Wiktionary:Tea room/2008/August

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discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← July 2008 · August 2008 · September 2008 → · (current)

August 2008

to marble#Verb

I visited the page of the word 'marble' for i wanted to know the meaning of the verb 'to marble'. But i noticed that the verb from is missing, i could only find a noun. Can anyone complete this entry because i want to know what it means. Thanks Vin 17:27, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

Added 2 senses. DCDuring TALK 19:46, 1 August 2008 (UTC)
The second of them, "(intransitive, beef) To be interlaced with fat", doesn't seem to be a verb, it's more like an adjective.--Dmol 22:20, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
If you can word it better, I'd appreciate it. The idea is that it is the steer that marbles its muscles with fat by eating well, although there is also a rare transitive sense of breeders marbling the meet of one breed of cattle by interbreeding with other varieties. DCDuring TALK 22:53, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
for cake batter thats "marbelize" 16:29, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. marbelize and, marbleize are synonyms for marble per Random House. DCDuring TALK 16:51, 6 August 2008 (UTC)


How to pronounce it? Just like "who is" or "wh-oo-i-z"? Thanks. 16@r 21:09, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

I've added the pronunciation to the entry, but to reply here it is like "who is". Thryduulf 15:04, 12 August 2008 (UTC)


As best I can see the "Related terms" section contains no etymologically related terms at all. Should this section simply be deleted? -- WikiPedant 18:44, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Some of them could be kept as synonyms or see alsos (carrion) and some should simply go (creodont). But yes, the related terms header should definitely go. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 18:53, 3 August 2008 (UTC)
Agreed and done. -- WikiPedant 15:25, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Knitting as a euphemism for pregnancy.

Mum often said that when she was growing up (in the 1940s) that talk of pregnancy was unheard of, and that the ladies in her town used the term 'knitting' to announce if someone was pregnant. Eg, "Betty is knitting" meant that Betty was pregnant. Mum, then a child, could not work this out as knitting was a popular hobby at the time.

Was this euphemism widespread, or was it only a local term among the women of her town.--Dmol 19:13, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

The connection is clear, since pregnant women traditionally set to work knitting booties and sweaters and such for the expected baby, and the image of a woman knitting little booties was sometimes taken as an indication that she was pregnant. But I've never heard this euphemism and can't find it in any of the major dictionaries I've just checked, including the Random House and the OED. -- WikiPedant 21:13, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

the snippet from Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend: Mythology and Legend By Maria Leach, Jerome Fried Published by Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1949 Item notes: v.2 in google books says Although there are collections of phrases meaning "to be pregnant" (/To be expecting/, /To be waiting for the stork/, /To be knitting little things/, but i cant see the page 16:24, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Here's a bit more of the same, completing the sentence: [[1]] 17:06, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

oh and here's another one http://books.google.com/books?id=X-Ug7Il3iewC&pg=PA84&dq=%2Bknitting+euphemism+pregnancy%7Cpregnant%7Cexpecting&lr=&client=firefox-a&sig=ACfU3U0kI7lmoG71oBtTDQ7yXd3iAA_hYA 16:26, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

and another one and maybe another one 16:37, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Really more of a metonym than a euphemism. - Jmabel 03:13, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Pragmatically it is a euphemism, whether or not it is also a metonym. Also see sprain one's ankle

DCDuring TALK 18:41, 22 August 2008 (UTC)


Anyone know the earliest published uses?

I've found a 1966-05-06 TIME mention, but the current WP article m:w:en:Californication (portmanteau) mentions "sentiments known in the 1940s", but it and the 1959 and 1965 mentions don't make it clear if the word was used then. -- Jeandré, 2008-08-04t09:02z

Not here at Californication, either. DCDuring TALK 15:59, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

rectification countable?

Is rectification countable? The entry currently says uncountable. 500,000 raw googles for rectifications. RJFJR 16:30, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

Sounds like you've got your answer.. Ƿidsiþ 16:35, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
There are many falsely declared uncountable nouns and not comparable adjectives, readily disproved by the most cursory of searches, even those limited to b.g.c. Why? DCDuring TALK 17:37, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
why? cause theres no option in the templates for leaving it blank thats why. it either says what the plural or comparitive is or it says that there is none, theres no "i dont know, leave it for another editor" option 17:46, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
OK. But why not assume that there is a plural? DCDuring TALK 18:15, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
cause ppl dont want to make assumptions like that, safer to say theres no pl than to say "there is one and its whatever" Same for the comparable. the templates need a ? value for the plural parameter to say "i dunno" and categorise it as needs inflection help or sth 16:15, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
I think there is a need for a "not usually comparable" from of en-adj. There are many adjectives that are comparable, but not that often so used. Circeus 20:27, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
Could be. What would be the standard for classification (corpus, relative frequency, other)? As it is now, I personally make a quick assessment as to whether the form would likely meet RfV.
For plurals, I check both for the existence of the form and for what number of verb it takes if it looks like a plural.
For comparability, I use "more-X-than" as first search, following up with "more-X", then "very-X", "too-X" (for gradability in marginal cases, assuming that gradability usually implies comparability) all in b.g.c., but going to News (some new and regional terms), Scholar (academic terms), or Groups (colloquialisms, neologisms} on occasion.
I do not usually check quantitatively for each sense. The complications of doing this quantitatively are significant. Simple criteria seem to be as much as we can hope for over the next few years. I'm not at all convinced that an additional intermediate category helps contributors or users very much at this point. DCDuring TALK 20:52, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
I was only thinking of the template, not the categories. I don't think extra categories would help, but having some sort of subtlety for the template (if only in having a way to completely replace the content of the parentheses for the extreme cases) would be simpler at times than having to resort to usage notes. Circeus 21:22, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
By category, I meant the normal sense, not ours! Even so, "almost always", "usually", "frequently", "sometime", "rarely" imply quantitative criteria. OTOH, if they would reduce some of the sillier controversies resulting from absolute terminology, they would be useful. DCDuring TALK 22:32, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
relying on attestability to say if its comparable is less controversial than debates over sometimes vs frequently vs usually vs rarely vs almost always vs whatever will be 16:17, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

The template should say mass noun instead of uncountable (and its counterpart count noun). This seems to be the more common terminology in grammar, and it doesn't rule out counting the noun, merely implies not normally counting it. This is English, people—someone, somewhere is going to be pluralizing everything. Michael Z. 2008-08-07 23:31 z

That would help for new entries. What is worse is that we have no ability to identify which of the 74,000 nouns that are not marked by the uncountable and countable sense tags are presented to our users as uncountable, mostly by operation of en-noun. I suspect thousands. Many of these are wrong. I'd bet much more than half are at least partially wrong. In our zeal to correct the category (as if most users used it!), we have removed them from the Uncountable English nouns category so that we cannot identify them. DCDuring TALK 00:45, 8 August 2008 (UTC)


I have a question about the word "rowdy". Yesterday at my sons' football practice, the cheerleaders were doing a cheer. "r-o-w-d-i-e thats how we spell rowdy...we're rowdy". Could I be wrong in their spelling of rowdy? To my knowledge...there is only one way to spell it. Could you help please? When I mentioned it to the cheeleading coach...she said she looked it up in the dictionary. Thanks Lisa

rowdie was used in the 19th century, when the word seems to have entered mainstream English. w:Rowdie is the name of the mascot red bear of the AAA baseball team, the Indianapolis Indians. You can tell the coach that it is the olde-fashioned spelling that Charles Dickens used when writing about his travels in America:
  • The roughest private soldier in the army, the noisiest rowdie in New York, the humblest ostler, or porter, or stage-driver, long-shore man, or dustman, or scavenger, speaks the language used here by tolerably educated tradespeople.
"r-o-w-d-i-e / that's how Dickens spellt it / We're rowdie."
Also, in Scottish English, an old dictionary shows it as meaning "a big lusty woman", just the kind of image you'd want for cheerleaders. DCDuring TALK 14:57, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
Rowdie is an American slang, the meaning of which is synonymous with the fourth sense of "jock" (second etymology), an "enthusiastic athlete or sports fan". That's probably why they got the two confused.--TBC 15:03, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
Rowdie is also a cheerleader acronym for "Ruthless, Obnoxious, Wild, Dedicated, Insane, Egotistical, Students", apparently.--TBC 15:08, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Copyright infringement

write an algorithm to generate the first 10 prime numbers? In addition,write a program to implement this algorithm

Err... what?--TBC 14:51, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
Assuming you're on Windows and have a Perl interpreter named perl somewhere in your path, the following shell command theoretically computes all the prime numbers, then prints the first ten:
perl -e"my@list=(2);I:for(my$i=3;1;++$i){J:for(my$j=0;$j<@list;++$j){my$tmp=$lis​t[$j];next(I)unless$i%$tmp;last(J)if$tmp*$tmp>$i;}push@list,$i;}print(qq{$list[$​_]\n})foreach(0..9);"
As for the algorithm, just tell your teacher that the algorithm is implicit in the command.
(N.B. there's probably room for optimization; this command takes infinitely more time and space than is, strictly speaking, actually needed.)
RuakhTALK 18:34, 7 August 2008 (UTC)


Does this deserve its own entry with translations, or just an inflection page like other plurals? I'm not sure how to format it- if the plural form is more common than the singular does it get its own entry? Nadando 21:54, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

The policy on that has not yet really been decided. There are a number of folks who think that all entries should get full entries, while there are others (such as myself), who think that such a policy is impractical, and that all useful information should be transferred to gill, and gills turned into an inflected form entry. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 22:01, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
The entry is not complete. Until I just added it, it didn't even have a link to the singular. It doesn't have the second etymology. If it had an image, would it be necessary to have multiple gills in the picture? It thought that we at least had a policy against translations and semantic relations for plural entries. A typical minimal plural entry would be the one for booklets. DCDuring TALK 04:38, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Two things surprise me in looking at the current entry on gill (after the changes based on the above):
  1. There is nothing here to indicate that it is a word far more commonly found in the plural, don't we indicate things like that? I would think we should, it's somewhat unusual.
  2. Nothing to lead to the common expression "stewed to the gills", whose meaning would be by no means obvious to a non-native speaker. Don't we usually indicate colloquial meanings like this? (I don't spend a lot of time with Wiktionary, but that's something that as a user I'd expect of any good dictionary.)
Jmabel 00:04, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. Good points. DCDuring TALK 00:17, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
On-line dictionaries present it singular as we do without making any special reference to the plural. A parallel case is "eye". Because, standard-issue mammals have two eyes, much usage is in the plural. Similarly "bone". In popular parlance, "gill" can refers to the opening and not to the organ or organs within the animal (not necessarily a fish). "to the gills" certainly warrants an entry, and probably "stewed to the gills" as well, both linked to "gill". DCDuring TALK 00:35, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, this isn't the same as eye or bone. The problem is that, although it is easy to point to an individual eye or bone, one rarely ever sees a single gill. Fish do not have two gills; they have two pouches, each containing gill arches, each of which bears "gills". This is a case more like the reverse of hair, where "hair" is used to mean an individual strand or all the hair on the head or body. For gills, the plural is used to mean either a particular unit (plural) or collectively all the gills on an animal. And while zoology books may list "eye" or "bone" (both singular) as a topic in the index, typically the plural form "gills" is used this way in the index. --EncycloPetey 03:23, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

periodic acid

Is this really uncountable? Thryduulf 00:38, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

I suppose there's the 7% periodic acid in the tall jar, and the undiluted periodic acid in the flask—that's two periodic acids. I would call it a mass noun, which would indicate that it isn't normally pluralized, but not that it can't be. Michael Z. 2008-08-08 04:15 z
Not to mention the different isotope ratios. This renaming for Wiktionary purposes of the concept, apparently in closer conformity to grammarian practice, seems highly desirable. It does not eliminate the need to review all of the nouns displayed as uncountable because many of them aren't mass nouns either. DCDuring TALK 04:26, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

acquited - alt or misspelling?

Should acquited be an alternative spelling or a misspelling of acquitted, or neither? RJFJR 13:16, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

A lot of raw hits on b.g.c. (980 vs 2880 for acquitted) (34%), but no on-line dictionary supports it AFAICT. Tiny ratio (0.1%) in newspapers, which use the term often. If I were a prescriptivist, I would say misspelling because of the hesitation it causes due to the pronunciation it suggests (a - quite). DCDuring TALK 13:33, 9 August 2008 (UTC)


not stable; akward


There are two pronunciations of the verb grease that I hear in the US and that are now shown in the entry. One is identical to the noun and the other ends in a "z" sound. Does anyone have any information on the distribution of the pronunciations? DCDuring TALK 10:35, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

I've only head the /gɹiːs/ invalid IPA characters (g), replace g with ɡ pronunciation in the UK. Thryduulf 12:13, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
Likewise, /gɹis/ invalid IPA characters (g), replace g with ɡ or /gɹiːs/ invalid IPA characters (g), replace g with ɡ in Canada. Michael Z. 2008-08-11 00:08 z
Eureka. AHD has a regional note on pronunciation here. Apparently, the difference in the verb pronunciation is an important marker for Southern US origin of speakers. The coverage goes from New Mexico east to include the whole South and also splits Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. So, this regional difference is what has led to the long pronunciation section. DCDuring TALK 01:04, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Because much of US pronunciation was strongly influenced by the pronunciation of the the British region originating most of the early settlers, one might suspect that there is (or was) some region(s) of the UK that also had this pronunciation. w:Southern American English suggests that it would be the West Country of the UK. Is it still current there? DCDuring TALK 01:15, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
The OED Online gives only /s/ for the noun, but lists /z/ before /s/ for the verb and all the derived forms (greased, greaser, greasy, etc.). —RuakhTALK 01:43, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
WTF? How good is their proofreading of their entries?
MW3 at "greasy" has a note (referenced at "grease") which puts the "z" pronunciation in the South, and UK; both "s" and "z" in NYC, Midland (?), Western Pennsylvania, Middle Atlantic. Sometimes "s" is used for literal grease, but "z" for something "sleazy". The WP article references more recent research. DCDuring TALK 02:15, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Not knowing anything about UK pronunciation, I've always assumed that their pronunciations reflected UK norms, but I certainly can't vouch for that. —RuakhTALK 01:32, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Maybe OEDOnline is not going to let UK pronunciation get in the way of more market share.
I am confused by this. MW3 and OEDOnline give the "z" pronunciation a US UK location. MW3 and AHD give it Southern US. Thryduulf doesn't hear it in UK.
Camb Adv Learner's shows only "s".
Longman's DCE shows "s" before "z"; Random House prefers "s" to "z". Cambridge Intl prefers "s" to "z".
OEDOnline shows "z" before "s"; Webster's 1913 seems to prefer "z" to "s".
Webster's 1828 shows only "z".
What do our other UK speakers say? Anyone from the West Country? DCDuring TALK 03:39, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Until the end of last year I was living in the northern part of the Westcountry (Somerset). I've just looked at my 1998 edition of The Chambers Dictionary which gives only the "s" pronunciation for the the noun, marks the verb with "sometimes [z pronunciation] in UK"; shows the s then the z pronunciations with no further qualification for greaser and repeats the "sometimes [z pronunciation] in UK" note for greasier.
I don't recognise the z pronunciations for any of these. If I had to guess where in the UK you might hear these it would be possibly Devon/Cornwall or the West Midlands (where bus is sometimes homophonous to buzz). Thryduulf 15:00, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Re: "MW3 and OEDOnline give the 'z' pronunciation a US location.": Wait, I'm confused. I don't see anything like that in the OED Online; it doesn't seem to give any regional information for these words. It lists /z/ before /s/ (except for the noun grease, which it only lists /s/ for), but doesn't seem to say anything about the distribution of the variants. —RuakhTALK 16:50, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Sorry. I need a proofreader. Corrections made above and highlighted. DCDuring TALK 16:59, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Interesting. I have only ever used /s/ for simple and suffixed forms. But my girlfriend (who's Scottish) routinely says /gri:zi/ for greasy, so I always assumed it was a Scottish/Northern thing. Ƿidsiþ 07:36, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Ah. And I note that while the OED has both pronunciations, the DSL gives only the /-z-/ form. Ƿidsiþ 07:37, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
FWIW, Scottish Highlander colonists (with others from the North and West of the UK, including Wales) settled the Ohio River Valley and the states to the the South of that river and continued south and west from there. This would correspond to the northern part of the "greazy" pronunciation zone in the US. DCDuring TALK 12:44, 14 August 2008 (UTC)


Information on this word's pronunciation is a mess. I've found all of /kɔɹjɘl/, /kɔɹdjɘl/ and /kɔɹdʒɘl/ given, and possibly some ending in -æl too. And just to make things even more interesting, nothing is ever specified as to whether the noun happens to have a pronunciation different from the adjective. Any help? Circeus 21:00, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

In my hearing in the US the adjective and the noun are pronounced identically, using the third pronunciation, if my IPA reading is sufficient. This kind of anecdotal evidence is all that you can conveniently get for pronunciation, I suppose. DCDuring TALK 21:13, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree with DCDuring; /kɔɹjəl/ sounds very wrong to me, and /kɔɹdjəl/ sounds iffy. Interestingly, our audio has something like /ˈkɔɹ.di.əl/; I'm not sure if that's EncycloPetey's ordinary pronunciation, or if that's what he sees as the underlying correct pronunciation of which /ˈkɔɹ.dʒəl/ is a colloquial version, or what. I'm pretty sure he follows this page, so hopefully he'll see this and let us know. :-)   —RuakhTALK 21:37, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
I would do a double take at the audio pronunciation given, but I'm basically a New Yorker, so a grain or two of salt may be necessary. DCDuring TALK 22:28, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

I think #1 looks like a typo. #2 would be better as /kɔɹdiəl/ in my opinion, and then it and #3 would agree with my paper dictionary (CanOD). Probably should be a regular schwa ə, instead of ɘ. NOAD only has the version with the ezh. Michael Z. 2008-08-11 00:10 z

In the UK the norm is /ˈkɔːdɪəl/. You'll occasionally hear this as [ˈkɔːdʒəl] but I wouldn't call it phonemic personally. Ƿidsiþ 06:32, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I messed up the character... And I checked various sources to "compile" that list. Circeus 18:00, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Do you remember what source gave /kɔɹjəl/? Is it possible that it uses j to mean /dʒ/? —RuakhTALK 18:05, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I double-checked and it turns out it was one of those non-IPA systems. It's transcribing /dʒ/ AUGH! Circeus 13:04, 14 August 2008 (UTC)


The second definiion is marked as rare. I think that is placing the threshhold too low. __meco

Interesting. I agree that the second sense is not worth having. It seems intended to save the possibility on countability. I can find enough cites (~5, on b.g.c.) to attest to the plural form stoutnesses. That they represent a distinct sense of stoutness is not at all clear. I have the feeling that sense 1 is a kind of generic, lazy lexicographer's (or a bot's) definition formed by adding "The state or quality of being" to the adjective, which seemingly precludes countability. If a bot had written instead "A state or quality of being", then we would have declared it countable. To me, the attestability of the plural compels the use of a countable-style definition using "a" instead of "the". Although we do not have standards for rarity, it would seem that stoutnesses is indeed a rare form. It would be nice if we had the convention of saying "usually uncountable" in such cases. DCDuring TALK 12:19, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I took the liberty of altering the inflection line to illustrate the inflection-line display. This has the disadvantage of not using a specific template or set of template options, thereby being less findable in the long run. DCDuring TALK 12:31, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
In my opinion, separating sense is often appropriate if the meaning are related, but their synonyms/antonyms clearly make separate sets. That is why I split unnecessary. In the absence of evidence, I'd argue against that second sense too, though. Circeus 18:02, 13 August 2008 (UTC)


I've found the following examples for the difference between approve and approve of in a newspaper article: "I approve this message" means "I give it my stamp of approval". "I approve of this message" means "I like it". Are our Wiktionary examples clarify this difference? --Panda10 11:43, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

There is a difference?? Circeus 18:28, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes. In modern use, it is used intransitively to indicate that something is considered good, and transitively with a more official sense, of sanction. Ƿidsiþ 18:32, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Concur. For example, a political candidate would say "I approve this message" meaning it goes out as an official statement from their campaign. If they said "I approve of this message", they'd just mean they agree with the sentiment, but would not be saying anything about its official status. They could "approve of" another candidate's statement, but could only "approve" their own. - Jmabel 23:51, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Can this be added in Usage notes? This explanation was clear to me, but I still don't think it is clear in the entry. --Panda10 00:37, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
w:en:I approve this message is also relevant in this context. Since I've been slapped down most times I've tried to edit Wiktionary entries in any non-trivial manner (apparently there are several hundred style conventions I haven't mastered) I'm not going to attempt the edit, but it should happen. - Jmabel 03:12, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

sizable and sizeable

We have different definitions for these. Aren't they just alternative spellings? SemperBlotto 22:00, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

I think so, yes. —RuakhTALK 00:54, 13 August 2008 (UTC)


Even after looking at the project page on etymology and at {{back-form}} I can get no sense of how to add etymology to the adjectival form of "moby", which is presumably uncontroversial but by no means obvious. It is a back-formation from "Moby Dick", the whale that is the title character of Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick; also influenced by "megabyte" (MB) circa 1970 when that was still a very large unit of memory.

Seems to me that this information should be there, especially for anyone who is not a native English speaker and / or not a techie (or simply too young to remember that a megabyte was once "big"). That is to say, there are a significant number of likely readers to whom the etymology would be by no means obvious.

I note also that "Moby Dick" is right now a redirect to "moby", where "Moby Dick" is not mentioned at all. - Jmabel 23:10, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

Nearly a week later, none of this has been addressed and no one has responded to me. - Jmabel 03:06, 20 August 2008 (UTC)


how would I corprate the word epirdermis into a conversation please help

You could substitute it for the word skin in most places. RJFJR 13:19, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
And then there's the old schoolyard joke: "Your epidermis is showing!" - Jmabel 18:03, 14 August 2008 (UTC)


WP has an article W:Intoku that begins: Intoku means "good done in secret", i.e. doing good for its own sake and not just to look good. Can anyone confirm this word? It is marked as a Japan-stub there but the full article says it is an eastern concept without spcifying Japanese as the source of the word. (No entry for intoku here.) RJFJR 21:29, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

apple of somebody's eye

I wonder if we could reach a consensus? All entries should be either someone's or somebody's, but not both, or mixed at random. I personally vote now for someone's, and eliminate (move) all the somebody's entries. -- ALGRIF talk 15:06, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

Re-reading this... I meant to say "one's" This entry should be redirected the other way, shouldn't it? If I enter apple of one's eye it redirects to the "somebody's" entry. What exactly is the consensus? -- ALGRIF talk 11:52, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
I think there might be a meaningful difference between "one's" and either of the others in some uses in our headwords. There are cases where "one's" makes it clear that there is a restriction on the possessive used in the expression. For example, we would not substitute "mind someone's manners" for "mind one's manners" in the normal idiomatic use of that expression. "Someone's" doesn't put the appropriate limit on the pronoun: that minder is minding his own manners. I would argue that it is misleading to imply the restriction on the possessive in "apple of someone's eye". "X is the apple of Y's eye" with the choice of X or Y implying no grammatical restriction on the other. DCDuring TALK 12:45, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

mondegreen, malapropism, folk etymology, eggcorn

This topic just became current on RFV. It's worth a refresher on the differences among these terms:

  • Mondegreen: reserved for misheard lyrics, recitations, slogans, etc. The kind you grow up saying one way in your head, and have a good laugh at yourself when you learn much later how it really goes.
  • Malapropism: In plays, films, written dialogue; intentional by the author, to create a character who utters such absurd, humorous mis-shapings of colloquial idioms. Garp, Marx Bros., Phoebe from Friends ("the sperm of Satan") are Malapropism. Sometimes used to describe when people do this in real life, but best refers to the intentional theatrical use for humor.
  • Folk Etymology: describes firmly established and accepted expressions that arose from an original mishearing, false cognate, assumed non-existent language relationship (isle and island); in this way, the eggcorn of yesterday (shamefaced) becomes accepted language today.
  • Eggcorn: one of those casual massacrings of an expression that isn't accepted use, but can be very widespread (for all intensive purposes) or quite idiosyncratic and isolated (the woman who always thought "acorn" was "eggcorn"). This new term, eggcorn, currently has a broad scope, filling the void of a word desperately desired to describe such pet-peeve foibles. Eventually, if this term sticks, it may limit itself to those more idiosyncratic and unusual re-imaginings (actually like the unique example of "eggcorn" for "acorn"). As with the other terms, the term's coinage is instructive to its scope. ("Mondegreen" is actually a misheard lyric, "laid him on the green"; "Malapropism" from the name of such a flighty character, Mrs. Malaprop, whose name was invented to accompany this phenomenon; "Eggcorn" from the unique idiosyncratic mishearing of a word) If Eggcorn ends up staying truer to it's roots, we'll all need a new word for the common malapropism. -- Thisis0 18:53, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
edit: also, malapropisms don't have to be homophonous; usually they are just similar in a superficial way ("alligator" for "allegory"; see Appendix:Malapropisms), whereas eggcorns and mondegreens are mostly homophonous (have almost the exact same sound, at least in a given dialect). -- Thisis0 19:12, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
edit2: also, essential to the definition of an eggcorn is that the new term makes sense on some level, perhaps more sense than the original term ("tow the line", "nip it in the butt"), especially when the original term is archaic, or the only extant remnant of an otherwise extinct word ("just deserts", "on tenterhooks"). Contrast with malapropism, where the new substitution is not required to make any sense, and in fact is necessary that the new word has an entirely different absurd meaning ("I can say that without fear of contraception" [contradiction]) -- Thisis0 19:22, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
The source of the misinterpreted material doesn't come up much in the definitions I have looked at. I'm also not sure that fine distinctions are going to be sustainable in a general dictionary, though we might make the finer distinctions in our glossary.
Mondegreens and eggcorns are both types of mishearing the evidence of which is some subsequent use of the term by the mishearer. The expression that gave mondegreen its name is a perfectly valid interpretation the sounds in their immediate context. "They hae slay the Earl of Murray, / And laid him on the green." (Misheard as “And Lady Mondegreen”). I would conjecture that "egg corn" is repeated in print because some people who write about things that others say are "acorn-shaped" don't have "acorns" in their experience or vocabulary and re-analyze what they hear into words they know. Another case, "old-timer's disease" for "Alzheimer's disease" perhaps makes this kind of re-analysis more plausible.
Literary productions are likely to be good sources for such material because the demands of meter and rhyme may cause a dramatist, lyricist, or orator to put words together in ways that tax the skills of the audience. Who could tell whether it should have been "Excuse me while I kiss the sky" or "Excuse me while I kiss this guy"? The ants are my friends blowing in the winds. The ants are a blowing in the wind. DCDuring TALK 20:09, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
It is my impression that the greatest difference between a mondegreen and an eggcorn is that a mondegreen is a mistake on the part of the listener, while an eggcorn is a mistake on the part of the speaker. --EncycloPetey 20:31, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes. An eggcorn was also formally defined as "when a word whose etymological sources have become too detached is reanalysed with more common words that still make semantic sense". It's rare for a single word, but very common of multi-word explression (rein/reign). To quote the differential (my comments in brackets):
  • It's not a folk etymology, because this is the usage of one person rather than an entire speech community. [aka it's idiosyncratic and not widely accepted as a variant. Accepted eggcorns have made a jump into this category]
  • It's not a malapropism, because "egg corn" and "acorn" are really homonyms (at least in casual pronunciation), while pairs like "allegory" for "alligator," "oracular" for "vernacular" and "fortuitous" for "fortunate" are merely similar in sound (and may also share some aspects of spelling and morphemic content)
  • It's not a mondegreen because the mis-construal is not part of a song or poem or similar performance.
Circeus 18:17, 16 August 2008 (UTC)


What does this etymology mean by "Anglo-Latin"? Thryduulf 20:34, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

I would guess that it means it comes from a Latin word known only from the British Isles. --EncycloPetey 20:36, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Apparently, the term is used to refer to the Anglo-Saxon-influenced ecclesiastical Latin used in Britain from the arrival of Augustine in 597AD through 1066, though at least one author puts an end date of 1422. Apparently it has had influence on British legal Latin. But as far as etymology goes, EP's probably correct. Our appendix of Webster 1913 abbreviations doesn't show any abbreviation, so perhaps W didn't use it. The term Anglo Latin also doesn't appear in the Onelook dictionaries' etymologies for "crap", though the word crappa does. OED? Scholarly research? DCDuring TALK 21:33, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Artium Baccalaureus (abbreviated AB)

This is one of the two undergraduate degrees granted, for over 350 years, by Harvard College (and for a bit of that time, by Radcliffe College, as well). The other degree granted by the College is the Scientium Baccalaureus, abbreviated SB. Neither of these appear in the Wiktionary and I feel they should.

Please confirm and verify this with the Harvard Registrar's office and produce the appropriate entry.

N.B., the College does NOT confer the English-named degrees, Bachelor of Arts (BA) & Bachelor of Science (BS), although some fellow alumni do adopt the camoflage of the English initials among non-Harvard men in order to avoid the appearance of pedantry or hubris. These are usually the same folks who claim to hold an undergraduate degree from Harvard UNIVERSITY which, of course, they don't.

There's also AM. These are not only given by Harvard.—msh210 20:46, 20 August 2008 (UTC)


Hi, I'm new to editing here, and I know the rules here aren't the same as for Wikipedia, so I thought I'd post this here before I do anything with the entry. Anyway, the definition is "an athletic contest comprising seven events; normally for women". Now, by looking at the roots of the word, I'm sure the first clause is correct. However the second clause, "normally for women", raised an eyebrow. Clicking on the link to the Wikipedia article will show that there are existing heptathlons for both men and women. So isn't this a bit misleading? — CF84 23:25, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Reading through w:Heptathlon, it sounds like women more commonly do heptathlons, while men more commonly do decathlons. w:Decathlon makes an even stronger claim, stating simply, “The decathlon is contested by male athletes, while female athletes contest the Heptathlon.” Our current definition sounds reasonable to me. —RuakhTALK 00:49, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, judging from the linked articles: men do decathlon and women do heptathlon -- outdoors. Indoors, do men compete in heptathlon, while women do pentathlon (though I see nothing which claims that women never competes in heptathlon indoors). And finally, "In recent years some women's decathlon competitions have been conducted" (though it isn't standard discipline in major competitions) - and iaaf recognizes outdoor's world records by male and female decathletes, but not by male heptathletes, and for indoors: only male heptathletes and female pentathletes. \Mike 15:04, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes; or, to boil it down to its essence, women more commonly do heptathlons, while men more commonly do decathlons. (Keep in mind that all of these are primarily done outdoors. There do exist indoor heptathlons, which are almost exclusively done by men, but they're not nearly as common, in either occurrence or discussion, as the outdoor ones, which are almost exclusively done by women.) Would it be better if we replaced “normally” with “usually” or “most commonly”? —RuakhTALK 16:27, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

interjection: um-umm-uh

I have heard "um-umm-uh" used to express mild suprise to sarcastic skepticism like "wouldn't be funny if that were true?" (Big Daddy: The Long Hot Summer, Tennesee Williams).

I believe it originated with African Americans.

Can anyone tell me how this can get listed and how it should be spelled?

Thanks, sdutky@terpalum.umd.edu

A question from OTRS

I have heard people use the term sircie (sp) to describe a small little gift, but I am not sure how this is spelled. Can you offer any assistance?
We are not sure what word you are referring to, do you know which region or dialect the word might come from?
I thought maybe Italian, but I am not positive. Maybe it is just slang?

Anyone have any idea what word they might be looking for? - [The]DaveRoss 01:11, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

is it with a Hard C sound like Cake or a soft C sound like Circumflex? (I'm asking my friend atm)

Maki (finnish)

I stumbled over this site quite by accident and I don't feel I have the experience to go about editing things...but I thought I may have found a mistake.

I believe that "maki" in Finnish means "hill". It is currently defined on this site as "lemur".

Perhaps one of you with more knowledge and confidence than I may want to look into it and edit the page if it is found to be in error.


I don't speak Finnish, but it looks like you might be confusing maki (lemur) with mäki (hill). —RuakhTALK 16:28, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

ventriloquy -- what is the legitimate plural (or is their one) ie. is it grammatical correct to use ventriloquys

I am a writer and have used the word ventriloquys in an intro to a short work...an editor has queried me about the legitimacy of the word.. ie. what is its plural, can it be used this way... would someone know if this is the proper usage/plural and can be used (certain that it is grammatically correct).

here is the context..end of line... "the ventriloquys of silence"..

I can't find it in any dictionary... would appreciate if--Yossel 06:24, 20 August 2008 (UTC) someone could advise...


  • I don't believe that it is countable. SemperBlotto 09:36, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Thanks Jeff for the opinion...is there anyone else more certain of its correct usage. (...ventriloquies of silence.) —This unsigned comment was added by Yossel (talkcontribs).
That license has generated 50 raw bgc usages of ventriloquies (only 4 of ventriloquys). "Instances of", "portions of", or "types of" purportedly uncountable sense almost always creates one of more countable senses. DCDuring TALK 12:30, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Thanks i realized the alternate spelling (uies) brings up more examles of usages, but am still interested in what is grammatically correct (as I now have 'ventriloquys' (of silence) and had assumed addingthe 's' wold e sufficeint....and am still wondering it anyone would know for certain if that is acceptable/correct grammatically, not simply artistic licence. Thanks, Would be very much appreciated if someone could let me know. Thanks. —This unsigned comment was added by Yossel (talkcontribs) at 17:34, 20 August 2008 (UTC).

The regular plural for words in consonant+y in English is in -ies, period. "-ys" plural is a bit of a stretch in artistic license, and sounds more like a painful attempt to get your license noticed. Circeus 17:47, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Thanks...I realize the usual plural ends with ies...but in this case I am uncertain of whether it can be used simply adding an 's', as both are scarce in finding usage in dictionary. I am a writer, not usually stumped by words, but this is an introduction to a small book, and I am tentative about artistic licence (ie. it is not a poem or prose piece), but I would prefer to use the plural of the word...context is (ventriloquys of silence)...ie more than one manifestation (or (here I am using artistic licence/metaphor) manifesto)...

I wonder if anyone might be more certain of its usage. (ie. is its plural (ventriloquys) grammatically correct. The deadline for the piece is tommorrow.

Thanks again.

—This comment was unsigned.

I personally would not use ventriloquys. When something is used less one tenth as often as a rule-following form with no alternative rule (as with some direct borrowings from other languages) to justify the unconventional spelling, why use it in preference to the conventional plural? Ventrolquisms (a synonym) is also an alternative, used more than six times as often as ventriloquies and more than twice as often relative to its singular. DC.During TALK 00:23, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

soliloquys gets 600 b.g.c. hits, to soliloquies' 2670 — better than 1 to 5. The -ies spellings are certainly more common (and, I think, preferable), but apparently a lot of writers have felt (for whatever reason) that the -y-ies rule doesn't apply to -quy. Certainly the ratio is nothing like this with storys vs. stories. —RuakhTALK 01:29, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Need a word

I need a noun for naming a number of letters when together make a phonetic sound alternative, similar or identical to sounds by single letters on their own. They may occur at the beginning, middle or end of the word. Examples:

ph in phonetic is identical to f and occurs at the beginning sh in wishes is similar to s and occurs in te middle th in month is completely different to any other English letter and occurs at the end

Apologies if this is patronising just want to be accurate. Thank you, Donek (Wikiversity) 13:46, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

It's normally called a digraph. Ƿidsiþ 13:52, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

What if the number of letters is greater than or equal to two? multi-, poly-, pluro-? 14:10, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Well, trigraph is fairly common (French eau, German sch). But although polygraph can mean a combination of many letters, it has a specific use in cryptography and is not as far as I know used in linguistics. Ƿidsiþ 14:13, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
    • The generic term Wikipedia lists is multigraph. Circeus 16:43, 20 August 2008 (UTC)


Okay, this word is set for WOTD on August 27, and I'm a bit iffy with it. Currently it has two meanings, only one is properly attested in dictionaries (#2). However, I has a damnably hard time finding good quotes for it, and it is clearly a "repeated nonce" to me, i.e. a word that many people over the years have coined separately without believeing there "existed" the term. THe first meaning is the only one that is truly in use (indeed it compeltely drown the "member of a subculture" meaning). There was a third meaning that had no use whatsoever I could find ("underground animals", though "A person or animal that spends a lot of time underground" is a sum-of-parts meaning to me).

Basically, I'm wondering if I should leave the second definition in because I'm iffy with it, having added quotes for all the August WOTD. Circeus 16:49, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

mouton enragé

Of our three quotations, one is saying that a person is like a mouton enragé (italicized), and another is saying that a person might remind us of a mouton enragé (italicized); and for good measure, the headword is italicized in the third quotation as well. Overall, it seems like mouton enragé doesn't actually mean “A normally peaceful person who has become suddenly and uncharacteristically angry”, but rather, “A French phrase meaning ‘angry sheep’; used in metaphors and similes to describe normally peaceful people who have become suddenly and uncharacteristically angry.”

However, we only have three quotations, so it's possible that they're not very representative. Does anyone know better?

RuakhTALK 18:04, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

This source [2] says it has been adopted into English. It's also used attributively in Harper's New Monthly Magazine:
  • 1896 — William Black, "Briseis", chapter V, Harper's Magazine, vol. XCII, p.231
    And meanwhile young Gordon, who had been eying with a vague curiosity this mouton-enragé sort of creature, and who was not much interested in his shop-talk, had been inwardly saying to himself "My fat friend, it would do you a world of good if you were made to crawl six miles up the Corrieara burn with a rifle in your hand. And perhaps two or three days starvation wouldn't do you much harm either."
I also find this 1826 quote:
  • 1826 — James S. Buckingham (e.d), "Summary of the latest intelligence from India and other countries of the East", The Oriental Herald and Journal of General Literature, vol. 9, p 343.
    But our " mouton enragé " pursues a different course. He rushes blindfolded into a Burmese war, ana creeps with the utmost circumspection to the siege of Bhurtpore.
It is placed in quotes, not italics, but no explanation is given for the meaning. This predates the 1829 French article "Le Mouton Enragé" often cited as introducing the word into English; it seems that article merely popularized the term.
I also find:
  • 1857 — George Gilfillan, Galleries of Literary Portraits, page 270
    This mildness of tone comports with his character (a man of timid and gentale temper, foaming and thundering in the pulpit, may well remind us, as well as the French, of a mouton enragé)
So the term has been used in English contexts for a long time, even if often italicized. --EncycloPetey 18:46, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
For the record, it seems the nickname was originally attributed to w:Nicolas de Condorcet. Circeus 19:27, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that it's not used in English contexts; and I have no problem with this sort of word appearing under an ==English== header provided everything is made clear. My question is entirely about the meaning of the term; in most of the cites, it seems to mean not "a person who blah-blah-blahs", but rather "[French] an angry sheep [used in similes and metaphors for people who blah-blah-blah]". It's like how "sore thumb" doesn't mean "someone who sticks out"; rather, it's a stock example of something that sticks out, so that we tend to say that someone sticks out "like a sore thumb". (Do you see what I mean?) So I think the definition needs to be rewritten a bit. —RuakhTALK 23:06, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
I'd say the quotations I've cited above support the existing definition. That's not to say that some of the other quotes may require the definition to be expanded or another sense added, but the first two at least mean a normally quiet person and not a sheep. --EncycloPetey 23:09, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm not so sure. I don't think that in the first quotation it does mean a kind of person, else they would have written "mouton enragé" instead of "mouton-enragé sort of creature". (They're taking advantage of English's lax rules for attributive nominals.) The second quotation does seem to mean a kind of person, but the use of quotation marks, and the paucity of other such quotations, makes me wonder if this is a stock metaphor — if the quotation is metaphorically comparing the character to an angry sheep, using the stock phrase "mouton enragé" that is used in this comparison, rather than actually saying that the character is a "mouton enragé [which is a kind of person]". —RuakhTALK 23:59, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
The citation from The Economist makes it clear that mouton enragé means a kind of person. Also, please can someone find a reference for this being Nicolas de Condorcet's nickname and put in the References section? Thanks, Harris Morgan 19:09, 28 August 2008 (UTC).
Added a reference that mention the nicknames and gives its origin in comment notes. It's in French, though. The expression has little currency in modern French. Far as I can tell, the other nickname along these same lines, un volcan couvert de neige (a snow capped volcano), is the one likely to be referrenced (though still uncommon). Circeus 19:30, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks - much appreciated. Harris Morgan 21:47, 28 August 2008 (UTC).
So is it a proper english phrase and that it can be used in essays etc.?
Yes. But it could still be used in essays (etc.) even if it were only a French word. French words and phrases are often included in literary works, although not as commonly today as in the past. --EncycloPetey 04:22, 30 August 2008 (UTC)


Needs opne more defiition, as inn "to squash into a small space". I've already done lots of work on that page, but can't word this defiition properly (never was that good with writing defiitions after all ;p), Thanks, - WF --Pourquoipas 11:23, 21 August 2008 (UTC)


Different syllabic stress makes different inflected forms of this noun. I've indicated this using two separate noun headers. Is this a good way to handle this? Michael Z. 2008-08-22 05:57 z

This seems a good way to handle this, although some IPA might be nice. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 06:56, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
Oops, that's where it gets awkward. I've added IPA to each noun heading, but then it must go after each inflection and definition. Michael Z. 2008-08-22 17:10 z

category "linguistics" meaning "of wishes, hopes, blessings"

Hi, hope I'm in the right place. I need a word... I'm looking for a word that will probably need to be placed in the "linguistics" category... the word refers to "wishes, hopes, blessings." I thought the word was deontic but apparently not, so it might be similar in sound or shape... tks Ling.Nut 06:47, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

optative, cohortative [moods]??
A non-specialist and legal word that is close is precatory. DCDuring TALK 17:12, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

say wha

My knee jerk reaction was to just delete this offense. Even the definition uses [[what|wha]]. - Amgine/talk 04:25, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

I wouldn't think we need a separate entry for a clipped version of an expression where the clipped spelling is not hard to connect to the original. Otherwise it seems just to be an alternative pronunciation. This particular pronunciation could be heard 2 miles from my house. DCDuring TALK 13:08, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
I think we should add [[wha#English]], with a definition like “{{eye dialect of|[[what]]}} {{eye dialect|wha}}”. Once we do that, I agree with y'all that we shouldn't have [[say wha]], because it'll be sum-of-parts. —RuakhTALK 14:37, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Done, but only for interjection. Not confident about other PoSs. DCDuring TALK 16:03, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
If we have [[say what]] (which we do), then [[say wha]] can redirect, as we do for other phrases.—msh210 20:37, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
No, we don't use redirects on Wiktionary unless absolutely necessary. If it is a slang alternative form of "say what", then this is what should go at say wha (and indeed we now have something similar). A redirect is unhelpful because it doesn't explain the relationship between the entry linked from and the entry linked to. — Paul G 17:12, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. [[gave in]] redirects to [[give in]], because [[gave]] already explains that gave is the past tense of give, so [[gave in]] doesn't need to. Likewise, [[wha]] already explains that wha is an eye-dialect spelling of what, so [[say wha]] doesn't need to duplicate that explanation. (Presumably someone looking up say wha already knows what wha is, else they'd be looking that up instead.) —RuakhTALK 00:25, 9 September 2008 (UTC)


I'm not sure the definition given, an early guided missile, is correct, even though it seems to agree with what is listed under guided missile. A V-1 had only the most basic guidance, and could not be controlled after launch. Secondly, is it a missile, or is flying bomb more correct.--Dmol 14:53, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Yes, keeping itself on course by making corrections via its control surfaces didn't apply to the V-1 as far as I can remember. Perhaps it just needs a longer, more specific definition. SemperBlotto 15:01, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
The WP article describes the control system. It is a stability control system, not a course-correction system, more analogous to the feathers on an arrow. DCDuring TALK 15:55, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Not so: it had a gyrocompass, and thus would correct course. Robert Ullmann 16:05, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Since it has a guidance system, however elementary, it is a guided missile (for which, I guess, flying bomb is a dated synonym). This doesn't necessarily mean remotely guided or controlled. Michael Z. 2008-08-25 06:33 z
It was a course-maintenance system. Most definitions of guided missile provided by other dictionaries refer to external control or a homing system. The WP article refers to "preset guidance" as a variety of guidance. That is very similar to calling an arrow a guided missile because the archer presets the path and the vanes minimize the departure from the path or calling a rifle bullet guided, because it uses a gyroscopic principle to maintain its course. The lack of external referents is key to the distinction. To call it guided makes our definition (and Wikipedia's) depart from prevailing definitions of "guided missile", whether or not it conforms to a more idiosyncratic definition of "guided missile". DCDuring TALK 10:32, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
See also w:Guidance system.
Of course contemporary guided missiles are more sophisticated—a typical dictionary definition wouldn't be intended to cover the entire history of guided missiles. Perhaps the V-1 needs a “historical” label. But unlike an arrow, it armed itself, had several inputs (altimeter, pendulums, gyro), effected its own course, and tried to blow itself up on the target (conceptually identical to a Tomahawk cruise missile). Michael Z. 2008-08-25 16:27 z
Some of the same would be true of a fused, finned artillery shell, especially one gyroscopically stabilized by rifling, or a finned, fused artillery rocket. Fancy contemporary cruise missile carry sensors and compare what they sense with a stored map. I simply don't believe that our definition accurately defines V-1 using the ordinary meaning of the terms used in the definition. An encyclopedic article that can explain itself at length can stretch and redefine terms in ways that we should not. DCDuring TALK 17:14, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
No, the V-1's guidance system uses feedback from sensors to alter its control surfaces. Arrows, spinning bullets and finned rockets don't respond to their own roll, pitch, yaw, tilt, or distance travelled (the V-1's cumulative airspeed counter is not just a timed fuse). For decades, guided missiles had no stored maps or digital computers—these things don't define them. Michael Z. 2008-08-25 18:35 z

On a tangent, a guided missile isn't really a vehicle; it's a weapon, in the class of bullets, shells, and bombs. It can travel through air or space, and may guide itself by control surfaces or redirecting its jet or rocket exhaust. Needs work.

And missile (military) and rocket (military) define themselves by each other: the definition of the latter, simpler device needs some help. Michael Z. 2008-08-25 16:56 z

I agree: the ordinary meaning of "vehicle" is not really right for this, whether or not it is technically correct. DCDuring TALK 17:14, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, it works, although it's not immediately clear, the missile itself is nothing without the warhead or equivalent element, hence it is the "carrier" of the warhead, AKA its vehicle (much like a substance can be a vehicle for a disease). Circeus 18:00, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
There is a strong analogy, but this isn't a great definition.
“Unmanned vehicle” implies an airplane or rocket ship with the cockpit replaced by a guidance system, akin to a drone or remotely-piloted vehicle (RPV)—a guided missile is none of these. In theory, there are guided missiles without warheads (see w:Kinetic Energy Interceptor). Michael Z. 2008-08-25 18:43 z
  • Some definitions of "guided missile" from our competitors via OneLook:
    1. MW: a missile whose course may be altered during flight
    2. Encarta: a self-propelled missile that can be steered in flight by remote control or by an onboard homing device
    3. AHD: A self-propelled missile that can be guided while it is in flight.
    4. Dictionary.com (RH): an aerial missile, as a rocket, steered during its flight by radio signals, clockwork controls, etc.
  • IMHO, only the last would be consistent with a V-1-style course-deviation/stability control system constituting guidance. The ordinary meaning of the word "guided" would seem to imply some external agency (remote control) or, at least, target seeking. DCDuring TALK 19:05, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
    Man, I interpret that rather differently (and add one more):
    1. MW: When the V-1's incorrect roll, pitch, or yaw are moving it off of its intended course, it uses its control surfaces to alter its actual course.
    2. Encarta: This one depends on the definition of homing device. The V-1 is steered in flight by a device which enables it to find its target (historically, only about 25% of the time).
    3. AHD: Self-propelled, obviously. Guided by its guidance system.
    4. Dictionary.com: Ditto.
    5. CanOD: “a missile directed to its target by remote control or by internal equipment.”
    I dispute your interpretation of the “ordinary” meaning of guided. A guided missile is one with a guidance system. None of the definitions above requires external guidance or remote control. Michael Z. 2008-08-25 21:52 z
Going by the above definitions, I feel like a "guided missile" is one that, if you somehow teleported it twenty feet mid-flight, would theoretically still end up at the same place. By contrast, from its Wikipedia article, it sounds like the V-1 would end up twenty feet away. Am I right? —RuakhTALK 23:21, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
No. Any craft which uses inertial guidance would fail the test. That would include airliners, Apollo moon rockets, and Minuteman ICBMs, although I would assume that more elaborate systems would eventually compensate for the error by incorporating external inputs.
I get the impression that everyone here assumes that after the V-1, say starting later in 1944 with the V-2, everything called a “guided missile” must have had GPS, Google Maps, and scanned the ground with giant laser eyeballs. Come on folks—there's no magic. A guided missile is any one with some system which pivots a rudder or gimbals a rocket motor in response to its own movements. For the first thirty years of their existence, they would have used a lot of mechanical parts for this, and had very little reliance on any external input. Michael Z. 2008-08-26 04:20 z
Ah, O.K., that makes sense. Thanks for explaining. (And I am so glad to live in the era of GPS, Google Maps, and giant ground-scanning laser eyeballs. Progress is great. :-) —RuakhTALK 12:24, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Giant. Laser. Eyeballs.
I've tweaked the definitions for rocket and missile. Please have a look.
—This unsigned comment was added by Mzajac (talkcontribs) at 15:10, 26 August 2008 (UTC).
Re: giant laser eyeballs: Yeah, I heard you the first time. What, you're the only one allowed to have a sense of humor? :-)   —RuakhTALK 15:16, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I would argue that most weaponry missiles are not guided missiles, but ballistic missiles. Nobody would claim that an airliner or a manned space vehicle was a guided missile.
OTOH, the use of the word "guidance" in "inertial guidance system" suggests that the idea of guidance has to do with the ability to adjust power and control surfaces as opposed to the nature of the information to which the control system responds. It still seems more encyclopedic than we can accommodate. A less problematic definition would say that the V-1 was a "cruise missile". DCDuring TALK 16:30, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Ballistic missiles include some artillery rockets, and theatre and strategic missiles which are fired at an area on the ground (elaborate ones also have terminal guidance which helps them hit a target precisely). They do not include antiaircraft, antitank, antiship, or anti-missile missiles which are fired at potentially moving targets, nor any kind of homing or smart missiles, nor terrain-following cruise missiles. I merely referred to planes and rocket ships to point out that not only the primitive V-1 would fail a purely theoretical teleportation test, and that many sophisticated systems relied on similar principals.
Yes, guidance means what you refer to, but inertial guidance only includes inputs from internal sensors (although practical systems would supplement that with additional types of guidance if possible, e.g. ground-based nav beacons for aircraft). I suppose in theory the V-1 might be called a primeval cruise missile, but as far as I know this category normally means missiles which follow terrain features to evade radar. Michael Z. 2008-08-27 17:43 z
What I liked about "cruise missile" (vs. "guided missile") was that it sidestepped the encyclopedic discussion of guidance to focus on more salient and much less debatable features of the V-1: 1., its use of jet propulsion and, 2., its operation under power for almost its entire run to the target. DCDuring TALK 18:23, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, jet propulsion and an airplane-like trajectory is common to both the V-1 and cruise missiles. Scanning through w:V-1 flying bomb and w:cruise missile, I see that the two are historically related.
But constant propulsion is a characteristic of all missiles except ballistic missiles. And the more I think about it, all modern missiles also seem to be guided missiles. Perhaps guided is an optional qualifier or intensifier, distinguishing post-1943 reaction-propelled missiles from pre-modern missiles such as sling stones, javelins, arrows, crossbow bolts and catapult projectiles. Michael Z. 2008-08-27 19:41 z

Regarding rocket, rocket engine, rocket propulsion and jet, jet engine, jet propulsion: I'm thinking the fact that the latter breathes air and the former doesn't may be a defining characteristic. Michael Z. 2008-08-26 15:25 z


Im looking for anyone who has any ideas on what "SS OOO DRET PARMI LES FAUVES" could mean. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

  • "parmi les fauves" = "among the wild beasts".
  • "parmi les Fauves" might mean among the fauvists.

The rest looks misspelled to me, but my French is poor. DCDuring TALK 19:03, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

"dret" could possibly joual for "droit" "straight with the beasts". Circeus 19:20, 26 August 2008 (UTC)


There's a note on feedback about a pharmacology sense for the interaction of drugs having a greater than merely summed effect. Also, I've heard it defined as "the total is greater than the sum of the parts" (i.e. that it is nonlinear and not only the independant effects are seen but also an additional component from the combination). Anyone see a neat way to incorporate this? RJFJR 03:52, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

I tried to add it. What do you think? —This unsigned comment was added by Circeus (talkcontribs) at 13:26, 26 August 2008 (UTC).
That looks good to me. I think it's a good idea to keep those senses separate, as you did — they're similar and they're in related fields, but they're really applied quite differently. —RuakhTALK 13:57, 26 August 2008 (UTC)


"A public official in certain countries having control of public revenue." I do not believe I ever heard this in the US. (I worked in government for a while.) Where is it used? It could use context. DCDuring TALK 18:57, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

The only example I can think of off the top of my head is procurator fiscal (see wikipedia), which is the approximate equivalent of the coroner/public prosecutor in the Scottish legal system. However this should have its own entry (and be listed as a derived/related term at fiscal?) Thryduulf 00:07, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I can find usage of "fiscal" as noun as a short name for the Scottish "procurator fiscal". I can also find usage for "fiscal" as noun (possibly also as a short name) with a related meaning for various former colonies of Spain, the Netherlands and the UK (Sri Lanka, BWI, Guyana). I'm not as clear about the connection to the public revenue. Some of the dictionaries reporting in the public revenue sense seem to have entries identical to ours. If someone were trying to help someone understand what the officer called "fiscal" in, say, the Philippines did, "fiscal" would not help a US English speaker. We may need Spanish and Dutch (and Portuguese ?) entries for this. Perhaps we can encourage users of the word to keep it in italics in English text. DCDuring TALK 01:16, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
this is interesting. Robert Ullmann 17:23, 27 August 2008 (UTC)


The second noun definition is currently "(mostly UK) A petrol filling station, or place where cars are serviced and repaired.".

I'm wondering if this shouldn't be split into two senses, "petrol filling staiton" and "place where cars are serviced and repaired"? The functions are related, but different. Although there are establishments that do both, these are getting fewer and are now the exception rather than the rule. Use of the term "garage" for the meaning "petrol filling station" is also being supplanted by "petrol station" (although I have only anecdotal evidence for this). Thryduulf 01:07, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

I think you could well be right. Splitting them would be correct, as these two functions are becoming more and more separated. It would also make translations easier. I believe most languages have different words (eg Spanish taller, gasolinera) -- ALGRIF talk 11:53, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree as well. Further, the second sense in that definition is also used in the US, but the first sense in the definition is not. --EncycloPetey 15:44, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I have added a dated sense: "an independent automobile repair shop". Is that US, No Amer? It was very hard to write {{dated|20th century}}. DCDuring TALK 16:02, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, but I can't speak for Canada, eh? --EncycloPetey 16:23, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
All of these senses are used in Canada too, eh. I don't see why the last should be marked dated—perhaps such garages are less common, but it is still a common name for them. Michael Z. 2008-08-29 17:46 z
How about being a bit more nuanced: "a place where petrol is sold, or where cars are repaired and serviced, or combining both functions"? We are not constrained to short definitions (although crispness is always an advantage), so if the longer, slightly more complex one better describe the reality, then so be it. Circeus 18:04, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
Because that sense does not apply to the US meaning of the word. In the US, a garage does not sell petrol (or gasoline); it is a repair facility. A gas station / filling station may have a garage facility present, but a garage would not sell gas. --EncycloPetey 18:09, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
In the US until a few decades ago almost all gas stations were also garages (repair shops) and vice versa. You could often also pay have your car garaged there. The first function that disappeared (mostly) was the storage function from which "garage" began. Wondrous strange, this evolutionary process, isn't it? DCDuring TALK 19:20, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Originally, service stations were the only place you could get either gas or a mechanic. The two senses reflect divergence of function: many gas now stations have no mechanic and many mechanics do not sell gas. --Una Smith 05:47, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

I've split the sense as I suggested and added usage notes explaining that the storage, servicing and refuelling functions were originally all one, but that they are becoming increasingly separate. Almost certainly though the usage notes could almost certainly be improved. Thryduulf 23:18, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Has anyone actually seen a use of "garage" used as a noun for an amateur rock band? I've only ever heard it as "garage band", which is listed under "derived terms". grendel|khan 13:16, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

"garage" as an adjective in reference to bands and their music is common, but I can't recall seeing just "garage" as a noun in this context. Thryduulf 22:06, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

English word: upit

"Sensing new shift, Syria butters upits old ally" is a newspaper headline from Minneapolis newspaper the Star Tribune[3]. We don't have an entry for upit or upits, nor do Merriam-Webster or Dictionary.com. Is this a legitimate word? Does anyone know what it means? And the headline as a whole? __meco 06:54, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

  • They just missed a space, it should be Syria butters up its old ally... Ƿidsiþ 07:21, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Ah, I didn't expect a spelling error in a headline. __meco 08:07, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Dilate vs. Dilatate

What's the difference? I always assumed that hollow objects dilate (e.g. balloon) and fluid filled objects dilatate (e.g. blood vessel). Am I mistaken? Donek 18:17, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Glancing around, it seems that medical dictionaries say that the two are synonymous, while non-medical dictionaries don't include the verb dilatate at all (though the OED Online does include it, marking it obsolete). So, the difference seems to be that dilatate is specifically used by medical people while dilate is used by everyone. —RuakhTALK 21:55, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Dilate means to increase size without changing shape. Dilatate means to change shape while increasing in size. Example: The pupil of a human eye dilates, whereas a cat's pupil dilatates. —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 20:49, 20 September 2008 (UTC).


In English many of the words this morpheme forms are most frequently spelled with a hyphen. Is this truly a prefix derived from the Old High German prefix (meaning "thoroughly")? Or is it some kind of combining form of the proper noun Ur? Or is one "influenced by" the other? DCDuring TALK 19:59, 27 August 2008 (UTC)


I was surprised to find nearly 20% or b.g.c. usage had "odds" taking a singular verb, which seemed absolutely wrong to me. "The odds is in favor of the sun rising tomorrow morning."?????? Where is this acceptable (or even preferred)? DCDuring TALK 03:45, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

NOAD calls this a plural noun. Michael Z. 2008-08-28 05:24 z
So does the OALD. Plural noun, thus plural form of verb. --Duncan MacCall 22:25, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

reservoir dog

Hello, First of all, i'm not a native english speaker, but i'll do my best ! :) Is there someone who know the expression reservoir dog ? I've found a link in urban dictionary but i'm not that confident (with my english and with the serious of this dictionary). So I leave it to someone more capable. Thanks

There seems to have been no special use of the term before the stylish w:Quentin Tarantino movie, w:Reservoir Dogs. One of film's makers, when asked about the title, said that it was an old American expression referring to dogs that hung around reservoirs. DCDuring TALK 11:23, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
That sounds doubtful; I'd heard that it was Tarantino mishearing "Au Revoir Les Enfants" and liking the way the words sounded together. The words in and of themselves are as meaningful as "twinkie house". grendel|khan 13:24, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

dead or alive

I was ready to rfd this, but thought it might be salvageable. I am not sure whether the thought would be better at wanted dead or alive or wanted: dead or alive. It also may not belong in wiktionary. DCDuring TALK 11:16, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

I'd keep it at this title; might redirect one or two variants. We should keep the entry, it is a set phrase, and it is more than sum-of-parts: it means taken by any means necessary. If you have to shoot him, fine; if he gets beaten up, fine. Whatever condition. Robert Ullmann 11:37, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

English vice

This term is hugely polysemic; it would be fascinating to discover in just how many senses this term has been and is used. I need to go to bed now, but the entry already has six senses, each with at least one citation. Add more if you can everyone — it’s a challenge!  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 02:41, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Are some of these one-offs, or are they all broadly attributed? Perhaps English vice only has one sense: a vice being associated with the English. Michael Z. 2008-08-29 18:02 z
Well, I’ve found eight senses so far; each of them has one or two citations showing such usage. All of these senses will have the same etymology — which is the one and only “sense” you suggest exists.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 18:58, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't know, most of those quotations are either mention-only, or would work almost as well with “British vice” or “English flaw”. I'm not sure this is really an idiom. —RuakhTALK 23:57, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
None of them are mentions, but most define the term in some way as well as using it. (Nota that it’s easier to define a term with such quotations.) I partly agree that British vice could be a near-synonym, but I’d say that’s down to “England” and “Britain” being near-synonyms for many people more than anything else. “Flaw” wouldn’t work — “vice” denotes that the negative quality is (at least semi-) intentional. I think this term is one whose meaning will not be immediately obvious to many who encounter it. I reckon it deserves an entry; we have entries for a great many terms which are far weaker idioms.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 00:35, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Byzantine Greek

The etymologies for the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian entries at papa cite "Byzantine Greek" as part of their derivation. Wikipedia shows this to be a period in the history of the Greek language between Ancient Greek (grc) and modern Greek (el) which does not have a language code of it's own. The etymologies in question currently use the format "Byzantine {{Gk.}}", categorising it as modern Greeek. The following item in the etymology is the Ancient Greek word of which it is a descendant.

The page Witkionary talk:About Ancient Greek includes the passage "It should be remembered that Byzantine Greek has significant differences from Modern Greek" (although this is in the context of phonology and pronunciation).

The {{Gk.}} template is deprecated in favour of {{etyl|el}}, but I have not changed it yet (as it isn't modern Greekn) pending input from those knowledgeable about the history of Greek on how we should handle cases such as this.

A search suggests that this issue also may also occur on the entries for pope, σαπούνι (sapoúni), slave, metaphysics, patriarchy, talisman, ieftin, (Đ), slav, plagal, monophysite, diaper, exonarthex, papaz, (i), Griko, σαπούνι (sapoúni) (which also uses the term "Hellenistic Greek"), pappagallo, myristic and paripa.

In theory at least, this will also occur with "Koine Greek", although I do not know if there are any actual examples of this en wikt. Thryduulf 12:40, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Ancient Greek (grc) includes all Greek up until 1453, and thus including Byzantine. Byzantine is to be treated as a dialect of Ancient, along with Attic, Homeric, Koine, etc. Thus this situation is similar to New Latin, and would require an old style etymon language template, until {{etyl}} might be capable of handling dialects. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 18:02, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
This would seem to link in to the discussion (apparently without conclusion) about French Canadian at Wiktionary:Beer parlour#Replace all etymon templates with proto and etyl. Thryduulf 19:28, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
  • I tend to use "Byzantine {{etyl|grc}}" in this situation. It will probably get an ISO-code of its own at some point. Ƿidsiþ 19:35, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Adjective -er/more -

Are there some adjective that form a comparative but where some add -er, some take more - and some that can do either? How do we determine what should be used in en-adj? Can all words that can form a comparative by adding -er also take the more - method? RJFJR 18:42, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure I fully understand your question, but there are adjectives that form the comparative either way (i.e. they can take -er or more), for example the comparative of snowy is either snowier and more snowy; brisker and more brisk are both valid comparatives of brisk. This is indicated in the {{en-adj}} template by code such as
I can't think of any adjectives that form the comparatives in -er that can't also form them with more, however the more forms can sometimes sound a bit odd. For example, "That ship is bigger." sounds better than "That ship is more big.", an exception is when the comparative is being used as a contrast, for example "he's more big than clever" sounds natural, whereas "he's bigger than clever" feels unfinished and I want to add "is" afterwards even though this doesn't make sense (but compare "he's bigger than Simon is" (here the form "he's more big than Simon (is)" sounds much less elegant) and "he's bigger than he is clever"). Thryduulf 19:22, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
I can think of a few irregular adjectives like good (better) that do not use "more" to form the comparative. I'd hazard a guess that this applies to any other adjectives whose comparative is irregular, although some like bad (worse) don't even have a comparative in "-er". --EncycloPetey 22:36, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree. I can pull up very few b.g.c. hits using "more good" as a comparative of "good", and they all sound very wrong to me. Likewise with "more far" as a comparative of "far" (instead of "farther"/"further"), though "more far-reaching" doesn't sound so bad, even though "further-reaching" exists as well. —RuakhTALK 04:17, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Thryduulf's discussion fits with my native speaker ear. Most of the time -er forms seem preferred when they exist. We are fortunate that more forms seem to always exist so that they can be used when the "sound" of the "-er" form seems wrong. I doubt that we could get much consensus on any preference for a "more" form over an "-er" form or vice versa in most cases. Or at least that we could briefly express it in usage notes. '
There is a related question in my mind as to whether there aren't adjectives and adverbs that form comparatives more readily with words other than "more", like "less" or "further"/"farther". There are also words that have comparative- and superlative-like forms that end in -more or -most, though these may be vestigial from different (Old English? Middle English?) grammar. DCDuring TALK 21:03, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Somewhere we had a discussion along those lines before. One example is along, which forms the comparative as "further along", but never as "alonger" or "more along". In general, adverbs that also function as prepositions do not form the comparative with "more". --EncycloPetey 22:30, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, taken narrowly, I think "further along" is really the comparative of "far along": "He's far along, but she's further along", not *"He's along, but she's further along." Similarly "how far along", not *"how along"; "as far along", not *"as along"; etc. —RuakhTALK 04:11, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
That would be farther along, not further along. "He'll be along in a moment." vs "He'll be further along in moment." But you can't say "He'll be far along in a moment." --EncycloPetey 04:16, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Interesting! That's not true in my dialect — for me "will be along" is an idiom meaning roughly "will come through here" or "will come see you", and while both "will be further along" and "will be far along" are grammatical and possible, neither has the idiomatic sense. So, in your dialect, are you saying that "will be far along" is ungrammatical? Or rather, that "will be further along" has the same idiomatic sense of "will be along" (except being comparative), while "will be far along" does not? This is so intriguing to me. (Also, you're drawing a distinction between "farther along" and "further along" that I don't think exists for most speakers. There is a slight tendency to prefer "farther" for literal uses and "further" for metaphorical ones, but according to various dictionaries' usage notes, it's nothing close to a hard-and-fast rule. Personally I think I use "further" almost exclusively.) —RuakhTALK 12:20, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes.We did chat about this before over Tea in December 2007. futher / farther & furthest / farthest with words such as upstairs. Re. the above discussion, I think that you just need to add a bit of context. We normally qualify far along in some way, such as He's quite far along ...., or He's not very far along..... and then the comparative would be but she is further along.... -- 14:07, 31 August 2008 (UTC) (signing again) -- ALGRIF talk 14:10, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

could someone please spell paradine, paradyn, paradym, para-dine etc.; i ll use it in a sentence: this generation could start a new paradine......


You’re looking for paradigm — silent ‘g’; formerly spelt paradigma (and pronounced far more phonetically).  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 02:19, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

finicky usage note

The entry at finicky has this usage note:

The comparative and superlative forms "finickier" and "finickiest" are nonstandard, therefore are only used in a jocular manner.

How do we go about confirming or refuting this? RJFJR 22:56, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

I would think that if little of the bgc usage of these in books classified as "Humor" and if there is nothing obviously humorous about the snippets or, better, the pages or paragraphs from which the snippets were taken we could reject the note. A quick look suggests that this would be rejected on that basis. Confirming it would be easy if the overwhelming majority of the bgc hits were "humorous" in some obvious way. In the gray area we would require more care or editing the note with a weasel word like "sometimes", "often" or "usually". DCDuring TALK 23:21, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
+1 —RuakhTALK 23:29, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
(after edit conflict) Looking through the b.g.c. hits for more finicky and for finickier, I find that the former is much more common (several hundred vs. barely a dozen) and further, that texts containing the latter are much more likely to contain eye dialect; but it seems that when the latter is used, it's not used jocularly (regardless of the presence of eye dialect). Funnily enough, though, looking through the b.g.c. hits for most finicky and for finickiest, I find something slightly different — the former is still much more common, but by a slightly less-wide margin (several hundred vs. several dozen), and the contexts containing the latter are overwhelmingly normal (e.g., no eye dialect) — but as before, the latter is not used jocularly.
Overall, I think the usage note should say something like,
The forms finickier and finickiest also exist, but are exceedingly rare, and perhaps nonstandard. The forms more finicky and most finicky are much more common, and certainly standard.
or maybe with "likely nonstandard" instead of "perhaps nonstandard".
RuakhTALK 23:27, 31 August 2008 (UTC)