road closed after woman seriously injured"; "church destroyed" (by fire), "church, homes destroyed" (after/by tornado), "church closed to public", "Our Lady of the Holy Rosary closed needing $10 million in repairs"; "explosive devices found"; "Soft Brexit could be result if May deal rejected again, says chief whip" ...
For "game over" and "case closed", there's idiomaticity in that they are often used when there was no game being played or case being tried. With "(road|street|lane|I-70|tunnel|tunnel-bridge|church|Our Lady of the Holy Rosary) (closed|shut down|opened|reopened)" etc, that's not the case. - -sche (discuss) 05:51, 6 March 2019 (UTC)

@-sche: thanks for the info, but I cannot see the pertinence of if; what is exactly your point? --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:56, 6 March 2019 (UTC)

You asked if the "special grammatical order" of phrases like "road closed/flooded" or "road closed to thru traffic" on signs meant that they deserved entries. I pointed out that the "special grammatical order" is found in a vast, open-ended set of phrases. Other signs have entire paragraphs. "Road closed" is as NISOP a phrase for a sign to have as "tunnel closed" (which does appear on signs, btw, see photos), "turn on headlights" (photos), "Builder 1st school", "During WW II, Mantell assigned to 440th Troop Carrier Group", etc. - -sche (discuss) 02:19, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

Obligate non-scriptio continua in a Mandarin Chinese example[edit]

Most of the time, we assume that Mandarin Chinese is an unspaced scriptio continua. But there is a political slogan in Mainland China that includes an obligate space between the two halves of the six character phrase, and it appears in the original text of an example that I am adding (and elsewhere- not idiosyncratic or a typo). Is there a way to add a space between the actual characters (not just a space in the pinyin) in a zh-x? Here's the page with the example: 四十埠 (Sìshíbù). --Geographyinitiative (talk) 20:45, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

(I didn't mean to post this here- I accidentally made three posts- one here, one on the Talk of zh-x, and one in the grease pit.)--Geographyinitiative (talk) 21:22, 4 March 2019 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done using HTML entities. —Suzukaze-c 01:21, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

wish, noun[edit]

Should some senses be merged? We have "1. a desire, hope, or longing for something or for something to happen; 2. an expression of such a desire, often connected with ideas of magic and supernatural power; 3. the thing desired or longed for." It seems to me that "three wishes granted by a genie", "my dearest wish", etc. could go under several of these. Equinox 21:11, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

Those three definitions are exactly the ones in Century 1911. For the first two, one can certainly have an unexpressed wish or an insincere expression. If a wish is denied, what is denied is neither the inner desire, nor the expression, but rather "the thing desired of longed for". DCDuring (talk) 21:50, 4 March 2019 (UTC)

sitting down as adverb[edit]

In "I pee sitting down", is sitting down an adverb? --Backinstadiums (talk) 00:21, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

This doesn't answer your question, but one can also pee (or shoot, die, etc) sitting, standing, standing up, google books:"shoot kneeling down", google books:"shoot lying down", "pee crouching" / "shoot crouching", etc, and for that matter "die fighting", "die screaming", "die running", "hit your head falling down", etc. - -sche (discuss) 01:15, 5 March 2019 (UTC)
Are you asking whether we need to have an adverb PoS section for it? Is there any other action that you think we perhaps should take? DCDuring (talk) 02:39, 5 March 2019 (UTC)
In the phrase "I laugh rolling my eyes" rolling my eyes doesn't describe how I laugh. I could laugh loudly (while) rolling my eyes, or softly, or mockingly...so I am not sure sitting down directly describes how one pees, but rather it describes the condition one is in while performing such an action. Contrast to "Sitting down, I pee" and "Being seated, I pee." Leasnam (talk) 03:11, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

Unlike many others, both sitting and standing are already added as adjectives, which made me thought the next step up as adverbs was easier for them --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:13, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

It is indeed a grey area...most(?) adjectives can be pressed into adverbial positions, and it's hard to tell when it's become lexicalized (the way e.g. real#Adverb has). But with these, building on Leasnam's point, I think it may make more sense to view them as "pee [while] standing[adj. or v.]". (As an aside, standingly seems to be attestable, at least with a meaning like "not transitorily"...) - -sche (discuss) 06:14, 6 March 2019 (UTC)

day before yesterday[edit]

Shouldn't day before yesterday and the like add the definite article the --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:45, 5 March 2019 (UTC)


Verb sense 2:

(ergative) To perform in (a sport); to participate in (a game).

I thought an "ergative" verb was a verb where the transitive object could become the intransitive subject, e.g. "I boiled the water", "The water boiled". You can play football, or cricket, but football or cricket can't themselves "play", can they? How is this sense ergative, or am I missing something? Mihia (talk) 14:53, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

It looks like a mistake to me.
Also, I don't think the ergative label is appropriate for an audience that includes the general public. DCDuring (talk) 15:27, 5 March 2019 (UTC)
Possibly it a misunderstanding that "ergative" merely means "transitive or intransitive" (examples of both of which are given). Anyway, I will change it to that. If anyone knows better please make any necessary further changes. Mihia (talk) 17:32, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

thoraces /θɔːˈreɪsiːz/[edit]

The Longman Dictionary of Pronunciation, among others, offers /θɔːˈreɪsiːz/ as a second pronunciation, remarkable for the stress shift accompanied by the strong vowel /ei/, and the orthographic change of -x /ks/ into -ces /siːz/. Written syllabification : tho·ra·ces. I find such info quite valuable --Backinstadiums (talk) 18:55, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

You pushed me in front of a car[edit]

Does its entry contain the movement meaning of the preposition in the sentence You pushed me in front of a car? --Backinstadiums (talk) 01:14, 6 March 2019 (UTC)

Yes, just as its synonym before. DCDuring (talk) 01:54, 6 March 2019 (UTC)
The sentence could mean "I was in front of a (parked, stationary) car and you pushed me" but context would usually rule that out. Same goes for any preposition, really, e.g. "I was taken behind the nightclub" might mean you were dragged there by the bouncers (movement), or just that you were there when you had sex (location). Puts me in mind of the old joke: "I once shot an elephant in my pyjamas; how he got into my pyjamas I'll never know." Equinox 02:31, 6 March 2019 (UTC)
(A joke often attributed to Groucho Marx but actually from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  --Lambiam 23:32, 6 March 2019 (UTC))
This YouTube excerpt from his TV show dates to 1954. But the original version (with I don't instead of I'll never is from Animal Crackers (1930). Doesn't that antedate Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? DCDuring (talk) 03:49, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

escort agency[edit]

Regarding that, uh... first definition:

1. A company that provides customers with companions for a fee.

... ... ...


If I were to, err, take this at face value, I would picture some hypothetical modern-day version of an RPG guildhall or something like that. But that seems pretty ridiculous, for the obvious reason that (unless I have been missing something quite big here) people don't usually go to dedicated institutions to recruit/generate "party members", since, well... people aren't really going on fantasy-esque quests nowadays (again, at least last that I checked). Furthermore, I highly doubt that LARP is popular enough to warrant actual RPG-style guildhalls.

The only other way that I could interpret definition one literally is if I were to take it to be referring to some kind of "friend recruitment centre". That seems slightly less preposterous of a concept, I guess, but the problem with that is that I don't think that I could see the term escort agency used for something like that.

So, I'm going to, err, assume that that definition is not meant to be taken to mean what it actually says. If that is indeed the case, then I daresay that that is probably the most euphemistic definition of a term that I have ever seen on Wiktionary. I'm serious: why on Earth would we give this as a definition? We don't mince words when we talk about most other subjects, so... why is this vaguery the first thing that one sees when one comes to the entry?

Also, if this is indeed more or less an extended euphemism (an extension of the euphemistic meaning of the term escort), then how is definition one distinct from definition two? Is it that definition one implies a virtual version of definition two, or something like that? But, wait... doesn't that contradict definition seven of escort?

...I'm utterly bewildered.

Would someone please help to clear this up? Thanks!

...I just can't stop cracking up at the idea of an actual RPG-style guildhall (especially in modern times)!

Tharthan (talk) 06:43, 6 March 2019 (UTC)

I'm more bothered by the second definition ("brothel"). I thought that these businesses did not have premises at which sexual services were performed. I thought that the businesses have this structure to evade criminal charges and shutdown.
As to the first definition, as with many of our more gigglesome entries, euphemism is at work. The headword is itself euphemistic in its intent and the definition usually uses words that are euphemistic in their use in the definition, eg, companion. What makes the terms escort service and escort agency so successful is that there is nothing inherent in the arrangement that leaves evidence that sexual services are being performed. What's more, there is even the prospect that, in any one instance, no sexual services are being performed. Another definitional difficulty is that we feel compelled to avoid gender-role stereotypes, though the typical escort service/agency relies on expectations built on such stereotypes.
The simple addition of the phrase ", usually for sexual services" that the WP article includes in the lede from which this definition was taken, would be substantially address the concerns stated above.
I have also RfVed the second definition. DCDuring (talk) 08:46, 6 March 2019 (UTC)
Right. The other thing is that definition seven of escort explicitly contains the words "who does not operate in a brothel". So if an escort agency is a brothel, then how can it possibly be an "agency" of "escorts"?
companion is not given a euphemistic definition of "hired prostitute" in its entry here, though. Definition two of companion, "(dated) a person employed to accompany or travel with another." (my emphasis) could potentially fit for the sense used in definition one of escort agency, but I really don't think that that "accompany" is referring to "following someone around for show", and I definitely don't think that it is referring to "temporarily joining for sexual escapades". I really think that it would, instead, be far more applicable to, say, Bilbo and the dwarves/Frodo and co. This seems somewhat supported by the fact that it has a "(dated)" tag.
Thanks for doing that. I'll try to keep my eye on the RfV. Tharthan (talk) 09:56, 6 March 2019 (UTC)
(Copied over from the RfV, per request by DCDuring)
@Lambiam Wait... I don't get it. "in places where prostitution is illegal ... a prostitution ring may operate under the guise of ‘escort agency’".
So... are "escorts" not prostitutes? I understand that sometimes people may pay someone for a time to pretend to be their girlfriend for show or something like that, but aren't "escorts" (or "call girls") essentially just prostitutes that do not work at brothels? Tharthan (talk) 17:28, 6 March 2019 (UTC)
Both prostitute and escort are roles, not complete human identities. Presumably at the time a person is being presented by the agency/service to a client, that person is in the escort role. It is only subsequently that the person may exchange sexual services for money. The notion is that the subsequent transaction does not involve the agency/service. I don't see why this is seems so unbelievable to you. DCDuring (talk) 23:00, 6 March 2019 (UTC)
Also, the management of a prostitution ring often operates like a bunch of pimps, strictly controlling the “girls” in abusive ways, not shunning violence. In an escort agency, the women generally have much more freedom, in particular the freedom to say goodbye to the agency. Think of them as freelancers. They also get to keep whatever gifts a client bestows upon them, which is not at all the case for sex workers run by pimps.  --Lambiam 23:16, 6 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring I think that I see what you mean now. You are saying—I think—that, essentially, the "escort" role is more or less an intermediary one. The reason why I was confused was that I was thinking that the situation with prostitute and definition seven of escort pretty much mirrors how, for instance, not every cook is a chef (per the usual meanings found in our entry for usages one and two), but (on the other hand) every chef is a cook. I was aware that not every instance of someone hiring a call girl/callboy(? [our definition of that word doesn't mention the telephone part, so I'm just assuming here]) is necessarily going to result in sexual activity, but a. I have never heard of there being any common practice that allows someone that engages in this particular line of work to "opt out" of actual sexual activity when they choose to enter it. I suppose that if it were some small, private operation (or, perhaps, some "high-end" operation), then I could see them potentially being able to do that, but other than that, wouldn't they seriously risk losing money if they were to broadly allow for that? I don't know. I know next to nothing about this subject, so please feel free to correct me if I am mistaken or incorrect on this, and b. given that the term escort agency may be sometimes potentially used euphemistically (as came up in the RfV), to the point where we currently have "brothel" as a secondary meaning of that term, there seems to be a popular perception that the difference between the two words (prostitute and definition seven of escort) is largely a distinction which makes little difference.
It's not that I found it unbelievable, but rather that I wasn't aware of how the whole concept worked in practice. It seemed as if someone were essentially saying the equivalent of "sometimes a supermarket is used as a front for a shop". It seemed bizarre to me for that reason.
@Lambiam Well, to be honest, I wasn't really aware of what prostitution ring entailed here when you mentioned it. I suppose that I guessed something along the lines of a secretive prostitution-providing something or another that (for whatever reason) was of particular interest to the authorities. Now that you described it, I realised that I ought to have thought of it as comparable to the more common term "drug ring" (which is, of course, a similar concept, except that it doesn't generally involve the trafficking of human beings, but, rather, the trafficking of [inanimate] drugs). I am embarrassed to admit that the first thing that came to mind when I saw ring used in that sense was webring, honestly, hence why I didn't quite get what you meant exactly when you said prostitution ring. Also, if I were to think of it as essentially freelancing in that line of work, that would still not resolve the primary concern that I had, because (for instance), a freelance writer is still a writer. But DCDuring cleared that up already, so no problem there. Tharthan (talk) 01:53, 7 March 2019 (UTC)
This really a simple business situation in which each of he three types of participants has some freedom of action, some incentives to engage in transactions, and a reputation to protect. But if we were talking about the relations between, say, MacDonalds and its franchisees it wouldn't have been as motivating. DCDuring (talk) 03:29, 7 March 2019 (UTC)


The respective cognate forms in several languages are given as translations for the sense "public hall for concerts and lectures". In most or all languages besides English, the word means a kind of secondary school or college, and I suspect that a lot of them don't have the mentioned sense at all. I've corrected the German translation, but I don't feel bold enough to delete all the others, because maybe the sense does exist. Please have a look. Thank you.

I’ve removed the French, Spanish and Portuguese because they were certainly out of place. Better to have no translation than an incorrect one. I suspect several more are incorrect. What is missing is a translation section for the school sense.  --Lambiam 13:21, 6 March 2019 (UTC)
Whenever there's a doubt about a translation in a language you don't know, you should replace {{t}} with {{t-check}}. Chuck Entz (talk) 14:34, 6 March 2019 (UTC)


According to the Longman Pronunciaiton Dictionary, the pronunciation with two syllables, sim.pler, originally a result of a compression, has become the only standard possibility, so this info should be added. Any other similar phenomena apart from every etc. which is not shown in their spelling? (unlike angry, disastrous, remembrance). --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:52, 6 March 2019 (UTC)

Added, though I've also heard the three-syllable version, and Merriam-Webster also has it (including in their audio). (Sampler has the same variation, but apparently not -ambler words?) - -sche (discuss) 05:05, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

Audio clip at 사람[edit]

At 사람, the Pronunciation sounds as if it is /ˈtɑ.rɑm/...can someone please check this ? Thanks Leasnam (talk) 06:22, 7 March 2019 (UTC)


Hi, first time here, not sure about protocol but I think I've got it right.

For the word frog, 3rd etymology, "a leather or fabric loop used to attach a sword or bayonet, or its scabbard, to a waist or shoulder belt."

Could the etymology be linked to the French fourreau? In HEMA and LARP communities the French equivalent for frog is generally porte-épée/hâche, "sword/axe-holder", but a lot of people just say fourreau, "scabbard". So I guess generally speaking, "frog" and "fourreau" refer to the same "group" of objects.

Could be a coincidence, but it might not be. Any thoughts? --Caddwen (talk) 13:23, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

My money is on it being a coincidence. It would help if we knew which sense for etymology 3 is earlier (loop to attach a weapon or scabbard, versus ornate fastener), assuming that they indeed have a shared etymon. If the fastener sense is earlier, this will sink the French link. BTW, the quote from The Count of Monte Christo for the fastener sense has brandebourg in the original French.  --Lambiam 22:50, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

Adverbial previo + noun[edit]

In sentences such as "Tales mercancías pueden venderse (previo pago del impuesto de venta) o utilizarse de otra forma", isn't the phrase "previo pago" functioning as an adverb? --Backinstadiums (talk) 19:44, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

Yes, in English the phrase is against payment (which would be an adverb in this sentence), as in documents against payment (def). Ultimateria (talk) 04:48, 8 March 2019 (UTC)


luh seems predominant for the non standard pronunciation of (only the verb?) love --Backinstadiums (talk) 20:09, 7 March 2019 (UTC)


After reading this piece that I happened to come across whilst I was reading another piece, I am questioning whether the use of so-called always implies that something is "wrongly called" what it is called (which is what definition one in our entry claims).

See the sixth paragraph (loosely using the term here. I'm referring to the sixth, individual, broken-off section of the piece). I don't want to put a quotation here, because I am not sure what our rules on that subject are, nor am I aware of what Bloomberg expects either. I don't often quote published pieces (even opinion pieces) from respected outlets in situations where I could be liable if I were to do so improperly (except, perhaps, in a university setting. I have some experience doing that, but even then I am not the best at it).

If one is unable to access the piece for some reason, please let me know how to properly make reference to the part in question that I am referring to, and I will gladly do so.

...Anyway, I obviously can't read the mind of the writer of the piece, but the way that he uses "so-called" seems more to me to be saying "commonly called by some, although the value of that is questionable", rather than saying "incorrectly called".

If I have set up this whole thing in a completely incorrect manner, or if there is some other problem, please correct me/explain to me what I ought to have done. Tharthan (talk) 22:59, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

We are protected by the "fair use" exception, if copyright is your concern. The same applies to our attestation citations from in-copyright works.
I think the use of so-called is similar to the use of of scare quotes. The writer is presenting the expression perhaps one s/he wouldn't use. DCDuring (talk) 00:17, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
FWIW I too have encountered "so-called" used the way DCDuring describes, to introduce a term the author isn't using in their own voice, but which is not necessarily wrong. For example, I can find books saying "so called Mary Jane, marry-wanna, is a plant" and talking about "so-called fag hag(s)", and a Chicago Tribune article mentioning "so-called crack houses, where the drug is sold and used", where it's not clear to me on what basis the descriptions could be considered wrong—the "so-called" seems to only be a way of introducing what it is called in some register other than the author's. Other dictionaries distinguish these as two different senses ("wrongly called" vs "called"), which seems to be the way to go, and indeed, the way we've already gone... we just need to remove the "mathematics" label from def 2. - -sche (discuss) 01:00, 8 March 2019 (UTC)


Discussion moved from Wiktionary:Requests for verification/Non-English.

@Justinrleung Is this a phrase? It's in the Xinhua dictionary, but both my friend and I dispute its existence, having never encountered this word before. There is also currently no article for it. Does it exist? Johnny Shiz (talk) 22:45, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

@Johnny Shiz: First of all, if an entry is not created yet, this kind of discussion should probably go to WT:Tea Room. Second, I will reiterate that Xinhua Zidian is a character dictionary, and as such, examples are examples and do not necessarily mean we should create an entry for it. As for whether this particular sequence of characters should be included as an entry, I'm unsure as well as I'm not familiar with this. It seems to be includable and might mean "blotting" (based on a quick Google search), but don't quote me on this (and don't create an entry for it unless you're sure what you're doing. — justin(r)leung (t...) | c=› } 00:48, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

hundred meaning "hundred hours" in military time[edit]

According to the wikipedia page on hour: Hours on a 24-hour clock ("military time") are expressed as "hundred (hours)"(1000 is read "ten hundred (hours)"; 10 pm would be "twenty-two hundred"). Should that meaning be included? --Backinstadiums (talk) 13:16, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

If it can be attested through actual uses. Mentions in conversion charts for “military time” and such don’t count.  --Lambiam 21:04, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
I'm not sure how the definition should be worded, but it's well-attested: Citations:hundred#time. - -sche (discuss) 06:47, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
The “oh” in “oh ten hundred” is weird. In “oh nine hundred” it is the pronunciation of the digit “0” in “09 hundred”.[24] As to the definition, I’ve given it a try.  --Lambiam 20:14, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, I was confused by that, too. Maybe it's an error by people who don't know the lingo, or maybe militaries sometimes use it to more unambiguously indicate that the string is a time. Incidentally, I can also find things like "oh three hundred thirty" for 03:30 (Citations:hundred#oh_three_hundred_thirty), where defining it as "00" doesn't seem to work. On one hand, maybe (probably?) those instances are by people who don't understand how military time is actually told; on the other hand, if it's a common enough "error" (i.e., use of hundred), it should still be covered somehow (if it is indeed nonstandard, then perhaps in another sense; alternatively, perhaps just a usage note). - -sche (discuss) 20:47, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
I'd go for a general usage note suggesting that not all authors have experience with military or aviation time and not all users will be highly disciplined in using the system, so plausible alternatives to the official standard can be found. DCDuring (talk) 23:25, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

cancel on somebody[edit]

Is it idiomatic (enough) to deserve an entry? --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:26, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

At first I was worried you meant "cancel sombebody" (via supposed "cancel culture"). 😆
Assuming you're talking about e.g. "we were supposed to meet for lunch but he cancelled on me", I think it might be a relatively advanced bit of grammar(?) from a language-learning perspective, but still probably SOP (something to cover in on): compare "change(d) plans on", "switch(ed) things up on", "spring a surprise on". - -sche (discuss) 20:58, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
See also give up on someone, walk out on someone (we include on in the title here; it might actually be SOP). Cf. “on” in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, last (30th) sense. Per utramque cavernam 21:15, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
I think the new "spring a surprise" is quite probably SOP, btw, with sense 3 of spring ("produce or disclose unexpectedly", which may need some wordsmithing). Besides "springing surprises on" people, one can "spring an announcement on" somebody, "spring a proposal on" somebody, "spring a wedding on" somebody, ... google books:"spring a new car on" (i.e. unexpectedly produce a new car—potentially as a gift, or in the cite at Google Books, as one's own surprise advantage in a race), ... and, replacing the other word, one can google books:"drop a surprise on", "pop a surprise on", etc. - -sche (discuss) 21:33, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
All right, redirected. Per utramque cavernam 21:36, 9 March 2019 (UTC)


Can someone please expand rewrite the first two senses to include intransitivity (or add it as another sense)? Ultimateria (talk) 17:46, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

Here is an intransitive use for sense 1: We walked into the garage, and there were boxes marked Christmas shit. We hauled the boxes into the living room and began to decorate the tree. We had little white twinkling lights, bulbs, and tinsel. The whole time we were decorating, we were sipping champagne and hitting on a joint. Would it do to label sense 1 as “ambitransitive” (just like e.g. the verb eat)? If not, do you have something else in mind? It seems to me that intransitive sense 3 is likewise the use of transitive sense 2 without a specified object, so IMO these two should also be combined with an “ambitransitive” label.  --Lambiam 21:18, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
That would be lovely if out target audience was limited to folks who took a sufficiently advanced grammar course that included those terms and who remembered what they were taught. Like plurale tantum and ergative, ambitransitive makes a lovely entry, but a poor label. DCDuring (talk) 21:44, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
The magic of {{label}} transforms {{lb|en|ambitransitive}} into (transitive, intransitive).  --Lambiam 23:42, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
One less thing for me to whine about, provided I remember. DCDuring (talk) 03:15, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

IWD Initialism of International Women's Day[edit]

Is there a reason for which only the initialism of the International Women's Day has an entry? --Backinstadiums (talk) 18:24, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

Because people like to create (and have created in the thousands) initialism entries for pages that would not be acceptable entries in full. DTLHS (talk) 18:26, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
By what rule would International Women's Day not be acceptable? (Note that we have an entry International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Argh!)  --Lambiam 20:59, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
I don't know. It probably would be acceptable. Never mind. DTLHS (talk) 21:01, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
Meh. Holiday names like that (see also: National Teacher Appreciation Week, which Equinox pointed out a while ago) seem numerous, fairly transparent (the first one is an international day to celebrate women, the second a week to appreciate teachers), and thus low-value, but I also don't feel like RFDing them. (Single-word holiday names like Halloween and Hanukkah seem more idiomatic.) In some ways (but not in others) they are similar to book titles; they denote specific things (you can't necessarily predict what day they occur on just from the name); maybe they are similar to laws or court cases, e.g. "SB5"/"Senate Bill 5" or "Re Alex" denotes a particular thing, but is it lexical, something for a dictionary to cover? Probably we should try to hammer out a guideline... - -sche (discuss) 21:16, 9 March 2019 (UTC)


Usage note says: "In techy slang the term has predominantly positive connotations." There is no mention of this techy slang in the actual definitions. Can anyone confirm? (I've heard of a powerful computer being called a "beast", but never "beastly".) Equinox 23:47, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

[25], [26], [27].  --Lambiam 03:57, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

know somebody for[edit]

Does Know somebody for deserve an entry of its own, as in she knew him for a liar and a cheat? --Backinstadiums (talk) 02:06, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

If so, that wouldn't be the best entry title, since "a" needn't be there (e.g. "I knew him for London's biggest liar"). Equinox 02:07, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox: Regarding your "if so," I am not a native speaker, so I hope some editor can help here --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:29, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
@Backinstadiums: "if so, [...]" means "if know somebody for indeed deserves an entry, [...]", I think.
Btw, I don't think it deserves an entry.
If you're not a native speaker of English, could you please edit your Babel on your userpage? What is your mother tongue? Per utramque cavernam 12:14, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
I’m also not a native speaker, but is seems to me that the use of for in this collocation is simply the current sense 17: “to be, or as being”. That makes the whole thing a SOP.  --Lambiam 12:27, 9 March 2019 (UTC)


Does this seem like a worthwhile thesaurus entry? I'm not very experienced in making them, and improvement would be welcome. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 05:57, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

There is also the obviously derogatory cretinist (e.g. [28]), but I don’t know if it can be attested so as to satisfy our CFI.  --Lambiam 12:10, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

the $20[edit]

Can the $20 can be used to mean "the $20 bill/Note" --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:13, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

The link shows that the answer is, apparently, affirmative. Two more uses: [29], [30]. To complicate (or simplify?) the issue, “a $20” can be used to mean “a twenty-dollar bill/note”.[31] It is similar to how the term dollar can denote a monetary value equivalent to 100 dollar cents, but also a one-dollar note (as in “The victim dropped a dollar during the struggle and the suspect stole the dollar as he left the scene.”) Likewise, the term quarter can denote both a value and a physical coin. This is such a standard and expected use of metonymy that I am not sure it is worth mentioning.  --Lambiam 12:01, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

@Lambiam: Thanks for replying. By the way, how would "a/the $20" be pronounced then? --Backinstadiums (talk) 12:22, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

Like “a/the twenty dollar”.  --Lambiam 14:45, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
Well, it depends on context. In "I told her the price was $19.99 and she dropped the 20$ on the counter" it would (generally) be pronounced as "the twenty dollars" or "the twenty dollar bill". In "she dropped a $20 as she ran" I would expect either "she dropped a twenty as she ran" or "she dropped a twenty dollar bill/note as she ran". I would never expect to hear it spoken as "she dropped a twenty dollar as she ran", except in a dialect that did not use plural forms. Evidence for this can be found in the existence of the first two spelled-out phrases (e.g. google books:"a twenty as") and absence of the last one (there's no *google books:"a twenty dollar as", and every hit for google books:"the twenty dollar" follows it with bill, note, piece(s), coin(s), greenback, etc). - -sche (discuss) 16:18, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

@Lambiam: Then with the singular "dollar" the phrase does deserve an entry, doesn't it? (as against the plural in, say, the $20 I lent you yesterday) --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:24, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

A/the twenty. DCDuring (talk) 16:51, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
This is an example of “twenty dollar” (second occurrence on the page) signifying in the context, apparently, a value. And this one (also second occurrence) signifies a bank note.  --Lambiam 17:37, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

I'd add such use at the entry of dollar, and maybe the sign $ itself two? --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:21, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

left to right[edit]

"runs left to right" returns many instances on google; what would left to right be then? --Backinstadiums (talk) 12:26, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

  • I'm pretty sure that it normally has hyphens and that left-to-right (and right-to-left) can be an adjective or adverb depending on usage. SemperBlotto (talk) 14:50, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
    It is a shortening of “from left to right”. The omission of “from” is obligatory in attributive uses, as in “a left-to-right script is a script that is written in the left-to-right direction”. When used as an adverb, it is also common to use spaces instead of hyphens.  --Lambiam 15:03, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam: Is the omission also obligatory in predicative uses? young people {aged 18 to 26 ~ between the age of 18 and 26} --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:51, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
I think “young people (aged from 18 to 26)” is not really wrong, but seems to have a somewhat different meaning. Without “from”, the parenthesis is like a definition of what is meant in the context by the term “young people”. With “from”, I get the impression that this means, “young people (with ages that ranged from 18 to 26)”, as if someone observed there was a gathering of young people and found out that the youngest in the group was 18 and the oldest 26. But as I’ve said before, I am not a native speaker, so my feeling may be off.  --Lambiam 20:10, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam: I've just also noticed the singular of age in the second example, but I'd use the plural --Backinstadiums (talk) 19:38, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

@Lambiam: I've found "Science Explains Why Mario Runs Left to Right", so the current definition applying only to text is not inclusive enough --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:26, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

The Longman entry to which I linked above also gives several examples that are not text-related. Note that all are adverbial and not hyphenated. The hyphenated versions are used almost exclusively for the writing direction of text.  --Lambiam 15:39, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
Well, I changed it from 'of text' to 'chiefly to text' (and added a citation about movie chases) and linked to the (currently nonexistent) unhyphenated forms. - -sche (discuss) 16:27, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

out the gate, out of the gate, right out of the gate[edit]

Apparently an idiomatic expression meaning "immediately, straightaway". Per utramque cavernam 12:32, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

According to this source this derives from the metaphor of a race horse immediately taking off in a galloping start as the gates open. A longer form is the idiomatic expression come out of the gate running. Personally I think that the added adverb right corresponds to sense 4 and is soppy.  --Lambiam 18:18, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

pronunciation of bedroom[edit]

The audio at bedroom display an affricate, but the IPA section does not; which one is correct/standard? --Backinstadiums (talk) 13:10, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

Quoting the Wikipedia article Pronunciation of English /r/:
In many dialects, /r/ in the cluster /dr/, as in dream, is realized as a postalveolar fricative [ɹ̠˔] or less commonly alveolar [ɹ̝].
When using broad transcription, such fine and possibly speaker-dependent detail is usually not represented in the notation.  --Lambiam 15:28, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

@Lambiam: being a compound, and with clear morphoogical boundaries, I think bedroom should show such detail; Longman Pronunciation Dictionary gives AmE /bE?room/ --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:44, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

Morphological boundaries have a tendency to disappear in compounds. Just look at what happened to words like lord and Worcester over time. If the boundary is not clear in speech, we shouldn't try to artificially reintroduce it in our IPA either. —Rua (mew) 17:29, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
Affrication of the d and r could be added in a [narrow phonetic transcription], but not (IMO) in the /broad phonemic one/, since the phonetic realization as an affricate is speaker-dependent (and also predictable?). - -sche (discuss) 18:09, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

Dutch: Zessen[edit]

The word zessen in dutch is listed as an archaic dative form of zes, which is correct, but is still in somewhat common usage in the set phrase "na zessen" meaning after six o'clock. I'd like to make note of this but am in no way familiar with the markup and outline functions of wiktionary. anyone who can help me?

It's used in other ways as well, like met zijn zessen (with six, in a group of six). I don't know what the part of speech is in that case. It's also the regular plural of the noun zes (number six). —Rua (mew) 17:27, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
In this case it has the same form as the regular plural, but there is a divergence for zeven (regular plural zevens) and negen (regular plural negens). The other form is used in we waren met zijn zevenen and ik werd pas tegen negenen wakker, so these are apparently not plurals. If the prepositions na and met behaved like German nach and mit, they were historically used with the dative case. But German gegen governs the accusative, so I don’t know about Dutch tegen – unless “tegen negenen” is used in that form in analogy with “na negenen”.  --Lambiam 18:00, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

Quotations in either[edit]

I believe a couple of the quotations at either are in the wrong part of speech section.



  1. One or other of two people or things.
  2. (obsolete) Both, each of two or more.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Francis Bacon
      Scarce a palm of ground could be gotten by either of the three.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
      There have been three talkers in Great British, either of whom would illustrate what I say about dogmatists.

I believe both should be moved to the determiner section since they are "either of the three" and "either of whom" respectively. It also seems that "any" is synonymous with these usages, but "any" is not given as one of the meanings. Danielklein (talk) 02:11, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

Now I'm double-guessing myself, since I've compared "either of" with "most of", where "most" is defined as a noun. I think "NOUN of NOUN" makes more sense than "DETERMINER of NOUN" or "PRONOUN of NOUN". Danielklein (talk) 03:01, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
I would say that pronoun is probably right. Anyway, I can't see that "either" is a determiner in, um, either of those examples. Mihia (talk) 18:53, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

sum('ma) bitch[edit]

I cannot derive phonogically sum'ma in sum'ma bitch, unlike in sum bitch --Backinstadiums (talk) 02:31, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

It's slang. I don't think a phonology expert sat down and thought "how will I spell 'son of a bitch' in slang?". It's just how non-expert people write. Perhaps they thought "a lot of slang forms tend to contain apostrophes, so I'd better use one". (sumbitch has an entry, BTW.) Equinox 02:58, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
Oops, sorry, you weren't talking about spellings. It just leapt out at me because the apostrophe there is weird. Equinox 04:27, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
There are no agreed rules to spell slang. "gonna", "dinna", "dunno" all arrived from a gradual process of acceptance. "Son of a bitch" can easily change to "Sum of a bitch", then to "Sum a bitch" or "Sum bitch", which can be spelt the way you have. Note that it would sound like "Summer bitch" or "Some bitch", so the similarity of other existing words may have helped get to this form. Danielklein (talk) 03:12, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
sonofa->sunva->sumva->summa. Inability on your part to master some aspect of English does not constitute a failure in Wiktionary's coverage of English. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:21, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
@Chuck Entz: Forward bilabial accommodation of a labiodental? Sure, 've been > /(b.)bɪn/, but read again my OP and explain the accommodation with the intervening schwa in sum'ma --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:17, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
There was a reason I didn't use IPA. For our purposes, it doesn't really matter whether the second m is really a labiodental nasal, or whether it became a bilabial nasal because there's no "slot" in the phonology for a labiodental nasal, or whether that sound simply disappeared. This is a non-linguist's spelling of slang, so attempting to do a precise phonological derivation is about as useful as trying to figure out the isotope ratios in a bucket of pond water without testing equipment. You seem to think that everything should be like an exercise in a linguistics class, where someone has manicured the data to make everything consistent. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:18, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

dunno "Written form of <don't know>, which is a reduction of <do(es) not know>[edit]

Which is the reduction, dunno or <don't know>? Phonetic reduction?

dunno as a reduction of <does not know> seems to be AAVE or dialectal; any counterexamples? --Backinstadiums (talk) 12:24, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

Since don't know is pronounced the same as dunno in some instances, I'd say that the latter is an eye dialect spelling. —Rua (mew) 12:29, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
It's a contraction, pure and simple, how people use it is another matter.
I would say the pronunciation of a simple "Dunno" differs from "I dunno", different emphasis. DonnanZ (talk) 10:35, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

at this hour[edit]

What about this sense: "At this hour" is a phrase that means "at this late time of night" --Backinstadiums (talk) 18:18, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

I'm tempted to say it's worth including, but it's really just sense 3 of hour; it just so happens that people are more likely to point out the inopportune time at night. You could say "I'm surprised to see you awake at this hour" to your insomniac friend at any time before noon. "They air the stupidest commercials at this hour" is true of 11 pm, 4 am, and 10 am. Ultimateria (talk) 19:08, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
I agree. - -sche (discuss) 19:16, 11 March 2019 (UTC)


My intention is to add the verb sense meaning to move frequently from place to place, often in the form "bat around/about", e.g.:

After batting around all day we were exhausted.

But does everyone agree that this is from the mammal sense of "bat"? It doesn't seem likely to me to be from the "club" sense, but there is another etymology listed pertaining e.g. to the expression "bat one's eyelids" which I am less sure about. Mihia (talk) 18:41, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

  • I have never come across that meaning of the verb. Do you mean "battling ..."? SemperBlotto (talk) 19:01, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
You've never heard of "to bat around/about"? Perhaps it is only in BrE. No, definitely not battling. Mihia (talk) 19:06, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
The OED has this sense for the verb (to bat) "To go or move; to wander, to potter. Usually with adverbial complement, along, around, away, etc. Chiefly dialect and U.S." - so it's a US thing. SemperBlotto (talk) 19:09, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
It's interesting that they should say that. I am a BrE speaker and have never considered this use to be either US or dialect. As far as I am aware, it is a fairly normal expression here. May I ask whereabouts you are from? Also, does the OED give any indication of which sense of "bat" they think this derives from? Mihia (talk) 20:11, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
I think SB is a Brit... Per utramque cavernam 22:05, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
Oh ... I guess in that case the expression can't be as widely known over here as I imagined. Mihia (talk) 22:47, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
I've heard "bat around" used in American English to mean "informally discuss or debate"; Merriam-Webster (a US dictionary) has that, and Collins and Dictionary.com mark it as US and Canadian slang. It seems connected to the image of using a bat to move a topic/idea around as one would a baseball.
Those dictionaries do also have "bat around" with the sense "move/wander about", marked as US and Canadian slang. (They also mention "bat along".) It's possible it has the same etymology as the aforementioned "bat around".
Dictionary.com also has "bat" meaning "to rush", and the English Dialect Dictionary has it, too, defined as "walk at a quick pace" and marked as Lancashire English and with a quote about "Billy battin away across a fielt"; both of them connect it to the "beat" senses.
OTOH, FWIW, the MED doesn't seem to have any of those senses, which suggests they may not go back as far as Middle English, and the DSL doesn't have them which suggests they're not used in Scotland. - -sche (discuss) 21:48, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
My feeling is that "bat around" in the sense of discuss or debate is a different, unrelated sense. As you say, it is from the "batting a ball" image. As it happens, just before posting this question I added an example of this figurative use, which was also missing [32]. Again, I do not, as a BrE speaker, perceive it to be North American, or, indeed, "slang". Mihia (talk) 21:59, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

next closest house, closest adjacent house[edit]

  1. We currently list "they live in the next closest house" as an example of the adverb, and we are not alone: two other dictionaries I checked have "next oldest" and "next closest" as uses of the adverb next. But is it really an adverb or is it an adjective? (Most of the other usexes under adverb sense 1 are indeed adverbial, it's just this one and "next best" that I'm wondering about.)
  2. Compare closest in google books:"closest adjacent" (house, etc). Closest does seem to be an adverb in google books:"drove closest to", something our entry on it currently doesn't cover, but is it also an adverb in "closest adjacent house"? Compare "nearest adjacent house"? Do all these words need adverb sections?
  3. Relatedly, is next an adverb or an adjective in "he is next after Henry gives his presentation" and "the 2nd of February that was next before the 17th October, 1488" or "the day of the passover week that was next before the sabbath"?

- -sche (discuss) 21:19, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

  1. I would say adverb. I don't know of any grammatical test to support that. Semantically, there is a set of houses closest to location X, which houses are ranked by proximity to X. I would interpret next are relating to the ranking not to house. Were the phrase punctuated as "next, closest house", next would be an adjective IMO and the expression would refer to the next house (from some arbitrary sequence), which was also the house closest (to some arbitrary location).
  2. I would say adjective, though I'm not sure by what common-sense measure one adjacent house can be closer than another to the location they are adjacent to. Is the location to which they are adjacent different from the location they are close(r/st) to?
  3. I think next is an adjective, simply based on its following a copula. "after [] " qualifies next. I don't understand the meaning of examples 2 and 3.
HTH. And I hope I understood your questions. DCDuring (talk) 00:24, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
I agree. Mihia (talk) 02:47, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for the replies. Regarding not understanding "next before": apparently, from at least Middle English through at least the 1800s, it was possible to refer to something immediately preceding (and not just something immediately following) something else in an order as the "next" thing. (Even today "nearest" can work this way, e.g. the holiday nearest All Saints' Day is Halloween.)
It belatedly occurs to me that another construction to compare to "next closest" is "second closest", and I see we do list second as an adverb. I guess it makes sense. - -sche (discuss) 03:23, 11 March 2019 (UTC)


Can someone explain what this mean in the etymology 1 of mother "Some authorities consider the sense "greatest thing of its kind" a calque of Arabic أُمّ‎ (ʾumm, “mother”), but others do not[1] and other familial terms can also be used this way, e.g. granddaddy/grand-daddy."

Looks confusing seems incorrect to me. Gotitbro (talk) 22:57, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

It is referring to the use of the word in expressions such as "mother of all battles" (sense 5). Mihia (talk) 23:00, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
There was some discussion last month of this issue at the Etymology scriptorum, in a thread with the title the mother of all etymologies.  --Lambiam 00:35, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

too... than[edit]

I guess this usage derives semantically from the third meaning of too, more than enough, e.g. in It happens way too often than it should. --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:22, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

To me that sentence is ungrammatical.  --Lambiam 21:04, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
I agree. I can find it in a handful of low-quality (Lulu.com-published) books, e.g. "Too often than necessary this can be the first sign", but it seems like too rare an error to try to cover. - -sche (discuss) 21:56, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
The usage example follows the common pattern or starting a sentence with one structure "It happens way too often." and then extending it in a way not entirely consistent with the initial structure. I think Zwicky covered this in his piece on language errors, Mistakes. DCDuring (talk) 00:20, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

make about[edit]

Idiomaticity? Why conservatives want to make Charleston about "religious liberty" --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:51, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

I wouldn't say it's idiomatic; it's the same as "don't make this about me; you're the one at fault". (Charleston is short for "the Charleston shooting"). On another note, I really think you shouldn't have your user page claim that you're a native English speaker when that is patently false. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 19:51, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
I don't think the addition of "about" is idiomatic, as it seems like the same kind of "make" as google books:"make this a (race|racial) (thing|issue)". It's probably sense 12 (which should possibly be merged with sense 8?). - -sche (discuss) 20:10, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
Should not have an entry. "About X" is the end state, like "bigger" in "make it bigger". "Make about" isn't a unit. Equinox 00:26, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

(dis)equal parts[edit]

Does parts collect its meaning in "Solar Painting Is Equal Parts Boring And Brilliant" --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:38, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

What do you mean by "collect its meaning"? I'd say [equal parts] functions as an adverb here, synonymous with equally. Per utramque cavernam 17:43, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
Could we call equal parts a "reduction" of in equal parts? DCDuring (talk) 18:16, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
To me, "Z is equal parts X and Y" seems comparable to "Z is 2 parts X and 1 part Y" (e.g. "two parts stupid, one part insidious"). "In equal parts" certainly also exists, but I'm not sure "equal parts" is a reduction of it as opposed to the same kind of thing as "is two parts X". One could also add "of", like "the most convenient mixture is equal parts of dried chalk and iron" or "cherry color is two parts of English vermilion and one of carmine lake". - -sche (discuss) 18:59, 11 March 2019 (UTC)


https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/chetnik Patchman123 (talk) 19:48, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

This is like saying that all white supremacists are KKK members, when you say something like, (any) Ultranationalist Serb when referring to Chetniks. It's like saying that all white Southern supremacists are KKK. It's just rather silly, in my opinion.

have a go at[edit]

All the senses are labelled as British, but I think the first sense ("try") and possibly the second ("attack") are also used in American English. Merriam-Webster has the "try" sense with no label, in line with my suspicions, though they do label the "attack" sense as British. (Anyone familiar with Australian, Canadian, Irish or other usage is also encouraged to weigh in...) - -sche (discuss) 23:08, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

Speaking as a data point, I think of it as British. DCDuring (talk) 00:16, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
Here are a few uses from US sources: [33], [34], [35].  --Lambiam 13:23, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
The first use is a pleonasm: "others will try to have a go at it on their own." The adjectival usage have-a-go is definitely British. I suppose the verb is sufficiently obvious in meaning to be readily adopted by us colonials. I would use take a run at in preference to have a go at. DCDuring (talk) 15:01, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

nary a[edit]

nary a is suggested in the "See also" section of many a; just like the latter, is nary a also "always followed by a singular noun and a singular verb"? The quotations, as usual, do not exemplify comprehensively the relevant grammatical properties. Garner's MEU offers "when nary a dark shadow was to be seen".

Secondly, nary is defined as "not one", yet the quotation given already includes a "one", Nary one glare of..., so either should be changed for greater clarity --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:54, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

The entry for nary should have at least two usage examples, one with a, another with one. Nary a and nary one are synonyms, just as a and one have synonymous senses. IOW nary a is NISoP. Why wouldn't a user go to [[nary]]? DCDuring (talk) 12:17, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: Does many one also exist as a variant of many a ? --Backinstadiums (talk) 12:35, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
Not that I know of. DCDuring (talk) 13:22, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
The article a is followed by a singular noun, a point of English grammar that has nothing to do with nary. Then the noun phrase nary a [SINGULAR NOUN] is obviously also singular; used as the subject of a phrase, subject–verb agreement requires the verb to be also in the singular. Again, this is not a property of nary.
Although rare, there are also occurrences of nary two: [36], [37], [38]. The sense there appears to be a mere.  --Lambiam 13:46, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
To be fair, nary a at OneLook Dictionary Search shows that other dictionaries have an entry for nary a. They also have entries for nary that don't convey that nary licenses quite a few common cardinal numbers.
I think that these other dictionaries haven't caught the broader usage and remain hung up on the meaning associated with the etymology (ie, supposedly from ne'er a). I have added some cites to [[nary]] and changed the definition, but I couldn't find substitutable wording that covers both the singular and plural following nouns. Can someone do better? DCDuring (talk) 14:47, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
Would this work: classifying it as an adverb, and defining it as a synonym of not even? In one direction it is substitutable: nary a sound was heardnot even a sound was heard. The reverse is problematic: trust no one, not even yourself *trust no one, nary yourself. The usage has some pretty severe restrictions, which should be formulated in the usage notes.  --Lambiam 21:25, 12 March 2019 (UTC)


For a more comprehensively illustrating one, the usage note in hundred should add examples with verb agreement, so "a/one/the hundred men" + singular/plural verb? "is/are ready"; "A hundred dollars is/are enough", etc. If the matter were a stylistic one, it should also be specified as such --Backinstadiums (talk) 12:30, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

You're a native speaker. Why not take a run at it? DCDuring (talk) 14:48, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: I am not, there're may parameters I haven't mastered: grammaticality vs stylistics; GAmE vs BrE; one vs a vs several; hundred vs million; dollars vs people vs ∅; pl vs sg vb agreement (is/are). --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:51, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
I was going by your Babel box. You ought to have correct info there. DCDuring (talk) 16:19, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
For the record, Backinstadiums did not put that Babel box up. In fact, they never edited their user page.  --Lambiam 21:03, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
There is nothing special about hundred. The same pattern of alternation of number agreement is possible with any number. "X is/are enough." With enough, it seems to be a question of whether the noun is being conceived of as, 1., a mass or perhaps the result of a single (instantaneous or continuous) effort or action or, 2., a collection of individual entities or the result of multiple actions. If there is a rule that summarizes this better, I don't know it. DCDuring (talk) 17:31, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: BTW, What verb agreement would you use for a half-dozen gunshot wounds? --Backinstadiums (talk) 19:11, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
Personally, I would go with plural. I'd recommend it as the default in all these cases. Many of the clear exceptions are cases where a number word refers to a physical thing, as commonly a hundred/fifty/twenty/ten/five ("$100/50/20/10/5 dollar bill"), perhaps a dozen (eg, a carton of eggs). DCDuring (talk) 20:10, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: interesting. Lastly, what verb agreements for each of the following three (if they're correctly expressed; otherwise, let me know) '{a/two/half} dozen dozen eggs', that is twelve dozen eggs which are 144 eggs (in google books one can find many "a dozen dozen", and even "half a dozen dozen pounds of gold") --Backinstadiums (talk) 21:14, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
Simple plural works well with each in almost all cases. BUT, I would prefer to say "A half-dozen/six eggs is too much cholesterol" rather than are. In such a case the semantics seems to trump the traditional grammar. It is as if the number agreement is with cholesterol and the sentence read "The cholesterol in a half-dozen/six eggs is too much.". DCDuring (talk) 21:49, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: Online lexicography could add fine-grained detail thanks to corpora databases, especially COCA and BNC, together with google books or even wikipedia. --Backinstadiums (talk) 22:00, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
COCA is a wonderful source, but they would expect to be paid were we to be using them systematically. DCDuring (talk) 22:47, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
I recall someone asking this a while ago with regard to things like "a (number|group|etc) of them (was|were)...", where it seems natural to use the plural even though one could make a case for, and sometimes find attested, the singular. It seems that when a group is considered as a unit it is possible to use the singular ("one group of them was hiding from another group"), but when the members are considered, the plural is used ("a group/number of them were already setting up the chairs when we got there")...? If one is speaking of a (literal) plural number of people, I agree with DCDuring the plural would generally be used (one is considering the members at least closely enough to count them), like "a hundred men were marching". Whereas, phrases like "a hundred dollars is enough to cover it" or "nine dollars is enough to cover it" or "a half-dozen gunshot wounds was what finally killed him" sound OK to me because the phrase on the left side of the "is" seems to be being treated as a unit, the amount necessary to pay for something, etc: there is no single physical thing that is a 9$ bill, but there is conceptually a single payment/fee of 9$ (and "nine dollars are enough to cover it" would sound a bit odd to me). Either the singular or plural would sound OK to me in "he drank two bottles of whiskey and one bottle of vodka, but three shots of tequila (were|was) what finally made him sick" (depending, perhaps, on whether "three shots" were viewed as the singular straw that broke the camel's back and made him throw up, or three things that contributed to him throwing up). - -sche (discuss) 22:09, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: Certainly there comes a time when the boundaries between the planes of grammaticality, stylistics, and logic become too blurred --Backinstadiums (talk) 23:05, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
Collective noun on Wikipedia: Different forms of English handle verb agreement with collective count nouns differently; in particular, users of British English generally accept that collective nouns take either singular or plural verb forms depending on context and the metonymic shift that it implies.“ Also, Dictionary.com: “Generally, in American English, collective nouns take singular verbs. In British English, collective nouns are more often treated as plurals that take plural verbs.”  --Lambiam 10:38, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

-x (or -x-) as an general inclusive affix?[edit]


I've recently seen the use in English entry 3 (gender-neutral replacement of -a or -o) extended to use beyond just Spanish loan words, as a general marker of gender inclusivity. Examples: Folx (also sometimes folkx), Womxn (the latter is an simulfix, not just a suffix).

Anyone have any insight into this? Should this be recorded somewhere? —This unsigned comment was added by Thestickystickman (talkcontribs).

I tend to agree there are enough x-words that this should probably be covered somewhere. My initial suggestion would be to cover the cases where it replaces an ending, as in Latinx, at -x, the way it is now and the way e.g. punx is handled by -x#Etymology_2. Incidentally, folx / folkx seems more like punx, since folks is already gender-neutral. (IME the respelling connotes that e.g. non-white / non-cis people are being discussed; compare how women is inclusive of feminist women, but womyn conveys that one is talking specifically about feminist women / women in a feminist context.) (See also alumnx, where -x replaces different suffixes...)
For other cases, x might be the best place (cross-linked with -x), looking at how we cover things like "5xx" (where x replaces digits) at [[x]]. I've seen it not just in the middle of words (womxn, wxmxn, hxstory) and at the end, but even at the beginning, in e.g. Xicana and Xicano (where x replaces not the gendered suffix, which is left alone, but the Ch of Chicana/Chicano), and Xicanx.
All of these (initial, medial, and final x) can also be found in Spanish, e.g. latinx, lxs, ellxs, xicana. - -sche (discuss) 18:57, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
Is xicana not just a spelling difference? Instead of the shortening chicana < mechicana, this represents xicana < mexicana.  --Lambiam 20:58, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
In some cases, probably; maybe even in many or most cases. But at least some books use both spellings and at least some books (some of which specify Xicana as a feminist or activist spelling) seem to intend to convey a difference, like with folx (itself at least occasionally attested as mere eye-dialect) versus folks or women vs womyn/womxn or boy vs boi. But perhaps it shouldn't be considered an instance / derivation of the x we're discussing; I'm not sure. - -sche (discuss) 22:24, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
See also -@, where the definition's coverage of Kosov@ could help us revise -x to cover alumnx, but where the mention of Pin@y suggests some further changes or an entry at @ may be eventually needed. (Are there more words with non-final @?) - -sche (discuss) 18:57, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
I moved the "suffix" entries -x and -@ to x and @, since I recall in previous discussion there was disagreement over whether or not they were really suffixes or endings, and they do also occur in the middle of words, and x is where we cover the sense "Used as a placeholder for a digit or value that may vary" as in 4xxx. - -sche (discuss) 20:56, 16 March 2019 (UTC)


According to some dictionaries, this word also has a literal meaning, (the one primary in German) of "hunter", in English. Two examples of this are Merriam-Webster (a dictionary that I personally don't care for, but find is still quite representative of general United States word usage), and Collins English Dictionary, which also gives this meaning, but unlike Merriam-Webster, labels it as "rare", and gives it alongside a "hunter's attendant" definition. The American Heritage Dictionary gives "a huntsman" as one definition of jaeger as well.

Ought we to include this definition? Also, if it is used in this sense (which I have no reason to think that it hasn't been at some point, everything considered) is it primarily poetic or literary (or something like that) or is it just simply an alternative word for hunter? Tharthan (talk) 02:08, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

You may add such a sense if you can find attestation for it. DTLHS (talk) 02:13, 13 March 2019 (UTC)


According to the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary : Although Received Pronunciation and General American are both traditionally considered to prefer /di/, most speakers in practice use both pronunciations for this suffix, often in a strong form—weak form relationship: /deɪ/ generally in exposed positions, for example at the end of a sentence: I’ll do it on Monday /ˈmʌndeɪ/; the di form is preferred in close-knit expressions such as ,Monday 'morning --Backinstadiums (talk) 12:34, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

a week out from[edit]

What sense of out is the one applying in a week out from Apple’s iPhone 6S launch? --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:24, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

What about at a distance? The same collocation out from occurs in “about a mile out from the finish line” and “20 yards out from the left touchline”.  --Lambiam 18:02, 13 March 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam: You're right, it's the second meaning of distance; yet, I've noticed that the two quoatations given are just phrases, alongside links to wikipedia pages of whom? the authors? the whole sentences are outdated, e.g. there is ten years distance between one and the other, where distance is used as an accountable noun, unlike current use --Backinstadiums (talk) 18:12, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

to think[edit]

Does this merit an entry, as in "To think that he was living up there in the attic and we never knew a thing about it!". If it's SoP, what other constructions are there where an infinitive is used like this? Equinox 07:52, 14 March 2019 (UTC)

I think it is basically an unfinished sentence. Take for instance this sentence: “To see him suffer was – it was just terrible.”[39] The speaker could just have left it at “To see him suffer like that ...”, and the empathic listener would have gotten the message all the same. What the speaker left unfinished in the sentence about the attic stowaway is something like “boggles the mind”, which is a feeble ending better left unsaid for best effect. In any case, this would seem to be the province of grammar and rhetoric, not of lexicography.  --Lambiam 09:40, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
(Afterthought: "just think" and "only think" are used synonymously but with slightly different grammar.) Equinox 09:52, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
And think, "and think" seems like it could be used this way sometimes, too! Would one ever use "to imagine!" this way? - -sche (discuss) 10:09, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
“To hear the master play his music in person!” Perhaps this kind of use should reflect a personal emotive experience.  --Lambiam 13:36, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox We already have an entry at to think that. Per utramque cavernam 17:57, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
Created by me, in fact :p Per utramque cavernam 17:57, 14 March 2019 (UTC)


Is ounce a meronym of pound? If not, the section title Meronyms of the entry iugerum is a misnomer.  --Lambiam 13:42, 14 March 2019 (UTC)

I don't see why not. A pound is made up of 16 ounces. But I wouldn't say that a gram is a meronym of a pound since it contains an uneven 453.592 of them. If you wanted, you could change the header to Coordinate terms. Ultimateria (talk) 16:20, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
No. A meronym refers to a part, but means the whole e.g. "wheels" meaning "car". But "ounce" doesn't ever mean pound. SemperBlotto (talk) 16:24, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
Wiktionary:Semantic_relations#Meronymy disagrees, giving bark for tree and elbow for arm. Equinox 16:50, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
SemperBlotto, are you distinguishing between a constituent part and a divisional amount? Ultimateria (talk) 16:50, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
Blotto was evidently thinking of metonym, not meronym. Equinox 16:52, 14 March 2019 (UTC)

on to[edit]

what sense is on to displaying? We talked for nigh on to two hours (Microsoft® Encarta® 2009)? --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:49, 14 March 2019 (UTC)

"Nigh on" is the unit here, and means "nearly". (Compare "verging on".) I would say "nigh on two hours": I think the "to" is an error. Equinox 16:51, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox: alternative with onto --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:56, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
If it is an error, it is a fairly common one.  --Lambiam 18:36, 14 March 2019 (UTC)

So how are such sentences correctly parsed? --Backinstadiums (talk) 02:17, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

By first replacing “on to” by ”onto” and then noticing that nigh onto is a common extension of nigh when used as an adverb in the sense “nearly” (see e.g. here, here, definition 2 and here).  --Lambiam 09:36, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
FWIW I think the spaced version ("nigh on to") can be parsed as SOP much as Equinox says even without needing to assume "onto" was meant. - -sche (discuss) 20:27, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: What does SOP stand for? --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:10, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
"nigh on to" and "nigh onto" seem to be primarily US forms. The expression that I am familiar with is "nigh on". Mihia (talk) 22:53, 15 March 2019 (UTC)


"Usage notes: As with all nationalities formed from -ese, the countable singular form ("I am a Chinese") is uncommon and often taken as incorrect"

I'd add what the correct form is --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:56, 14 March 2019 (UTC)

For the noun, there isn't one. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 21:57, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
It would be the multi-word phrase Chinese person (or man, woman, etc). At least the first part of the usage note should be made into a template so it can be used on other -ese words; I'll see about doing that. - -sche (discuss) 01:57, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
@-sche Thanks --Backinstadiums (talk) 02:16, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: "I am a Chinese person" sounds stilted, almost non-native. One would say "I am Chinese" in any normal context in order to communicate this. If the template offers any wording, it should offer that. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 05:19, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
Just on how in East Asian languages the phrase "I am Chinese", etc is used: Chinese and Japanese translate it literally as "(I) am + demonym" (Chinese: 中國人) but Koreans would normally say "(I) am + country + person" (중국 사람이에요 Hanguk saram ieyo), Vietnamese: "I am person + country" (tôi là người Việt Nam), etc. So, "Chinese/Japanese", etc. person is common in many countries of the East. --Anatoli T. (обсудить/вклад) 05:38, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
Good point, about that specific phrase. I've added that, but I've also added another example phrase, because in situations where a noun like "Brit" would be used, "Chinese person", "Chinese man" etc would be used, like in the Vice headline "The Struggles of Writing About Chinese Food as a Chinese Person", or a sentence like "I found the actors' attempts to speak Mandarin in Firefly comical, and I bet any other Chinese person would feel the same way". Or, indeed, just "I saw a Chinese guy standing over there". - -sche (discuss) 06:35, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

new lease of life[edit]

Apparently the original version of the idiom new lease on life. Do natives confirm? Per utramque cavernam 20:46, 14 March 2019 (UTC) 

[40] seems fairly definitive. I would use "on life". DTLHS (talk) 20:54, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
Thanks. Seems it's also a UK vs. US thing. I've converted the original entry to an alternative-form entry of the of variant. This decision might have to be revisited a few years down the road, because the on variant is gaining ground. Per utramque cavernam 22:38, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
Yes, it seems that it is a UK/US variation. FWIW, I (BrE) have never heard of "new lease on life", and, if I had encountered it prior to reading this, I would have assumed that "on" was an error for "of". Mihia (talk) 21:15, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

"jutsu" vs. "jitsu"[edit]


I've been wondering about our jujitsu page and whether it wouldn't be better suited making jujutsu the main (English) word, as it is a little more true to the Japanese, would be more consistent with the Wikipedia page, and would be more consistent with other Japanese Wiktionary words involving the same kanji.

Japanese accuracy I don't know a huge amount of Japanese, but I have learned that the kanji that is transliterated as "jutsu" (術), referring to an art or craft, is completely different from that transliterated to "jitsu". I first learned that distinction on this webpage.

Consistency with Wikipedia page If you try to go to the Wikipedia page titled "jujitsu", it redirects you to one titled "jujutsu".

Other Wiktionary words If you go to the Wiktionary page for the word ninjitsu, it is defined as a misspelling of the word ninjutsu. kenjutsu too is spelled with a u.

Let me know your thoughts!

Best wishes, Taurvaethor (talk) 01:54, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

We are a descriptive dictionary. The main spelling used for the English entry has nothing to do with what is more "correct" in Japanese or consistency with Wikipedia or any other word. The only criterion for what spelling to use is what spelling is most common. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 21:57, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
In terms of frequency in English, jiu jitsu spelled with a space is the overwhelming winner, with an order of magnitude more ghits than all other versions combined. The runner-up (at a far, far distance) is jiujitsu, with jujitsu trudging behind and jujutsu as the last comer.  --Lambiam 10:00, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

Poo should not be marked as childish but informal[edit]

As per the subject poo is the most common informal way to refer to feces and is not childish so shouldn't be marked as childish. Poop on the other hand is childish (and every other permutation of poo). It is also marked as informal, not childish in the Oxford Dictionary.

First of all, the term that you are referring to actually postdates the term that you claim is childish. Secondly, I think that we have a dialectal usage difference here.
I'm going to assume that you speak some variety of Commonwealth English, based upon what you have just said. If so, then I must inform you that the situation that you describe is reversed at least in much of North America. I live in New England, and here, the term that you claim is the most common term for this is actually considered quite childish and also extremely silly. And, furthermore, the only specific times that I can recall hearing it off of the top of my head and remembering that I had heard it specifically in those particular instances were in some infantile schoolyard jokes that my mother recounted to me when I was a young child. On the other hand, the term that you claim is more childish than the term that you suggest that we mark as not childish is the standard informal term for what it describes where I live.
Also, don't get me wrong, by the way. I love the Oxford English Dictionary. I have always used one, and it has always been my go-to dictionary, as I have always had an Oxford around me, because my father had one. I didn't grow up with a Webster's Dictionary, and since a. my dialect of North American English is not particularly well represented at all in really any of the United States English dictionaries that I am aware of (there are even significant spelling differences between the typical local way that things are spelt here and the standard of the country [some basic examples: we spell travelling/travelled, cancelling/cancelled, and omelette as such, not with the altered, artificial-looking forms devised by Whosis because they wanted to needlessly simplify English spelling for no good reason and probably also as some "edgy" way to spit in the face of speakers of England or something like that. We also use, for instance, leapt, not leaped {sic}]), and b. although I recognise Webster as quite a knowledgeable individual, I fundamentally disagree with his philosophy on how to address the question of how to best spell English words (if you've ever seen his initial attempts at modifying the spelling of his time, you'd know that he had an utterly atrocious idea of how to "reform" [more like "deform"] the English spelling system), and have therefore many years ago shed pretty much any of the influence his spelling reforms had had on my own spelling due to the time period in which I was born. ...In any case, I have a 1990s Concise Oxford English Dictionary more or less within arm's reach from the desk that I am sitting at right now. But all of that aside, this particular situation here requires a more international perspective on the word choice, and although Oxford (in my experience) is usually quite good at having various usages and nuances listed for this kind of stuff, this seems to be an instance in which that is not the case. Tharthan (talk) 00:27, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
I've recently noticed, to my surprise, that the NHS now uses "poo", e.g. (from their page on rectal bleeding) "pink water in the toilet bowl, blood in your poo or bloody diarrhoea [...] very dark, smelly poo". Certainly sounds absurdly childish and slangy to me, but maybe I'm out of date — or they are justifiably trying to make their site understandable to people with a low reading level or limited English. Equinox 03:56, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox Is that so? I was under the impression that many contemporary Britons used that word casually in a manner not all that different from how the other word that I referred to is used in North America. A usage such as that would have a good likelihood of being perceived slightly differently than a North American usage of the term. Even though they are the same utterance, have the same pronunciation, the same meaning, and the same spelling, I can say that, at least for myself (although, admittedly, I have had the experience of having met and spent time with Britons at different times in my life. Not all people have the same experiences, obviously) I would get quite a different impression if a younger-middle-aged, generally mild-mannered, middle-class English woman were to use the term in her description of what she had come across when she discovered that a pet had done something, than I would if a young man from my region were to use the term in pretty much any context. But perhaps that's just me. Again, my impression has always been that, in the United Kingdom, the three letter term (the one that would clearly be seen as childish where I live) is essentially the general colloquial (and I'm excluding swearwords from falling under that description a. because they are a whole different animal in this regard in my opinion, and b. I detest swearwords) whereas in much of North America (at least), the other word that I have referred to previously is the general colloquial word for that very same thing, whilst the three letter term is almost entirely childish in tone, and will be pretty much interpreted that way across the board (at least in the area that I live in). Tharthan (talk) 06:38, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
I have heard both words used by adults, when someone evidently didn't want to be as vulgar as "shit" but also didn't want to be as formal as "feces". To me the difference in childishness between the two seems relatively small, even if there is a difference in commonness between dialects. Merriam-Webster (US) and Cambridge and {{R:ODO}} (UK) mark both as informal, whereas MacMillan marks both as childish. Collins has "poo" as informal and childish, "poop" as only informal. Century (US) only has "poop" as "break wind", vulgar; Wright's EDD (UK) only has "poop" as "cacare", marked as childish. Cambridge, {{R:ODO}} and this thread suggest Americans use "poop" more and Brits use "poo" more, as mentioned above. Possibly they could be marked as "informal, usually childish" or something, along with with "chiefly US"/"chiefly UK" labels? - -sche (discuss) 16:49, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
My feeling in the UK is that "poo" is formerly childish, but becoming informal or even mainstream. As noted above, it is now even used in official literature aimed at adults. I too was surprised when I first saw this. I thought the word was entirely inappropriate, but that seems to be the way it's going. I think many adults refer informally to, say, "dog poo", or even to themselves "having a poo" without considering it childish language. Mihia (talk) 23:23, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
@-sche Personally, I don't think that marking either as "chiefly [dialect]" would really be accurate, as they generally aren't (at least not here). Why would you suggest that label?
@Mihia Would someone actually use the latter example in conversation, even casually? If someone were to say that (or that, with its more common equivalent in North America used instead), even in casual speech, when talking to me at least, I would probably raise one eyebrow and feel slightly put off. Tharthan (talk) 04:33, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I think some people would. Of course, any way that someone says they are "having a poo" may be slightly offputting because it is not something we necessarily want to know about or think about. Mihia (talk) 11:28, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Is there a less proscriptive term than "childish"?
What is a popular, not-too-offensive term for feces, preferably a word of one syllable? Poop seems to fit the bill. It is a term regularly used in discussions of dog-owner etiquette in public forums. DCDuring (talk) 13:15, 16 March 2019 (UTC)

smoking hot, freezing cold et alii[edit]

I'm currently collecting compound adjectives of the form "V-ing (i.e. present participle) + adjective", which I'm putting in Category:English compound adjectives. According to this paper (pp. 51-54), some adjectives admit a fair many modifiers.

Others are (almost) one-off cases:

(Conversely, there are present participles that can be used as modifiers on almost any adjective: freaking, fucking, flipping, ?bleeding).

Are all of these attested? Do we want entries for each and every one of them? Would someone have a suggestion for a more accurate category name?

Per utramque cavernam 10:55, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

Go for it. As long as they would survive an RfV. SemperBlotto (talk) 10:58, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

get made[edit]

does get made deserve to be added? --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:38, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

Well, look at the senses we have at make and see if any cover it. I suspect 14 and 20 do (with sense 18 of get). - -sche (discuss) 16:56, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

thousand plural[edit]

According to Microsoft Encarta 2009 dictionaries,

"thousands (pl noun): very many: a very large but unspecified number sold thousands of copies " and in a different entry: thousand is "noun (pl thou·sand or thou·sands), and so the dictionary defines million as "a thousand thousand",

I'm interested in the second entry, specifically why it gives its plural as either thousand(s) and whether this approach, different from the current wiktionary entry, is correct --Backinstadiums (talk) 20:10, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

We say "two thousand", "three thousand", etc., not "two thousands" etc. We say "thousands of ~". We say "many thousands", but "several thousand". Our entry at thousand says "It doesn't take -s when preceded by a determiner", yet we class "several" as a determiner, so this may not be exactly consistent. Mihia (talk) 00:12, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
For what it's worth, Ngrams suggest most uses of "many thousands" today are in the phrase "many thousands of": if you exclude cases with a following of, "many thousand" and "many thousands" seem to be about as common. And with a following noun (without of), only "many thousand women" seems to exist (though it sounds a little odd), not *"many thousands women" (which sounds completely wrong); I would guess the non-of uses of "many thousands" are not followed by anything but are like "there were many thousands", while non-of uses of "many thousand" are followed by another noun? With "several", it does seem that most uses of "several thousands" are in the phrase "several thousands of", and excluding the phrases with of, "several thousands" is now only in the vicinity of 1/16th as common as "several thousand". But with of, "several thousand of" is about 1/4th as common as "several thousands of". I will have a go at tweaking the usage notes, but please revise them further if my edits overlook anything; I kept thinking of more things the longer I thought about it... - -sche (discuss) 15:32, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: I've used ngrams to check a thousand/few dollars more vs a thousand/few more dollars; aren't the results meaningful? --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:21, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't follow ― in what way are you suggesting they're meaningful; is there some part of the usage notes which are inconsistent with those results? (If you're only suggesting it's interesting that "thousand dollars more" is more common than "thousand more dollars", that's not specific to "thousand"; one finds the same thing with e.g. "ninety".) - -sche (discuss) 07:50, 18 March 2019 (UTC)


Today's WOTD:

  1. (archaic, now chiefly Canada, US) A lazy person who lies in bed after the usual time for getting up; a sluggard.

I find the combination of labels somewhat confusing. Is it trying to say that the word is not archaic in North America, but is archaic elsewhere? Mihia (talk) 21:08, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

That's precisely how I would take it to mean, although if I think about it long enough it really is ambiguous...maybe it needs an "and" or "or" in there to bring clarity to what is intended Leasnam (talk) 21:17, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
archaic, except in Canada/US? Per utramque cavernam 21:38, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
That would certainly be easier to understand, if that is what is meant. Mihia (talk) 21:45, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
Is it thought of as old-fashioned in North America ? It's certainly well-used, and I see a mix of old-fashioned and seemingly modern uses of it. It was actually new to me when I saw it. I've only ever heard of slugabug for this Leasnam (talk) 21:48, 15 March 2019 (UTC)


I think this term is already well established --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:14, 16 March 2019 (UTC)

  • Added. You could have added it yourself. SemperBlotto (talk) 10:21, 16 March 2019 (UTC)

will expressing "confident assumption about the past"[edit]

Does the entry for will includes the meaning in I will have done it on the previous Tuesday, i.e., "I must have"? --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:38, 16 March 2019 (UTC)

  • No. This is a hard one to define, I tried it once but maybe I never saved it since I can't see any trace of it on the page history, although I did write most of the current definitions there. It's the same thing as saying "That'll be Karen" when the doorbell goes, or "John will be home by now" about someone who left a while ago, or "That will be €5.20" in a shop. Here "will" means "is" but with an added "subjective softening" to make it less harsh, so in effect it means "must be" or "will turn out to be" or "is, by inference". This use goes back to the 1400s. Ƿidsiþ 08:07, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
  • @Backinstadiums, I added a sense to cover it (hopefully). Ƿidsiþ 08:18, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

no doubt about it[edit]

Could the adverb no doubt be extended to "no doubt (about it)"? --Backinstadiums (talk) 12:58, 16 March 2019 (UTC)

I would say that "no doubt about it" is more an abbreviated clause (for "there is no doubt about it") than adverbial. Mihia (talk) 18:34, 16 March 2019 (UTC)

the same adverb[edit]

Is the same an adverb in You'll Never Look at Mr. Potatohead the Same After Watching Him Play? What sense applies in that sentence? --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:50, 16 March 2019 (UTC)

Yes, it is an adverb (or adverbial phrase), meaning "in the same way (as previously)". This type of usage does not seem to be presently covered at same, as far as I can see. Mihia (talk) 18:27, 16 March 2019 (UTC)


¡Hola! Why is this RRHH instead of RH? Would it be an initialism, acronym or abbreviation? --Pious Eterino (talk) 08:06, 17 March 2019 (UTC)

I suppose it's plural, like "pp. 50-52" for "pages". Equinox 08:19, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
Probably. Compare EEUU. It's interesting that Spanish would do this even with proper nouns. - -sche (discuss) 15:20, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
That's correct - it's plural, but should be two words with the dots RR. HH. - them's the rules for these types of acronyms. --I learned some phrases (talk) 08:16, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

Noun more (uncountable)[edit]

Here Are More Of The Most Amazing Images Of Cars

However, its wiktionary entry reads "Noun more (uncountable)"; therefore, is the sentence not grammatical, and it should agree with singular is instead?

According to Microsoft® Encarta® 2009:

4. additional: indicates something additional or further (pronoun + singular or plural verb)

adjective: I need more light.

pronoun: There aren't any more of these.

pronoun: No more is expected

--Backinstadiums (talk) 11:40, 17 March 2019 (UTC)

It works the same way as "some": can take either "is" or "are", depending on countability ("some paper is...", "some people are..."). I don't know how to explain that grammatically. I note "some" does not have a noun sense in Wiktionary. Equinox 11:42, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
A relevant Wiktionary problem is that "uncountability" is produced when contributors have typed {{en-noun|-}} to suppress the display of a plural form ending in s. We have not systematically replaced {{en-noun|-}} with {{en-noun|?}}, {{en-noun|!}}, or other use of {{en-noun}} parameters.
A larger part of the problem is that more functions sometimes as a pure determiner (formerly often analyzed as adjective) and sometimes in ways that can be analyzed as nominal (noun or pronoun). These functions are in addition to its adverb functions, more easily separated.
More as determiner is the comparative of both much, which selects a singular noun, and many, which selects a plural. IF we treat the non-adjective examples above as uses of comparative determiners, the difficulty disappears. CGEL analyzes such uses of more as "fused-head constructions", which is usually indistinguishable from analyzing are determiner as sometimes taking a nominal role.
We have Noun and Pronoun PoS sections for more that arguably duplicate/overlap the Determiner PoS section. I have thought that was a good approach because determiner is not nearly as widely accepted a term in the general population as noun and pronoun are. Perhaps we should instead have usage notes for most determiners that explain why we don't have Noun, Pronoun, and sometimes Adjective PoS sections where other dictionaries do. DCDuring (talk) 14:59, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
In my opinion a determiner always qualifies a noun, whereas a noun or pronoun can stand alone, which is a testable distinction. The present entry does not make the supposed distinction between the noun and pronoun senses as clear I would like (e.g. by way of examples). In other entries, I think the theory may be that a noun can take a determiner (e.g. "the more") whereas a pronoun can't, but I'm not sure whether there is a consistent Wiktionary-wide approach to this, or even whether it is necessary to have separate noun and pronoun entries in cases such as this. If we do have both, we need some testable way to distinguish the two. On another point, I personally loathe the use of "amount of" with plural countable nouns, as in the present noun definition "a greater amount of people or things". Mihia (talk) 03:25, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
Now that you've made me notice it, I have a similar problem with "amount of", as I have long had with the "10 items or less" signage at the express line at the grocery store. But there as so many outrages to my linguistic sensibilities.
As to how we treat secondary functions of members of word classes, we have been gradually reducing duplication of semantic content by combining certain PoSes. We have voted to accept Prepositional phrase as a PoS header to eliminate semantically duplicativee Adjective and Adverb PoS sections. We have attempted to eliminate semantic duplication by eliminating Adjective PoS sections for words in the noun word class whose sole adjective-like behavior is attributive use without any new meaning. CGEL shows the way to a similar elimination of semantic duplication with its analysis of "fused-head" constructions. In such constructions there is nothing semantically new, but determiners and some adjectives fulfill the grammatically role of a nominal. The authors of CGEL argue that such an analysis is superior to various alternatives, most especially those which assert that determiners should be considered as adjectives, nouns, or pronouns depending on their function. Our acceptance of Determiner as a PoS header has not led us to abandon Adjective, Noun, and Pronoun headers for such terms consistently.
In this particular case, our desire to address the countability or uncountability of everything under the Noun PoS header has forced us to do so for the case of a determiner that fulfills a role as a nominal.
Someone who is a stronger advocate than I of having Noun and/or Pronoun sections for determiners should clean this entry up and review all such Noun and Pronoun sections for consistency and completeness. DCDuring (talk) 10:38, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
One problem with the "fused head" approach, as I see it, is that "determiner + implied noun" may not always be substitutable for the proposed noun/pronoun sense. One example is the pesky use with "of", e.g. "I want more of it". Another doubtful case may be something like "I should have done more to help". More what? Mihia (talk) 14:42, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
That same substitutability issue often arises in instances of attributive use of nouns: in order to apply the noun definition to attributive usage, perhaps word order has to change and prepositions have to be inserted, neither in an entirely predictable way. It would not be unreasonable to have a separate definition to suit usage of determiners in partitive constructions. Also, it is not the laziness of lexicographers that leads to the use of non-gloss definitions for function words like conjunctions and prepositions. Perhaps we should revisit our entries for basic determiners and decide whether they need some combination of improved labels, rewording or replacement by non-gloss definitions, usage examples, and usage notes. The various learner's dictionaries have accessible approaches that seem informed by, but more accessible then, those taken in the more scholarly grammars. DCDuring (talk) 17:19, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

melk for milk[edit]

melk should already have an English entry related to milk --Backinstadiums (talk) 13:30, 17 March 2019 (UTC)

No lack of mentions, but can it be attested?  --Lambiam 15:50, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
I searched for it + various dialectal and eye-dialectal words ("de", "sum", "uv") and finally found promising co-search terms in google books:"melk" "frum" and google books:"melk" "tae", leading to e.g. these two, but deciding whether it's English or Scots is tricky... - -sche (discuss) 16:25, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
Lowering of /ɪ/ to /e/ strikes me as a typical Scots feature, this spelling could be a reflection of that. —Rua (mew) 22:02, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
That paper seems to be spelling out a pronunciation, not saying that anybody would spell the word "melk" in writing. Equinox 15:52, 17 March 2019 (UTC)


In the language sense, isn't this a proper noun? It is called an uncountable common noun in our entry. It is exceedingly tedious to search for clear evidence on uncountability.

Also, w:Sino-Vietnamese has it as being a demonym for possibly five different groupings. DCDuring (talk) 16:34, 17 March 2019 (UTC)


Isn't this a proper noun notwithstanding the numerous occurrences of references to the proliferation of Englishes such as Indian English, American English, etc.? Aren't all of these Englishes also proper nouns? DCDuring (talk) 16:42, 17 March 2019 (UTC)

Yes, IMO, languages are proper nouns (even when countable, like "the Englishes of the two countries had diverged somewhat over the centuries", compare "the Adams in my class are all redheaded"), and so is your other example. However, other people feel they are common nouns. Past discussions in the BP have been not entirely conclusive and sometimes entries have been changed back and forth, as happened here. Personally, I would change it (and the rest) back to =Proper noun=. - -sche (discuss) 17:51, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
I was starting to look at the vast number of uses of {{en-noun|-}} (ie, uncountable). As you probably know the uncountability is often applied just as a way of suppressing the display of a plural. Just removing the proper nouns from nouns marked "uncountable" would make a dent in the errors. DCDuring (talk) 21:58, 17 March 2019 (UTC)

it's there was[edit]

I've just come across it's meaning "there was (glass everywhere)", Shameless US S09E12, minute 55:18. --Backinstadiums (talk) 02:18, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

Therefore, the same allophones of 's seem to apply to was, voiceless it's and voiced in I's--Backinstadiums (talk) 19:21, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
We do have the present-tense "there is" as a sense of it's; if the past tense ("it's" meaning "there was") is attested (preferably in writing), it can be added. If it were attested, I suspect "it's" meaning "it was" would also be attested. If "'s" means "was" in other cases it could be added to -'s too. - -sche (discuss) 19:58, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: that's already has it as well --Backinstadiums (talk) 20:11, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

talk and its English conjugation table[edit]

What's the benefit of this? It's a regular verb, but this huge table goes all the way to "they would have been talking". Equinox 07:04, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

Eh, we do this for other languages, I don't see why we so rarely do it for English ― we have a lot of English-learners using us, who have occasionally suggested/requested conjugation tables, and it helps them. And it's collapsed so anyone who already knows the conjugation doesn't have to look at it. But perhaps there is a middle ground between the huge number of forms in that table, and the small number of forms in Template:en-conj-simple. (Ironically, only the "simple" template includes the -est and -eth forms which at least one learner asked about―due to reading Shakespeare, I think―in a previous discussion I could try to locate if necessary.) - -sche (discuss) 07:59, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

culture of death[edit]

What happened here? There are three senses. Talk:culture of death suggests that there was agreement to merge the first two into a single sense, and this was done (?), but they appear to have been split back out again, with no explanation of why. And the third sense (society that reveres suicide bombers as martyrs) has IMO very poor citations that are pretty much SoP. Anyone got any ideas of how to improve the morass? Equinox 14:00, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

Send folks to w:Culture of death? not that the WP article is much good either.
I think BD did combine two of four senses. I don't see any subsequent addition of definitions.
The universal remedy for all the ills of a truly new dictionary entry (ie, one where paraprasing other definitions is not possible) is to:
  1. get a large number of citations
  2. sort them into piles
  3. see which of the piles can be combined or ignored
  4. write some appropriate definitions
  5. get citations from another set of sources
  6. test adequacy of definitions
  7. repeat, if necessary, possible, and interesting enough
Really. DCDuring (talk) 16:59, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

Implications of lady vs. woman[edit]

Is it fair to say that lady, today, has overtones of patronising gallantry, whereas woman is neutral? I feel a usage note might be in order, also at entries like spokeslady and translady that otherwise give the misleading impression of being entirely neutral synonyms. Equinox 14:24, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

I would certainly oppose any labelling anywhere near as pejorative as "patronising gallantry". In fact, just the other day I was in a shop and, because I was faffing around with something, I said to the checkout person "Would you like to serve this lady first?", referring to someone behind me in the queue. To me it seemed a normal-polite thing to say, and she seemed grateful rather than patronised. Mihia (talk) 14:47, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
I think we need evidence that it is perceived as patronizing by more than a couple of squads of SJWs and their claques at the propaganda mills. It may be hard to assess how widespread the perception is among normal folk, but it is very hard to trust those formerly known as "opinion leaders". DCDuring (talk) 16:33, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
I was thinking less about "ladies first" politeness in a supermarket, and more about why one would probably say "women" and not "ladies" if addressing a conference about wage gaps or some such. Equinox 16:38, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
It's nice to know you consider "social justice warriors" to be subnormal. Get fucked shitlord. It's also nice when people tell you who they really are. DTLHS (talk) 16:44, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
So it is. DCDuring (talk) 20:42, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Guys, please, this is all very unpleasant. May I please ask everyone to discuss things in a civilised way. Mihia (talk) 17:42, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
  • I didn't find any discussion of lady vs. woman in any context at Language Log.
Since the gender revolution, some women are insulted to be called “ladies,” feeling that the word suggests inferiority, hypocrisy, or condescension.
I suppose that in our “nowadays,” any significant difference between the words lady and woman has disappeared for most speakers.
  • The New Republic on the appropriate noun to use attributively.
  • language: a feminist guide
  • The entry for lady in my 2009 edition of Garner's Modern American Usage seemed dated and unhelpful. Here's something from the 2016 edition:
It is jarring to hear phrases such as lady lawyer, woman doctor, female booksalesman, and the Air Force’s female airman. It sounds condescending, even if that wasn’t intended.
I wouldn't want to be the one writing the usage note. DCDuring (talk) 20:33, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
The problem with terms like "female booksalesman" and "female airman" is twofold: 1. the terms "booksaleswoman" (although I can't find any citations for it, "saleswoman" exists, so "booksaleswoman" wouldn't look particularly odd, I don't think) and "airwoman" could be legitimately used instead. Furthermore, unless the context clearly made it necessary to note the gender of the people in question, "bookseller" and "aviator"/"air force pilot" would probably be best anyway. I mean, it's different from using "person up" (yes, that exists!) for "man up" and "woman up", where—in that instance—using "person" misses the point of the original terms, which were (to say the least) pointing to maturity at least as much as they were pointing to gender, and 2. both of those words have the suffix -man, which is different from the use of man in (for instance) mankind, because in a large majority of cases where the suffix -man is used for a job in English, it was more or less a position that males historically held. Tharthan (talk) 03:41, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

(This is in response to the original question, not to any of the responses)

I don't think that "lady" is necessarily patronising or insensitive. It really depends upon the context. The word is clearly not meant reverentially at all in a phrase like "Listen, lady: I don't have time for this.", but obviously a phrase such as "She is a real lady" (I would personally opt for the word "true" if I were using a phrase like that, but "real" is more common colloquially for this) would probably mean something quite different than a phrase such as "She is a real woman". Also, I cannot say for sure, as I am not a woman, but I get the feeling that someone saying "Listen, lady: I don't have time for this." would probably have a lower likelihood of giving off an air of hatred for women than if one were to replace "lady" with "woman" in that sentence. I just get that feeling from this. To me, saying "Listen, lady: I don't have time for this." is essentially saying "Listen: I don't have time for this.", with a flippant term of address, whereas using "woman" instead in that sentence would make me think that the person saying it thinks less of women than men, and that the person saying it thinks that the person being spoken to ought not to be being (what the speaker thinks is) combative with them, purely because they are a woman (in other words: that kind of phrasing gives the impression that the speaker feels that the person being spoken to is inferior due to their womanhood). Tharthan (talk) 03:41, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

Yeah, I'm not sure there's a consistent difference in the connotations of (bare, uncompounded) lady vs woman, except that lady seems to connote somewhat more formality / higher class. this, in turn, can be used in patronizing ways, or bad come-ons, etc. But then sometimes (many times?) it's more polite! I think I see what Equinox is saying about not addressing a conference with "ladies!" ― I can picture a bro saying that to a group of women, not a dynamic to mimick in a professional conference. OTOH, one would greet an assembly of men and women with "ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to talk to you about X", not "women and (gentle)men, I'm here to...". And I can picture a woman addressing a conference of women by saying "ladies, for too long we have been [etc etc]" and sounding friendly/comradely, not patronizing.
I agree spokeslady would sound weird, like spokesgentleman also would...and I guess it could come off as mockingly faux-"PC", and hence patronizing? But I would want to look at more examples of compounds with "lady" in use in the wild in order to figure out if there's a consistent difference/connotation there — because regarding the other example, I know trans women who've used "trans lady" in conversation, describing themselves or another trans women, without any hint of patronage. - -sche (discuss) 05:54, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

what all[edit]

According to the Microsoft® Encarta® 2009,

what all: U.S. pronoun, something of the same or a similar kind (informal). --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:21, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

Yes, this exists in many dialects; I will finally set about creating (soft redirect) entries—some previous discussion is at Wiktionary:Tea room/2018/July#"what_all_you_can_do". "Who all", "how all", "why all", etc also exist, so probably we should have the actual definition at all like some other dictionaries do. - -sche (discuss) 05:59, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

ten more people/cars vs ten dollars more[edit]

Ngrams show that dollars, unlike people or cars, prefers postmodifying more in sentences such as <{a few - ten} dollars more.>. Yet, the only possible phrase with no is no more dollars. Is this just a coincidence? Is it worth adding to its entry? --Backinstadiums (talk) 19:46, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

Whatever applies to dollar probably also applies to pound, shilling, penny, whatever other currency. I would speculate that this might possibly have something to do with money being fungible and treated as an amount, and not a number of separately counted things. Then I would expect the same to apply for time (a few hours, minutes, seconds). Generally "a few X more" and "a few more X" are interchangeable though. Equinox 19:56, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox: Only some more water is recorded--Backinstadiums (talk) 20:28, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, "some water more" isn't possible, but then "water" (unlike dollars and hours) isn't countable that way. Equinox 20:31, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox: Ngrams only shows <a few more pesos.>. (I added a dot, but without it that phrase is still the preferred one). Therefore, it seems to be a property of dollars. --Backinstadiums (talk) 20:57, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
No, it isn't. English speakers just don't talk about pesos as often as they do about dollars. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:58, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
"Few cents more" (and "ten cents more") and "few pence more" also show preference for "few X more", but as with "dollars", the "few more X" versions are generally 1/2 (or better!) to 1/5 as common, and other corpora also show that the trend is not large: the COCA has 37 instances of "few dollars more" to 34 of "few more dollars", and 3 of "few cents more" to 4 of "few more cents". Even in Google's Ngram corpus, while "few shillings more" historically beat out "few more shillings", it is almost evenly matched now (as is "pesos", especially at high levels of smoothing).
I'm trying to think of other fungible or "amount" things to check. "Coins" and "nickels" apparently refer to discrete physical coins too often for this to hold for them. "Digits", "drops", "years" and "steps" prefer the "few more X" format.
If other reference works have written about this trend, there might be a basis for a usage note at more, but otherwise the tendency might be too slight (and too hard to pin down the scope of) to mention. - -sche (discuss) 03:40, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

English minimal pair words by syllabification[edit]

Are there English minimal pairs created by different syllabification, specifically of lexical words? --Backinstadiums (talk) 02:32, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

Robert Louis Politzer's Linguistics and applied linguistics gives nightrate (one word sic, which might be attested) /naɪt+ret/ vs nitrate /naɪtret/ as one example of a pair distinguished by juncture, and the phrases an aim /ən + eɪm/ vs a name /ə + neɪm/ as another. Our entry on nitrate does say, matching that and my experience, that it's pronounced different from night rate, but factors beyond syllabification seem to also be distinguishing there on the narrow phonetic level, like stress and vowel length and the quality of the /t/. OTOH, this Concise Introduction to Linguistics seems to disclaim the idea that there's any phonemic difference, saying (of night rate) that "in continuous speech the pause is only perceived; it is usually not physically real", and only context distinguishes what is meant.
Bruce Hayes (linguist)'s Introductory Phonology warns that "minimal pairs [...] that differ only in syllabification [...] have in fact been suggested, but only for a very few languages", and this Encyclopedia of language & linguistics similarly says they "are absent altogether in most - if not all - languages, although exceptions to this generalization have been argued to exist (e.g., in Arrernte, see Breen and Pensalfini, 1999)", so it seems unlikely English would have a lexical minimal pair truly distinguished only by syllabification without other distinguishing factors like stress. Kreidler, similarly saying such pairs are rare-to-nonexistent, mentions Ida /ʔáy.da/ vs Aïda /ʔa.iy.da/ as an English near-case, but it seems rather far off the mark, the nitrate example seems closer. - -sche (discuss) 05:06, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
Reminds me of the "four candles" / "fork handles" gag ... Mihia (talk) 18:37, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

as pronoun[edit]

's 2. (Britain, dialectal) Contraction of as. (when it is (nonstandardly) used as a relative pronoun)

However, as does not show any section as a pronoun; is it because only the contraction functions as such? --Backinstadiums (talk) 19:27, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

This does seem like an error; I would expect the contracted and uncontracted forms to have the same POS. Does it correspond to conjunction definition 9 of as: "(now England, US, regional) Functioning as a relative conjunction; that."? Which POS is right? Are we missing pronominal senses of as even if this is not one? Hmm... as has been on my to-do list of entries to overhaul, so I may have a go at it later. - -sche (discuss) 20:11, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
MW has two pronoun senses, but I don't quite believe their glosses. DCDuring (talk) 20:19, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
I've overhauled the entry to "basic English" standards, except without splitting conjunction "that" and pronoun "that" as other dictionaries (old and modern) do. - -sche (discuss) 16:30, 21 March 2019 (UTC)


Concerning sense 2: "(Internet slang, derogatory) An atheist, especially one of obnoxious temperament." I feel like the central characteristic isn't atheism, but pseudo-intellectualism. To me it evokes an image of a (chiefly male) teenager who was just introduced to philosophy or whatever and is sure he has the answers and that everyone needs to bask in his intellect. The atheism, like the MLP/Rick and Morty thing, seems like something that stereotypically accompanies it.__Gamren (talk) 20:30, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

I agree. - -sche (discuss) 20:34, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
It's a loose synonym of neckbeard — but our entry has a miserable definition there that needs improvement as well. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 01:08, 20 March 2019 (UTC)
Was also going to say it's the same as a neckbeard. Equinox 07:02, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
Both terms would benefit from attestation. DCDuring (talk) 15:33, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
I changed "atheist" to "pseudointellectual" per the above, and revised the definition to "a self-important or obnoxious pseudointellectual". I crosslinked [[fedora]] and [[neckbeard]] and revised the latter to "a self-important, socially inept nerd". Is this an improvement? If not, please undo or revise further. Should "fedora" also say "socially inept"? Should "neckbeard" say "usually with poor grooming"? Should either/both say "often misogynistic" or is that incidental like atheism? - -sche (discuss) 18:05, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
Definitely an improvement. I think "neckbeard" should say "usually with poor grooming", since it's the etymology. "Self-important" seems like a specific flavour of "socially inept". I'm not sure how essential the misogyny is, maybe if you qualified it with "sometimes" instead?__Gamren (talk) 15:45, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
  • I could not find attestation at Google Groups. I've RfVed it. OTOH neckbeard seems attestable in roughly the Internet slang sense. DCDuring (talk) 17:58, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

Pronunciation of chordadier[edit]

An anonymous user just added the IPA here, and I'm not sure if it's correct. Specifically, is this really pronounced with an initial /k/? /x/ seems much more likely to me, as that's the phoneme that's normally used for the Greek equivalent. —Rua (mew) 22:00, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

Pinging other recently-active Dutch speakers @DrJos, Lingo Bingo Dingo, Morgengave. - -sche (discuss) 18:13, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
We use the /x/. --DrJos (talk) 07:51, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
I would say /ˈxɔr.daːˌdiːr/, but I have never heard this word pronounced so I cannot say for sure. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 07:52, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
That's the right way: the same sound as the -ch- in lachen. --DrJos (talk) 08:46, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
One should expect this to be like the pronunciation /ˌxɔr.doːˈfoːn/ of chordofoon.  --Lambiam 20:20, 23 March 2019 (UTC)

BRCA /'bra:ka/[edit]

I'm not sure how BRCA is pronounced (minute 0:40) --Backinstadiums (talk) 00:53, 20 March 2019 (UTC)

Is there any reason not to include it? --Backinstadiums (talk) 00:28, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

New page request[edit]

Wiktionary:About Vietnamese. Doesn't really fit within the scope of WT:RE, so here seems like the most logical place to dump it. Johnny Shiz (talk) 21:24, 20 March 2019 (UTC)

"She had something the matter with her back"[edit]

This entry in Longman has taught me new things; I'd never encountered such sentences as "Is there anything the matter?", "I know something’s the matter" or "Nothing’s the matter" before.

The last sentence especially is interesting to me: how would you parse "She had something the matter with her back"? chignonbunпучок 21:39, 20 March 2019 (UTC)

It seems like a fossilization of matter ("problem, difficulty") with and therefore there is quite possibly an idiom in there somewhere. The "problem, difficulty" sense is a specialization of the meaning "state of things/affairs", negative states of affairs being more commonly discussed than positive ones.
I imagine it offered as an answer to a question like: "What was the matter/the problem/wrong with her?" "She had something the matter/*the problem/wrong with her back." MWOnline has a run-in definition of the matter ("wrong"). I'd say we need an entry for the matter to cover this. DCDuring (talk) 23:39, 20 March 2019 (UTC)
There had been an RFD on the matter in 2016, hastily closed (10 days). No one brought up that MWOnline, Oxford(US), and Cambridge Advanced Learners all have entries. The nonsubstitutability of the definitions of matter thought to cover this was waved away as irrelevant because of "ellipsis". DCDuring (talk) 00:01, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: Thank you, this is very interesting. ChignonПучок 12:55, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

According to "Practical English Usage":

We use the matter (with) after something, anything, nothing and what. It means ‘wrong (with)’. Something’s the matter with my foot. Is anything the matter? Nothing's the matter with the car - you ’re just a bad driver. What’s the matter with Frank today? There is often used as a 'preparatory subject’ There's something the m atter w ith the TV. Is there anything the matter? (see also page 1394 of Cambridge Grammar of the English Language) --Backinstadiums (talk) 00:28, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

Does [[the matter]] pass muster? DCDuring (talk) 00:33, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: For the usage note, I'd add the brief info. in the page page 1394 of Cambridge Grammar of the English Language --Backinstadiums (talk) 00:38, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

can /k/ : Can we /Kwi/[edit]

Can anybody confirm this? --Backinstadiums (talk) 00:36, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

I know that I speak one of the more traditional dialects in the country, but nevertheless some of this seems particularly regional/dependent on the area (such as pronouncing water as /ˈwɑɾɚ/). Pronouncing can we as /kwi/ seems doubtful, at least outside of extremely rustic/very lazy and slurred speech. /kʰn̩ˈwi/, yes, but not /kwi/. Thinking about it, the closest to that that I might potentially hear in the laziest speech (that is not extremely rustic) would be (forgive the transcription) /kʰˈwi/, or something like that. But /kwi/ seems like something that one would only really ever potentially hear in the speech of those who lived in, well... "especially dilapidated sections of a city". Now, I'm not trying to be rude when I say that. I'm merely making an observation. Coming from such a place does not in any way guarantee that an individual will speak in any particular way in that sense, but that isn't my point in this instance. What I'm trying to say is that I could only envision hearing /kwi/ by speakers of a particularly broad dialect associated with such a place.
"In American English, words are not pronounced one by one."
Oh really? That's interesting, because that completely goes against my personal experience. I find it particularly amusing that it doesn't even say "not usually" or something like that. It just declares that words are simply not pronounced one by one. If they mean to say "Sometimes, depending upon the circumstances and the particular speaker, words ‘flow’" or something like that, then fine. But the statement as it is given there (if we take it as an absolute) is false.
"Usually, the end of one word attaches to the beginning of the next word."
There is truth to this, although I think that it would be more accurate to say "in many cases" instead of "usually".
"They tell me the dime easier to understand.
They tell me that I'm easier to understand.
The last two sentences above should be pronounced exactly the same, no matter how they are written. It is the sound that is important, not the spelling."
...What? That last bit is not true. I mean, we're not illiterate people (well, I hope that most of us aren't, anyway)!
["actually" being pronounced /ˈæ(.)tʃə.li/]
...No. /ˈæk.(t)ʃə.li/, yes, but not /ˈæ(.)tʃə.li/.
In essence, this is the perfect example of why people ought not to write books telling people that don't know much about English in the United States that there is a foolproof way to speak United States English properly ("How does one speak United States English properly?" does not really have one complete answer, by the way), especially if they are not native speakers of English in general.
...Anyway, this is just my take. Keep in mind that I, again, speak a particularly traditional dialect (and a particularly cultivated form of that dialect as well [Don't get me wrong, I don't speak like some stereotypical aristocrat or anything like that. I think very highly of language, not of myself {although I do judge others too much, I will say}. I just try to speak well, 's all.]) Perhaps others could offer their takes as well. Tharthan (talk) 02:25, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
@Tharthan: I've recently heard /kʰ/ with the first singular pronoun. Should we add such reduction to the entry can? --Backinstadiums (talk) 09:51, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
That's fine, but I really think that we need to see a citation for something like that if we were to add it. Do you think that you could provide something like that? Tharthan (talk) 17:59, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

daren't past time reference[edit]

Accroding to the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, "daren’t is used occasionally in ordinary past time contexts (Kim daren’t tell them so I had to do it myself).

I've just come across such an use in The Simpsons, Season 29 Episode 15, minute 18:33. Therefore, I'd add a note about it in its entry --Backinstadiums (talk) 00:52, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

Do you have a link to the video? DCDuring (talk) 02:38, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring, Prosfilaes: here --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:35, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
I've used DVD subtitles for citations. I'd rather avoid using user-made transcripts, as that involves more personal interpretation.--Prosfilaes (talk) 08:01, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
In context that is not unambiguously a past tense IMO. DCDuring (talk) 11:50, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

.::@DCDuring: Anyway, the mention in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language is authoritative enough, isn't it? --Backinstadiums (talk) 12:04, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

I can see using the scholarly grammars as references or "Further reading" as well as to guide our minds. I can't see them as substitutes for quotations exhibiting the usage, no matter how hard it may be to find such quotations. DCDuring (talk) 12:17, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

Category:Translingual reference templates includes Template:R:APWeb?[edit]

This template is categorized in Category:Taxonomy reference templates (ie, by subject matter, along with some 50 other templates) and in Category:Translingual reference templates.

The website this template refers to includes a great deal of running English text and no running text in any other language. It does not have any translations into normal languages, ie, vernacular names. It discusses taxonomic names, the organism characteristics that lead biologists to put organisms in one taxonomic entity or another, and the relationships of the names to each other. Is what makes Translingual the appropriate category only that the subject matter is names that Wiktionary calls Translingual? If Category:Taxonomy reference templates is made a subcategory of Category:Translingual reference templates, is there any need for each template to also appear in the latter category? DCDuring (talk) 02:37, 21 March 2019 (UTC)


Why do we classify instances of -'s which are contractions of is and has (etc) as being a ===Suffix===, but classify instances of -'s which are contractions of us as being a ===Pronoun===, by extension from which I also classified the contracted conjunction under ===Conjnction===? Should the former have a ===Verb=== header instead or should the latter two have a ===Suffix=== header or is this difference desirable? - -sche (discuss) 16:34, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

I'd think that we'd want all of those to be uniformly suffixes.
Grouping the definitions by part of speech might be educational.
IMO, it would also be useful to hard-categorize [[-'s]] into the various part-of-speech categories and possibly into any finer grammatical categories inherited from the words of which -s is a contraction.
Also, I hope -s appears as alternative form on [[is]], [[as]], [[does]], etc. DCDuring (talk) 16:57, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
OK, done. - -sche (discuss) 03:09, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
Hmmm. Is it really an alternative form? Or is it a synonym? Or should it just be mentioned in a usage note? I suppose we could do a little reading so that we could specify the permitted collocations and usage contexts. Biber's grammar has frequency information for this kind of thing, because it is sufficiently common so that meaningful frequencies in different medium-sized corpora are possible.
This is the kind of thing that one learns fairly easily by ear. Does attentive reading help? How would one learn by intense study?
In any event, this entry looks much better. DCDuring (talk) 10:58, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
Biber doesn't provide much except that -'s is more common in speech than is after wh- question words. DCDuring (talk) 21:04, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

POS and labelling of "as" meaning "that"[edit]

We label the use of as to mean that as a conjunction and "(now especially England and US)". Some uses do seem dialectal, like "I don't reckon as that's very likely" (which seems like something a Southern or Western US-er would say), or "it’s father as calls me Sissy" (which some references consider a pronoun, btw); the related sense at -'s was labelled a pronoun until I harmonized it with as, and is still labelled as British. But other sentences seem like they'd be cromulent in standard English, like "He had the same problem as she did getting the lock open." Is a sentence like that really dialectal? If not, should the "regional" labels be removed? (And should some or all instances be considered a conjunction, or a pronoun?) - -sche (discuss) 16:51, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

Yes, it seems as they are not purely dialectal, possibly merely informal. DCDuring (talk) 17:03, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
OK, I removed the regional labels (in various references it is said to be found in UK dialects / England, in New England, the Midland US, the Southern US, and the Western US, but some usexes seem fine in standard Englishes). - -sche (discuss) 03:08, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
So, in the US, not so much in Hawaii and Alaska, and the Middle Atlantic? I'll see if DARE has any info. I have the volume that would have it. DCDuring (talk) 11:02, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
DARE has it in regional speech, but not concentrated anywhere in particular in the 20th century, tho not represented in the West when the West was a smaller % of US population than now. DCDuring (talk) 21:01, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
Did you come up with any other examples of "as = that" in standard modern English, other than the "same ~ as ~" case? I wonder whether this might just be a special case resulting from the collocation "same as". Mihia (talk) 18:53, 23 March 2019 (UTC)
Some probably-durably-archived court cases (findable by google) use "(raised|raising) the identical issue as he does (here|now|etc)", though occasional use of a synonym for "same" is not the strongest evidence, and the use seems intermediate between meaning "that" and something else. FWIW, regarding both POS and labelling:
  • Dictionary.com has a usex analogous to my "I don't reckon as that's very likely" sentence classed as a conjunction, labelled only "informal", while they have a usex analogous to the "same problem" one classified as a pronoun with no restrictive regional or register-related label.
  • Merriam-Webster has a "same problem"-type usex as a pronoun (along with a quotation from Shakespeare about medlars), and no relevant conjunction sense AFAIS.
  • Century has a "same problem"-type usex and Dickens' "the box as stands in the first fire-place" as a pronoun, putting it in same definition ("that, who, which") as "such a result as that" and Milton's "such a fear as loves not", which however seems clearly distinct (the definition is not substitutable AFAICT). However, they do point to Shakespeare's "show of love as I was wont to have" and "hard conditions, as this time is like to lay upon us" which seem in-between use to mean "that" and the use they define as conjunction sense 4 (q.v., for which their usex is "so many examples as filled xv. bookes").
  • The EDD also has as as a relative pronoun, quoting uses like "Ready to kiss the ground as the missis trod on".
It's also discussed as a pronoun here and (in Appalachian) here. Should this be added? Is it distinguishable from the conjunction?
- -sche (discuss) 19:31, 23 March 2019 (UTC)


At least according to this: https://www.wildmadagascar.org/people/malagasy-english.html the word "mangina" means 'quiet' in Malagasy. I would have added it myself if the page wasn't blocked from editing. 18:09, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

I can also find this in several other dictionaries, both old dead-tree ones and modern ones, so: added. - -sche (discuss) 18:20, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

Latino/a, Latina/o[edit]

These are attested (Citations:Latino/a, Citations:Latina/o), but are they words / should we include them? On one hand, the set of words that can be combined this way might be fairly large (I can also find Mexicana/o(s) and Chicana/o(s), non-Spanish words like alumnus/a + alumna/us, and also compounds like congressman/woman, congresswoman/man and spokesman/woman which might constitute a different kind of thing). On other hand, they function like single words like s/he (especially when pluralized as Latino/as + Latina/os rather than Latinos/as + Latinas/os which are also attested), unlike e.g. "blue/green" wich a reader could figure out to look up as "blue / green". - -sche (discuss) 20:34, 21 March 2019 (UTC)


At lime we have, under the respective definitions for the two types of tree, the following usage notes:

Both this and the citrus are trees with fragrant flowers, but this is more temperate and the citrus is more tropical and subtropical. Outside of Europe and adjoining parts of Asia, the citrus sense is much more common.
Both this and the linden are trees with fragrant flowers, but the linden is more temperate and this is more tropical and subtropical. Outside of Europe and adjoining parts of Asia, this sense is much more common.

I can't figure out what this is trying to say. Surely one sense of the English word "lime" can be more common than another only in English-speaking countries, and most of "Europe and adjoining parts of Asia" is not made up of English-speaking countries. Does it make sense to anyone else? Mihia (talk) 23:35, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

The idea is probably the mundane one that English-speaking individuals, when in different environments, refer to different kinds of trees when using the word lime. DCDuring (talk) 00:33, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

somebody is about to get their asses kicked[edit]

I've just come across the sentence somebody is about to get their asses kicked, South Park S19E08, minute 0:42. I thought the agreement of singular they was not tranferred to the noun governed by the possessive. --Backinstadiums (talk) 01:00, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

In formal usage one would definitely not say that. DCDuring (talk) 01:42, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
Not really correct: suggests the person has two (or more!) "asses". I suppose the confusion arises from singular "they/their". Equinox 10:28, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure that this kind of departure from the new prescribed grammar of they/them/their will last for a while in this and other expressions. How long until it'll be OK to say They is/was/has/gets/goes/sees etc? DCDuring (talk) 11:06, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox: According to Practical English Usage: the distributive plural is used To talk about several people each doing the same thing, a plural noun for the repeated idea Tell the kids to bring raincoats to school tomorrow. Plural forms are almost always used in this case if there are possessives: Tell the children to blow their noses; Six people lost their lives in the accident. --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:57, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
Yes. I'm saying that "their" usually refers to several people, and inflects accordingly ("they are" even if it's a singular "they"), so a careless writer might get mixed up and use a plural noun like that. Equinox 20:30, 22 March 2019 (UTC)


The definition that we give is as follows:

1. A rock which has become wedged in a vertical fissure or cleft.

This is somewhat unsatisfactory, because of the ambiguity of the word rock here. Is rock meant in the traditional sense of boulder, or in the contemporary sense of stone of any size?

EDIT: Out of curiosity, I have checked the Collins English Dictionary definition of this word, and not only is the word stone used where we use rock, but within the definition is the line "[i]t may vary in size from a pebble to a large boulder".

If this is indeed the case, then I am of the opinion that our definition needs to be changed in order to reflect what is actually the case. Tharthan (talk) 19:56, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

According to Wikipedia’s article Nut (climbing), a chockstone is a metal wedge. Is that wrong?  --Lambiam 19:57, 23 March 2019 (UTC)
My guess would be that that's a separate, extended sense. - -sche (discuss) 20:28, 23 March 2019 (UTC)
A quick Google Image search confirms that this can refer to pieces of rock larger than adult humans, and also to some kind of metal-looking implement which is probably the one Lambiam mentioned. google books:"chockstone the size of" turns up "...a large bus tire" and "...a large exercise ball"; google books:"chockstone as big as" turns up "...a house" and "...a small car". "Tiny chockstone" also gets a hit, so I assume the other dictionary mentioned is right that it can also refer to small ones - -sche (discuss) 20:36, 23 March 2019 (UTC)