Wiktionary:Tea room/2007/June

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discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← May 2007 · June 2007 · July 2007 → · (current)


Would like to know... two Grecian suffixes

Could anyone here give me the Grecian equivalent of the Latinate -able suffix as well as a second Grecian suffix meaning “rape” (that is, a suffix which means the rape (in the ordinary sexual sense) of whatever noun it is suffixed to)? Thank you in advance for any help that you can give.

By the way, sorry to all those editors with whom I was in the middle of discussing things when I so abruptly left a few months ago. I should be able to restart editting here in about a month’s time, whereupon I shall pick up where I left off. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 13:24, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

zang (Dutch)

Apparently, zang has some meaning in Dutch - but I can't read Dutch. Something related to singing? bd2412 T 00:42, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

It means "singing". I'm a little bit late, but anyway I've added it :-) SPQRobin 23:15, 20 July 2007 (UTC)


Could someone help me to find how the modern english word "lord" came out from the old english word "hlaford", i.e. which are the processes that brought to this modern word? thanks, ELISA

Well I'll try. It's a fairly regular phonological development, the only slightly surprising thing is that the v-sound in the middle has disappeared. OE hl- always became modE l-. The -f- in the middle was pronounced /v/, which is why in Middle English the word was usually spelt lavard or loverd or something like that. But in the 14th century the -v- was dropped (which is not all that unusual), and the two vowels were combined (a process called crasis) to make the word monosyllabic. The Old English word was originally a contraction of the longer form hlāfweard which means literally ‘guardian of the bread’ (corresponding to the English words loaf + ward). Widsith 12:17, 5 June 2007 (UTC)


What part of speech is poker (the card game)? Is it a common noun or a proper noun? I ask because (1) the examples of use I can think of are all singular; (2) it is referred to as a particular game; (3) it cannot be preceded by an article. These are all properties I normally associate with a proper noun. --EncycloPetey 02:52, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Proper but not capitalized? A few other games that fit into this, presently all non-proper: pool, pinball, chess, checkers, solitaire, bridge, rummy. They all act like names, but are no more so than squirrel.--Halliburton Shill 05:49, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
I think it's an ordinary abstract mass/non-count/uncountable common noun like (some senses of) brotherhood and prejudice, with the slight peculiarity that it can't generally be determined by a possessor ("their brotherhood", "his prejudice", *"our poker"), I guess because it's seen as being independent of the people who play it. (In this regard, it does rather resemble a proper noun.) Like many mass nouns, it can be determined by a count noun that serves as a unit: "one game of poker". Note the validity of a sentence like "He plays too much poker", where if it were a proper noun we'd need *"He plays too much of poker." (Compare *"Corruption pervades too much Gotham", "Corruption pervades too much of Gotham.") Incidentally, there's a somewhat productive tendency for mass nouns to double as count nouns with the meaning "type of (mass noun)"; while I don't think I'd say "No-limit Texas hold-'em is the only poker I'll play", I also don't think it would shock me to hear someone else say it. —RuakhTALK 16:02, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
I would find that very shocking, considering what a lousy game no limit is! DAVilla 16:09, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Plurals of initialisms

Does an initialism become a noun if it can be pluralised? For example, there are over 5 million hits for PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), mostly with a lowercase "s" but otherwise capitalised. SemperBlotto 10:42, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Well yes, an initialism isn't a part of speech in itself - it can be any part of speech. Most are nouns but some are verbs too, eg IM or MSN or cc. Widsith 12:08, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
What I meant to ask was - what part of speech should I specify for PCBs? SemperBlotto 16:49, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
I've worked with a Canadian-Australian company that removed the toxicity of PCB products. In informal usage, I found examples of "PCBs" but most official sources used "PCB" as either an adjective or a w:noun adjunct or otherwise avoided pluralizing the term. A case could be made that 'PCB' stands for both the w:adjectival phrase, 'polychlorinated biphenyl', which it is an anacronym of and the noun phrase, 'polychlorinated biphenyl compound'. Either way, semi-official sources seemed to prefer "PCB's" over "PCBs". I think pluralizing an anacronym with an "s" directly afterwards confusingly raises the possibility that the "s" is part of the anacronym. I've seen many anacronym with lower-case letters in the middle, but have trouble thinking of a citation just now. Apostrophes often serve to abbreviate words like in contractions or words like perhaps "implement'n" for 'implementation' or "international'n" for 'internationalization'. As such, I find plural forms like "NGO's", "GP's", and "PCB'S" perfectly acceptable and forsooth :) preferable to "NGOs", "GPs", and "PCBs". How do other people here pluralize anacronyms? Thecurran 07:11, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
I find that most acronyms and initialisms which comprise a mixture of majuscule and minuscule letters very quickly become “normalised” to one case or the other (and they are mostly acronyms, the minuscule letters usually included to aid the acronym’s pronunciation as one word). For example: a Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation is more often than not called a QUANGO or a quango, and only very rarely a QuANGO or a QuaNGO (wherein the split is taken as Quasi-Autonomous…). Therefore, it is unlikely that NGOs, GPs, or PCBs will confuse anyone, given the rarity of mixed-case acronyms and the near-non-existence of mixed-case initialisms. The only instance in which it is almost OK to pluralise something with ’s is when it’s a letter (as in the case of “A → A’s”), though I usually find a way ‛round that by writting something like “I got two ‘A’s and one ‘B’ in my exam results”. Mainly as a reaction to the greengrocer’s apostrophe, I think it is important not to confuse the common plural suffix -s with the possessive enclitic ’s. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 09:20, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Historically, initialisms were usually written with periods, and the plural s was attached with an apostrophe: P.C.B.'s, N.G.O.'s, etc. Nowadays the periods are less common, so the apostrophe is less necessary, and I think both ways are fairly common. —RuakhTALK 14:48, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Huh? Why were the apostrophes necessary if each letter was followed by a period? –The fact that the pluralising ‘s’ is not followed by a period would make it unambiguously clear that it is not part of the initialism… † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 18:32, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
It's not a matter of ambiguity or of clarity, but of looking right. (A nebulous concept, I know; but doesn't *"P.C.B.s" look wrong to you?) —RuakhTALK 18:41, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
As far as I’m concerned, “P.C.B.s” and “P.C.B.’s” look about as bad (the form with an apostrophe slightly more so, IMO). It’s just a good thing that, for most cases, periods are now omitted from being written after every initial — especially for verbally or nounally inflected initialisms and acronyms. Concerning allowing words to be pluralised with ’s, I’ve figured that if the plural form of an initialism or acronym were to be written with a suffixed majuscule -S, then, for clarity’s sake, it would be best to separate them with an apostrophe — otherwise, how would one distinguish GPS (General PracticionerS) from GPS (Global Positioning System)? –Fortunately, so doing is very rare nowadays, meaning that the cardinal inflexional sin of confusing ’s with -s need not be permitted. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 13:24, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
In answer to the original question, "PCBs" is definitely a noun. I still believe that clearest diction would yield "PCB's" even though the former has 5.98M compared to the latter's 971k on w:Google. Perhaps, "PCBs" should just have a 'see:PCB' kind of notation. I think "PCB's" may not warrant a page because "person's" and "President's" aren't listed. I do hope however that ESOL users are keen enough to splice "PCB's" into "PCB" & "'s" or "PCBs" into "PCB" & "-s" if necessary. BTW, we list "'s" as sometimes being used for exactly this purpose and a few other cases for disambiguation but also note that many users consider it incorrect. Therefore, despite my misgivings, I should just pull my head in for neutrality's sake. Thecurran 07:52, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

the before certain festivals

Some teachers in Hong Kong told me that when certain festivals in the Chinese community include the word 'festival', 'the' has to be used before it, for example, the Mid Autumn Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival. Is that true? —This unsigned comment was added by Amos Wong (talkcontribs).

Preceding them with "The" certainly sounds more natural, to me. Offhand, I can't think of any example "festival" where you wouldn't use "The" first. --Connel MacKenzie 18:23, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't know what the official policies are, but here in Taiwan, it is common to see these two without "the", in fact universally as far as I've heard and used them, and so what you've written sounds awkward to me. DAVilla 15:52, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for the response. As far as I know, Christmas, Easter, Halloween...a number of western festivals do not need to put 'the' before the name of the festivals. Therefore, I would like to know if 'the' is only needed when 'festival' is included in the phrase or there are other rules applied. —This unsigned comment was added by Amos Wong (talkcontribs) at 02:43, 6 June 2007 (UTC).

In the UK, Harvest Festival is used without "the". I don't think there is any hard-and-fast rule. Widsith 09:29, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
To my American ear, if the day has "feast," "parade," "celebration," "party," "event," "carnival" or "festival" in it, you would normally use "The." I don't think of Christmas, Easter or Halloween as "festivals"; I think of them as "holidays," which I understand is different from the UK meaning of the term. I've never heard of a hard-and-fast rule about it. I'd be more inclined to say "Every year, she went to the 'Harvest Festival' over in England" instead of "Every year, she went to 'Harvest Festival' over in England" as the latter just sounds wrong. Apparently, that is OK on the other side of the pond, though. --Connel MacKenzie 15:57, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Requests for pronunciation

I have recently been working my way through the entries tagged with {{rfp}} listed in Category:Requests for pronunciation. I’ve managed to wittle the number thereof down from over a hundred to thirty-three, but I’ve done all that I can do. Please take a moment to see if you can help with the remainder:

I suggest that you sign by a word here after you’ve given it a pronunciatory transcription. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 00:50, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Korean is done. -- Visviva 03:35, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Great! Just twenty-six to go! † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 03:45, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, there used to be a request in there for the Romanian pronunciation of homosexual. Did someone take care of that? --EncycloPetey 17:37, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
It must have already been dealt with by the time I started working my way through the list. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 01:23, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

sit out

Entry claims "To decline to participate; especially, to decline to dance." I never thought of it particularly especially about refusing to dance, just refusing to participate in anything. What about other Wiktionarians? I would have changed it, but our User:Dvortygirl added that definition. --Keene 09:01, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

I think it's fair. At any rate I always assumed that not dancing was the original sense of the term. Widsith 09:25, 6 June 2007 (UTC)


Should this term be considered gender neutral considering the existence of the term usuress? The Norwegian term, ågerkarl, specifies a man (karl). __meco 11:44, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Usuress is very rare. Epsecially in recent usage, usurer would be used for either male or female. RJFJR 15:00, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Usuress is not only very rare, it is incorrect. It is an unaccepted neologism pushed forth (ironically) for "gender equality" but en.wiktionary.org now is the first (retarded) dictionary to claim it is a valid word. Not in Oxford online (ORO), not in slang dictionaries, not even in urbandictionary. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] etc. --Connel MacKenzie 15:36, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Incorrect is a bit harsh. And it's not really a neologism, the OED has cites for it going back to 1641. It is rare, but hardly ‘invalid’. And the very fact that it is absent from urbandictionary is rather a sign that it's probably kosher...Widsith 16:02, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
I suggest starting the definition for usurer with “one, especially a man, who…” and the definition for usuress with “a woman who…”. If you think that that is too ambiguous, you could always add a usage note stating that usurer is accepted usage for both men and women. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 15:28, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
I would disagree if usurer does not imply, to any degree, that the person is in fact male, kinda like landlord and landlady. DAVilla 16:03, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
How else do you indicate that whilst most will probably use usurer to mean someone of indeterminate sex, that some will specifically mean a male usurer? † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 16:19, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
+Usage note "Some speakers distinguish between male or gender-neutral usurer and female usuress; this is very rare, however, and the vast majority of speakers use usurer in all cases." —RuakhTALK 18:13, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
That seems like a nice way to word it. A tag of "nonstandard" at usuress in combination with the usage note in both entries, seems quite reasonable to me. Optionally, {{context|gender-neutral}} could further clarify the definition of usurer. It is probably worth listing the primary definition at usuress, before the one there now, as # {{misspelling of|usurers}}. --Connel MacKenzie 23:11, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Oh come on, to claim that usuress occurs more often as a misspelling of usurers than as a legitimate word is utterly preposterous. I shall employ the brute force method; see hereinafter my seriatim treatment of the 45 hits returned by Google Book Search[11]:
  1. The following are unambiguously instances of usuress used in the singular:
    • 1851: Emma Robinson, The gold-worshippers: or, The days we live in, p15 — [12]
      “Tastes differs — I don’t think so, that’s all, mum”, replied the usuress, snappishly.
    • 1862: Avery Newman, To parents and guardians, and others [verse] — Lines, suggested by the death of an eminent Lady, p65:v4 — [13]
      Rest thee in peace, then, poor senseless cold clay;
        Earth, the stern usuress, claims our fair forms,
      Yet whilst with our dust life’s loan we repay,
        Our soul’s hymn of praise to God’s will conforms.
    • 1894: Wallace Martin Lindsay, The Latin Language: An Historical Account of Latin Sounds, Stems and Flexions, p42 — [14] & duplicated: [15]
      …the Usuress, agrees with another remark of Varro…
    • 1896: Honoré de Balzac & Katharine Prescott Wormeley, La Comédie Humaine of Honoré de Balzac, p458 — [16]
      “Yes; you shall see the usuress of rats, marcheuses and great ladies, — a woman who possesses more terrible secrets than there are gowns hanging in her window”, said Bixiou.
    • 1899: Friedrich Paulsen, A System of Ethics, p375 — [17]
      Encouraged by such reflections, he kills an old repulsive usuress, in order to obtain money, but at the same time also to test his theory…
    • 1912: Richard Henry Tawney, The Agrarian Problem in the Sixteenth Century, p109 — [18]
      …is a usuress and sells at a dearer rate for accommodation…
    • 1925: Thomas Wilson, A Discourse Upon Usury by Way of Dialogue and Orations: For the Better Variety and More Delight of All Those that Shall Read this Treatise, p21 — [19] & duplicated: [20]
      Matilda la Megre, who pledges seven ells of burrell with Moses of Dog Street, “Juetta [who] is a usuress and sells at a dearer rate for accommodation,” Richard, the parson’s chaplain, qui est usurarius maximus2 — minnows like these naturally slip out of sight before the voracious pikes, the Greshams and Stoddards, Pallavicinos and Spinolas, Fuggers, Schetzes, and Rellingers, who rule the turbid financial pond of the sixteenth century.
    • 1931: Henry Baerlein, And Then to Transylvania, p110 — [21]
      There was at Suceava a woman, the widow of a priest, called Gaina, and she was a usuress and she was demolished.
    • 1938: University of North Carolina (1793–1962) Philological Club, Studies in Philology, p191 — [22]
      That rara avis, “an usuress”, decides on her deathbed to risk hell rather than rob her children of their portion.
    • 1945: Arthur Koestler, The Yogi and the Commissar, p33 — [23]
      An excitable young student kills a usuress with an axe…
    • 1952: Henry William Spiegel, The Development of Economic Thought: Great Economists in Perspective, p24 — [24]
      It was natural that “Juetta [who] is a usuress and sells at a dearer rate for accommodation,” and John the Chaplain, qui est usurarius maximus, should be regarded as figures at once too scandalous to be tolerated by their neighbors and too convenient to be altogether suppressed.
    • 1957: Robert Nigel Carew Hunt, The Theory and Practice of Communism: An Introduction, pp93 & 96 — [25]
      {p93}Yet this he can have if he murders an old usuress who is detestable and a burden upon society. He murders her, but only to find himself caught up in something he had not foreseen…
      {p96}…we have set out on a course which may lead us farther than we had intended, just as Raskolnikov, contrary to his intentions, had not only to kill the old usuress but also her good and innocent sister.
    • 1957: Nathan A. Scott, Tragic Vision and the Christian Faith, p199 — [26]
      She is, he has persuaded himself, a bloodsucking, tightfisted old usuress who does not deserve to live, a mere “louse”.
    • 1965: Cistercienses, Analecta Cisterciensia, p212 — [27]
      One of his parishioners was a usuress whom he often reproached for her fault.
    • 1966: Erih Koš, Names, p52 — [28]
      …do not associate with my landlady, who is a heartless usuress, or with the other lodgers, with whom I scarcely exchange a greeting when we meet on the stairs and whom I do not recognize when we run into one another…
    • 1967: Pierre d’Harcourt, The Real Enemy, p96 — [29]
      …the two young painters in Dostoievsky’s Crime and Punishment … did their work singing and whistling, while upstairs Raskolnikov killed the old usuress.
    • 1968: Nathan A. Scott, Craters of the Spirit: Studies in the Modern Novel, p34 — [30]
      She is, he has persuaded himself, a blood-sucking, tight-fisted old usuress who does not deserve to live, a mere “louse”.
    • 1969: Nicholas Patrick Wiseman, The Dublin Review, p147 — [31]
      He only wanted to kill an old usuress, a wicked and perfectly useless old woman.
    • 1969: Zvi Kolitz, Survival for What, p95 — [32]
      Not that he justified Raskolnikov’s act in killing a vile, noxious insect of a usuress.
    • 1970: Robert Graves, 5 Pens in Hand, pp198 & 199 — [33]
      {p198}Mind, I know nothing, but they say . . . very unjustly no doubt . . . that the excellent woman was a receiver of stolen goods, a usuress at compound interest, a blackmailer, a Protestant!
      {p199}No Catalan of the Costa Brava would murder even a supposed usuress for her money!
    • 1982: Gifford Phillips Orwen, Jean-Francois Regnard, p72 — [34]
      The latter intimates that a certain usuress, Mme La Ressouce, will grant him a loan; he adds that Valère’s finacée, Angélique, weary of his gambling, is beginning to turn her attention to Dorante, who happens to be Valère’s uncle.
    • 1985: Robert B. Pynsent, Karel Matěj Čapek-Chod : proceedings of a symposium held at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies 18–20 September 1984, p98 — [35]
      We remember that, on Raskolnikov’s first visit, the usuress has well-pressed, slightly greying fair hair.
    • 1992: Francis Cowley Burnand et alios, Punch, p492 — [36]
      Pancho: Mind, I know nothing, but they say — very unjustly no doubt — that the excellent woman was a receiver of stolen goods, a usuress at compound interest…
    • 1994: Jelena O. Krstovic, Hispanic Literature Criticism, p1178 — [37]
      …a harangue from the mouth of a fanatical student who comes armed with a bludgeon, consumed with hatred and resentment for an old usuress: the bludgeon, the posture, the crazed demeanor, the sick passions and demoniacal glint of the speaker’s eye will be what differentiate, once and for all, a merely theoretical premise from an overpowering concrete fact…
    • 1998: Richard Henry Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, p39 — [38]
      …is a usuress and sells at a dearer rate for accommodation…
    • 1999: Ford Madox Ford, The Fifth Queen, p246 — [39]
      ‘Hodie mihi: mihi atque cras!’ he said. For it was in his mind a goodly thing to pay a usuress with base coins.
    • 2004: Mary Douglas, Witchcraft Confessions and Accusations, pXXVII — [40]
      The witch as a dangerous deviant
      Examples: dangerously powerful or rich — Bakweri (Ardener, below), Mysore usuress (Epstein, 1959); dangerously demanding — Essex in the sixteenth century (Macfarlane, below), Azande (Evans-Pritchard, 1937).
    • 2004: Honore de Balzac, Unconscious Comedians, p19 — [41]
      “Yes; you shall see the usuress of rats, marcheuses and great ladies, — a woman who possesses more terrible secrets than there are gowns hanging in her window”, said Bixiou.
  2. The following are ambiguous:
    • 1895: [AUTHOR?], The English Illustrated Magazine, p60 — [42]
      …worthy usuress cannot be altogether a myth.
    • 1980: Thomas Molnar, Theists and Atheists: A Typology of Non-belief, p194 — [43]
      After all, compare the suffering caused by the doctor’s healing act with that of Raskolnikov’s murder of the old usuress.
    • 1990: Nikolaĭ Sergeevich Trubetŝkoĭ, Writings on Literature, p93 — [44]
      In Chapter 1 Raskolnikov goes to the usuress and thinks about…
  3. The following are invalid:
    • Blank: [45]
    • Gobbledegook (quotation: “grow as ore b usuress throws oh cash”): [46]
    • Blank: [47]
    • Scanno (the book was scanned upsidedown): [48]
    • Not English (German): [49]
    • Not English (German): [50]
    • Not English (German): [51]
    • Both blank and not English (judging from the title, German again): [52]
    • Not English (written in what looks like Devanāgarī, so I’d guess Hindi): [53]
    • Blank: [54]
    • Blank: [55]
    • Not present herein: [56]

So, of the thirty-three valid hits, thirty (89%) unambiguously use SHOW usuress being used in the singular. None of the other three hits (11%) show usuress being used in the plural — it is only that neither do they unambiguously show it being used in the singular (however, considering that two of those three (the 1980 and 1990 citations) talk about the Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment character Raskolnikov, whom several previous citations thereinbefore discuss, it not in the slightest bit realistic to argue that they could be erroneously using usuress in the plural). So it seems that Google Book Search can offer no examples of usuress being used in error as you describe. Add to that that it is extremely unlikely for someone to misspell usurers thus in writing, and that it even less unlikely that someone would key such a bizarre typo (for usurers to become usuress that penultimate ‘r’ would have to be replaced with an ‘s’, which I imagine to be a very rare error, as those two keys do not neighbour each other on a standard qwerty keyboard). Face it, your claim that usuress is a “common misspelling of usurers” is baseless, both in that there is no evidence that anyone ever makes such a mistake and in that even theoretically the likelihood of such a manglism is tiny. Moreover, I challenge you to find even one unambiguous example in a published work of usuress being used as you say it does. The sense of usuress used to mean usurers is so rare (probably non-existent) that it wouldn’t even meet WT:CFI for a normal word, let alone the far higher level of usage that would logically be expected before a form could legitimately considered a “common misspelling”. And in the face of all that, you even claim that usuress is more often used as a misspelling of usurers than it is used to mean a female usurer! At the moment, all you are doing is inexplicably and unjustifiably asserting your unreasonable POV. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 21:22, 7 June 2007 (UTC) (Yeesh, what a waste of time that was. Still, at least usuress will now be Wiktionary’s best-cited entry second-best-cited entry (cf.: eisteddfodau with thirty-six citations provided by — guess whom? ··· I’m such a nerd; I should really get a life…)

Your argumentation skills are getting more bizzare.
What published books don't spell-check the text prior to publication?
What published books are edited by a professional-level editorial staff, prior to publication?
Why then, would you expect to see the errors that have been corrected to appear in published texts?
How does your providing thirty-three citations (about half over 30% [15/43 - I shouldn't have trusted your numbers above] of which are erroneous) prove that "useress" is not already corrected in thousands upon thousands of published texts? This terms is first and foremost an error.
Once again, why are you antagonistically mangling entries while they are under discussion?
--Connel MacKenzie 22:22, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Furthermore, calling it "my" claim, is incorrect. (Try any spell-check program you have available.) Calling it "insane" is a personal attack. --Connel MacKenzie 22:52, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
OK, point taken in re the fact that published books are almost always spell-checked. However, I’d still like to see some evidence for your claim that “usuress” occurs more commonly as a typo than as an intentionally written word (“This terms is first and foremost an error”). And yes, it is your claim unless you can cite a source which states that usuress is a common typo. Spell-checking programs are hardly perfect (e.g.: the Microsoft Word spellchecker autocorrects “fora” to “for a”; consider that fora is far more common that usuress), so their lacking rare terms is hardly surprising and to cite that fact is a weak argument. Google returns 245 hits for the search term usuress — of those, 123 would have to treat usuress as a plural or numerically ambiguously in order to justify placing the common misspelling definition first (unless you’re unwilling to accept Google search results as representative samples); if you can find even a tenth that number treating usuress thus, then the misspelling definition is (perhaps) justified (however, I doubt that there’d even be that many).
FTR, I was calling your claim insane, not you — do understand that despite past difficulties, I do respect you and your work on Wiktionary (my only real complaint about you is that your arguments are often too subjective / lack objective consistency). Needless to say, no personal offence was intended, and I regret any taken. However, let me just point out that you’re being a tad hypocritical (“why are you antagonistically mangling entries while they are under discussion?”) — taking the subjectively-used term “mangling” to mean “editing”, you did the same yourself first! Not to shout ipse dixit, but the discussion certainly was not over when you added the misspelling definition (hence my, admittedly OTT, reaction). † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 02:10, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Oh, BTW, I did not lie about the numbers (and I take the implicit accusation that I did as an insult); read what I write more carefully next time: “So, of the thirty-three valid hits, thirty (89%) unambiguously use usuress being used in the singular” (please excuse the bad grammar which I only just noticed; struck) — note that twelve of the hits returned by Google Book Search were invalid (they are enumerated after the singular use and ambiguous use lists hereinbefore); at the beginning I said that Google Book Search returned forty-five hits for the search query usuress (“the 45 hits returned by Google Book Search[57]”). 45 - 12 = 33. I did not lie; QED. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 02:20, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm unclear on how many of the hits are misspellings rather than scanos, both of which would be considered "invalid" in a sense. The ratio between misspellings and those quotations that support the singular or feminine is the pertinent point, but it might be misleading to exclude "ambiguous" citations from a denominator.
And thank you for the extensive list of quotations. DAVilla 05:26, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
No problem; although, as Connel rightly pointed out, doing so proves very little in this debate! Invalid sources are those which are: 1. Blank (that is, the link is still there, but there’s no scanned book on the other end); 2. Gobbledegook (there’s only one of these ([58]) — wherein the word appears in the middle of other seemingly random words which offer no context (“grow as ore b usuress throws oh cash”); however, the fact that “that” immediately follows usuress suggests that it’s being used in the singular ;-) ); 3. In a foreign language (wherein usuress is an unrelated foreign word, a scanno thereof, or the word quoted without any or without sufficient English-language context); 4. Scannos (only one of these ([59]) — wherein, due to the book (“The Maritime History of Maine: Three Centuries of Shipbuilding & Seafaring”) being scanned upsidedown, the OCR software had a bit of an episode, interpreting an inverted seamen (uəɯɐəs) as usuress); or, 5. Not present therein (that is, although the source appears in Google Book Search’s results list, the word (apparently) doesn’t actually exist in the source; only one of these: [60]). Nota bene that those sources (three, or, in reality, one) which use usuress ambiguously (that is, their use thereof is unclear from context whether they use it in the singular or the plural) are still included. The other thirty sources are all obviously using usuress in the singular (due to other words in the sentence being inflected for the singular). I think that my treatment of the results is perfectly fair, wouldn’t you say? † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 11:39, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

I think we've established beyond reasonable doubt that it's a word, albeit an uncommon one. Widsith 12:54, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

And the most cursory check of various spell-checkers establish that it is very widely proscribed against. (Which is why I maintain it is not my claim, rather, that of each spellchecker out there.)
It would be nice if we had a more discrete manner for identifying typos, scanning errors, misconstructions and whatnot. The claim that I edited the entry is demonstrably false: check the edit history of usuress before making such accusations. Obviously, even people who I've butted heads with, agree that "usuress" is an error, first and foremost. This is not idle conjecture, rather it is widespread general knowledge that you are contesting by suggesting it is not erroneous. Apparently, others (whom I thought held a grudge against me regarding the proto-forms votes against P-I-E) agreed that the error is so obvious, and of such basic general knowledge, as to need immediate correction.
Do you really want numerous citations like this, that show "usurer" being used for women? Or these? Your search is impossibly easy. Searching for the negative of your statement (despite being very widespread) is extraordinarily difficult...the search engines we have today search by word within a document, not by words within a sentence. While you have only to guess a particular spelling of an individual word, my counter-searches have to guess the particular structure of any given complete sentence (and any misspelling therein.)
I think (and this is my opinion) that Wiktionary is much better off acting as a tertiary source with regard to misspellings. If numerous other authorities prescribe misspellings, we are doing our readers a disservice when we omit that information, out of hand. We should, instead, list each source that does list a spelling as an error, in some way. In my opinion, if more than one or two spellcheckers identify a misspelling, that information is much more valuable to our readers, than a plausible (but very rare) definition.
--Connel MacKenzie 18:05, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Firstly, I apologise for my misassumption that you edited usuress — I entirely take back my calling you a hypocrite.
I now, finally see where you’re coming from (and as such, your position seems a lot saner). Nonetheless, you are still wrong. Let me guess — you typed usuress into a (number of) word processor(s), it/they identified it as a misspelling, and suggested that you meant to write usurers instead; am I correct? If so, then I see why you are asserting that usuress is chiefly used in error. However, that is not the case. Computers are not perfectly adapted for analysing human behaviour and in particular human error. Now, I have no idea how spellcheckers work, so the following theory is purely logical guesswork…
I imagine that when a spellchecker receives a word that is not listed in its dictionary, it does the following to work out whether it be a misspelling of another, graphically similar word:
  • It switches neighbouring letters throughout the word (in case a word was mistyped as per “teh” → “the”);
  • It duplicates single letters and eliminates double letters thoughout the word (thus suggesting “occurrence” for “ocurrence” or “occurence”, and suggesting “necessary” in lieu of “necesary”);
  • It substitutes letters for others throughout the word (so “jist” is corrected to “gist”, but “usurers” is incorrectly suggested in place of “usuress”);
  • It adds or removes spaces throughout the word (turning “infact” into “in fact”, but “fora” into “for a”);
  • And so on, probably including word-specific corrections, and giving greater presedence to one perceived error over another.
If any of these approaches yields a “valid” (as per its dictionary, which will omit a huge number of rare, obsolete, dialectal, technical, and archaic words) word, it will suggest it; in the case of usuress these approaches yield usurers, so it is listed in the “Did you mean…?” list.
I shan’t try to deduce the likelihood of this error arising in handwritten text, as that would probably require reference to a fair bit of obscure academic research wherewith I have no acquaintence. Typed text, on the other hand, is a different matter. Mistyping errors (that is, incorrectly keyed words, as opposed to errata which are due to believing that a word is actually spelt in some way other than the correct way) are picked up by the spellchecker’s approaches I suggested above. During fast typing, the most common errors are typing neighbouring letters the wrong way around (as with “teh”), and mistakenly substituting a letter with one of its neighbours (as with “poltergeost” — note that the neighbours (on a qwerty keyboard) of the correct ‘i’ are ‘8’, ‘9’, ‘o’, ‘k’, ‘j’, and ‘u’). Again, on a qwerty keyboard, note that the neighbours of ‘r’ are ‘4’, ‘5’, ‘t’, ‘f’, ‘d’, and ‘e’ — not ‘s’. It is extremely rare to mistype keys thus which do not directly neighbour each other. For this reason, as a miskeyed word, the chance of usuress being mistyped instead of the intended usurers is very low indeed. Coupled with the rarity of usurers and the obscurity of usuress, it is very doubtful that the error that you describe is ever made.
See these search results for “usuress”, restricted to English language results only. From a brief look, I can see none of the forty-seven results using usuress in the plural (however, the majority are gobbledegook or contextless alphabetised word lists). There is no evidence that this erratum exists. If it is so common, you should be able to provide at least one example thereof. I hardly think that it’s fair for you to assert usuress as a common misspelling of usurers if you can provide no example of its occurence whatsoever. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 16:59, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
Let me say, first, that I do think your assertion that it is not a typo, spelling error, misconstruction or some other error, is insane.
Much as you did, I made much more reasonable, concrete "appeals to authority" - not bizarre theoretical references such as the one you provided as support for "circumfix" but instead, simple, direct references to common very-widespread tools that everyone (including you) has immediate access to. You keep asserting that all the spell-checkers in the world are wrong, without the slightest shred of evidence. Instead you propose bizarre theories about qwerty keyboard layouts.
About typos: there are numerous classes of typing errors. Adjacent keys ("misses") is one common typing error. Incorrect sequence is another very common one. Duplicate characters for a single keypress is another. No character registered (for a single keypress/half-keypress) is also common. Modifier keys, mappings, partial mappings and numerous other items are also common. Then there are strange classes of typing errors from particular mappings gone awry, broken keys and general hardware malfunctions. Now, you may have theories that a cross-wise keypress of "r" will always work as expected, but I am sure that is wrong. Likewise, keys like "s" often malfunction just from overuse. Not all such errors are likely to pass casual inspection from the human eye, but a mistake such as "usuress" for "usurers" seem very much like the sort of error I'd like pointed out! All spell-checkers I have at my disposal are doing a satisfactory job, there.
About common misconstructions: are you suggesting that the errant application of a gender suffix isn't an error? In some radical pro-feminist or radical anti-feminist writing is the only context one would expect to see such deliberate misconstructions. In other words, raving lunatics (of one extreme or the other) are the only ones likely to deliberately mis-construct "usuress." How to "provide citations" for that, is even more ephemeral.
About literary license: only a moron would use "usuress" when they meant "usurer." Adding gender pointedly to a gender-neutral term is something that perhaps can be done specifically to offend. But it would only be accepted with a 40 pound grain of salt. Now, how we should describe that phenomenon escapes me. I don't think we can do so, and remain neutral. Obviously, the broad majority of other references have opted to simply omit it (as erroneous) rather than exaggerate the term's status. Such a construction can be used, but only if the author is comfortable with being scoffed at...and even then, employing a extra-helping of "literary license." Certainly, some amount of forgiveness for the error can be given to non-native English speaking authors. Likewise, authors submerged in the study of other languages; the error is certainly understandable in that light, but not entirely forgivable.
About providing citations: finding misspellings online is notoriously difficult; bytes on the Internet are increasingly transient. Sources disappear; poorly written nonsense gets purged faster. How many Internet sites that you visited ten years ago are still around? Maybe 5%? Each of those, ones supported by large corporations (and looking nothing like they did ten years ago.) Yes, people spell-check stuff (now) before putting it online. How on Earth can you reach the insane conclusion that their absence today, proves they are not made?
To everyone else trudging through this verbose nonsense; my apologies for feeding the troll. I cannot for a moment, believe that entering this term, nor the bizarre defense of it that followed, was done in good faith. --Connel MacKenzie 02:13, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
Connel, I'm sorry, but I really don't understand your claims here. Firstly, are you saying that misspellings have become rare on the Web? If so, I appreciate your optimism, but if you Google the -ance misspelling of any word in -ence (e.g., if you Google independance), you'll see how untrue that is. Secondly, are you saying that omission from a spell-checker is evidence of non-word status? Because I don't know of any spell-checker that strives to include all words in the language, as we do. Thirdly, are you saying that the use of -ess is wrong for words where the relatively masculine form can be used gender-neutrally? If so, would you contend that actress is wrong, or that actor is male-only? Neither seems to be a tenable position. Finally, you said above — I don't know if you maintain this claim — that we should have "Common misspelling of usurers" as our first sense. Surely you must realize that before we can even consider beginning to contemplate thinking about potentially doing that, you need to show us at least one case where usuress seems like it might possibly be a misspelling of usurers? After all, if we, actively looking for cases of this error, can't find any, then what's the risk that a user would come across this error and be unable to figure out what happened?
RuakhTALK 04:54, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

The inclusion of usuress is not in contest, and I am satisfied that most uses are intentional. It should probably be marked rare, but not non-standard or misspelling or the like. There is currently a usage note at usurer that reads, "Some speakers distinguish between the masculine or epicene usurer and the feminine usuress; this is very rare, however, and the vast majority of speakers use usurer in all cases." Except that the wording seems to omit writers, I believe this is the best resolution to the question raised. The point of exclusion from spell-checkers, which are a lower authority than even dictionaries, is irrelevant, and the topic should be closed. DAVilla 05:11, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

The suggestion that "actor" applies to females is incorrect. The suggestion that the actor/actress dichotomy is in any way comparable to usurer/usuress is incorrect. Not many examples have survived, but certainly these two blog results (the only two blog results) both show the error not the supposed literary feminine use. http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&client=news&q=usuress&btnG=Search+Blogs
Also: I was suggesting that I had not even bothered searching for something I did not expect to find. This circus-like defense of an error is a waste of everyone's time - especially our misinformed readers! We should not be spouting out misinformation such as the current "definition" at usuress. It is an error, and should be clearly identified as such. --Connel MacKenzie 09:43, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
The suggestion that "usuress" is a word is in contest. Note that not only spell-checkers, but almost all other dictionaries list the suggestion "usurers" is difinitive. Even sources I normally detest agree: http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=usuress. This is first and foremost an error (of nearly any variety - take your pick!)
--Connel MacKenzie 09:38, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
For goodness’ sake Connel, give it up! The only thing here that’s truly insane is the amount of time and effort that we’ve both been wasting (at the time of my writing this latest addition to this absurd saga, this page is already 38 kilobytes long!) on this single bloody word. Listen to yourself: you’re reduced to arguing that this erratum occurs because of faulty keyboards! For such a mistype to occur requires the coïncidence of two typos or hardware faults in one rare word; (that is, that the second ‘r’ in usurers be omitted and that the second ‘s’ be duplicated). And you’re telling me that my theories are bizarre!
You are contradicting yourself. On the one hand, you’re claiming that usuress is a common misspelling of usurers — moreover, more common than its correct definition; whilst, on the other hand, you are justifying the lack of web-based evidence therefor on the fact that people check what they write, thus eliminating the error before it is published. I ask you — what is the point in warning our readers against a rare misspelling which theoretically is extremely unlikely to be made and in practice does not seem to exist? As Ruakh said: “if we, actively looking for cases of this error, can’t find any, then what’s the risk that a user would come across this error and be unable to figure out what happened”? Remember that that is the purpose of misspelling entries. You wrote here that you “feel they [(instances of misspellings)] need to meet a much higher standard than we currently require” — the common misspelling definition for usuress which you say is so necessary wouldn’t even meet WT:CFI, let alone the “much higher standard” which you advocate.
Your reference to Windows Live Search is irrelevant, as it only gives roughly the same web results as those given by Google (which I have already looked over and found no instance of usuress used in the plural), and the suggested spelling correction is the same spellchecker-based argument that you’ve made already. A similar example to the usurers / usuress dichotomy is the case of genesis / geneses (the latter being the plural of the former) — Google flags up geneses as a misspelling of genesis, which just goes to show how reliable spell-checkers are. Finally, your two blog results don’t misuse usuress in the way you describe — in their sentences, usuress functions as an adjective (they probably meant usurious or usurial), not a plural noun — so these two quotations, even though they show misuses, do not help your case (this misuse doesn’t satisfy CFI either).
I’m not going to tackle your off-topic objections to feminine forms in general, as that is not the issue here (although it’s obvious that your motive for instituting this misspelling definition stems from an opposition to feminine forms in general). Your case has been disproven far beyond reasonable doubt by now; please, do the right thing, and concede defeat on this issue rather than carrying on in this dogged, futile fashion. Lastly, what definition of “troll” are you using? — “One who disagrees with Connel when he’s pushing his baseless, disproven POV”? † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 14:03, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
Message to user DAVilla: — I have added “and writers” to the usage note, I believe that the entry is now in a satisfactory state. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 14:03, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
The fact that you obfuscated your signature, to make it look like it was signed by DAVilla is disturbing...I've clarified your line above to be less misleading.
The facts you ignore are the actual references I've indicated from the start. Every petty type of request you've made I've refuted with numerous facts, sources and cites. Yet you stubbornly cling to your hope that because you found some misusage, your POV is the only one correct. Sorry, but that is irrational.
Your outrageous twisting of words is impressive. It is not my "objections to feminine forms", it is your non-English language introduction of gender to gender neutral terms, which is not NPOV.
My case has not been "disproven" at all, let alone beyond a reasonable doubt. Yours, on the other hand, has. Even for those two final examples, you simply lie; they clearly are both intended as "usurers" in both cases. The only explanation I can see as to why you are being so stubborn, is because you know you are wrong. The only remotely reasonable argument made in your favor so far, was Widsith's humorous suggestion regarding the term's absence even from urbandictionary.com. I suggest you cease and desist. --Connel MacKenzie 14:45, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't know how quickly we can knock this on the head. It is very clearly a word that a significant number of writers have made use of. Its absence from computer spell-checkers is no reason to call it "misusage". Of RD's 3 "ambiguous" citations, 2 are not at all ambiguous as they refer to Raskolnikov's encounter with Alyona Ivanovna in chapter 1 of Crime & Punishment. The word passes CFI in every way. Widsith 15:06, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
Connel, please tell me that you’re joking. What possible reason could I have for “obfuscating” my signature? Why would I want to pretend that what I wrote came from DAVilla‽ Come on, if you’re going to accuse me of lying / falsifying / intentionally misleading, at least invent a credible motive for me to do so!
The only real and pertinent point (apart from the two blog citations, which I’ll get to later) that you’ve made thus far is to talk about spell-checkers proscribing against usuress, with usurers suggested as a substitute therefor. In opposition to this argument, I offered what I believe to be a convincing theory as to why spell-checkers make this suggestion, later giving an example of a spell-checker making the same error (“geneses”). On top of that, the value of spell-checkers as authorities has been flatly denied by DAVilla (“The point of exclusion from spell-checkers, which are a lower authority than even dictionaries, is irrelevant, and the topic should be closed”). If you call my asking you for a single example of what you claim is so common “petty”, then you are calling into question the very basis (attestation) of WT:CFI — are you?
I hardly think that I’m “introducing gender to gender neutral terms” — I didn’t create the entry for usuress (Kevin Ryde did at 00:14, on the 14th day of August, 2006[61]), and neither was I alive in 1641 (the date of the OED’s first citation therefor, according to Widsith).
Let’s look at your two blog citations:
  1. “The Oliver Peoples website fails to emphasize the 15-day return policy, which is an extremely short turnaround and a usuress return policy.”
  2. “But sales tax in Seattle is already a usuress 8·8% (yes, I know actual usury is higher, it’s 12% in Washington, I’m using a rhetorical trick called “hyperbole”).”
In both these cases, to substitute usuress with usurers would lead to an ungrammatical sentence. Granted, they are already ungrammatical — I’m not contesting that they’re using usuress in error. I just think that it is a lot more believable that these two authors intended to use an adjective (probably usurious or usurial), which would have made their sentences grammatical, rather than a plural, which would have meant that their sentences would still be ungrammatical — and obviously so, considering that both the plurals would have been immediately preceded by a — the English preconsonantal singular indefinite article. You would at least have some kind of case if you said that those authors meant to write “usurer’s” or something…
It is you who is irrational. A core element of rationality is logic. Your arguments are based on logical fallacies — argumenta ad verecundiam and the idea that abscence of evidence is evidence of abscence (or at least evidence of incorrectitude). Therefore, you are being irrational. My arguments, on the other hand, are logical and based upon both deductive evidence (e.g.: arguing the theory behind why spell-checkers are mis-flagging usuress as a misspelling of usurers) and inductive evidence (e.g.: analyses of every English search result given by both Google and Google Book Search). Therefore, I am being rational.
I tell you what: since you seem to be such a fan of logical fallacies, how about an argumentum ad numerum? — Shall I call a community vote to see how many people our respective theories can convince? Come on Connel, I know that you are far too intelligent to genuinely believe what you are arguing. Just give it up. You’ve lost. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 17:02, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
That is wildly false. The references I first cited were all dictionaries. Surely you've heard of those things? You twisted words to go off on the tangent of spell-checkers which I indulged in, only because of your wild inaccuracies. The spelling "usuress" is first and foremost an error. You know this to be a fact. The indication that it could be used (in the distant past, with literary licence) is a secondary note, at best. Your personal removal of the only relevant information of interest to readers (the indication that it is first and formost an error) is what is clearly against the community opinion. --Connel MacKenzie 17:12, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
I dealt with those invalid references hereinbefore (“…the idea that abscence of evidence is evidence of abscence (or at least evidence of incorrectitude)” & “The only real and pertinent point … that you’ve made thus far is to talk about spell-checkers…”). I’m sure that in every dictionary there will be a word omitted which you think ought to be in there as much as in every dictionary there will be a word included which you think ought not to be in there; such is the fallacy of argumenta ad verecundiam.
This discussion is a totally pointless waste of both of our time. Since I don’t believe that you could be so blind as to ignore such an overwhelming quantity and quality of evidence when your POV has no concrete evidence to defend it, then I can only conclude that you’ve attached too much ego to being right about this one word, and that it is ultimately your misplaced pride that is preventing you from rightly conceding defeat. Therefore, since you’re not man enough to put your hand up and admit that you’re wrong, I’ll take your forbearing changing usuress and the pertaining entries as your implicit, face-saving way of conceding defeat. To be blunt Connel, this whole ludicrous charade has been pathetic and disappointing; you do yourself no justice by stubbornly becoming embroiled in this Pythonesque display of intransigent pig-headedness. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 12:36, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
Lacking the ability to refute even a single point, you instead digress to personal attacks? How...trendy. Of ALL those dictionary links, which one did not suggest the combination of characters was an error? Did you every go back and look at those links? Obviously not. My politeness of not changing an entry under discussion is simply a matter of following very long-standing tradition on en.wiktionary.org, which you, in your "pig-headedness," repeatedly ignore. It doesn't make you any less incorrect, though. --Connel MacKenzie 18:16, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
The Cambridge Dictionary page failed to load, but if it displayed the same sort of message that the others do, then it, along with your other nine references, are irrelevant. Neither “Bartleby.com”, “Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913 + 1828)”, “WordNet Search”, “FOLDOC”, “Urban Dictionary”, nor “http://www.slangcity.com” suggest anything as a correction — they just say that they don’t list it (irrelevant, as abscence of evidence is not evidence of abscence). As for the other three (“Dictionary.com”, “Merriam–Webster’s Online Dictionary”, and “MSN Encarta”), you know as well as I do that their respective lists of corrections are generated by in-built spell-checkers — what human would suggest “Ozarks” as a correction of “usuress”‽ There; refuted seriatim — happy now? You are acting in such noxious bad faith — it is you who truly deserves the epithet of “troll”. All you’re doing any more is undermining your own credibility. That’s really sad. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 19:30, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
On one hand, you say that the three most trusted sources on the English language are all invalid, on the other, you repeat your insults? I don't know what to say to your irrationality. --Connel MacKenzie 05:29, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

As a (hopefully) final word, The Chambers Dictionary (1998) gives: "usury n the taking of [...] interest on a loan ... ­—n usurer a moneylender (now usu at excessive rates of interest): — fem usuress". Thryduulf 22:13, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for that. I’ve added a reference thereto to the entry. Needless to say, this doesn’t actually disprove the existence of the erratum in question, but it is yet another strong piece of evidence. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 22:25, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, perhaps your copy of the Chambers dictionary has it - but the online version disavows it. I'll see if my local library can order that 1998 version. Interestingly, it does point out an item I missed earlier; all of the "citations" provided above seem to be of British origin (including the item from the NC University - second keyword "London.") That does explain to me, why UK/Commonwealth speakers (who have been so militant here) may be baffled. But you can't say "usuress" in America without eliciting snickers (or more often, bursts of laughter) except, perhaps in a particularly dicey hypothetic context. I am not sure if a tag of "UK" would suffice - it still would be misleading to the broad majority of readers here. But that would be a step in the right direction. --Connel MacKenzie 05:22, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
Actually, it doesn't disavow it, it just doesn't include it. It seems that the online site is Chambers 21st Century Dictionary ("The focus is on the English that people use today") which at 1664 pages is almost 3000 pages shorter than The Chambers Dictionary ("The largest, bestselling and most comprehensive single-volume English dictionary"). The sample page (PDF) on the website also shows prominent boxed usage notes which the older dictionary does not have. It is clear from this that there will be many definitions in The Chambers Dictionary that are not in Chambers 21st Century Dictionary for reasons of space. It is agreed by everyone (including I think you) that usuress is a less common word than usurer (itself not an every-day word for most people) and so its lack of inclusion in smaller works is not much of a surprise. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Compare The Chambers Dictionary and sample page (PDF).
"I am not sure if a tag of "UK" would suffice - it still would be misleading to the broad majority of readers here." Which is precisely why there is a usage notes section of usurer and should be one on usuress explaining that some speakers and writers distinguish between a male usurer and a female usuress, but the marjority do not, using usurer for both genders.
"But you can't say "usuress" in America without eliciting snickers (or more often, bursts of laughter) except, perhaps in a particularly dicey hypothetic context" now this is perhaps the most bizarre comment in this thread. I would doubt the word usurer is in the vocabulary of a majority of people, and I would expect those who do would not laugh or snicker at a misusage. More likely, in my opinion, would be that they are confusing usurer with the near-homophone and wider-known word usher, the feminine of which is usherette not usheress - which I can believe might produce snickers. Thryduulf 09:22, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
I can agree that it is an uncommon word, but I'm surprised to hear it called "rare." The general case is that if one knows the word "usurer" at all, they know that "usuress" is incorrect (but that is obviously impossible to prove statistically.) --Connel MacKenzie 19:11, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
I’ve copied the usage notes for usurer to the entry for usuress. A lot of Connel’s comments herein are bizarre — it seems like he’ll grasp at any bunch of straws, no matter how small, in his efforts to “taint” this word with the status of being somehow “non-standard”. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 10:29, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
The accepted word for the concept already exists (usurer) is what makes the nonstandard "usuress" nonstandard. But that doesn't make it clear why you still resort only to personal attacks in absence of any resonable response to the references that refute your assertions (and your willy-nilly removal of crucial information from the usuress entry.) --Connel MacKenzie 19:11, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
What references? The dictionaries or the spell-checkers (the validity of both of which, I believe, I’ve refuted already)? Would you say that inflected feminine in forms are incorrect in English? I resort to personal attacks due to frustration with and disappointment caused by what I see as someone refusing to concede defeat in an argument in which he has been resoundly defeated. I’ve lost all appetite for this thread. Feel free to reädd the misspelling definition, though I guarantee that it won’t survive WT:RFV. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 17:53, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
You certainly never refuted dictionaries. Nor spell-checkers. You have been soundly defeated in each of the arguments you've made, generating more arguments that you cannot refute at each turn. --Connel MacKenzie 00:40, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
In answer to the original question posed by User:Meco, yes, usurer is gender-neutral. It may specifically refer to a man, but that in no way contradicts the gender-neutral usage (if a word is gender neutral, it can refer to a person of any gender, and that means it will refer to a man sometimes). In answer to all of the subsequent questions: usuress is a word, it has been comprehensively verified, it is not nonstandard in any way, it is apparently not dated, and it is relatively rare. — Beobach972 19:13, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
Smiley noted; however, the term 'usuress' is nonstandard, despite what Doremítzwr may wish to assert. --Connel MacKenzie 00:40, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

The OED is avaialbe free for 48 hours now, and the same in a week's time. I've taken the opportunity to look at the entry for "usruess" [62]-

usuress rare

A female usurer.

1641 R. BRATHWAIT Eng. Gentlew. 300 A religious divine comming to a certaine usuresse,..told her [etc.]. 1648 HEXHAM II, Een Woeckeresse, an Usuresse, or a woman Usurer. 1898 Daily Tel. 28 May 7/3 The defendants..evinced no little hostility to the usuress.

Thryduulf 22:01, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

The misspelling sense for usuress has failed the Requests for Verification process. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 04:58, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Following my RFVfailed declaration, Connel reverted my changes, whereupon I gave him several days to justify his actions. When he had failed to do so, I again declared the misspelling sense RFVfailed. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 12:22, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Guess what everybody? He rolled back my second declaration too, and reverted my removal of the RFVfailed misspelling sense. He was soon reverted himself by Ruakh; the threat of being blocked that was tied in with the reversion seems to have done the trick — my third RFVfailed declaration presently still stands. What a saga! † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 11:48, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

rickki lee jones lyrics

Ok so I need some help. I am a singer, currently i am doing some rickki lee jones songs, although i know the lyrics i have no idea what some on them mean, so if there is anyone out there who remember the 70's-80's or is a big rickki fan please help me w/ these meanings... thanks

1. hershey milkshake steaming on a stick..... "what the heck is that mean?

2. how come he don't come and P.I.P. with me down at the meter no more. "what does it mean to P.I.P. with some one?"

3. he was sitting behind us down at the panentages "is that a place or club?

Thanks to anyone who could help, it just means more to me if I know what I am singing about!

Peace! Jillian

Great song. She actually says PLP, which is apparently a slang acronym for public leaning post, meaning either that they were leaning on each other or that they were hanging out together under a streetlamp. (See very bad article at w:PLP.) The Pantages was a theatre in LA where her and Chuck E and Tom Waits used to hang out. Widsith 14:14, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
The second article's at w:Pantages Theatre (Hollywood).. __meco 14:35, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Lake in colors.

What is the meaning of "LAKE" in descriptive artists colors ?

For example Alazarin Crimson, Alazarin Crimson Lake (?)

     - - - -Richard (SAN)

Ps, Is there a history of this use ?

w:Lake pigment. (Seems to be spelled "Alizarin Crimson Lake.") --Connel MacKenzie 00:17, 7 June 2007 (UTC)


Hello everybody,

Could sb tell me what is the difference between 'unmeasurable' & 'immeasurable'? THANK YOU

Looks like unmeasurable and immeasurable depend too much on the meaning of each. It's the same basic difference as between unable and impossible.--Halliburton Shill 08:00, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

THANK YOU Halliburton Shill. Could you be a little more specific? When is appropriate to use one form or another, why most of the dictionaries don't comprise 'unmeasurable'? Lorelei

They mean the same thing, but unmeasurable is virtually obsolete now, so if you use it people will think you're being either very literary, or old-fashioned, or that you've made a mistake. Nine times out of ten I would stick to immeasurable. Widsith 08:35, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
My understanding is that something unmeasurable is inherently impossible to measure (like sadness), but that something immeasurable is just too big to measure (like the number of atoms in the universe). SemperBlotto 08:41, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
I had an exercise to complete a sentence with the correct form of a word. The word was 'measure', and the sentence 'The universe is.........'. I used 'immeasurable' but the given correct answer was 'unmeasurable'. Lorelei.
It's true that unmeasurable is usually used less figuratively than immeasurable. But it's crazy to say that you were wrong there. Widsith 09:10, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
I would have used immeasurable for the universe too. May be a conflict in how universe is perceived. As I see it, im = absolute, un = changeable. The universe is also immovable, whereas George Bush's mind may simply be unmovable.--Halliburton Shill 15:59, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Unmeasurably sad or immeasurably sad? I would prefer immeasurable for qualities etc that cannot be measured, whereas unmeasurable because it is physically impossible. My ha'porth. Algrif 16:54, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
"Unmeasurably sad" is a tautology; one can never measure how sad someone is, so there's not usually a point to mentioning it for a specific case. "Immeasurably sad", however, means simply "extremely sad". I guess "unmeasurable" describes something that cannot be measured because it's not tangible or not quantifiable, or perhaps because a specific logistical problem interferes with measuring it ("His blood pressure was unmeasurable by our sphygmomanometer, because it was designed for a larger arm than his"); "immeasurable" really just means "immense, beyond measure, too large to be measured". (I guess it doesn't really make sense to view something unmeasurable as being beyond measure — after all, its quantity is irrelevant to its measurability — but that's how the terms are used.) I'd say that the Universe is certainly "immeasurable", and likely "unmeasurable". —RuakhTALK 17:16, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Isn't the universe growing and moving? Don't scientists make "measurements" of such growth and movement? I suspect that psychiatrists "measure" degrees of sadness. I think Widsith's assessment is best: "unmeasurable" is usually obsolete or archaic; immeasurable is the word used in modern English. The only exception I wouldn't balk at immediately, would be using "unmeasurable" in reference to a failed measurement. E.g. "Her enormous waist was unmeasurable with his mere six foot long measuring tape." (But if I were writing it, I'd simply reword it as "couldn't be measured," instead of using an obsolete word form.) --Connel MacKenzie 18:21, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Re universe, no and no. It's infinite. But that's the point. Different people have different understandings of it, although scientists agree it's infinite. Let us know when you come up with your infinity measurer. They need one.--Halliburton Shill 22:54, 9 June 2007 (UTC)
Scientists most certainly do not agree that the Universe is infinite (though that is one major theory, supported by evidence that the Universe is flat); see w:Universe. —RuakhTALK 02:33, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
I'll have to read up on that - I've heard that space could be described as "growing without bounds" but not the Universe (before now.) Fascinating theories abound, it seems. Gosh, I was under the impression that "parallel universes" was restricted to Sci-Fi. Learn something new, every day... --Connel MacKenzie 02:31, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

surf etymology

Currently the etymology for surf is listed as:

   Maybe suffe, of uncertain origin.

Merriam-Webster and I believe other dictionaries agree with this. It seems to me that a very likely candidate is surfeit.

From M-W:

surfeit 1 : an overabundant supply : EXCESS

Etymology: Middle English surfet, from Anglo-French, from surfaire to overdo, from sur- + faire to do, from Latin facere -- more at DO

I don't believe further explanation is required, but upon observing that there is an overabundant supply of water as the waves approach the shore, one might naturally refer to it as surfeit.

Er...we try and be a little more scientific in etymologies than just what seems reasonable. suff was used with the same meaning as surf, and the latter seems to be a development of the former but it's unclear exactly where the R came from. If it had come from surfeit we would expect to see surfeit used with that sense, which we don't. Widsith 16:35, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Language, countable or uncountable

The current fourth definition of language is:

A nonverbal system of communication.
sign language

This is marked as (uncountable), but sign language has both countable and uncountable meanings. Shouldn't this be marked as (countable or uncountable)? If so, is there a template to produce this ({{countable or uncountable}} doesn't exist)? Thryduulf 00:30, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

It won't produce an "or," but {{context|countable|uncountable}} should do the trick. {{context}} can be used to combine context tags. Dmcdevit·t 01:30, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
{{context|countable|or|uncountable}} does exactly that. —RuakhTALK 06:03, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Interesting...neat trick. But don't we normally omit countable indications when something is both? (Likewise transitive/intransitive.) --Connel MacKenzie 17:19, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't know what the normal practice is, but I don't see a reason to omit "countable or uncountable" in such circumstances. There are no issues with space, as there would be in a print dictionary, and it seems less intuitive to omit something than display it. I'm particularly thinking of a situation like below:
  1. definition 1 (countable)
  2. definition 2
  3. definition 3 (uncountable).
Where definition 2 has itself several definitions, some countable some uncountable. If some well-meaning editor who only knows the countable definition(s) of 2, they are not unlikely to assume it is an oversight and mark it as (countable), which is wrong. The more obscure the uncounbtable definitions of 2 are the more this is likely to happen.
The same is true for transitive/intransitive verbs. As an example I fully understand the difference between countable and uncountable, but have not yet internalised the difference between transitive and intransitive. As it is my opinion that an incomplete definition is better than no definition, I am likely to add a missing definition but leave the transitive/intransitive marking to someone else, resulting in a situation similar to that above.
I've probably not been my most eloquent here, but basically I believe that marking as (countable or uncountable)/(transitive or intransitive) is a good thing. Thryduulf 17:58, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
Not forgetting the translation problem. For example people countable in English gente uncountable in Spanish. Algrif 07:45, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree that in this case, uncountable or countable is reasonable, but I don't think it would be in any way useful to indicate that on every entry. --Connel MacKenzie 18:19, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

I think that all the following are agreed:

all countable (or all uncountable) some countable, some uncountable some countable, some uncountable, some countable or uncountable
example 1 (countable) example 2 example 3
1. definition 1a 1. definition 2a (countable) 1. definition 3a (countable)
2. definition 1b 2. definition 2b (uncountable) 2. definition 3b (uncountable)
3. definition 1c 3. definition 2c (uncountable) 3. definition 3c (countable or uncountable)
Which of the following should we use though?
all countable or uncountable
example 4 example 5 (countable or uncountable)
1. definition 4a (countable or uncountable) 1. definition 5a
2. definition 4b (countable or uncountable) 2. definition 5b
3. definition 4c (countable or uncountable) 3. definition 5c

Example 5 is consistent, but example 4 has less potential for confusion. Also, which of the ones below should we use?

all countable or countable or uncountable
example 6 (countable) example 7
1. definition 6a 1. definition 7a (countable)
2. definition 6b 2. definition 7b (countable)
3. definition 6c (countable or uncountable) 3. definition 7c (countable or uncountable)

For the same reasons of avoiding confusion I gave earlier in this discussion, I think example 7 is preferable. Thryduulf 21:54, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

I think such a proposal belongs in the beer parlour. I know that I don't use any of the formats you suggest, typically. In general, I only indicate countable/uncountable when there clearly is some confusion, not for every noun. This is especially true for example 1, example 4 and example 5, above...if the plural is indicated and all senses can be singular or plural, it is perfectly redundant to indicate it again.
On the other hand, if the default display of countable and uncountable is switched to C and U, I'd be more likely to support a bot activity of populating them all. --Connel MacKenzie 16:47, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Do drugs: Phrasal verb?

I wish to eliminate do drugs from the phrasal verb category. Any objections? Algrif 16:46, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

No objection; looks like an error to me. --Connel MacKenzie 17:31, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Mess. Order of definitions.

Looking at the entry mess. While all the definitions are valid, why is the overwhelmingly most common usage in the penultimate position? Is there any policy about definition ordering, with some attempt at 'most common first. Least common last'? Algrif 12:03, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

There are two competing schools of thought on Wiktionary. One group would like to see the most common definition given first, when this can be easily determined. The other group would like to see all definitions given in the chronological order in which they are first attested. I am part of the first group, since many other Wiktionary projects will glean our top definition as the only one for an English word, on the assumption that the top one is the most common (as most print dictionaries do). This has led to some odd translations given for English words on the French Wiktionary. However, the disagreement about approach has not been settled and does not seem likely to be settled anytime soon. So, if you see a page like mess, with very odd and rare definitions given first, that is the probable reason. --EncycloPetey 16:41, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
I favor group 1 (most common first), replaced by what's considered the intellectually correct definition when most common is unclear, and then chronology as a last resort. I'd also like to see all the etymologies in a separate etymology section. In terms of intuitiveness, it's as if we've decided to order things Z to A without the courtesy of labeling the new order.--Halliburton Shill 00:40, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
While I am adamant that chronological order is the only option for any quality dictionary. It may seem counter-intuitive at first for a few entries but ultimately it solves innumerable problems (and also avoids arguments about which is the "most common" sense for polysemantic words like set). Widsith 11:45, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
The solution that I suggested here in the tea room a few months back (and which was agreed with by those with whom I was discussing at the time) was to order definitions in order of least to greatest deviation from the original etymological sense. Doing so solves both the problems that can arise over ambiguities as to which meaning is the most common usage (or regional differences thereof) as well as the problems caused by words with multiple meanings since time immemorial (that is, ambiguities as to which sense arose first). The only problem with this is that words whose etymologies are unknown will not be organisable according to this principle (thankfully, such words are few and far between). My solution thereto would be to order words which lack an etymology in chronological order, from oldest to newest sense, as, most of the time, the oldest senses will be those closest to the original etymological meaning. Of course, this method for ordering definitions may have problems of which I am unaware; if such problems exist, please flag them up. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 12:26, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
That's group 2, chronology, but with a serious disadvantage. With chronology, we know that the most current meaning is last. We still don't know what common usage is (and original etymological correctness turns that into a random guess), but for someone trying to figure out what a word they heard/read for the first time today on the news/in a blog, at least they can be confident it's one of the last meanings on the list.--Halliburton Shill 15:12, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
Hmm… I see what you mean. However, I’d give our users a little more credit than you do. I imagine that if one is willing to bother to look up a word in a dictionary, one would be willing to talk a little time and one would be able, in most cases, to deduce which sense is meant from context. Furthermore, this task is made more easy by usage notes, Halliburton Shill’s very sensible proposal that usages from different etymologies be given their own separate etymology sections (as all good dictionaries ought to), context tags (like (physics) or (philosophy), quotations showing usage, et cetera. We ought not to bend over backwards for the sake of those users users who lack the patience to read entries properly. Also, as mentioned, there are problems with ordering by chronology (I can imagine the cite wars — though, they’d probably be quite beneficial…) as there are with ordering by usage (with colloquialisms, the ordering is likely to be fluxional, but the biggest problem herewith (apart from issues of ambiguous most common usage) is regional differences in most common usage — note the heated discussion that surround the question of which spelling is given “primacy” when they are split along regional lines (e.g.: colour / color), and with definitions, they can’t be ordered “joint first”). † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 11:53, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree about idiot proofing. But there are certain assumed standards. Order: A-Z; books: left to right; definitions (including spelling): common to uncommon. We shouldn't be making Wiktionary counter-intuitive, unless necessary or there's some magnificent benefit.--Halliburton Shill 18:58, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
Common to uncommon isn't an assumed standard though. The OED and Collins unabridged as well as many major dictionaries in other languages are all laid out on historical principles, with good reason. Widsith 12:48, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

All this seems to me to be at odds with the idea of listing the 1000 most common words in the English language. If someone looks up take he would be left with the impression that the word is most commonly used, in position 135 with the sense To grasp with the hands. If anyone has access to the COBUILD database, I feel that there they have got the right idea. Primary current meaning is the most usual reason for checking out a word in a dictionary, especially one that is intended for international use. Algrif 13:54, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

I think Hippietrail may have a mid-to-long-term solution to all this, involving templates. Basically, eventually users will be able to select in what order the defs display to them. Otherwise this is one of those issues which people will always disagree on and which attracts quite strong opinions on all sides. Widsith 15:19, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
That probably wouldn’t be the end of all the problems (see my simultaneously written post hereinbefore), but it would go a long way towards solving them. How would that look? I’d imagine a {{defs-top}} template given just after the inflexion line, with {{№|№|№}} written before every definition, wherein, say, the leftmost represents common usage (most → least), the middle one chronology (oldest → newest), and rightmost one etymological deviation (least → most), and then a {{defs-bottom}} given at the end of the definitions; all this would activate a button (perhaps to the right of the POS header) asking the user if he wants the definitions ordered by usage, chronology, or etymology. How similar is this idea to Hippietrail’s? † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 11:53, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
I think that's the idea, although as far as I know no one except you advocates etymological distance as a criterion. Widsith 12:04, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
It was quite popular with the contributors to this discussion. As far as I know the suggestion has not been discussed since then (however, I’ve been away from Wiktionary for a few months until very recently, so such a discussion might have taken place without my knowing). † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 13:38, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
Fair enough. The inevitable problem with the idea seems to be words whose origin isn't known. This is a discussion for another time though. Widsith 13:44, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, but as I said above, they are few and far between. I think that for that reason, the “etymological distance criterion” ought to be the third number, so that if the word’s etymology is unknown, the third number can be omitted, and therefore the “order by etymology” button would not be given or would be greyed out. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 13:54, 12 June 2007 (UTC) ⋯ Or perhaps all the numbers should be prefaced by ‘U’, ‘C’, and ‘E’, respectively… † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 13:56, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
As far as I know, there are only three prospective advocates of the "sequence" method: User:Doremítzwr, User:Widsith and User:Hippietrail. What they each fail to recognise, is how en.wiktionary is currently used. Not only do our readers, in general, look to the first definition as the "primary sense," but so do some of the external programs now using en.wiktionary. This is not simple.wiktionary.org, but instead, en.wiktionary.org. It most certainly is not linguists-only.wiktionary.org.
Hippietrail has proposed one approach to using templates for identifying an alternate sequence. As long as the raw "wikitext" (the portion appearing in an edit box) is in the expected, "primary-sense first" order, I see no problem with adding additional templates to indicate etymological sequence. When Hippietrail gets around to implementing the alternate display, you will then be able to see them sequenced in "linguist-only" format. Until then, it is a blatant insult to anyone who has worked on en.wiktionary, and a blatant insult to anyone that has used en.wiktionary data, to retroactively rearrange all entries to to the "linguist-only" POV. --Connel MacKenzie 15:21, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
See link above for other supporters of the idea. And take some deep breaths. I couldn't care less how programs interpret the data, what is important is helping users, both newbies and those who want more detail. Nor is it the case that what anyone has mentioned is "linguist-only" (few people here are professional linguists after all). And self-evidently there is no "blatant insult" here, just a discussion which had been quite reasonable until your comment. Widsith 16:25, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
Deep breaths taken - perhaps you should take some too. Please re-read my comment - there is nothing unreasonable hidden there. En.wiktionary.org is used by a growing list of outside sources, and does (not universally, but more often than not) list primary sense first. --Connel MacKenzie 17:47, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
In support of Connel, the source code definitions should indeed probably be organised starting with the “primary sense” (whichever that is) in order to aid the programs. After all, doing so doesn’t stop us from being able to list the senses in the actually seen entry according to whichever order we want. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 17:00, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
More than aiding other programs, is to aid the typical reader, who is looking for a quick, concise definition. Coincidentally, that would be just as almost all other conventional dictionaries do. It will be nice, though, if Hippietrail is able to implement an on-the-fly reordering. --Connel MacKenzie 17:47, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

We seem to frequently reference how existing dictionaries do it and what's expected. So, per the WT:CFI way, here are some citations I've found to begin with:--Halliburton Shill 21:54, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Current score (update as you add):

  • Chronological: 2
  • Common usage: 6
  • Etymological similarity: 0

1990, Oxford Concise Dictionary of Current English 8th Ed. →ISBN

Definitions are listed in a numbered sequence in order of comparative familiarity and importance, with the most current and important senses first:
A brief account of the etymology, or origin, of words is given in square brackets at the end of entries.

1996, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 10th Ed., →ISBN

The order of the senses within an entry is historical: the sense known to have been first used in English is entered first.
Etymology ... in boldface square brackets preceding the definition....

1998, The Chambers Dictionary, →ISBN

Definitions in the dictionary entries are ordered and grouped with a view to clarity, ease of comprehension and use. Normally the most common meanings are given first, unless an earlier, perhaps more specific sense serves to clarify or explain its subsequent use. In abbreviation and symbol entries, definitions are listed alphabetically.
The etymolgy is given in square brackets at the end of the entry.

2000, American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 3rd Ed., →ISBN

Entries containing more than one sense are arranged for the convenience of contemporary dictionary users with the central and often the most commonly sought meanings first.
Etymologies appear in square brackets following the definitions.

2007, MSN Encarta, sample definition - fatal, (Web version, no explicit statement of order)

1. leading to death: causing or capable of causing death
4. predestined: arranged or controlled by fate ( archaic )

2007, Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, sample definition - fatal, (Web version, no explicit statement of order)

1 ... causes death
2 very serious and having an important bad effect in the future

1928-2007, Oxford English Dictionary

“For each word in the OED, the various groupings of senses are dealt with in chronological order according to the quotation evidence, i.e. the senses with the earliest quotations appear first, and the senses which have developed more recently appear further down the entry. In a complex entry with many strands, the development over time can be seen in a structure with several 'branches'.”
fatal, adj.
1. (obsolete) Allotted or decreed by fate or destiny
6. Producing or resulting in death or destruction...

All CoBUild dictionaries. (There are several, but I have just added 1 to the score line above)

Entries containing more than one sense are arranged for the convenience of contemporary dictionary users with the central and often the most commonly sought meanings first.
Entries are calculated from their huge common usage database.Algrif 11:16, 14 June 2007 (UTC)


I just entered this, but I am unsure about the examples. It would be nice if some native speakers had a look at this. I.e. one for German, one for English. H. (talk) 11:59, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure about the Rudolf Steiner example. I'd use "that is" instead of "especially" in that context, but maybe I'm just plain wrong. :-) Busfahrer 11:46, 31 July 2007 (UTC)


Similarly, I’d like some natives here... H. (talk) 13:58, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

makover or makeover

Hi. Is the entry makover correct? I cannot seem to clarify it on Google. Is it just a mis-spelling of makeover?Algrif 17:40, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

makover was a spelling mistake (by me) - I have deleted it, and expanded the correct entry a little. Thanks for spotting it. SemperBlotto 17:51, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

verb to cheddar

There is an entry in RFV for Cheddaring. I have indicted in there that there is evidence for the verb to cheddar (with a small 'c') and I would like to make this entry as a verb, adding a 'see also' link to Cheddar but I need an admin. to remove the redirect. Could someone look into this, please? Algrif 11:38, 12 June 2007 (UTC) Or can I do it myself???Algrif 12:27, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

You certainly can do it yourself. When you visit cheddar, you see a link on the second line (immediately below the page title) that says "(Redirected from cheddar)" - clicking on that "cheddar" link brings you to http://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=cheddar&redirect=no which you can then edit. If you really need to use the preload templates, you can replace that entry with {{delete}}. --Connel MacKenzie 15:28, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks. Done. Algrif 16:15, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

This is a good reminder that our help pages need to explain this method better. --Connel MacKenzie 17:15, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

graphite Greek etymology

Hi. Could someone who knows please edit the etymology of graphite by adding the correct Greek characters? Thanks. Algrif 13:08, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Done. Widsith 16:29, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

consul ad honorem.

anybody knows what it means?

Could depend on the context. It could mean "honorary consul" or "consul with honor". --EncycloPetey 18:18, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Archaic usage

As a translator and editor, I often need to know when a word has changed in register or otherwise fallen from usage. What resources can I consult to find this out? The more extensive dictionaries such as the Oxford, unabridged editions, and others, will indicate when a word entered the language, but I can't recall ever having discovered the opposite. There'd be some indication when a newer word--if known--supplants an earlier one; what if the newer term is an expression? -- Thanks, Deborahjay 08:44, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Word histories have typically fallen outside of our purview. I believe the reference that might help with your research is etymonline. --Connel MacKenzie 18:21, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, it shouldn't fall outside our purview. The short answer is that this kind of information is only deducible from citations, and at the moment the use of citations on Wiktionary is still very much in its infancy. However, looking back through citations on the OED for example should tell you what you need to know. Widsith 08:57, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Japanese Encephalitis and Vaccine

Japanese Encephalitis Please post as many linguistic translations for this term as you can.
vaccine Please post as many linguistic translations for this term as you can. —This unsigned comment was added by Rlene (talkcontribs).
You should direct your request to the translations page. — Beobach972 19:36, 13 June 2007 (UTC)


Which dialect is this? Is it comparable?

Also, how is it pronounced?

Cynewulf 00:47, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

All info now added to page. Widsith 08:56, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
Thanks! Cynewulf 17:13, 14 June 2007 (UTC)


Hope you are doing good!

Can I have some more information on a hindu festival "Madhushravni"?

Swarnim Pune,India —This unsigned comment was added by Swarnim (talkcontribs).

This is a dictionary. You may have better luck at Wikipedia. While they don't seem to have an article on this festival (although it is mentioned as some sort of marrage ceremony in Mithila), you could try asking at their India Portal or Hinduism Portal. Atelaes 07:45, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

supreme - comparable

The entry for "supreme" currently marks it as (not comparable), which in its original use it certainly was, and according to prescriptive grammarians it should be. However, modern usage sees comparable usage, e.g. -

  • 1940 International Phenomenological Society, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (p568)
    "If the value that is sought to be realized is cherished as the most supreme of values"
  • 2002 Pnina Werbner, Imagined Diasporas Among Manchester Muslims: : the Public Performance of Pakistani Transnational..." (p165)
    "And if he, the most supreme of all human beings, was not a king, is anyone else entitled to claim kingship?"
  • 1991 Suzanne Keller, Beyond the Ruling Class: Strategic Elites in Modern Society (p138)
    "Their power is more supreme in primitive societies because there the collective

conscience is more supreme."

  • '2000 Douglas Renfrew Brooks, Meditation Revolution: A History and Theology of the Siddha Yoga Lineage (p312)
    "There is no other more supreme than the Guru. There is no principle (tattva) more supreme than the Guru."

I think there is plenty of evidence for this usage, but how should it be entered? The current definition is "Dominant, having power over all others." is it part of this definition (currently marked as not comparable) or is it a second definition? Thryduulf 12:39, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

There are also lots of citations of ‘more unique’ etc. Since the cites don't involve a new word (ie it's not supremest etc.), I'd be tempted to leave it (but by all means include these quotations on the page). But it may be worth including a Usage note on pages like this, saying something along the lines of the OED's comment, ‘The usage in the comparative and superlative [...] has been objected to as tautological’, which seems to sum it up. Widsith 13:01, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
...but some animals are more equal than others... :-)Algrif 16:22, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Thinking about this further, I come to the conclusion that there may be a definition of supreme which is applied to spiritual, or heavenly beings. In heaven there are many supreme beings, but God is the most supreme. What do you think? Algrif 18:12, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

The word comes originally from the superlative form of the Latin adjective superus "what is above, higher, upper", so supreme originally (and still usually) meant "highest of the high", or "above all others". So, a "supreme court" or "supreme being" is one that has power over and above all others. In this sense it is not comparable, just as unique originally (and still usually) means "one of a kind". The appearance of comparable forms of supreme is a recent and rare phenomenon, so I would put the information into a Usage notes section and leave the inflection line as "ot comparable". --EncycloPetey 21:56, 18 June 2007 (UTC)


Is this just an Australian term? I've not heard it before, and the google hits that use the word (not just mention it) all seem to be Australian based. If it is the entry needs tagging apropriately. Thryduulf 15:05, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

The lemma verbal failed RFV recently, see Talk:verbal. I'm still interested in seeing more citations. I guess this entry should be shot on sight since it has no citations and already failed RFV... Cynewulf 17:13, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
Actually there seems to be no lack of evidence for "verballing," though it is clearly an Australian usage. The first three hits on Google books are from Australian textbooks of criminology, and there seem to be plenty more where those came from. I'm a little fuzzy on the protocol here -- should these cites go into verbal, as the lemma, or into verballing? -- Visviva 04:52, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Generally into verbal, unless:
  1. verballing is a derived noun, and not just a gerund, in which case cites demonstrating such (e.g., cites of its plural form) would go at verballing.
  2. verballing is a derived adjective, and not just a present participle, in which case likewise.
  3. we've already accepted the verb verbal, and the point of adding verballing cites is just to demonstrate that verballing is a valid gerund-participle of verbal. (For example, since the ordinary comparative of real is more real, realer has cites to demonstrate that it exists as well.)
RuakhTALK 05:48, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Groovy, thanks! I've put in 3 cites for the criminological verb sense of verbal -- which doesn't seem to be exclusively Australian, but I've tagged as {{Australian English}} anyway. -- Visviva 11:40, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

On another but related matter -- can someone with a knowledge of Danish or Swedish please check whether verballed can mean "verb phrase" or something similar? See e.g. w:da:Udsagnsled, and also the Gbooks hits which brought me to this question. Should led#Danish and led#Swedish incorporate this linguistic meaning ("phrase"? "compound"?) as well? -- Visviva 11:40, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

undo Homophones undue ?

undo Homophones undue ? Only in Texas, IMHO. What do you think?Algrif 16:29, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

They certainly aren't in British English accents. Thryduulf 16:35, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
They're partial homophones for me; undue I'd pronounce either as [ʌnˈdju] or as [ʌnˈdu], but for undo only the latter pronunciation is acceptable. And no, I'm not Texan. :-) —RuakhTALK 16:51, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
It seems to be GenAm, not just Texas. (I just said some example sentences aloud and didn't notice any difference between "undo" and "undue" - but that is a horribly inconclusive test, as a speaker can rarely notice subtle differences in their own speech.) Dictionary.com lists "[uhn-doo]" for both, with an alternate pronunciation (presumably British) for "undue." Likewise, AHD lists "ŭn-dōō'" for both, with an alternate for "undue." Also, m-w.com has only partial pronunciation listed for "undue" for some reason (but it matches the part of their listing for "undo.") --Connel MacKenzie 17:03, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
In my own speech (a variety of Midwestern American English without the "caught"/"cot" merger), a slight difference between the words appears only in certain contexts, but not in isolation. My "undue" (and isolated "undo") always sounds like [ˌʌnˈduː] but the first vowel of "undo" in most contexts sounds more neutral and the last vowel may shorten, e.g. "He tried to undo [ənˈdu] the damage.", but not in other contexts, e.g. "Can he undo [ˌʌnˈduː] the damage?". My guess is that the words are phonemically identical in most varieties of American English. Rod (A. Smith) 17:08, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Generally in British English, undue would rhyme with few. But if the general US pronunciation rhymes with foo, then it will stay as a partial homophone. Algrif 17:19, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

I've added the RP and GenAm IPA pronunciations to the page for undue, showing that for many Americans, the two pronunciations are the same. However, there are regions and individuals in the US where the pronunciation is closer to RP. --EncycloPetey 22:01, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Blind Doomsters and Immanent Will

Hi. I need to know what those 'words' mean. I'm doing some translation in wich I've found those terms. The article's title is " The Lyric Impulse" by C. Day Lewis. I can't find anything anywere. Many Thanks. Baza

We have blind, doom, -ster, immanent, Will and will. HTH. --Connel MacKenzie 20:44, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
The significance of these words in context is probably linked to the poetry of w:Thomas Hardy. "Immanent Will" and "purblind Doomsters" appear in poems which can be read on Poetrymountain (and probably other websites). As for how one might go about translating such phrases ... you're on your own. Good luck! -- Visviva 11:48, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

Looking for a word meaning in place of

I'm looking for a word which is used when a word for one part of something is used to mean the whole thing. Thus we speak of "Washington" when we mean the Government of the USA, or "Brussels" when we mean the European Union, "glasses" when we mean spectacles, "wheels" when we mean car etc.--Richardb 08:47, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

It's called synecdoche. Widsith 09:03, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
"Washington" is listed as an example at Metonymy, at w:Metonymy#List of metonyms as well. --Connel MacKenzie 16:57, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, synecdoche is a specialised type of metonymy. Metonymy can be any figure of speech whereby something is called by the name of one of its attributes (or any word associated with the thing). Widsith 17:09, 16 June 2007 (UTC)


Etymology 1 here has three definitions. However, I cannot understand that the latter two are significantly different from the first one, hence I propose to remove them. __meco 14:30, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Uploading and downloading of aircraft? On an aircraft carrier, that would be feet not inches. Whatever that definition is trying to say, it doesn't seem accurate. (Can someone find that reference online?) --Connel MacKenzie 17:04, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Italian numbers

Numbers (of any magnitude) are written as a single word in Italian. e.g. seven hundred and fifty thousand is settecentocinquantamila. How does "all words in all languages" cope with this situation? We already have all the cardinal numbers up to a hundred and several other larger ones. I could conceivable write a bot to generate them all and let it run to infinity, but I imagine that behaviour would be frowned upon! Does anyone have sensible suggestions about which ones should be selected? SemperBlotto 17:26, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

As an opening suggestion for discussion, how about those with multiple examples in b.g.c and/or g.g.c? Thryduulf 20:17, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
Alternatively, you could do 001 through 101, and then 110 (to show how Italian handles a multiple of ten + 100), and then all the hundreds, 1 000, million, milliard, billion, and the word/number for infinity. If anybody specifically adds other numbers (or if they're already here), and we can find quotations, I see no problem in keeping them. — Beobach972 22:36, 18 June 2007 (UTC)


can't find definition of the word UNGULET. i think it may mean baby marsupial or baby giraffe

That doesn't seem to be a word. The nearest I can think of is ungulate. SemperBlotto 21:57, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

glance definitions

While adding glance off I checked out glance. I would be hard put to justify two of the three verb definitions given. Opinions?Algrif 09:59, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

  • Definition 1 seems fine. 2 and 3 could be merged together but are different to 1, they are related to the adjective sense of glancing. Thryduulf 10:28, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Algrif. Senses 2 and 3 both seem to be definitions of glance off, not of glance alone. —RuakhTALK 15:23, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I've heard 3 used (perhaps in colloquial speech), but not 2. I'll look for a reference. Medellia 15:42, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
From the London Independent, from the USDA, from the University of Chicago Chronicle Medellia 15:47, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

I can see a case for use 3. in two of the cited articles. (Blowed if I can find anything about glance in the crop-watch stuff!) But my opinion is to remove sense 2. as this is covered in glance off and I cannot find any support for glance without off used intransitively. He shot at me, but luckily the bullet glanced. ??? Never heard or read anything like it. Algrif 12:34, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

So, can I eliminate sense 2. from glance then? Algrif 17:22, 22 June 2007 (UTC)


Is the recently-added second definition "An assault or attack" really a distinct sense from "The action of trying at something"? I presume it is meant for constructions like "an attempt on her life", which means "an attempt to kill her" or "an attempted assassination", which is covered under the first definition. Thryduulf 22:24, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, it's different. "He made an attempt on her life," means that he assaulted her, not that he "tried something". However, this might be better placed at attempt on someone's life. --EncycloPetey 01:51, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
But "attempt on" seems to be used more generally than just in "attempt on ___'s life"; a b.g.c. search for "attempt on" pulls up many other hits that seem to mean, well, "an assault or attack on". —RuakhTALK 03:51, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
That b.g.c search does seem to show that "attempt on" does frequently mean "an assault or attack on", but is "attempt" alone used in this way? If not then should the entry be at attempt on?
There does also seem to be a not-infrequent mountaineering use of "attempt on" to mean a planned climb of a mountain or section of a mountain, e.g. "Our attempt on the Matterhorn". This is an "attempt" in the first sense, but the word "climb" (or any other action) doesn't seem to ever be specified. Thryduulf 08:16, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure there's a grammatical basis for analyzing "attempt on Quebec" (to choose one popular b.g.c. example) as "attempt on" + "Quebec" rather than as "attempt" + "on Quebec". (Intransitive phrasal verbs are identifiable because they're intransitive, eliminating the prepositional-phrase interpretation, and transitive ones are identifiable because the object can sometimes precede the particle, eliminating the prepositional-phrase interpretation; but if there is such a thing as a complement-taking noun+particle phrasal noun, I'm not sure how one would identify it.) It might be worthwhile for attempt on to redirect to attempt, though. —RuakhTALK 16:38, 21 June 2007 (UTC) On second thought, I'm really not sure how this should work. —RuakhTALK 17:52, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't agree that attempt means "assault or attack". An attempt on X is simply an attempt to take, get, attain X, whether X is someone's life, a mountain peak, or 2m in the high jump. It's not particularly idiomatic; in fact a look at Google books shows at least a few examples where the word try is comfortably substituted. Widsith 09:18, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
I think "attempt on X" = "attempt to take X" is a decent definition; good work. Why do we want to exclude it, though? —RuakhTALK 16:38, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't know, I think we made an attempt on her life is very much idiomatic. It is certainly much more so than fried egg : what is a fried egg? It's an egg that has been fried. Any rationale about the subtlety of fried egg must apply here : this is at least subtly idiomatic — although I think the idiomatic nature of it is not subtle. What is an attempt on somebody's life? Is it a trial [of an action] using somebody's life as the physical foundation (ie, standing on her life)? Is it an attempt to take her life? Alright, how does a non-native speaker (or even a native speaker) of English recognise the removal of 'to take', and its replacement with 'on', in that sentence? In that context, 'take' itself is idiomatic — it means 'end'. The definition may well belong at attempt on and not attempt, but it belongs. — Beobach972 17:43, 22 June 2007 (UTC)


The current definition reads like a minor encyclopedia entry with all the appropriate ifs and buts. I just found Shulgin's definition on page xiv of his seminal work PiHKAHL, reading, "physically non-addictive compunds which temporarily alter the state of one's consciousness."

I'm not quite sure what to do about this article since I don't think it would be appropriate to list alternative definitions that are basically overlapping. Or am I wrong in my understanding? __meco 08:11, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

I agree the current noun definition is more encyclopaedic than is appropriate for a dictionary. The adjective sense of bright, richly saturated contrasting colours also appears to be missing. Thryduulf 08:23, 21 June 2007 (UTC)


This also means a certain style of straw hat. I'm not sure if it's another sense of the current def or a homonym. — Hippietrail 11:12, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

It is a true second definition. The hat is called a boater because it was typically worn by the people who liked to go boating on the Thames in the first half of the last century. But the definition stands by itself. My Old School summer uniform included a boater. (Typical of English Public Schools!!). Algrif 13:28, 21 June 2007 (UTC)


We already have an entry hat trick. I believe hattrick is a mis-spelling and should be removed. Algrif 17:58, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Although hattrick -"hat trick" gets a lot of hits, almost all of the web hits seem to be about a computer game called Hattrick (see w:Hattrick) and Google books hits almost all seem to find Hattrick as a surname. Excluding the computer game results is very tricky, but from what I've seen the use of "hattrick" as a misspelling of "hat trick" is really quite rare and doesn't get anywhere near our CFI requirements.
Google groups brings up a lot of Italian results, at least some of these are about the computer game but I'm not certain about the others, so someone who can read Italian needs to take a look to determine if it meets inclusion as a word in that language. Thryduulf 18:44, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm. If you simply want to see that it is used that way, take a peek at http://news.google.com/news?q=hattrick. As for meeting CFI, that is a tiny bit trickier, as most of those news outlets don't provide us with "durably archived" examples of use. Curiously, no American news outlets use that spelling. Equally curious, is that the spelling "hattrick" seems to apply only to soccer use of the term. --Connel MacKenzie 05:37, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
I take the point that it is used in this way, however it is used for non-football contexts. In the first three pages of results about 2 minutes ago, there were several tennis references, a couple of ones that I think are about Rugby, a reference to a "hattrick of world records", an athletics reference and an ice hockey reference, although all the rest of the relevant results were about football (soccer).
The majority of uses seem to come from South African, New Zealand and Indian sources, but there were some from the UK, Canada and Nigeria, and at least one each from Bangladesh, the UAE and Australia. One UK reference was about an organisation and one reference from Arizona was about a Mr Hattrick.
A Google News Archive search shows mainly American results, with cycling and football and other relavent uses, altough these are a lower percentage. Thryduulf 07:34, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

I propose we put hattrick as an alternative spelling in the entry hat trick. What say? Algrif 09:34, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

That seems appropriate to me. Thryduulf 15:37, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
Refer to definitions for bowler hat in relation to the game of cricket. —This unsigned comment was added by JH (talkcontribs) at 04:20, 19 July 2007 (UTC).

To render text in bold types

Is there a verb for this? It doesn't appear that embolden would cover this literal sense, and we do not yet have an entry for bolden. __meco 07:41, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

In the US, I've heard bold used this way, but rarely. More often I've heard "Make the text bold." --EncycloPetey 07:46, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
b.g.c. pulls up a number of hits where bold text is described as "bolded", which is an extremely confident use of the verb: no one with any reservations about the verb to bold would use bolded in a case where bold served. (It's hard to be sure whether these hits were written by native Anglophones, though.) —RuakhTALK 16:36, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
If you take a second look, you’ll find that it can indeed be used in this sense. † Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 17:23, 22 June 2007 (UTC)


The definitions of celebrate need some work - the first and second definitions seem to have a lot of overlap. How does "To extol or honour in a solemn manner" differ from "To honour by solemn rites" and "To perform or participate in, as a sacrament or solemn rite"? The second definition goes on to include other things before finally and almost as an afterthought mentioning birthdays - perhaps the most common usage, and certainly these days not a "solemn rite". Thryduulf 14:23, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Definition one refers to vocal praise. Definition three is the performing of a ceremony. These are distinct senses. --EncycloPetey 22:08, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

difine a CPA type of disclosure

i took an accounting test and there was a Q i had never herd of. The Q asked for a definition to (and unfortunately i do not have an exact spelling)for a CPA's "asserstation" notes.(it was something close to this spelling, and the word began with an "A" and had several "s") please help as it is important for me to know. thank you for your help.--Mem235 22:03, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

assertion, perhaps? Thryduulf 23:51, 23 June 2007 (UTC)


Where to begin?

Well, as this seems to be a copyvio, it probably should be deleted and restarted fresh (all derived...)

But the "countability" is unclear to me. How is this ever uncountable? Any why would that merit a separate (identical, redundant) sense?

--Connel MacKenzie 03:55, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Well, countable would refer to a specific instance. Uncountable would apply to the abstract act in general, like a mass noun I guess. It's a subtle distinction, though, and I think it's a general pattern for nouns like this. The uncountable sense may not be worth mentioning. --EncycloPetey 03:59, 24 June 2007 (UTC)


I am getting contradictory information on "beamer". I can't find any validating sources where its use as an English word - meaning a projector used in combination with a computer - is confirmed. I am well aware of this term used by Germans and the Dutch. It appears also to have spread to E. Europe.

I am now receiving reports that it is also spreading into English, as technical jargon. Can anyone give feedback on this? —This unsigned comment was added by PeterB+ (talkcontribs) at 08:43, 24 June 2007 (UTC).


Actually, my question is more general. "equal" just happens to be one example, and perhaps the second or third example I've encountered and I am sure there will be more.

I have been installing various inflection templates on an as needed basis. The spelling of the inflections of equal depend on the (UK) or (US) context. I made one attempt at mashing country context with the template. However, I am not really satisfied by how it looks, or what I had to do to get it that way. It would be nice if the templates had a way to include country context.

Obviously, feel free to revert the change I made back. Subsequently, I'll let such entries stand unchanged until a policy shows up. Such a policy may already exist. Yet again I just haven't stumbled across it. Makearney 22:25, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

We don't usually try to explain regional usage in the inflection line. It should look like this (based on what I've seen elsewhere):
{{en-verb|equals|'''[[equalling]]''' ''or'' '''[[equaling]]'''|'''[[equalled]]''' ''or'' '''[[equaled]]'''}}
And the regional information may be put in a Usage notes section, as well as on the pages for the inflected forms. --EncycloPetey 22:33, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
Putting the regional information in an Usage section sounded right, but almost immediately I stumbled across an example of an Alternate Spellings section. Is there any preference between Usage and Alternative Spellings? I can see where using the latter might be a start down the slippery slope of excessively precise headings.
A Usage section sounds right to me. Makearney 15:55, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, there is a difference. For this particular case, I would use the Usage notes section of equal, but use the Alternative spellings (note spelling!) for equalled / equaled and for equalling / equaling. The Alternative spellings section is simply for listing forms of the word that are spelled a little differently, but which have essentially the same meaning and grammatical function. The Usage notes is mostly used on the main entry for the lemma form of the word, explaining how that word (in all its forms) is used. It's not ideal for this kind of information, but probably is the best choice in this situation. --EncycloPetey 16:11, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
I just found an example of what you describe in the entry practice where both Usage Notes and Alternative Spellings sections appear. Would you say that is a good example? Makearney 17:39, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
For the main lemma page, yes, it is a good example. For the inflected forms pages, no. The inflected forms should list the UK/US spellings as Alternative spellings. --EncycloPetey 17:42, 25 June 2007 (UTC)


I think there is a missing sense for the word scale, but I don't know what etymology to put it under. Colloquially it would be mean a "ruler" (but I was taught in school that if it's just for measuring then it is called a scale.) Wikipedia has an article on WP:engineering scale.

There is also a verb sense "to use a scale". I had a job where the blueprints all had "do not scale" on them (even though the prints I was seeing were electrical schematics and scaling didn't make a lot of sense in any case, it was a boilerplate the drafting department put on all its prints).

Does this use the section for a scale to measure weight? RJFJR 16:10, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

The measuring bar on a drawing or map is a scale bar. The scale of the drawing is the ratio between the measurements used on the drawing and the measurements of the actual object that was depicted. The instruction "do not scale" means that the relative measurments in the drawing should not be considered to be proportional, just as an illustration on a math test may say "figure not drawn to scale". --EncycloPetey 16:18, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
I took it to mean: "don't measure this drawing (with your scale)". Sorry about verb question, how about scale as noun short for engineering scale? RJFJR 17:30, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
I've never heard the term used that way in geometry, cartography, or scientific illustration, but there might be an enginerring use I'm unaware of. I'd mark it with a context tag if you do add it. --EncycloPetey 17:37, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
In my Engineering Drafting class in college (or whatever it was called), we learned to refer to rulers as "scales". If we were given a reason, I don't remember it. —RuakhTALK 19:11, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm no engineer, but I believe a ruler is marked with exact inches, cm, or whatever. Whereas a scale is marked in a way that allows you to measure a scale drawing. A scale is usually marked as 1:25 or 1:100 or whatever at one end, but with no units given. Algrif 14:29, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes. A label of "1:250" or some such is a ratio, and that ratio is the scale; it is not a physical object. The physical drawing placed on the page where the scale is demonstrated with markings is the scale bar. A scale cannot have units becuase it is a ratio and the units cancel. --EncycloPetey 19:02, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that's how non-specialists use the terms. As I said, however, Engineering Drafting people (old-fashioned mechanical engineers, I guess) use the word scale to refer to what most people would call a ruler. —RuakhTALK 17:04, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
I never learned why I was told to call it a scale, but I think it has to do with distinguishing it from a straight edge. The common ruler combines the functions of a scale and straight edge, but when I think of a scale I think first of a 6 inch shirt pocket scale, which would make a poor straight edge. RJFJR 16:01, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

OED update

For interest, here are the new words/phrases just added to the OED in their latest update: Widsith 09:17, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Content removed for intellectual property concerns.

Would you please not do this? How can this possibly be construed as not deriving directly from their work? Lists of words are an IP asset - such updates as this can't possibly be viewed favorably! Surely, the OED will someday (when we're bigger) take en.wiktionary to court. Why give them ammunition like this? --Connel MacKenzie 21:19, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Putting on my IP lawyer hat, I agree with Connel completely. Plucking the list from the OED website and dropping it here is not good. However, if someone were to copy the list onto their personal computer, get rid of the blue links, and mix it up with similar lists from other dictionaries to produce and then re-post a general list of "new words found in various unspecified dictionaries", that would be fine. Cheers! bd2412 T 13:33, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
The above list has no such mixture; it is just needlessly compromising and should be removed. --Connel MacKenzie 18:35, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
Done. I was hoping someone else would, but we can't long skirt the law. Cheers! bd2412 T 11:21, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Proper nouns

The word multiverse is a common noun, not a proper noun[63]. Proper nouns normally are not preceded by articles or other delimiting words, and, unless the definition of proper noun has changed since my university days, English proper nouns are invariably capitalized. Besides the fact that we speak of "the" multiverse, the multiverse is a common noun in that it denotes any of a hypothetical class of entities. That there is (in one theory) only one multiverse, it is still one of a hypothetical class. Just because there is, in one theory, only one multiverse in existence does not make it any less one of a class. By some accounts there is only one earth, yet the earth is a common noun; Earth, OTOH, is a proper noun (capitalized, no article). Earth lends itself to both usages, but multiverse as it stands is a common noun. —Stephen 21:43, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Not all proper nouns are capitalized anymore; consider eBay, iTunes, etc. (And even before the current rage, "e e cummings" wrote his name in lowercase as a sign of humility, and others often his name in lowercase as an unintentional sign of their cluelessness.) Also — I'm sure you're aware of this, but it bears note anyway, as the occurrence of a "proper adjective" header suggests that many people are not — while essentially all proper nouns are capitalized, being capitalized does not make something a proper noun. For example, "American" isn't a proper noun; it's a common noun that's capitalized in English. —RuakhTALK 21:53, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
And some proper nouns are preceded by "the", such as "the Alps", "the United States", and "the Moon". In fact some proper nouns are regularly preceded by the definite article. The key distinction between a proper noun and a common noun is whether it identifies a specific, unique entity (proper noun) or places the object into a class of similar objects (common noun). The word multiverse is a specific set. It may be theoretical, but the theory specifically posits it as the unique and only set of universes that includes all possible universes, and it is therefore, by definition, unique.
Yes, there are some new proper nouns that are not capitalized, but they are all recognizeable for what they are. I don’t think anyone said that all capitalized words are proper nouns. In any case, the multiverse is not a case like eBay or e e cummings, it is a case like the universe and the earth. And yes, there are certain proper nouns that take the definite article...not only does this happen in English, but also in French and Spanish. Again, the multiverse is not such a case, the multiverse is an ordinary common noun just like the universe and the earth. The Alps is not a proper noun because the Alps are unique by definition, it is a proper noun because it is the name of the mountains. The Alps are mountains...Alps is the name, mountains is what they are. The multiverse is a composite of all universes...that’s what it is, but that’s not what its name is. The multiverse has no name, it is just a thing. Another theory is that there are an infinite number of multiverses, each containing an infinite number of universes. Our multiverse might be named the Alpha Multiverse, in which case the Alpha Multiverse would be the name of this multiverse (rather than merely what it is), and multiverse is what the Alpha Multiverse is (rather than its name). Another theory holds that there is only one universe, and therefore no multiverse, and this accident of information does not affect the grammar or semantics of the words and universe remains a common noun under any theory, and multiverse is a common noun under any theory.
If everyone on earth died except for one man, that one man’s uniqueness would not turn man into a proper noun. Even though he’s the only man, a man is what he is, but it is not his name. The multiverse is what the conglomeration is, but it is not a name. Recent Internet spellings, while they create some exceptions to rules, do not turn common nouns into proper nouns. The number one does not make a noun a proper noun. I have a videotape that is one only one like it in existence, but videotape is what it is, and is not its name. Even though there is only one, it is a common noun. —Stephen 01:33, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I think you missed seeing my comments below, or you might have saved yourself some of the writing you did. I think on some level, we agree. A proper noun is a label for a unique item, and a key characteristic of a proper noun is that the referent is by definition unique; that is, the definition itself does not allow another item with that label to exist. If you can cite a source that describes a theory or concept of multiple multiverses, then I would agree that it becomes a common noun. However, the current definition and all the usages I've heard (including the ones in the Oxford Dictionary of Science fiction) treat it as a unique overall largest possible set of universes. If the term can be used to describe a set of universes smaller than the totality of all possible ones, it clearly isn't unique and is therefore a common noun. --EncycloPetey 01:46, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
It doesn’t matter about different theories and it doesn’t matter how many multiverses there are. There may not be even a single multiverse. Multiverse is not the name of the multiverse, if one exists, it is merely what it is. The name of the multiverse, if it had a name, would be a proper noun. However, it is not a name, it is a description. If somebody had decided to denominate all of the universes that might exist with the moniker Multiverse, then in that case, Multiverse would be a name (and proper noun), but would not be a description. As it is, Multiverse is not the name of all the universes, but all of the universes comprise a multiverse. The common noun multiverse describes what all the universes are, it is not the name of all of the universes. If it were the name, it would be capitalized (or else name i-Multiverse or e-Multiverse or some such gimmick applied for commercial purposes). —Stephen 02:00, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I see two points in your reasoning. (1) A name and a description are not the same. I disagree; the fact that something is a name does not preclude its being a description. Both European Union and Roman Empire are proper nouns. They are names, and they are also descriptions. Likewise, we have Western Europe, Antarctic Ocean, and the Black Forest. All of these have names that are also descriptions. (2) The capitalization argument. We've already established some common nouns are capitalized, such as Frenchman or Pinto. Isn't it therefore possible that some proper nouns are not? The argument ad orthographiam is not convincing. --EncycloPetey 02:22, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
And just the quickest Internet search turns up: "Multiverses have been hypothesized in cosmology, physics, philosophy, theology, and fiction, particularly in science fiction and fantasy" at w:Metaverses. If singular and plural had anything to do with it (it doesn’t), here it is in the plural. —Stephen 02:12, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Note that Earth and Moon are proper nouns. To make a refernce to our planet, grammars I used in school advised capitalizing it, as it is a proper noun. There are of course common nouns earth and moon as well, but these lower case labels do not apply uniquely to our planet or its satellite. There are many cases of this in astronomy, such as the Bull (Taurus) versus the common noun bull. --EncycloPetey 01:46, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
That’s because the Moon is the name of our moon. Moon is its name (proper noun), moon is what it is (common noun). —Stephen 02:15, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
OK, so what about poker? bridge? whist? I've had a conversation with someone about this before, but I can't remember who it was. Obviously, the word poker is not usually capitalized, however, it is the name of a card game. It is also clearly not descriptive. I can find examples of it capitalized. In fact, the copy I have of Hoyle's consistently capitalizes the word "Poker", even though I note that the citations given in the OED do not. Is poker a proper noun? --EncycloPetey 02:40, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
And it's not simply a matter of whether only one of them happens to exist, but whether the definition of the term prohibits the existence of another objects with the same label. There aren't any unicorns in existence, and likely never were, but the definition allows for the possibility of many members, so the word "unicorn is a common noun. There may (one day) be only one whooping crane, but the definition of a "whooping crane" permits the existence of other such things even if those others do not, so the word "whooping crane" is a common noun. The definition of Frenchman allows for many members, so it too is a common noun. The deifnition of Macedonia makes it a proper noun; even though there are multiple entities with that label, each definition identifies only one such entity each and prohibits the inclusion of other members. In like fashion, the definition of multiverse prohibits the possibility of other items bearing the same label, so it is a proper noun. --EncycloPetey 21:58, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
Note also the following invariably capitalized nouns:
"Americans" is certainly not a proper noun, but not all English speakers agree about the other two. The Wednesday entry, for example, categorizes Wednesday as a proper noun, but the July entry categorizes July as a common noun. From one point of view, the words identify one of an open set of periods of time ("last Wednesday", "this Wednesday", "next Wednesday", ...), but from another, they name unique entities within a given or assumed scope (a single week or a single year). Rod (A. Smith) 23:22, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the additional point. This discussion follows on several others I've had recently with people about proper nouns, so I've started organizing notes for an Appendix:English proper nouns. I hadn't thought of days and moths for examples yet. From the point of view of being days in "the week" or months of "the year", they have tradiitoinally been thought of as proper nouns, I suppose. However, you can "eat at a restaurant five Wednesdays in a row", and in that context it becomes clear that Wednesday is functionally a common noun, albeit a capitalized one. --EncycloPetey 23:33, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
So many aspects of language can be answered with the shortest cyclical argument ever, "Because." When I had to explain why "Wednesday" is capitalized to my students, I would say that Wednesday is the name of the day, and that names are capitalized. Then I quickly changed topics, or onto the next part of the lesson, before they saw through the ridiculousness of that argument. The name of the color of the board is "white", which is clearly not a proper noun. Neither "Wednesday" nor "white" are the names of anything any more than words are the names of the objects they describe. If "Wednesday" is traditionally considered a proper noun in English, then tradition got it wrong. Seriously, how many other languages classify it as such? Whether a noun is proper or not is a quality that transcends language. DAVilla 13:20, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
That's what I used to think, but it simply isn't true. Consider that when a Slovene wants to say "I speak Slovene", he would use the adverb for Slovene. In English, we don't even have an adverb form for Slovene. In some Australian Aboriginal languages, there is no distinction made between nouns and adjectives. Many languages blur the distinction by calling things "substantive adjectives" and "attributive nouns", but some languages just do away with the distinction altogether. Consider that the Ojibwe word for year is a verb. As you look at more and more languages, it becomes clear that the part of speech assigned to a concept is not a universally constant feature.
It would be nice if classification by parts of speech were transcendental over language, but it really depends on the cultural underpinning of a language. I suspect that the reason that any day names are capitalized in western Europe lies in their Latin and German etymologies from the names of deities, and not from any real perception as a proper noun. Then, when English grammarians decided that capitalization of a noun went hand-in-hand with proper status, the days of the week came to be perceived as such with rationalization to back it up. --EncycloPetey 21:28, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
What does this mean for universe? Shouldn't the first sense (as opposed to the "one component of a multiverse" sense) be a comparable proper noun? Dmcdevit·t 23:59, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
Possibly, but I don't see anything in the first definition that excludes the existence of other universes. If a person is referring to this universe as "the universe", then I would expect it to be used in a proper noun sense, just as we distinguish between "the moons of Jupiter" (common) and "We landed on the Moon in 1969" (proper); or between "the sun of an alien world" and "Our solar system in centered on the Sun". It's a messy cosmological question. I can't recall whether I've ever seen universe capitalized when referring specifically to our universe, as opposed to the other theoretical ones, which would help to make a parallel case to the way we treat sun/Sun, earth/Earth, and moon/Moon. --EncycloPetey 00:34, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Ah! Found an example: --EncycloPetey 00:43, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
  • 1979 — John Gribbin, Time Warps, ch 6, p 91
    The possible existence of 'alternate' versions of the Universe we know is a familiar theme from science fiction...
I've definitely seen "Universe" capitalized, and that's normally how I write it (at least, when I'm referring to the whole of Creation). Regarding "multiverse": I might buy that "the multiverse" is a proper noun that's not capitalized because cosmologists are weird, but insofar as "multiverse" by itself is a word, I really think it's a common noun. —RuakhTALK 00:42, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
  • (Moving conversation back to margin.) 22:34, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

But why do you think that? I'm not simply being contrary here, but would like to hear people's reasoning. It will help me think through issues for writing the Appendix on proper nouns I mentioned above. If there is a good reason to consider multiverse a common noun, that reason could affect my approach to writing the Appendix. I've already gathered many exmplars for proper nouns that take the definite article, and I've assembled a list of situations in which common nouns are capitalized, but I have very few possibilities of cases where a proper noun is not capitalized. In addition to Ruakh's examples above, I have as possibilities universe (where the capitalization is inconsistent), multiverse, and null set. I'd like to gather as many people's thoughts on this issue as possible. --EncycloPetey 00:57, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Practically any proper noun can function as a common noun, e.g.
I'm Slim Shady, yes I'm the real Shady
All you other Slim Shadys are just imitating
Obviously, though, we wouln't put "Slim Shady" in English nouns, as that would water down the (formal grammar) part of speech categories excessively. So, let's just separate where in our entries we describe formal and functional grammar. Our etymologically-minded formal grammar system (e.g. "==English==/===Proper noun===" with {{en-proper noun}}) should label and assign Category:English proper nouns to the primary English meaning of Wednesday and universe. Our definitions are least as descriptive as prescriptive, though, so a citation and a {{context}} tag on a definition of each should show (assuming the sense meets CFI) that it can function as a common noun as well. (BTW, applying this approach more broadly may help simplify our treatment of "===Phrase===" vs. "===Verb===", "===Verb form===" vs. "===Participle===" vs. "===Adjective===", etc.) Rod (A. Smith) 02:05, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Because between the following sentences:
  1. We aren't even sure if the multiverse exists.
  2. We aren't even sure if there is a multiverse.
only the second makes sense. The first is like questioning reality but substituting a strange term for it. If you're out on a wing and your belief set includes the Universe being part of a greater multiverse as a fact, then you would need a name for it, and you might question your belief in reality in that way. But for the rest of us it's an abstract concept with no personality, and we would be more expected to say the second. That's because while I'm uncertain that there is a multiverse, I'm quite sure that if there is a multiverse, then it exists. Compare that with the following:
  1. We aren't even sure if Atlantis ever existed.
  2. We aren't even sure if there ever was an Atalantis.
In contrast to the first example, the meaning of these two sentences are the same because we do identify Atlantis as a specific place, fictional or not. Or as Stephen expains more simply above, "Atlantis" is a name and "Multiverse" isn't. DAVilla 13:20, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, DAVilla , but I don't folow your reasoning here. I also think a better analogy would be to the pair
  1. We aren't even sure if God exists.
  2. We aren't even sure if there is a God.
For many people, the existence of God is part of reality in a way that Atlantis isn't. I hope you'll agree that both sentences make sense, and I see both multiverse examples making exactly the same kind of sense. I do not see a difference bwteen the two sentences. --EncycloPetey 21:18, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
Your example is identical to the one of Atlantis. In both cases the word registers as the name of some specific, known entity. Let me give an example that's inbetween my initial examples:
In the first case, it is natural to interpret the sentence as "the Moon" since, refering to something definite, we think that the statement must mean the primary one. But because "MOON" can be either a proper or common noun, it is a little more natural to interpret the second as "a moon" rather than "a Moon", especially since we are so sure that the Moon does exist. In any case, you should be able to easily distinguish between both senses for each sentence. Even if it's not clear that the other sense is dominant in the second example, it should have at least crossed your mind on the first read.
  • We aren't even sure if the universe exists.
If you take Multiverse to be the name of the place of our existence, then this sentence about the Universe is equivalent to the first sentence in my original example. Read it again, and compare to the sentence above. With the right sense of Multiverse, they are equivalent. The fact that you had difficulty getting that meaning out of it lends credit to the claim that you do not consider Multiverse to be the name of our multiverse. It also means I gave a lousy explanation on the difference, but that's beside the point.
Whether a multiverse, Atlantis, and/or God exist is completely tangential to the question of whether they're proper nouns, by the way. I was just trying to give examples that confused you enough to where you didn't over-analyze how you were thinking about the sentences, but just tried your best to make any sort of sense of them. DAVilla 22:15, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
No, the reason I had difficulty was that (1) I couldn't parse your argument, and (2) you chose an example (Atlantis) in which the grammatical usage differed from the word multiverse. Specifically, multiverse requires use of "the" and Atlantis cannot use it. I made an attempt to suggest an alternative based on what I thought you were trying to say, but apparently misunderstood completely your point. Your choice of Moon is a much better example grammatically, since it uses a/the as multiverse does, but it fails to parallel exactly because the definition of moon allows for multiple moons to exist. The definition of multiverse (as currently given; Stephen has suggested another definiiton might be possible) prohibits the existnece of more than one, so it cannot be called parallel to the case under consideration. Likewise, the concepts underpinning the definition of multiverse prohibit the word having an identical meaning to universe, so one can't take it to name the place of our existence. It specifically is greater in scope than the word universe. Therefore, your statements above require changing the definition of multiverse to one that isn't used, and the point is irrelevant. Making an argument based on a non-definition doesn't help explain anything. --EncycloPetey 19:25, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
I didn't notice the determiner "the" is excluded for Atlantis. On the other hand, it's also excluded for God. So maybe a better example is:
  1. We aren't even sure if the Soviet Union exists.
  2. We aren't even sure if there is a Soviet Union.
I'm growing ashamed of not having been more direct from the beginning, and of still not being able to make myself clear, as you seem to be having trouble parsing my argument even now. You've said that many of the examples are not parallel, and rather than argue the point, let me toss them out. When you understand my argument you can go back and re-evaluate those examples for yourself.
I don't think you'd object to the example of the Soviet Union. That's clearly a proper noun, a single entity, etc. Now for sake of clarity, and this is the step I had missed earlier, let me give the opposite example, something that is, hopefully, clearly a common noun:
  1. We aren't even sure if the election board exists.
  2. We aren't even sure if there is an election board.
In the case of the Soviet Union, the two sentences that illustrate it are identical. In this case of an election board, both sentences are identical. The first is a proper noun, and the second is a common noun. Good so far I think.
You seem to think that my example of MOON is a good one gramatically, so I will leave it in consideration. While I was indeed constrasting it with "multiverse", I had not meant to claim that they were parallel cases in the most likely reading. The point of the MOON example is only to illustrate something that's inbetween, something that is clearly both a proper and a common noun. So hopefully you agree that so far there are three very solid examples of the kind of classification we are seeking.
Now duplicate here the examples I gave of "multiverse" that are under consideration:
  1. We aren't even sure if the multiverse exists.
  2. We aren't even sure if there is a multiverse.
You said these seem identical to you, that you do not see a difference between the two sentences. That means the sense of "multiverse" you're reading in the first definition is the same as the sense of "multiverse" you're reading in the second. This sense of "multiverse" cannot be both proper and common at the same time. These sentences do not parallel the example of MOON. They must either parallel the example of the Soviet Union or of the election board.
Now here's the point which you're missing. In fact it is possible to read these in a way that they parallel the example in MOON. It is not the primary reading, and in fact it's so unnatural as a second reading that I've not figured out a way to explain it to you yet. You're being a bit stubborn in insisting that there can only be one sense of "multiverse". But let me try again.
First let's start with something that's straight-forward. I give two meanings of the word in question and a translation:
  • We aren't even sure if the moon/Moon exists.
    1. Moon = the large body that is orbiting our planet
      We aren't sure if what looks like the large body orbiting our planet is real.
    2. moon = any large body that is orbiting a planet
      We aren't sure if the speculated large body orbiting some particular planet is just a miscalculation.
  • We aren't even sure if there is a Moon/moon.
    1. Moon = the large body that is orbiting our planet
      We aren't sure if our description of "a large body orbiting our planet" is what's really going on.
    2. moon = any large body that is orbiting a planet
      We aren't sure if a speculated large body orbiting some planet is present.
The two readings of the first sentence, one for the proper noun sense and one for the common noun, parallel the two readings of the second sentence for equivalent senses. However, for the first sentence we tend to prefer a reading that uses the proper noun, and for the second, one that uses the common. Sorry if this is dull as it's meant to be straigth-forward.
Now I think you could easily see that I could do the same thing for SOVIET UNION. We would have
  • We aren't even sure if the soviet union/Soviet Union exists.
    1. Soviet Union = the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
    2. soviet union = a union of some elements that is soviet in nature
This second is pretty silly, so it's clear that the first dominates. There are cases where this is not so silly, like Main Street and First Bank, in which case we usually drop "the" from the proper nouns to make the two senses easier to distinguish. We don't always drop "the" though, as with the Civil War, the Restoration, the Church, the Congress, the National Archives, etc., all of which have come to be known widely as some specific entity while having been named from common nouns. That's another point, of course, that any common noun can be ascribed as the name of something. The flip side is that a proper noun can be used in a generic sense, such as with genericized trademarks. When this happens, we create both a capitalized and a lower-case page, forcing the principle in English that nouns are capitalized if they are proper. Of course, that isn't always the case, as Wednesday and iTunes demonstrate, and even if it were we'd have to be sure that we had the capitalization correct.
The point now is to determine which sense of METAVERSE MULTIVERSE is the natural read, and which one is awkward and forced. The following is what I consider to be the division between the proper and common senses:
  • We aren't even sure if the metaverse/Metaverse multiverse/Multiverse exists.
    1. Metaverse Multiverse = the collection of all universes everywhere, including our own
      We aren't sure about reality, if each of the universes, including our own, exist.
    2. metaverse multiverse = a collection of universes that might include our own
      We aren't sure if a collection of universes, which might include our own, exists.
  • We aren't even sure if there is a metaverse/Metaverse.
    1. Metaverse Multiverse = the collection of all universes everywhere, including our own
      We aren't sure if there is a reality like the collection of universes of which our own is a part.
    2. metaverse multiverse = a collection of universes that might include our own
      We aren't sure if there is a collection of universes including or outside of our own.
You claim that it is the first definition that is correct, but the common reading of this sentence illustrates that it is the second sense that is understood. 22:34, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
OK, I think I understand the direction you're trying to argue now. The addition problem I'm having though is that you don't seem to understand the definition of multiverse (you wrote metaverse above, which is not the same concept!) The word multiverse isn't and cannot be defined the way you have done so above. It is a question of the precision inherent in set theory. I would write one of the above sentence examples as follows:
  • We aren't even sure if the metaverse/Metaverse multiverse/Multiverse exists.
    1. Metaverse Multiverse = the collection of all universes everywhere, including our own
      We aren't sure about reality, whether universes exist beyond our own, contained in a single all-inclusive set.
Frankly, I cannot think of a meaningful way to express your second sentence above (of the four). No matter how I try to write it, it just doesn't work in English. The very definition of multiverse stipulates that if other universes exist in addition to our own, then there de facto the multiverse exists. If ours is the only universe, then there is no multiverse. That last sentence shows something of the charatcer of a proper noun in the way multiverse is used. Try substituting "moon" for "multiverse" in the previous sentence and you'll see that it just doesn't work grammatically. Consider:
  • If the theory is wrong then there is no multiverse.
  • If the theory is wrong then there is no soviet union.
  • If the theory is wrong then there is no god.
  • If the theory is wrong then there is no moon.
In each of these sentences, you are forced to assume the final noun is a proper noun, despite the lack of capitalization. It just wouldn't make sense to have a common noun in that position. If a common noun were placed in that position, it would be forced to be plural and change the verb to "are":
  • If the theory is wrong then there are no soviet unions.
  • If the theory is wrong then there are no gods.
  • If the theory is wrong then there are no moons.
In these sentences, it is clear that we have a common noun. I think this illustrates the point I've been trying to make that a proper noun is the name of something/someone that is unique by definition. Meanwhile, I have been trying to find a published authority that tackles this issue. So far, most books spout the traditional "Proper nouns are capitalized" and list specific examples. The CGEL isn't any help either, since it doesn't ever define "proper noun". The authors spend much more time emphasizin the difference between a "proper noun" and a "proper name" (the latter may consist of more than one word, like United States, which is very unhelpful for this discussion). I thought I had found a source today that would shed some light on this, but a more careful reading showed that the discussion only applied to the names of specific persons. I continue to look. --EncycloPetey 05:19, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
Looks like I got a chunk of your text in my last edit. I would revert but, maybe the strikethrus what you intended? DAVilla 20:42, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
I think you've been thinking about this too long … our sense of "weird" and "normal" tends to get skewed when we think for too long on whether specific examples are weird or normal. Certainly "If the theory is wrong then there is no way to do this" and "If the theory is wrong then there is no reason to doubt this" are both grammatical, but neither uses any proper nouns. —RuakhTALK 07:27, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
Okay, let me tackle this specific issue about a definition that, logically, can mean only one of something. There is a sense of zero that means "the numer corresponding to the absence of anything" i.e. "the cardinality of the empty set" i.e. "the value for which addition parallels set union with the empty set". We know that there is only one empty set and we know that there is only one zero. (A hundered has two zeros, but that's a different sense.) Zero and the empty set are unique, almost by definition. The catch is that this is actually a result of mathematics, as the definitions do not need to be phrased this way! The axiom of empty set states and the axiom of an additive identity of a group states . With a simple notion of equivalence, as with the axiom of extensionality, it's a simple matter to prove that they are unique. But in that proof, we are required to consider two emply sets or two zeros, neither word any different in definition from our notion of the unique zero and the uniqe empty set. Now I'm sure you consider zero to be a common noun, and probably empty set without too much difficulty, so it should be clear that the fact that there can be only one is rather irrelevant to the question of whether it's the name of something. The exact same thing is being done with multiverse. The collection of all universes, or a collection of universes that contains our own, or however you want to define it, can be proved unique, but that does not make the word a proper noun. DAVilla 16:17, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
Heh. Actually, I consider zero to be a Numeral in that sense, not a noun. Numerals can function grammatically in the same positions that nouns do, but also can function as determiners, adjectives, and even as pronouns. As for null set, that's actually one of the other cases where, like multiverse, I've been thinking of it as possibly a proper noun. Like multiverse, it is defined in terms of set notation, so the analogy came to me some time ago; I just wasn't sure about raising it because it's one of the stickier concepts in set theory. I've begun to wonder whether there is a clear dichotomy between common and proper nouns. Perhaps there is a bit of fuzzy ground in between the two. --EncycloPetey 21:29, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
Does the multiverse perforce include more than one universe? I took it to be a broader term whose purpose was to allow for that possibility (as in, the multiverse refers to the collection of all universes that exist, which means just the Universe if the Universe is the only universe that exists). Your linguistic argument seems fairly sound, and ordinarily I'd say that's all that matters, but if your linguistic argument hinges on a misuse of the term, then it might not actually apply to the term as cosmologists use it — and I think they're the ones usually using it, so it's their linguistic tendencies we should be looking at. —RuakhTALK 15:16, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
No, it can't simply mean the one Universe we're familiar with. The hypothesis underpinning it assumes other universes can and do exist, and that the multiverse is the set containing all those universes. If only one Universe exists, then the multiverse is a subject for science fiction. --EncycloPetey 21:08, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

Chicago in Tatar?

I noticed that Chicago has a Tatar entry indicating that Chicago is Tatar for, well, Chicago. Is this at all necessary? Should we not just presume that place names are the same the world over unless some translation into a different word is specified (as with the many Asian variations of Chicago)? bd2412 T 00:01, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't have an answer to that, because I can rationalize it either way. To provide a point in favor of doing this, consider that some common nouns are the same in different language, but we include them anyway. The word bodybuilding is the same in English, Danish, Dutch, and Swedish, but we include entries for all of them. Part of the reason for this is that even though the spelling is the same, the pronunciation and grammar may be different. So, Spanish blue jeans takes the masculine plural article los and may be replaced by a masculine plural pronoun, which is different from what we do in English, where the word has a neutral plural gender for pronouns (they). So, the grammar might be different. Dpes Tatar inflect its proper nouns? If so, then one additional reason for having the Tatar entry is to provide a place for an inflectional table. --EncycloPetey 00:26, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
The Translations section under English ===Chicago=== should include every language where the meaning and spelling is confirmed, even when the foreign name is also Chicago, but I don’t think they need separate articles unless there are grammatical differences such as declensions. I think Tatar may have various declensions for Chicago (in Russian, it is indeclinable), but unless the declensions are furnished we don’t receive any benefit from having the Tatar article. —Stephen 01:44, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
The case I see for having it is this: if we have the entry Boston, and the Dutch translation is Boston, it confirms what you might be able to guess: that the word is the same. If we have an entry for Liverpool and the Dutch translation is Libervool, we alert the reader to use the correct translation and not simply Liverpool. If we have an entry for Sydney and no Dutch translation, it leaves the reader to guess whether the translation is the same (and thus ommited) or different (but not yet entered)... which is not so helpful. — Beobach972 18:22, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
In turn, I can see the need to have individual sections, rather than simple lists in the translations section, because we can't put references or quotations in a translations section. What if I requested verification of the assertion that Boston is used in Dutch to refer to the city in America? We'd find quotations (or not), and place them in a Quotations section, at L4, under a L3 Proper noun section, under a L2 language section — necessitating the existence of a L2 language section... — Beobach972 18:22, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
That makes sense. I think it's a bit sad if there are editors spending their time adding all these useful-​only-​for-​verification's-​sake language sections, but that's their right. (Also, there are some languages where such a section serves a real purpose: viz., many case-marked languages.) —RuakhTALK 19:59, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
Unless there's something special about the pronunciation/declension of the word, shouldn't it be sufficient for it to show up under the Translations header? bd2412 T 19:37, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
I think {{t}} links directly to that language section, not somewhere in a random translation table. If the translation is entered in a translation table, it should probably be bot-stubbed as a section of the target page (which sometimes, will be a later section of the same page.) --Connel MacKenzie 19:55, 19 July 2007 (UTC)


Just look at the entry why is "suffers" in here at all? Is this the result of a bot gone astray? Some global replace? It doesn't look like vandalism, but ... I thought I draw attention to it. Any thoughts? Makearney 02:32, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

The creator of that entry had created suffers only a minute before; I assume it's the result of copy-and-paste gone awry (replacing the word in the definition lines, but not in the inflection lines). At any rate, it's fixed now. —RuakhTALK 03:02, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

one's self / oneself

Is there a distinction between these terms? Is one preferred in some regions? RJFJR 16:10, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes there is a distinction. oneself is right, and one's self is outdated to the point of being wrong. The OED has it as being obsolete since the 18th century. Widsith 16:28, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Oneself is the reflexive and intensive form of the formal generic personal pronoun one. One's self is a variant form of such, obsolete except in cases where the two parts are separated (analogously with my self, his self, etc.), as here. It is also a straightforwardly composed phrase found in reference to a person's self (a psychological concept). —RuakhTALK 19:14, 27 June 2007 (UTC)


Definitions 2 and 3, and possibly 4, don't really seem to me to be distinct from sense 1. Am I wrong or should they be merged? Thryduulf 20:57, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Definitions 2 and 3 are clearly the same thing. They're different from definition one. Def 1 implies a physical change to a surface. Def 2/3 is an invisible change in magnetic patterns. Def 4 may or may not be "real", as in the term "erase" may not be used for that. If it is, then I would call it potentially separate, since is a physical destruction of the punch cards, but I'm not decided about that. --EncycloPetey 21:23, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
2 and 3 aren't strictly identical IMO. Erasing a tape or disk is somewhat different from erasing specific data or files from a tape or disk. I have my doubts as to whether any language uses different words for the two concepts though, so probably it would be best to merge them as you suggest. -- Visviva 08:39, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't see any difference to 2 and 3. The mechanism may be different, but the mechanism for write in the sense of "write prose" i.e. "author a story" could use a writing implement or a keyboard and it's still the same motivation. So I would list both example sentences under the first definition. The only distiction I could see is that you cannot erase with white-out, so erase does have the dinstinct sense of "use an eraser". Definition 4 is also another distinct sense because it renders the tape useless, and is akin to destroy. That's something that's not mentioned in defintion 1, that the medium is intended for reuse. DAVilla 15:00, 4 July 2007 (UTC)


The 'pedia description seems more accurate. This term (move to RFV?) seems to be about language not democracy. --Connel MacKenzie 00:21, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Both our definition and the Wikipedia description say that the term pertains both to language and to culture; it seems to me that the main difference is that Wikipedia is more forthright than we are about the term's vagueness and ambiguity. —RuakhTALK 01:44, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Name translation

Why is it so difficult to translate ones name —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 12:03, 29 June 2007 (UTC).

It's not really; in French you'd say votre nom. Widsith 12:15, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Heh. bd2412 T 16:15, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Free OED online

Think people may be interested to know that the entire OED online is available free for the next 48 hours and again next weekend. Its something to do with a BBC program and is here. It normally costs a fortune and its massive and great fun for people who like words.--Kylemew 22:17, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Wow, thank you for pointing it out. I think I was once quoted as saying the OED was "useless" (to this American.) Having now seen the online version (as opposed to the shelf of books in my local library) I suddenly understand why we have 20,000 to 30,000 anonymous visitors per day. Just trying to find the obsolete form of come that Ruakh mentioned in RFD has left me spellbound. Thank you, thank, thank you. I've never before been so happy about the headway Wiktionary is making. It seems to me, that we only need to surpass dictionary.com, now. We'll be able to tell our grandchildren stories about buying dictionaries. --Connel MacKenzie 21:32, 1 July 2007 (UTC)