Wiktionary:Tea room/2007/January

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Tea room archives edit


morphing of word meaning

I am wanting to find the word that is used to describe the process by which the meaning of a word changes over time. For example, the word "gay" used to mean "happy, lighthearted, etc." and now is predominantly used to indicate an alternate lifestyle. What word can be used to describe the morphing of the meaning of a word over time? —This comment was unsigned.

I call that the linguistic evolution (of a term) but there probably is a shorter way to say it. --Connel MacKenzie 20:08, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
It's not shorter, but I would probably talk about semantic change in that case. Widsith 10:02, 3 January 2007 (UTC)


Hi, i would like to know what this word means and where we use it. Please let me know how to deal with the word? —This comment was unsigned.

Bobbet? Misspelling of Bobbitt? --Connel MacKenzie 20:05, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

is the word yours, singular or plural?

is yours singular or plural? —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 21:26, 2 January 2007 (UTC).

It could be either. For example:
I have a car that is really cool.
Yes. Yours is better than mine. Singular
I have a few cars that are really cool.
Yes. Yours are better than mine. Plural
I hope this helps! Soliloquial 21:32, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

Translation of a Christmas wish

I would like to know exactly how this phrase translates in Slovak if you can help.

Vesele' Vianoce a vel'a st'astia v novom roku!

That's "Merry Christmas and many (? st'astia) in the new year." I don't know what sťastia means, though, and it's not in my Slovak dictionary, at least not in that form. --EncycloPetey 05:12, 4 January 2007 (UTC)
Merry Christmas and much happiness in the new year! — V-ball 19:34, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

lambda calculus

Etymology tagged two years ago as needing verification. DAVilla 04:43, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

I think the current tag for that is {rfe} or {etystub} -- I'm not sure which one gets actively cleared. --EncycloPetey 04:54, 4 January 2007 (UTC)
Google shows that 28k of the 862k hits for "lamda calculus" are linked with "Alonzo Church" and a sample of these confirm the etymology. Saltmarsh 13:11, 4 January 2007 (UTC)
Lambda calculus is a subfield of computability theory studied first by Alonzo Church. The "strong linking" to him is because most places which discuss computability theory include historical notes, and there Dr. Church is a hero of the calibre of Alan Turing. The main application of Lambda Calculus is to obtain a nice definition of computable functions. In the early 20th century this was a big deal, people wanted to rigorously define a function which can be computed by an algorithm. Many attempts were made, including the lambda calculus one. The amazing thing, which was the starting point of computability theory, is the fact that all the definitions were discovered to define the same functions: that is, a function is lambda calculus computable if and only if it is Turing machine computable if and only if it is recursive if and only if it is unlimited register machine computable, etc. The reason lambda calculus isn't very widely known today is that most literature on computable functions uses Turing machines or recursiveness. But lambda calculus most CERTAINLY is an English word!
Um, right, it's a subject that I studied in school, and have revisited since, incidentally, while exploring combinators. But the question wasn't about the legitimacy of the term, only the etymology. In other words, aside from the heroicism of Church and regardless of the invention, did he actually coin the term? For illustration, the inventors of the ATM, ski-ball, and Smell-o-Vision had given their inventions names that are not widely known today. DAVilla 17:30, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Whether and How to do linking of multiple meaning words

I am from Marathi Language Wiktionary.I came across a typical problem about Interwiki Linking.At Mr wiki we have created a new article pronouncing some thing like meL'aa(मेळा),this word corresponds to english word Fair with meaning of socio/cultuaral community gathering.But English word Fair has another wellknown meaning a person having light color skin;and Marathi language word has no simillarity in meaning in this respect.

I have following questions in my mind

  • Whether to do Interwiktionary Linking of such words?
  • If yes then how to avoid further mistaken linking by any person or Bot in some other language wiktionary or wiki?

I am not sure whether this forum allows to ask this question, but hope some body will assist me.

BTW.Happy New Year to everyone in this forum and en wiktionary. mr:User:Mahitgar Mahitgar 12:57, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

On Wiktionary, we attach interwiki links only to identical entries. So मेळा (on mr.Wiktionary) links only to मेळा (on en.Wiktionary). It should not link to fair unless you are linking the word fair (from mr) as a page or in a translation table. Also note that the English Wiktionary is case-sensitive. If you link to a capitalized entry here, it is more likely to be German than English. --EncycloPetey 14:11, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

On en.wiktionary, the section fair#Translations is where the term is clarified, as well as मेळा. On the मेळा entry, enter a gloss to indicate which meaning is intended. If you are so inclined, please help us with Category:Translations to be checked (Marathi). --Connel MacKenzie 17:41, 4 January 2007 (UTC)
Lot of thanks to EncycloPetey and Connel MacKenziefor very helpfull tips I will certainly help in clearing Category:Translations to be checked (Marathi) time to time , besides I will include a link to this category on Marathi Wiktionary. Mahitgar 11:41, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Incidentally, it might be worth having an entry for this word in English wiktionary too, as in it is widely used in the UK, spelled "mela", to denote fairs or gatherings organised by/for the South Asian community.

Pronunciation of sanger

We've had a request for pronunciation for this word for some time. I would gladly add the IPA pronunciation, except that I don't know whether the Aussies who use the word rhyme it with banger or longer, and I don't know whether or not they pronounce the final r. Are there any folks from down under who can help out? --EncycloPetey 05:45, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

It rhmyes with banger. The R is pronounced, but not too strongly like a UK person might.--Dmol 22:04, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, I'll add the IPA then. --EncycloPetey 23:23, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
The bracketed r is unsatisfactory, as it suggests that the r is optionally pronounced. Is standard Australian English rhotic or not? If so, use /ˈsæŋɚ/; if not, use /ˈsæŋə/. The Macquarie Dictionary might help. — Paul G 14:58, 17 May 2007 (UTC)
Aha: w:Australian_English#Phonology says "Australian English is a non-rhotic dialect." So the bracket (r) does not belong - I'll delete it. — Paul G 15:00, 17 May 2007 (UTC)


What do the words hareidim and hareidi (or haredi, however it's spelt) mean? From the context (an article discussing life in Israel and one's relations to one's secular neighbours) I assume they're Yiddish / Hebrew. -- Beobach972 21:04, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

To clarify, I'm asking here and not at the Requested Translations page because the words are used, without quotation marks or italics, in the middle of English-language documents and therefore appear to be English, just 'Yiddish-English' / 'Hebrew-English'. Beobach972 03:56, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
It's haredi, plural haredim (Hebrew חֲרֵדִי), literally God-fearing, and widely used for ultraorthodox Judaism. 15:50, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

kyros and chronos

I've heard "kyros" contrasted with "chronos" in that a "chronology" may describe a timeline, but "kyros" gives events significance because of the context in which they occured. I'm not sure how accurate that is. Can anyone help clarify?

Another meaning of loquacious?

I was pulling quotes to illustrate the meaning of loquacious, when I came across the following quotes that don't seem to fit the definition:

  • 1794Charlotte Smith, The Banished Man, vol I, ch 5
    The women were loquacious in his praise; and while they spoke of his merits, did not forget to dwell on his personal beauty.
  • 1836Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, ch 16
    Beg your pardon, sir,’ said Sam, suddenly breaking off in his loquacious discourse.
  • 1837-39Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, ch 30
    With many loquacious assurances that they would be agreeably surprised in the aspect of the criminal, the doctor drew the young lady's arm through one of his;

I've looked in the OED, and even there loquacious is defined as "given to much talking; talkative". All the quotes included there clearly apply to a trait or action of a speaker and not the speech. All the other dictionaries I've consulted have treated this word the same way. The definition usually given in dictionaried does not seem to apply properly to the quotations above. Granted, the first one is only a bit of a stretch to fit, but there seems to be an aspect here of a particular instance of talking, rather than an ongoing character trait. The second quote above uses loquacious to describe a discourse rather than a person. This may have been Dickens' first novel, but I still think we can credit he was being neither carelessly redundant nor silly in saying "loquacious discourse". Likewise, the third quote applies the term toward describing speech, rather than speaker.

So, does the OED2 have anything, or have we found an old definition that was missed? Opinions? --EncycloPetey 07:12, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Well done -- you've found a definition that was missed. OED2+ (unchanged for this entry from OED2) only has the definitions "Given to much talking; talkative" and by transference, "of birds, water, or the like: Chattering, babbling". However, some of their cites (while not as clear as yours) fit your proposed definition as well as, or better than theirs.
  • 1667 MILTON P.L. x. 161 To whom sad Eve..Confessing soon, yet not before her Judge Bold or loquacious, thus abasht repli'd.
  • 1888 BARRIE When a Man's Single (1900) 66/2 For a moment the water was loquacious as..punts shot past.
  • 1901 Longm. Mag. June 152 Abel, in an unusually loquacious mood, repeated his question.
Incidentally, the last two are their most recent cites, so as far as they're concerned it is a current usage. I have also found a 1971 cite [1] with your usage, and arguably a 1981 cite [2].
Although Dickens was highly talented, we must remember that Pickwick Papers was written serialised to a monthly deadline, and he was poorly paid by a magazine which struggled financially. It is unlikely that he had the leisure to look up a dictionary to see if he was extending previous usage of a word. The meaning was clear, the word read well, so he used it. Oliver Twist was written under similar constraints. --Enginear 19:46, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

antonym for virgin?

Can anyone think of an antonym for virgin? RJFJR 17:30, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

For the noun or the adjective? For what sense, and what aspect of the sense? --EncycloPetey 18:30, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
noun, sense 1: a person who has yet to have intercourse. I can't think of a term I'd want to use in polite company. RJFJR 19:38, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
Just thought of an answer: non-virgin. RJFJR 20:12, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I can't think of any terms that fill the space between virgin and veteran. --EncycloPetey 20:39, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
Wikisaurus:promiscuous woman? --Connel MacKenzie 20:14, 11 January 2007 (UTC)
Thesaurus.com lists defiled, sullied, and used as antonyms, but those all imply a pretty negative view of sex. A more positive euphemism might be experienced? Though that goes too far too. It's unlikely, but unchaste could possibly be interpreted as "no longer practicing abstinence". --Interiot 22:11, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Isn't a faithful married person still chaste, while no longer a virgin? Joe Webster 10:04, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

If some common-sense Czech langauage-based knowledge is to some help I would say "a woman".


I just wrote the entry for this word, and an issue came up that I don't quite know how to deal with. Since Ancient Greek prepositions take on (albeit slightly) different meanings based on which case the object is in, what format should this follow? I chose one, but I don't think it looks very pretty, and it certainly doesn't make clear what's going on to someone who isn't aware of this fact about prepositions. Does anyone have any ideas on how to do this better? Cerealkiller13 00:14, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

PS: I'm well aware that most of the other Ancient Greek prepositions are shit right now, I'll get to them. Cerealkiller13 00:18, 11 January 2007 (UTC)
I've seen a good format used on entries before, but can't remember where I saw it. Ah! there's a simple example for the Polish preposition do. I'll format the περί page the way I've seen it done before, and you see what you think. --EncycloPetey 00:19, 11 January 2007 (UTC)
That looks beautiful; I'll use that format from now on. Thanks very much. Cerealkiller13 00:31, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

affect or effect?

Can someone please clear this matter up for my colleague and I!!

Which sentence is correct:

Environmental & asset tax issues – how the latest changes effect you

Environmental & asset tax issues – how the latest changes affect you

I think it's the latter, but I need to be sure.

thank you

affect is correct. effect is usually a noun, as a verb "effect a result". DAVilla 15:04, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Thank you - much appreciated!!

People switch these all the time. They can get away with it because the two words sound the same in most speech and you can almost always tell the difference from context. We know that the new tax laws are not going to cause you to happen, and a hurricane will not have a strong emotion on the shoreline. Worse, they're both words, so a spell checker won't help you, and affect means about the same as have an effect on. I agree that it's best to be careful in writing these two words. Use the wrong one and people will think you don't know what you're saying. -dmh 07:44, 15 January 2007 (UTC)


any comments on Richard Dawkins's 'The God Illusion'?

Does it use atheism in any novel sense? Otherwise, it's not particularly germane -dmh 22:24, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
I heard him speak on NPR. Interesting guy. I'm not a big reader though. DAVilla 17:34, 2 February 2007 (UTC)


There are currently seven definitions listed. I have read and re-read them, and the citations for them. I can't see how this is justified as more than one single definition. --Connel MacKenzie 21:05, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

As the note second note mentions ("The word 'anarchy' is, by an overwhelming margin, not used as anarchists use it"), there are at least two definitions... 1) disorder (the most common), 2) anarchism (which is actually intended to result in order instead of disorder). --Interiot 21:45, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
Yep. I added a screed on the talk page. Here's a somewhat toned-down version (I've removed it from the talk page):
I just added some cites, re-ordered the list of definitions, and added a counter-note to the existing usage note.
The definitions still need work. There appear to be several main classes of senses to this word:
  • All hell breaking loose as societal structures break down. This appears to be the overwhelmingly prevalent sense. An intersting example is The Anarchy of King Stephen's Reign. Clearly there was a king and a government.
  • Rebellion against authority and societal norms (Anarchy in the UK, for a famous example).
  • A technical definition of lack of imposed structure or governing authority. This sense is fairly neutral in itself. A major philosophical debate has raged for centuries over whether this is a good or a bad thing.
  • Informally, a situation in which people are free to do their own thing. This tends to connote a healthy, creative degree of chaos on a small scale. E.g., dinnertime in a large, boistrous family, or the environment in a pre-IPO startup.
  • The anarcho-syndicalist sense of an ideal self-policing society in which everyone does the Right Thing to sufficient extent that there is no need for centralized power structures like police forces and formal legislative bodies.
From a wiktionary point of view, the last category suffers from problems of independence. Generally when the term is used in those senses, it is accompanied by quite a bit of prose explaining exactly what is meant, why the more commonly-held senses are inappropriate, what anarchy "really" means, and so forth. In my experience, anarchists (in the sense of those who wish to create such an ideal society) quickly learn that they can't assume that others share their understanding of the term.
To me this is a big red flag indicating that the "ideal society" sense is not a commonly understood sense, and so should not be given as a definition without some explanation. This should state that the sense is not commonly used outside a specialized group, and use in such senses is liable to be misunderstood by the general populace. Kind of like the pedantic sense of decimate, except that the utopian sense of "anarchy" is quite a bit more current.
In terms of WT:CFI, the chances that someone would run across "anarchy" in the utopian sense and want to know what it meant are fairly low. More likely, the person using the word in that sense will go ahead and tell them what they mean by it. However, it can't be ruled out entirely, and it's easy to demonstrate use in that sense. The definition should appear, but with a disclaimer.
From what I can tell, the list of definitions and particularly the usage note given were an attempt to make sure that utopian senses are included. Fair enough, but without the context that the non-utopian senses are ovewhelmingly common, it gives a misleading impression. In any case, the definitions need to be tied to actual use, not preconcieved notions of what the word might (or ought to) mean. -dmh 22:23, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
Right, but what I was getting at, is that the first four definitions you list are really all different levels of the same thing. Therefore, the first definition should be reworded to be inclusive of the other three (with examples/citations showing shades of meaning, that truly are not distinct.) Otherwise, we'd be encouraging "splitter" anarchy, the end result being total confusion when looking up a translation. --Connel MacKenzie 22:39, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
I think the five main senses I listed above are probably distinct enough to warrant separate definitions. Interesting you should mention translation, by the way. In my experience one of the best indications that senses are separate is whether they translate differently. For example, the distinction in Spanish ser vs. estar is very good evidence that English be has (at least) two separate senses. It's not the only indication, of course. It's a sufficient condition, but not a necessary one.
There are clearly at least two senses: chaos/disorder vs. lack of central authority. For example, "orderly anarchy" gets 300 hits, including "Despite this, the Internet is an orderly anarchy." So anarchy doesn't always mean "chaos and disorder". Conversely, the "anarchy of King Stephen's reign" makes it clear that anarchy in the sense of chaos and disorder does not preclude a government or even a monarch.
The rest need a bit more research. Do advocates of peaceful anarchy use anarchy simply to mean "lack of central control" or such and then argue that such a condition can be orderly and beneficial, or do they posit this and consistently use anarchy to mean "orderly anarchy"? Perhaps they use a phrase like "true anarchy" to denote the peaceful outcome, in which case anarchy is OK as it stands but true anarchy would be idiomatic and need a separate entry.
Similarly, do punk anarchists use anarchy to mean acts of rebelion in general? How about the anarchy in a startup? Many such environments are basically authoritarian, in that a small group of founders calls the shots (and many are more anarchic in the stricter sense), but in either case anarchy doesn't connote complete chaos or complete lack of authority. Ditto, say, for the noisy dinner table where the paterfamilias can call the whole thing to a halt at any moment (but generally doesn't). I tend to think this is distnct enough for a separate definition.
Whatever else we do, can we at least get rid of the usage notes? The first one is just a plug for a particular point of view. I might as well add "As most people use it, anarchy evokes Hobbes's assesment of ungoverned life as poor, nasty, brutish, and short." The second note should be removed at least until we have a good handle on what the sense are and how prevalent each is. Has Wiktionary standardized on how to mark prevalence while I was away? -dmh 04:03, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, they are all very similar, and some I would think could be listed as this-or-that. But only one definition? They are identical insofar as chaos, mutiny, a power void, and liberty all mean the exact same thing. Maybe I should change the definition of chaos to "an organized rebellion against a legally constituted authority". DAVilla 06:35, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
Their's no way this word can have 7 definitions, definitions four and seven are basically the same thing. Anarchy has two definitions; a derogatory one and a non derogatory one, and here they are;

1 (non derogatory) The state of statelessness, the state of a society being under the principles of anarchism and spontaneous order.

2 (derogatory) A chaotic state of a society with no governing body.

That's how I believe "anarchy" should be defined^^. Rather than having 7 definitions, some derogative, some not, some that are repeated, and some that are closer to being opinions rather than facts. My two definitions pretty much cover it all. I don't think their's 7 wide views of anarchy. Also the second usage note is useless, anarchy is not actually overwhelmed by it's derogative and if it was the readers would know that. Their's no point in saying one usage is more popular than the other, if a word has more than one usage one is always more popular than the other but that's never indicated in the definitions, why should it be here? Having said that, the popularity of a words's uses can easily change, political strife could easily cause anarchy to be widely excepted as a political philosophy, rather than just chaos. These definitions need to be changed desperately. Randy6767 21:36, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree that the present list is a mess, for essentially the reasons you give. However, if you want to include (2), you need
3 (laudatory) A harmonious state of [a] society with no governing body.
The word is used in this sense (OK, so I haven't hunted up a citation, but work with me here).
I agree that in most cases the relative frequency isn't worth noting. Generally senses are well enough separated that there's little room for confusion. We don't need to know whether "little creepy-crawly thing" is more common than "software error" as a meaning for bug. But there are a few cases — decimate and hacker are others — where people have strong opinions about the "correct" meaning of a word, and may insist on a lesser-used meaning where most people would expect a different one.
A good indicator of this is whether people feel moved to include a usage note pushing for their interpretation, which is exactly what happened here. In such a case, there needs to be a usage note. Experience has shown that if you take it out, another will soon grow in its place. The most stable solution seems to be to include all the senses as definitions and include a usage note about, well, how the word is actually used. Typically the sense that usage noters dislike is overwhelmingly common, and this needs to be pointed out. Someone naively using the rare-but-advocated sense runs a significant risk of being misunderstood. This is one of the main reasons to have a dictionary in the first place.
I don't think that we need to distinguish between "political" chaos and plain chaos. I also don't see how "self-government" could have been a valid definition. Compare:
  • After the civil war, the country descended into political chaos and disorder
  • After the civil war, the country descended into anarchy
sounds reasonable to me, but
  • After a long struggle for independence, the country finally attained self-government.
  • After a long struggle for independence, the country finally attained anarchy.
seems quite wrong.
However, Stephen G. Brown has defended this as a valid definiton. Perhaps he'd like to advocate for it here. -dmh 01:28, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
  • I have not read all of Dmh's VERY LENGTHY missives, but I wish to say:
horse feathers

to the notion that separate translations imply, (or enforce!!!) separate, distinct meanings in English. --Connel MacKenzie 03:31, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

So if a given English word can be translated as two distinct words with distinct meanings in some other language, that's not evidence that the word has two meanings? -dmh 16:06, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
Let's see. cousin in English is in Arabic:
Still one word with one meaning in English ;-) Robert Ullmann 16:17, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
None of those translates English cousin. English cousin means (more or less) "anyone with a grandparent in common". If I say "Richard is my cousin", you don't asume that, say, he's the son of my paternal aunt. Similarly German Geschwister translates neither as sisters or brothers. -dmh 16:43, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

Quibbles aside, here's an example of what I had in mind. English at can translate into Dutch as op, bij, om and probably some others. But there's a consistent pattern. It's not the case that you can use any of op, bij or om any place you see at. For example, "at two o'clock" is "op twee uur" and not "bij twee uur". That strongly suggests that at as in at two o'clock is distinct from at as in at the dentist's (which I didn't try to translate because I can't remember what's right in Dutch). That's all I was talking about. Like I said, it's a good indication. -dmh 17:04, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

I don't see how any of this is related to anarchy. The discussion is on anarchy and it's usage not lingual translations. Lets stay on topic. I propose two definitions (one defining it in the way anarchists use it and one how non anarchists use it) and one usage note stating that "anarchy" is currently more commonly used the way non anarchists use it. Randy6767 18:34, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

That sounds closer to my ear. But Dmh's point about the third "peaceful" definition, however absurd, shouldn't be ignored. I can see having three definitions for this now (and yes, DAVilla, I would still prefer it to be reworded as one single definition - it wouldn't be the first definition to use the word "or"!) as long as the various example sentences are retained to show the shades of meaning are covered. Otherwise, as Dmh noted, we'll just keep having them re-added. --Connel MacKenzie 18:50, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
Oh goodness yes, Randy6767, let's stay on topic. How did that list of Arabic words for eight different kinds of cousins get there anyway? My apologies for posting it. Oh wait, that wasn't me. Never mind.
For me the interesting topic here is when to split and when to lump. I'm not against lumping together the various "no government" senses, as long as we note somewhere that this use may have radically different connotations for different people. Three definitions may be about right. Let's try that out and see if the cites support it. -dmh
Who here has the "authority" to change the list? If any old person could do it and as long as everybody was happy with the change then I'd be more than happy to oblige. Randy6767 20:44, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
I tried once already — I thought that was the whole point of having a Wiki — but had the changes summarily rolled back (including the cites I dug up) because I was "removing valid definitions and adding encyclopedic editorial". Connel then brought the discussion here. Given that there seems to be some consensus here, it seems OK to try changing the defs now. Anyone else have an opionion? -dmh 21:31, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
I'll change them. My references are from a Webster's dictionary, though I will not copy Webster's exactly, I will take what thoughts and views were given here and see if I can get the OK to keep my changes. Randy6767 22:52, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Now I'm waiting for the OK to lose the link to the tea room. Randy6767
I deleted the link, the new list is fine. Randy6767 01:58, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

What is the word for.....

What is the word for when a culture believes that they are superior to other cultures? —This comment was unsigned.

Cultural supremacy Randy6767 17:27, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
...or ethnocentric? --EncycloPetey 17:45, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Not the way it is defined here. Randy6767 20:21, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Xenophobic isn't quite what you are looking for, but tangentially related, right? Likewise jingoism, severe nationalism and patriotism can share shades of meaning. --Connel MacKenzie
Hardly, is their a word for this? Who wants to know anyway? Randy6767 02:01, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Hasn't anyone mentioned chauvinist yet?
That's close, but not quite. Randy6767 23:38, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Is ethnism what you look for? Lmaltier 08:27, 21 January 2007 (UTC)


PEX is the common name for cross-linked high-density polyethylene, commonly used instead of PVC or copper pipes in plumbing. My question is, I do not believe it is an initialism; so how should I list this as part of speech? sewnmouthsecret 18:48, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Actually, in Europe at least, the term listed in national standards, text books and most product literature is PE-X although at least one manufacturer uses -PEX as part of a tradename (the specialist online technical reference service I use at work has 502 hits for PE-X and none for PEX, while the product literature search has 7 for PE-X and 1 for PEX). It stands for PolyEthylene-Xlinked [ie cross-linked], see w:PE-X. So whether you consider it an initialism depends on your attitude to the use of X to represent cross, which is fairly well established, whether or not it was originally influenced by the use of X to represent χ, in turn representing χριστός, or however the etymology of Xmas is described in full. --Enginear 20:25, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Misuse or regional use of level

On the back page of the Wall Street Journal (European edition) yesterday (17 Jan 07) was the sentence "Ultimately, Ms. Kroes [European Union Antitrust Commissioner] could level a fine and order Intel to change its business practices." Is level a misprint for levy or is it a valid US usage? --Enginear 19:14, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

On Dictionary.com, you can see the AHD definition: Template:pos vt 6. To direct emphatically or forcefully toward someone: leveled charges of dishonesty. To me, this seems to be the way they are using it. --Connel MacKenzie 19:23, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes, this is normal -- it feels like a metaphorical extension of "to level a gun at someone". Cynewulf 19:29, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes, interesting. OED2+ has that sense too, and also has an "obsolete" sense to levy. But a b.g.c. search, eg for [level a fine] shows this meaning is alive and well in the US. So have added both (not fully cited yet though)...had quite a storm today, with one colleague's house felled by a tree, so better go home and check my damage. --Enginear 20:10, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. I never would have guessed that such a common meaning was limited to the US. --Connel MacKenzie 20:16, 18 January 2007 (UTC)


Should the "examples" section be moved to a category, an appendix, or both? --Connel MacKenzie 16:51, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Category:Contranyms at the least, now done. Appendix:Contranyms because it's not always clear how meanings oppose. DAVilla 15:49, 22 January 2007 (UTC)


Since the greek-based prefix poly- retains the y [as do bary-, bathy-, brachy- & eury-], why wouldn't we expect the greek-based thely- to do the same and be thelyonym? Joe Webster 05:37, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

It's not a question of the prefix, but of the following letter of the word it's joined to. Generally, the y is retained if the next letter is a consonant, but is dropped if the next letter is a vowel. Thus, you have bathy- in bathyscaph and bathysphere, but bath- in batholith and bathometer. Similarly, the protologism thelonym drops the y before -onym. --EncycloPetey 17:07, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Also, -o- is not part of the morphemes -lith or -meter, so by the above explanation [the y is retained if the next letter is a consonant] these words should have been bathylith and bathymeter, respectively. Joe Webster 01:29, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Not true with words like polyandrous, polyembrionic, polyoma & polyurethane. There is also baryonic & brachyurous. BTW, this is in regards to the protologism thelonym. Joe Webster 17:55, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

Then the issue is more complex than I had first supposed. My only recourse is to appeal to Stearns' Botanical Latin, but the chapter dealing with the attachment of prefixes does not address those prefixes of Greek origin terminating in -y-, so I don't know what to suggest. The pattern doesn't seem to be connected either with the following letter or with stress, so I'm at a loss to explain it with anything other than the whim of grammarians. --EncycloPetey 18:33, 21 January 2007 (UTC)


Isn't that a misspelling of thrice? Joe Webster 00:06, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Don't know; how did you see it used in a sentence? --EncycloPetey 17:11, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

It's in the list of protologisms. Joe Webster 17:46, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

the thing of it is

I had originally entered this on its own, but I don't think it merits a separate entry. Instead, the entry for the thing of it (which now has Semper's cites) should mention that, for whatever reason, this phrase seems to cause duplication in speech and occasionally in writing ("the thing of it is, is," or "the thing of it was, was," — the comma seems to be duplicated in writing, though there is often not a second pause in speech). I can't think of any other phrases that act this way.

I do believe the thing of it merits an entry, and that it's the right headword (e.g. "that's the thing of it" also gets hits). -dmh 15:29, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, it's interesting. I hear this a lot with the thing is – people now seem to be parsing thing is colloquially as a noun phrase so that you end up with the thing is is that... Widsith 20:43, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm curious as to whether this is a wider phenomenon. Do people say "what we need is, is ..." I'm not sure, but I'll listen for it. If it is (and it may well be), then we almost certainly don't need an entry for the thing of it is, just for the thing of it. -dmh 05:49, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm not at all convinced that this kind of grammatical analysis is really within the purview of a dictionary, however complete. Widsith 10:09, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm not, either. I think that the duplication is worth noting because it's prominent in speech, but there's a limit to how far to go before we're encyclopedic. The main reason to do the analysis is to figure out whether to note this under the thing of it (if it's unique) or is (if it's more related to is) or elsewhere, or not at all. -20:18, 23 January 2007 (UTC)


how would you describe unconditional love in a brief description? —This comment was unsigned.

In one word, agape. Beyond that, I'd look at agape#Noun, though the definitions could be improved...for a start, they don't presently include the word unconditional, which is fundamental to it. Will add to my to-do list to improve it. --Enginear 18:15, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Ambiguous Entery for triennial or triannual

I found two meanings for "triannial" and "triennual": "Every three years" and "three times a year." Which is the correct definition? Is there a unique word to go with those two different meanings? If so, what are the they? —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 10:41, January 17, 2007.

Most of these swing both ways. I can't tell you which one is "correct". Our job here is to find out which senses are actually used. -dmh 19:29, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
Move to WT:TR? --Connel MacKenzie 19:52, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
All forms of this type of word are used in both senses. English is not a logical language. SemperBlotto 19:54, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

all his marbles

This had been hard redirected to lose one's marbles, which is wrong since they don't meant the same thing. I've created an entry for all one's marbles, and I've made all his marbles a hard redirect to that. However, I wanted to run this by the group. I understand that hard redirects are frowned upon, at least for alternate spellings. I think this is a bit different because

  • all his/her/their/etc. marbles are uncontroversially correct variants of all one's marbles
  • It's useful to have some sort of entry for all his marbles, as people are more likely to look this up than all one's marbles.

I'm not saying that we should actively enter every possible variation. However, this, and others like it, are already around because they're more natural for people to think of. I would like to be able to move the body of such pages to the proper place (in this case all one's marbles) and leave a hard redirect so that the looking up under the original title still works. I'm going to go ahead and do a few of these as they come up today, but if it's not the right thing I'll go back and fix what I've done to make it right (e.g., change to a soft redirect). -dmh 15:59, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

To "lose all your marbles" is to become schizophrenic/insane/crazy; to have "all your marbles" is to be mentally competent. beadtot4.234.30.45 02:09, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

and how, and then some

Are these actually synonyms? I can't think of any place one could be used where the other couldn't.


What is the proper plural of -polis? RJFJR 17:12, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Accoding to Widsith's edit of metropolis, it would be -polises or -poli, though the latter follows neither the Greek or Latin pattern. If it were a strictly Latin origin word, then I might expect -poles, or -polia, but unfortunately it's rooted in Greek which complicates things. --EncycloPetey 17:22, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
Poleis. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 17:31, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
In reference to an ancient Greek city-state (polis), yes, but the question was about the English suffix -polis, which is not the same thing. --EncycloPetey 17:53, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
I do not see how there could be any difference. The plural of man is men; when man is used as a suffix, it always becomes men, and not mans or anything else. -Polis is used to denote the same meaning as polis, has the same root, et cetera. Honestly, what difference is there? † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 17:58, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
I'd be a bit careful. First, -polis is an affix, not a noun, and as such has no plural. Anything about plurals is just describing how words with that affix pluralize.
It's much more important here to record the actual usage of metropolis, megalopolis etc. (how many are there, anyway?), and then note that on -polis. So ...
  • There are about 1000 b.g.c hits for metropolises, which seem largely legit (the whole exercise is approximate, so round figures and generalizations should be OK here).
  • There are about 3600 b.g.c hits for metropoli, but they appear to be overwhelmingly not in English or hyphenations like metropoli- tan. There do appear to be 3 legitimate cites for this spelling
  • There are about 1200 b.g.c hits for metropoles, which seem largely legit.
  • There are about 600 b.g.c hits for metropolia, some in other languages. The term is often capitalized and appears to be used disproportionately in histories of the Church.
  • There are about 600 b.g.c hits for megalopolises.
  • There are about 600 b.g.c hits for megalopoli.
  • There are about 220 b.g.c hits for megalopoles There are clearly enough to meet CFI ... in French. There are probably also enough for English, but they're few and far between. For whatever reason, Google doesn't seem to actually show the word on most of these hits.
  • There are 9 b.g.c hits for megalopolia. It appears to be a proper name (Megalopolis is a Greek place name).
  • Gutenberg shows 21 English books with metropolises from the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • It shows 6 English books with metropoli, 2 of which are hyphenations, 2 of which are in Latin and 2 of which are in English, from the 1910s.
  • It shows 4 English books with metropoles, late 19th/early 20th.
  • It shows no English books with metropolia
I'll let someone else do megalopolis on Gutenberg.
  • The plurals of metropolis are metropolises/metropoli/metropoles (further work needed to sort these), with metropolia rarer, and probably having a distinct ecclesiastic sense of its own (which might or might not be plural at all, in which case the idea that it's a plural of metropolis needs to be re-examined).
  • The plurals of megalopolis are megalopolises and megalopoli without much to choose between them, and megalopoles rarely attested at best.
  • The question "what is the plural of -polis?" is ill-formed.
I would guess that the -poli form is a back-formation, the -poles and -polia forms are historical, and they're largely absent from megalopolis because it's a more recent coinage (notwithstanding its also being a proper name). It's seems possible that polia is not a plural at all. We'd have to look more closely.
But it's all Greek to me. -dmh 20:16, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Hmm. "Such nostrums of course ignored the fact that the Metropolia was entirely independent of Moscow." [3] (emphasis mine), "Eventually in 1970 the Metropolia — so-called because it was under a Metropolitan — was granted autocephaly by Moscow ..." [4] (again, emphasis mine). This came from "the metropolia", which filtered out non-English (but doubtless missed some English) I didn't turn up anything for "some metropolia" or "many metropolia", nor anything much for "a metropolia". Looks like "metropolia" is singular (and related to the Russian Orthodox Church), and megalopolia is not attested, leaving the plural forms as -polises, -poli and -poles, with different distributions for metropolis and megalopolis -dmh 20:45, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

And actually metropoles probably has other senses (at least "citizens of the metropolis(es)", and I'd expect a corresponding singular). We're probably down to -polis and -poli as primary forms. That will be all from me for now. -dmh 20:51, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

I have just created and cited acropoleis and megapoleis, whereas metropoleis already exists (and is cited), but for some reason, is not listed as a valid plural form of metropolis. Of the four derived terms given in the entry for -polis, only ecumenopoleis could not be verified (whereas ecumenopolises might just be verifiable). Since the only ecumenopolis of which I know is w:Star Wars’s w:Coruscant, I would hazzard a guess that most who would need a plural of ecumenopolis (namely Star Wars fanatics and some others) would be unfamiliar with polis (pl: poleis), and would therefore stick with the “if unsure, add an ‘s’” rule. As for metropoli, I believe that this form exists for the same reason that peni does: both metropolis (/mɛˈtɹɒ.pɒˌlɪs/) and, more so, penis (/piː.nɪs/) are often mispronounced as /mɛˈtɹɒ.pɒˌləs/ and /piː.nəs/, respectively. This makes them sound like they end in ‘-us’, which leaves them open unto the misapplication of the “‘-us’ → ‘-i’” rule for forming plurals, hence metropoli and peni in place of metropoleis and penes. The plural forms ending in ‘-poleis’ come from the awareness that -polis is a distinct morpheme, whereas the plural forms ending in ‘-polises’ come from ignorance of that fact. As such, -polis’s plural is -poleis, and every word ending in -polis should pluralise as -poleis. Plural forms ending in ‘-polises’ are, however, still valid. Surely you must all see that this is true? † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 13:32, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

I’ve listed metropoleis as a plural form on metropolis, as it now has six citations. Considering that neither metropolises nor metropoli have any citations whatsoever, it is indefensible to include those two whilst metropoleis is excluded. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 21:33, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

Since, by now, poleis, acropoleis, megapoleis, megalopoleis, and metropoleis all have at least three citations each, and as noöne has seen fit to reply unto my paragraph above, I’m going to go ahead and add -poleis as the plural form of -polis. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 00:38, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

(Actually, poleis isn’t, but let that pass.) Having checked that the equivalents in -polises are all adequately citable (though they may not yet be cited), I have added it as an alternative plural of -polis. While checking cites for polises, the following apt pseudo-cite amused me: “Classical grammar no longer mono-polises the time at public and grammar schools”. I’m still wondering which sense of classical they meant, or whether they actually meant classic. --Enginear 15:32, 30 January 2007 (UTC)
Hmm. I think that that’s evidence that polises is used as a plural of polis, not of -polis. The distinction I mean is that whilst -poleis is an intrinsic plural form of -polis, all the -polises plural forms are formed by the extrinsic addition of the ubiquitous ‘-s’ pluralising suffix. In the same way that whilst (I imagine) all words ending in the -oma suffix can form plurals ending in -omas, -omas is still not the plural of -oma, as those plurals are formed by extrinsic addition, whereäs plurals ending in -omata are formed through an intrinsic inflexion pattern. Therefore, whilst I accept that polises is a valid (in the context of WT:CFI) plural form of polis, -polises is not a valid plural form of -polis (if you know what I mean). As such I’ll go add polises unto polis, but delete -polises from -polis. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 09:54, 31 January 2007 (UTC) Postscriptum: Sorry about saying that I had cited poleis when I hadn’t; I thought that I had. It is now thrice-cited. No misleading intended.
The evidence I have produced showing that -polises is a plural of -polis#English which meets our CFI, is similar to the evidence you have used to show -poleis is a plural of it which meets our CFI (should you wish to look, the lists of cites are [5], [6], [7], [8], [9]). I don’t understand your problem with my valid addition. I have not reverted yours, since it meets CFI, but you have reverted mine in spite of it meeting CFI. --Enginear 15:23, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
Sorry if it seems as if I’m being unfair. My reasoning is given here for disapproving of -polises. Proof by exhaustion was never my method of proving my point; however, it is a simple fact that the argument behind my point is far more likely to be taken seriously if the theory thereof more closely resembles reality (which I have shown that it does). Thank you for being reasonable concerning the matter. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 22:08, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
You are missing the point. This is a descriptive dictionary, not a prescriptive one. The only evidence which is relevant to whether a word meets CFI is whether enough appropriate cites can be found showing that it is used, not merely mentioned. I suggest that for the plural of a suffix to be included, it is required that we show that plurals of a substantial proportion of the words ending in that suffix are formed in that way. We have both done so, and both plurals should remain. The reasons why they are formed in that way are immaterial.
We could try adding usage notes to explain our views, but I warn you that it is very difficult to make them stick, since it is hard to make a short note NPOV. I for one am not prepared to put in the effort in this case, and I suspect you would find that any note which showed your viewpoint would be reverted, since no one else here has yet stepped up to defend it. I think that you have already achieved as much as you are likely to in this case, having your -poleis plurals noted and the individual entries left in place. If you keep pressing, you may play into the hands of those (the majority, I think) who want to tighten up CFI so such usages are kept out. --Enginear 15:49, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
So you do propose that we infer affix plurals using proofs by exhaustion. I’ve come unto the conclusion that the way forward is to list both plurals (-poleis and -polises) at -polis and, as you suggested, adding an usage note explaining that we cannot be certain whether -polises plurals are formed by +-polises, or by +-polis+-es. However, I do not think that any such ambiguity surrounds -poleis. By the way, etymology is not immaterial. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 13:36, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Are you suggesting that whether a word meets WT:CFI can depend on its etymology (in which case please explain where that is stated), or are you misinterpreting me? We do know that the plurals are actually formed in both ways, whatever our personal preferences of how they should be formed. A usage note along the lines you suggest would therefore be incorrect. --Enginear 18:10, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
We cannot know whether -polises plurals are formed by “+ -polises”, or by “+ -polis + -es”. The “‘-is’ → ‘-eis’” pluralising pattern is not found anywhere in English other than in “polispoleis”; pretty much every English word forms a plural by “+ ‘-s’” or “+ ‘-es’”. A usage note must explain this fact. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 01:47, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
You are missing the point. We are NOT a prescriptive dictionary which tells people how they should form plurals. That would often be POV. We are an evidence-based descriptive dictionary. We look at the evidence (cites) to see how people have actually formed plurals. We then record that. A usage note might explain that -poleis is used by some people for the plural of English words ending in -polis, probably because it matches the way plurals are formed in Greek; but that -polises is used by others, probably because that matches the way most English plurals of -is words are formed. It should not say that we don’t know how people actually form the plurals, since that is manifestly untrue, as demonstrated by the cites. --Enginear 12:18, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
Our citations do not demonstrate how affixes pluralise, they demonstrate how whole words pluralise. They demonstrate that polis becomes both poleis & polises, acropolis both acropoleis & acropolises, megapolis both megapoleis & megapolises, megalopolis both megalopoleis & megalopolises, and metropolis both metropoleis & metropolises. From which evidence we then infer the plural(s) of the suffix -polis. As I said above, due unto the uniquity of the “‘-is’ → ‘-eis’” pattern, it is unreasonable not to therefore infer that -poleis is a plural of -polis; whereäs due unto the ubiquity of the postsibilant “+ ‘-es’” pattern, it is impossible to ascertain whether words ending in -polises are thus formed because -polises is a plural of -polis, or because the words themselves take the postsibilant -es.
I completely understand your point. I am not suggesting a usage note warning against the use of -polises, only one stating that we cannot be sure that it exists (as it may just be “+ -polis + -es”). This is, admitedly, a fairly academic point, as there would be no visible difference betwixt metropolises formed by “metro- + -polis + -es” and metropolises formed by “metro- + -polises”. The difference would only really be visible in the etymology. Do you now understand my point? † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 12:58, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
I think I understand your point. However, your argument is somewhat undermined by the fact that polis has an extant plural polises. To quote your comment of 23 Jan 06: The plural of man is men; when man is used as a suffix, it always becomes men, and not mans or anything else. -Polis is used to denote the same meaning as polis, has the same root, et cetera. Honestly, what difference is there?.
However, there are actually a few cases where English words take different inflections from the homographical (and probably eponymous) suffices [I like using poncy plurals too sometimes]. While I can’t think at present of any nouns where the plurals vary, we do have different verb formations in light (lit) and highlight (highlighted), so I will allow you to stand on your head if you wish and say that polises does not 100% prove -polises. I suggest that you should add this explanation to Talk:-polis. You could then link to it in a short user note, which might then find acceptance.
I am fairly sure that a usage note long enough to include the whole explanation, rather than link to it elsewhere, would be shot down by (I expect) the vast majority of us, who feel that such detail is inappropriately esoteric to include in an entry in a general dictionary, rather than a specialist source for etymology. However, I don’t think that the purpose of having entries for affixes has been debated recently. You could start a discussion and see where it leads (but I suggest waiting a week or too, since you have recently annoyed a number of the people whose support, or at least acceptance, you would be relying on in such a discussion). --Enginear 17:18, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, I did say that. However, to prætentiously quote w:Mahatma Gandhi: “My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements on a given question but to be consistent with the truth as it may present itself to me at a given moment”. Basically, I was wrong; I was being overly simplistic.
The in-entry usage note could go something like:
  • It is uncertain whether ‘-polises’ exists as a plural of -polis, as it may actually be a coöccurence of the two morphemes “‘-polis’ + ‘-es’”. See the talk page for a detailed explanation.
Then the explanation can be given on the talk page, as you suggested. Would this be suitable?
Sure, I’ll start that discussion some time. In a week sounds about right. By the way, if you were being hypercorrect, then suffices is fine (in fact, it sounds quite nice); however, if you wanted to be pædantic, then you would have to write suffixi, as “suffix” (I should probably mention here that the word comes from the Latin sub- + fixus) is a Latin masculine noun from the second declension — so the “‘-us’ → ‘-i’” rule applies unto it. ☺
Lastly, what was your weird edit summary about? Dancing angels‽ † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 18:55, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
I think that might still be considered a bit provocative. I would guess that something along the lines of “For a discussion of the etymology of polises, see…” would probably be generally acceptable.
I was giving a plural (albeit one generally considered incorrect) of the English noun suffix, not the Latin noun (or is it just an adjective / verb part) suffixus …oh shit, that seems similar to a few paragraphs above… it was just a joke, OK.
…dancing on the head of a pin. ;-) --Enginear 19:54, 4 February 2007 (UTC)
I see what you’re getting at, but we have to provide some clue as unto what the discussion concerns. Maybe:
  • There is some uncertainty as unto the plural(s) of “-polis”. See the talk page for a detailed explanation.
How’s that?
By the way, please see this. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 02:09, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
Since no one else has contributed to this converstion for a while, it is difficult to judge the mood, but it might fly if you replace as unto with about. Try it and see.
Nice work on the angels… entry. --Enginear 14:12, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the compliment of my contribution; the definition is accurate I take it? I prefer “as unto” / “about” → “surrounding”; is that OK for you? If so, I’ll put the conclusions of our discussion into practice in a couple of days. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 21:38, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

Words have plurals, suffixes don’t. Dmh made this point several days ago and about a hundred lines upwards. All you can do is analyse how words taking this suffix form their plurals, and I think we’ve established that there are at least 3 options. But not all words are attested with all three variants, so you will always be on shaky ground if you include them as legitimate “plural suffixes”. My advice is: don’t include a plural. Widsith 14:27, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

I disagree. English plurals are governed chiefly by word ending and etymology; the final letter(s) or morpheme of a word as well as its origins determine how it will form its plural. Words ending in the morpheme -man form plurals ending in -men; however, talisman and shaman become talismans and shamans (but, having been reïnterpreted, Mussulman can become Mussulmen). The -oma suffix forms plurals ending in -omata — that pattern is integral unto it. If you deny this, then you’ll have the hard task of persuading me that all the words that end in the -oma morpheme only form plurals ending in -omata because of some staggering coïncidence, and that they all form plurals according unto the rare “‘-ma’ → ‘-mata’” pattern for some other, unrelated reason. I’m sure you agree that that would be a most unreasonable stance to take. On the other hand, it is not so unreasonable to argue that the words ending in -polises do so because of nescience of the -poleis morpheme, and are in fact formed via “prefix-polis + -es”. Nevertheless, we can’t really be sure either way whether -polises exists; for this reason it should be included, but with an usage note explaining this uncertainty.
We have certainly not established that there are three possible plural forms of -polis. The etymologically consistent form -poleis is undisputed; -polises is disputed (mainly by me), but will be included with a usage note. The third you’re talking about, I assume, is -poli. The evidence for this third form is extremely weak — only “metropolismetropoli” exists to back this one up. Metropoli bears no citations, and is currently undergoing the WT:RFV process. It should be marked as non-standard (which I am going to do now). All the words which -polis concerns have verified -poleis plurals, and noöne disputes the existence of the corresponding -polises forms. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 21:38, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
See metropoli, acropoli, megalopoli. The evidence is strong, certainly much stronger than for -poleis. Widsith 13:07, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
How is it stronger? Where are the citations for poli, megapoli, and metropoli? What is this; a test of who can waste the most of his time repeatedly citing entries far beyond the requirement of WT:CFI as per eisteddfodau? I have added citations unto acropoleis and megalopoleis to bring the number thereof upto double the numbers of their -poli counterparts. Also note that the citations for the -poleis forms include both older and newer sources than the -poli forms do. Apart from citations, the -poleis forms also have etymological consistency on their side. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 17:50, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Category:English words with a common and a technical definition

This is a "Requests for a comprehensible, memorable, shorter damn category name and maybe a template or two to go with it", aka a {{rfacmsdcnamatottgwi}}. --Connel MacKenzie 08:08, 24 January 2007 (UTC)

Ah ... this is veering into misnomer territory. Along with shortening the name and maybe generalizing a bit, the text needs neutralizing. E.g.,

Some words have specialized meanings which differ significantly their common meanings. For example strain means roughly the same thing as stress in common usage, but the two have very distinct meanings in physics.

But there's a minefield here. Pretty soon we're wrangling over which meaning of hacker is correct, or whether it's still OK to call tidal waves tidal waves.
Depending on just where we want to go with this, "Terms with Divergent Meanings" (not necessarily contranyms, though) might work. As I recall, we've had a couple of shots at this, and always ended up splintering (remember "Terms Affected by Prescriptivism?). -dmh 17:16, 24 January 2007 (UTC)
I like "technobabble"  ;) --EncycloPetey 17:19, 24 January 2007 (UTC)
No, that (Category talk:English words affected by prescriptivism) is quite a different topic indeed. this category is not about that topic at all. It is for listing terms that have two congruous definitions, one that explains the colloquial shades of use, the other that itemizes the exact technical distinctions within a given field (e.g. physics.) This category name should not suggest divergence even, rather, that within a particular field, the definition will be much more specific. --Connel MacKenzie 17:26, 24 January 2007 (UTC)
All kidding aside, Category:Technobabble might work...it certainly has the right connotations for the lay-reader. --Connel MacKenzie 17:27, 24 January 2007 (UTC)
We definitely need the category, and Technobabble is better than the existing name, but it feels a bit wrong for a word like anarchy which should be one of the members. --Enginear 13:57, 26 January 2007 (UTC)
No, technobabble is not this at all. Technobabble is language that sounds generically "scientific", but isn't necessarily. A good example can be extracted from virtually any sci-fi program where a "technical" explanation is given. If I'm understanding you, you're describing words which have a different meaning when part of a jargon than they do to a lay person. Do we really want an uber-Jargon category? I thought that using context labels was how we achieved this? This would be an absolutely *huge* category, BTW. --Jeffqyzt 20:38, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes, jargon's the word I wanted. But the original request was a category for "English words with a common AND a technical definition". The purpose I would see, is to keep track of them in case a better method becomes available for avoiding display of lengthy technical meanings to someone wanting just the common definition. It's not clear (to me at least) what % of words have both common and technical defs, and therefore how big a problem it is. --Enginear 21:27, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

list of prefixes

There is a list of English suffixes. It would be nice to have as complete a list of English Prefixes. Just a thought.

There is a Category:English prefixes where you can view a list. --EncycloPetey 18:09, 24 January 2007 (UTC)


Like my garden shed - some articles seem to accumulate detritus, even so I feel that I may regret addressing this subject - but - what the hell. religion has five mergeable definitions (see talk:religion) which I seek to subsume under one new one; I find it difficult to slip a cigarette paper between those I list.
I address this problem, not restricted to religion, because of difficulty in categorising the recently ttbc-ed translations. —Saltmarsh 15:15, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

than missing conjunction sense

The entry for than only has the preposition sense; it is missing the conjunction sense. RJFJR 15:46, 27 January 2007 (UTC)


To score paper is not to 'scratch'; rather it is to emboss a line -- usually to facilitate making a crisp fold. A scratch would remove material from the surface and thus weaken the paper; a score does not. —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

Are you sure? Is it perhaps a technical printer's usage? I've certainly not heard it, but I have been taught to score paper or card, ie carefully cut it half through with a craft knife, to achieve clean folds when model-making, etc. When done with a slightly blunt knife, this does cause the other side to look embossed, but that is a side effect rather than an aim. Mechanical cardboard box manufacturing seems to use similar techniques, although I think they use pressure against a sharp cornered metal press, rather than a knife. --Enginear 22:49, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

assume the position

To all US editors: Many modern American films featuring policemen, particularly documentaries, include gung-ho "cops" menacing citizens at gunpoint and issuing the command "Assume the position!". They clearly assume that everyone knows what they mean and how to achieve it.

Do you learn how to move into this position at school, or perhaps in a yoga class? How do you know when to lean against a wall and when to lie down? -- it certainly isn't obvious how to reach either position from a starting point of, say, being seated inside a car, without being shot first on some premise of assumed bad faith.

Since I am at a loss as to the definition, let alone the etymology, of this idiom, and I would rather not assume that my accent would save me from being shot, please would someone define the expression. There's no article in 'pedia yet, but presumably your police have a web site that could be linked to for the full choreography. Also, neither assume nor position appear to have relevant definitions at present. --Enginear 00:06, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

I'm not aware that this has any particular, idiomatic meaning. I think it's just Hollywood drama-speak for "go to your assigned location" or "prepare to carry out the plan. If you'd like an idiom to look at, line up might be as good as any. --Dvortygirl 00:34, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
No, assume the position means to spread feet wide apart and place hands behind the head in order to be searched by security officers. --EncycloPetey 00:49, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Wow. I would never have guessed this wouldn't be "sum-of-parts" but apparently it really isn't. I'd like to note that outside of law-enforcement, this has strong sexual connotations. But apart from EncycloPetey's description, I'm at a loss as to a definition. As far as it being a real statement one might hear from a real (non-Hollywood) police officer, I seriously doubt it. Offhand, I don't know who to ask. Perhaps with Miranda rights, and other issues, one of our lurking lawyers might know? --Connel MacKenzie 01:31, 29 January 2007 (UTC) Sorry for that ambiguity. I mean, one of our regular contributors who happens to also be a real lawyer...we have three? Or two? --Connel MacKenzie 01:35, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
In answer to the question about speaker useage and listener knowledge its usage assumes the listener knows its meaning, i.e., is a career criminal that has been caught in the act once again. Its useage may also be as a test to determine whether the listener is a career criminal but still only within film or in simulation thereof. 03:57, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Well, I'm relieved to know that even some Americans don't know it. Apart from Holloywood fiction, it's a staple of World's Scariest Police Videos or whatever that series' title is, but in retrospect I realise that the videos are dubbed, and I should have realised that the dubbing of the US videos was likely to be as fatuous as that on the rare British ones (where the police are made to speak with plums in their mouths and say "Golly!" a lot). --Enginear 11:41, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it means turn away, sometimes leaning against the car you have been dragged out of, so that you can be frisked in safety. I think it also has an informal meaning in a doctor's surgery - bend over for a rectal examination! SemperBlotto 11:46, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps it originated within a law enforcement context (I'd be interested to see an etymology), but I think it currently has a rather more general meaning. I think it means, at its broadest point, "prepare yourself for some action to be taken on you," where that "action" could be anything from sex to an inspection at work to a little kid getting their medicine. As Connel stated earlier, it does indeed have strong sexual connotations. And I don't think cops really use this phrase on people with any frequency. If a cop said it to me, the only thing I would "assume" is that I was about to get raped (which would be sweet, as it's been a while). Cerealkiller13 19:15, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
The earliest citation I know of not pertaining to law enforcement is from the 1978 movie Animal House, where Doug Neidermeyer (Mark Metcalf) instructs fraternity pledges to "assume the position". --EncycloPetey 02:05, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Correct spelling...?

What is the correct spelling of the word "johnra" (sp) meaning (I think) part of a certain environment(?)? 04:02, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Are you thinking "genre?" Joe Webster 04:40, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes. Thanks. 04:43, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

What is playboy & its great meaning?

I want to know what meaning of playboy in detailed list?

Can you all help me? ok?


I am certain I do not understand your question. The word always carries a strong sexual connotation (and I'm not exactly sure what a non-sexual context might be.) True, even for texts written before the advent of the magazine Playboy. Could you perhaps restate your question? --Connel MacKenzie 17:27, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

According to The American Heritage Dictionary, a playboy is a "man who is devoted to the pursuit of pleasurable activities." This would make sexual promiscuity to be only a subset of this hedonism, albeit a prominent one. Joe Webster 20:18, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Tissue paper...?

What is the tissue paper used to extract donuts or sweet buns from a deli case called? 13:33, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

I believe it's parchment paper, but I'm not sure. Cerealkiller13 03:43, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Maybe it's 'bunce'! beadtot4.234.30.45 02:05, 26 April 2007 (UTC)