Wiktionary:Tea room/2008/March

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discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← February 2008 · March 2008 · April 2008 → · (current)


March 2008

reweave inflections

We have it listed as reweaves, reweaving, reweaved. Is that past and past particle correct? Should it be rewove? Could it be reweaved or rewove? RJFJR 15:13, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

Google reweaved (BooksGroupsScholarNews Archive) doesn't hold a candle to Google rewove (BooksGroupsScholarNews Archive) and Google rewoven (BooksGroupsScholarNews Archive). It might bear mention in a usage note, but I think the inflection line should be just {{en-verb|reweaves|reweaving|rewove|rewoven}}. In fact, I'm going to make that change now; anyone who objects, please revert. —RuakhTALK 15:19, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

differential calculus -- is there an adjective form?

What is the adjective form for Calculus or, more specifically, Differential Calculus? If one wanted to refer to the optimization techniques of economics, and make clear they are based on differential calculus with a short adjective, what might work? "...calculitic optimization techniques"? Any help will be appreciated. N2e 15:29, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

I think it's almost a given that any sort of continuous-domain mathematical optimization technique is going to be based on differential calculus; it might be more meaningful to say either "univariate optimization techniques" or "multivariate optimization techniques", depending. However, if you really want to emphasize the calculus, I don't think you're going to do better than "calculus-based". The OED has a bunch of adjectives relating to calculus (~a pebble or bodily stone), but I think it would be awkward to try to apply them to calculus (~the branch of mathematics concerned with sequences and limits). —RuakhTALK 19:54, 1 March 2008 (UTC)
Most often, I see the noun calculus used attributively, rather than an adjective. For example: calculus techniques, calculus approach, or (as Ruakh has noted) calculus-based when an adjective is used. --EncycloPetey 20:31, 1 March 2008 (UTC)
Depending on context, differential or differentiable may also be suitable; cf. google:"differential optimization techniques" google:"differentiable optimization techniques". I get a headache whenever I try to figure out the actual difference between the two terms, much as I do when I open Geometry from a Differentiable Viewpoint, my differential geometry coursebook which I have now been carrying around for more than a decade in the hope that I will someday have the time, patience, and cognitive power to understand it. -- Visviva 05:53, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks all. I'll remove the rft on the article. N2e 22:56, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

The OED (1989 edition) lists the word calcular means "relating to (mathematical) calculus", but this entry has only one citation, which is from the early nineteenth century, so I doubt it is in common use. As a mathematics graduate, I have never heard "calcular" being used. English allows nouns to be used to modify other nouns, hence, as has already been said, "calculus" is used attributively in the absence of a standard adjectival form.

Broadly speaking, "differentiable" means "that can be differentiated", whereas "differential" means "relating to differentiation". I would say that they are rarely interchangeable, and terms such as "differential geometry" and "differential calculus", are set phrases in which the first word cannot be replaced by "differentiable". — Paul G 08:20, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

Yanking my chain

hi, could anybody explain me what the phrase 'you're yanking my chain' means? Thanks in advance! Vin 16:30, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

It means roughly "I don't believe you", but is less forceful than "you're lying"; to yank someone's chain ≈ to pull someone's leg ≈ to kid someone. —RuakhTALK 19:47, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

vice versa

I've reformatted the pronunciation section here for clarity (I'm about to request that the {{SAMPA}} and {{enPR}} templates are modified to take multiple pronunciations like {{IPA}} does).

The old version [1] marked the US and UK pronunciations where "vice" has one syllable with "or, less correctly". I've rephrased this to "Some speakers regard the pronunciations where "vice" has one syllable as less correct than the others." which I feel is more neutral, particularly as I don't regard them as less correct (and neither does my unscientific sample of one person). If there are people who believe this, then imho the statement should be cited. If there aren't it should be removed. Thryduulf 22:49, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

reference in def?

At abator there is a note at the end of the second sense " - Blackstone" Is this saying where it came from or who noted it or something? More to the point, does it belong there? RJFJR 04:31, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

It is a relic from the 1913 definition, they had inline reference citations, we can get rid of them and that entry should be tagged with a {webster 1913} until it has been retooled with entirely original content. - [The]DaveRoss 04:44, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
That was how they handled snippet usage examples. They assumed that any reader of their dictionary would know the famous author of the w:Commentaries on the Laws of England. It is amusing to see how many of these famous figures have had almost no lasting impact, although all attorneys know Blackstone. Personally, I wouldn't delete them (despite the red links) because of the associated usage examples, which are usually better than nothing. It might be useful to blue the links by linking to WP. DCDuring TALK 00:24, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
The problem is that a lot of these have no associated usage examples; and while we may be able to find usage by Blackstone et al. there is no guarantee that it is the specific usage the Webster's editors had in mind. -- Visviva 14:14, 4 March 2008 (UTC)


This Dutch word was a few specialized meanings. One of them relates to the mandatory blinding of all buildings during the occupation of WWII. I'm sure there must be an equivalent UK term for that, but I don't know it.

Anyone? Jcwf 22:22, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

US coastal cities and the UK operated under "blackout" or "black-out". DCDuring TALK 00:31, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
See w:Blackout (wartime). DCDuring TALK 00:33, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I added the def to the blackout page.

Jcwf 00:41, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

Translate in urdu?

Sir i have a word "PROPONENT" i search all dictionaries in google search but i cant find it? so, plz help me to find its meaning in urdu language? 07:25, 3 March 2008 (UTC)


I made a preliminary cleanup of a mess. All definitions in the noun section were actually adjectives, leaving the article bereft of a noun definition. Needs further attention. __meco 07:42, 3 March 2008 (UTC)


Is this just an alternate spelling of persevere? It shows up in several online dictionaries with the meaning "to persevere" - dougher 03:22, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

All of those 'several' online dictionaries are just the definition from Webster's 1913, so they all count as only one. Whether or not that is a valid alt spelling... it is certainly very dated, I am seeing some usage from early 1800s to 1920s. - [The]DaveRoss 03:35, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
The OED lists it as a form of persevere, with the label "now arch. and poet.". —RuakhTALK 03:45, 4 March 2008 (UTC)


Coordinate (verb) really needs to have an intransitive verb form: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.) offers a definition for coordinate as an intransitive verb, “to be or become coordinate esp. so as to act together in a smooth concerted way” -- this is a very different sort of coodinate from when it is a transitive verb.

Is this the sense in which we would talk about coordinating (i.e. cooperating) "with" someone? -- Visviva 14:16, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
I think it's suggests a reciprocal sense: "My entire wardrobe coordinates" = "All of the clothes in my wardrobe coordinate with one another". Many transitive verbs develop intransitive senses like this - compare "compute" (in "does not compute" = "cannot be computed") and "wash" (the figurative meaning, as in "that idea just won't wash"). — Paul G 17:36, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

what is the antonym of a "nocturnal feeder' in the animl world?

HELP- immediately!!!

The antonym of nocturnal is diurnal. However, in general antonymy does not apply well to nouns. -- Visviva 14:17, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
There are many quotes saying things like Kangaroos are diurnal animals. I think the inference is that they are active (and therefore feeding) during the day. -- Algrif 14:26, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
Careful. Kangaroos mostly sleep in the day, feed at dawn and dusk.--Richardb 04:17, 5 March 2008 (UTC)


I added the computing sense of ‘work to do’ to it, but am unsure of the header to be used. I put it under ==Translingual== ===Symbol===, but maybe it belongs under English / Interjection? H. (talk) 15:22, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure I agree with the meaning you've given. I would use "TODO" to mean what you've said "XXX" is used for. For me, "XXX" means something more like "I know this is broken, but here's why I'm not fixing it right now". Mike Dillon 05:00, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

Plural of mongoose

help!!! i just don't know, when you make the plural of moose you get mooses not meese,and when you make the plural of goose you get geese.so when you make the plural of mongoose do you get mongooses or mongeese. help, its a real mind boggler!

Have you actually tried looking at the page? It is mongooses. Harris Morgan 18:22, 4 March 2008 (UTC).
(Although mongeese certainly gets a lot of usage.) Widsith 18:24, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
I think "mongeese" rates as a common misspelling, with more than a third the number of raw hits on b.g.c. as the correct regular plural "mongooses". DCDuring TALK 20:07, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
I understand what you are saying, but this is not a misspelling — it is a non-standard form or erroneous form rather than a common misspelling. (It would only be a common misspelling of "mongooses" if you asked someone how to spell that word and they said M-O-N-G-E-E-S-E.) — Paul G 17:31, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

Portico ?

What do you call the covered drive-through drop-off area of a hotel, hospital etc. Portico does not really do it justice, and no alternative is suggested at portico. --Richardb 04:18, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

  • What you are driving under is a canopy, and when you get inside you are most likely in the foyer. A similar structure on the side of a house would be a carport, another specialised use would be an ambulance bay, but none of these are right either. Thryduulf 12:06, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
    • After discussion with a few friends, none of whom know the answer, it seems possible that it hasn't got a specific name. If this is the case, then a word a to fill this gap in the language would be accepted on our list of protologisms. Thryduulf 03:08, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

The common word for this architectural feature is a porte-cochere.


What is the right information for nonstandard entries or senses? To enhance utility, we seek to eliminate the need for the user to click to entries devoid of useful information, as in the discussion of linking to non-lemma forms. There are cases where we can do one-link better: we can include the information directly on the same line as the non-standard sense or the immediately following line.

Should "mongeese" be presented not just as a non-standard plural of "mongoose", but also as the non-standard alternative form of "mongooses". DCDuring TALK 11:12, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

That would seem like the helpful thing to do. Thryduulf 12:07, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm not entirely happy with the appearance of it using the two templates on separate lines. Perhaps there is a one-line presentation that would be worth a template. DCDuring TALK 14:56, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Nor am I entirely happy with the single-line version using existing templates. DCDuring TALK 19:57, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Ruakh's use of alt plural doesn't quite yield the right result either. "mongeese" is not an alternative spelling of "mongoose", it is a non-standard plural form of "mongoose". What we should have are:
  1. correct description of mongeese as "non-standard plural form" and
  2. link to mongoose
  3. mention of correct plural: "mongooses" DCDuring TALK 01:23, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
I have provided a handmade version. Comments eagerly anticipated. DCDuring TALK 01:35, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
Personally, I'd have used the nonstandard tag with "plural of". I don't think the fact it is an "alternate plural" warrants the use of the alternative tags (however, that's mostly because I think "X of" templates and cats should always refer directly to the lemma, and use a header for the "true" form). Circeus 01:56, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
And I've provided a handmade-er version. :-P —RuakhTALK 01:56, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
Does this or some variant occur enough to warrant a template? (par1 = lemma, par2 = form [plural, past, comp, etc.], par3 = tag[nonstandard, slang, alternate, archaic], par4 = std/formal/alt/current form) DCDuring TALK 10:55, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
There are a number of alternative plurals for latin names (e.g. cacti/cactuses), there are also various alternative pasts and partciples. Circeus 16:10, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
Is octopus unique in having three plurals (octopuses, octopi, octopodes)? 02:53, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
No, since stoma in botany can be made plural as stomata, stomas, or stomates. --EncycloPetey 03:10, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
Platypodes, platypuses, platypusses, platypi, and platypus itself are all CFI-meeting plurals of platypus, though some are more CFI-meeting than others. Likewise viruses, viri, and virii for virus (see wikipedia:Plural of virus); and sanctums, sancta, and sancti for sanctum (though the last of these is probably simply an error, and not common enough to warrant a "misconstruction" entry). —RuakhTALK 03:28, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
And don't forget the infamous rhinoceros - rhinoceroses - rhinoceri - rhinoceroi - rhinocerotes. Widsith 10:22, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

flip the bird

where did this gester originate?? how did any one think of it as rude or obscene

The gesture has been around since the Middle Ages; stories date it to the Hundred Years' War, but you'd need to go to Wikipedia to read about that sort of thing. --EncycloPetey 02:02, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

Latin legal terms in English

What is the accepted opinion about entries for legal terms in Latin that are used in English law books? For example, I came across quare impedit while searching "quare" for usage. Would this qualify as an entry? And if so, what is the established format? -- Algrif 16:54, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

I have added such Latin (and French) law words as ==English== if I saw them (even once, in an edited work) sans italicization. E.g., cy pres.—msh210 18:27, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Definitely include as ==English== (same as Latin medical terms). When you begin law school, they tell you you're about to learn a new language: Legalese. This is sort of an in-joke, but the terms learned are part of the English-speaking lawyer's vocabulary, as a term adopted into English. In any case, Wiktionary is a dictionary of dictionaries, and all of these terms would be included in any self-respecting English legal dictionary. bd2412 T 19:01, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
I'd include them as English, since they're legal terms likely to meet CFI, but don't qualify as set phrases in Latin. After all, in Latin they'd just be SOP most of the time, and don't appear in Latin texts. They tend to appear in English text with a funny font. --EncycloPetey 02:01, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks to all and sundry -- Algrif 11:01, 7 March 2008 (UTC)


hello everyone, i have a question about the french word 'une bataille'. I want to know whether this word is derived from the french verb 'battre' or not. Please reply as fast as possible. Thanks. Vin 11:43, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

They're certainly related — see e.g. the "PRONONC. ET ORTH." section here — but I don't know if one is derived from the other. —RuakhTALK 11:57, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
They both derive from Latin words, but the Latin noun most probably derives from the Latin verb. Lmaltier 17:36, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

Thanks a lot! So do both words have the same origin? Are they derived from the same (latin) word? Do they belong to the same 'word family'? Thanks. Vin 17:49, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

Yes, they can be considered as belonging to the same word family (at least, they are felt as such, and I think they are). To be more affirmative, the etymology of the Latin word (battalia) and of the Latin verb would have to be studied. Lmaltier 18:53, 6 March 2008 (UTC) Yes, I can confirm that battalia (giving bataille) derives from battuere (giving battre). Lmaltier 18:59, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
Thank you! I appreciate this a lot.

looking for the French author

There is a beautiful phase from the French language that can be translated as "I love you more than yesterday and less than tomorrow. I don't know if it was Victor Hugo or Voltaire. Does anyone know?

That would be Rosemonde Gérard. According to Respectfully Quoted, the original French is:
"Car, vois-tu, chaque jour je t’aime davantage,
Aujourd’hui plus qu’hier et bien moins que demain."
You can see the citation here. Dmcdevit·t 23:55, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
See also [2]msh210 19:35, 11 March 2008 (UTC)


Does this deserve an English section? See my comment on the talk page. H. (talk) 23:58, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

The OED has an entry for it, but its definition doesn't match the quote you give on the talk page. —RuakhTALK 00:15, 9 March 2008 (UTC)
Not all OED entries yet, but satisfying. H. (talk) 19:23, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

chaser (drink)

One of our definitions lists chaser as A mild drink consumed immediately after another drink of hard liquor. Is this correct? I always thought it was the other way around, ie, with the chaser being the stronger drink such as whiskey.--Dmol 23:44, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

Yes I agree - a chaser is a spirit. 14:13, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
Either way. Very common to have a beer chaser after a shot of whiskey (e.g. see boilermaker). If you google "beer chaser" and "whiskey chaser" you'll find lots of examples. Robert Ullmann 14:25, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
w:Chaser is illuminating; seems to be a regional difference in usage (but perhaps not in meaning, since in either case the "chaser" is simply the drink which follows the first drink). -- Visviva 14:40, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
sorry the second post is mine I wasn't logged in. A chaser also seems to be a spirit in the London area (UK). Maybe needs two entries - one for each meaning? Thorskegga 13:27, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
That sounds like a good idea, particularly if we add a usage note to explain that there are regional differences. Thryduulf 14:00, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
In any case, we should have some sort of link to back as a related concept. --EncycloPetey 23:40, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

so as its own sentence.

So can be a full sentence in two contexts: one, as an expression of awkwardness in a social interaction (in this use, it's kind of a lead-in to a question that never comes); and the other, a context that I don't fully understand, and that may be seen (for example) in Frost's poem “Out, Out—”. Neither is really covered in our existing entry, and I don't know how to do them justice. —RuakhTALK 02:49, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Out, out - text by w:Robert Frost. Robert Ullmann 13:44, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I read that as a terse and polite version of "That's the way the ball bounces." or "That's life." or perhaps as a delicate elision of the bloody aspect of the narrative maintaining or emphasizing the connection of the "moral" to the story. "So?" also can be a question: "So what?" I have added that sense, but it may be included in some other yet-to-be-provided sense. DCDuring TALK 14:13, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

tea party?

Do we have a word for the French fr:dinette? - a little gathering of children or kid's toys, who mimic having a meal like what "grown-ups" do. I seem to remember it being called a tea party when I was younger, and so does Google, but there are probably other names. --Keene 14:50, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

That's the only name I know for it. Thryduulf 15:10, 11 March 2008 (UTC)


We're missing the sense of rock used in:

    • 2008 March 6, "Unreal", Riverfront Times volume 32 number 10, page 8,
      The hometown heroes, Spinks and Alexander, were dressed to impress Unreal, Spinks in a very GQ black sweater, Alexander going with a brown leather sport coat. Both rocked designer shades.

I don't know what it means (though I assume it means "wear (clothes)" from the context); nor do I even know what etymology to put it under.—msh210 17:08, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

It's the same as the definition currently given as "To be very favourable or skilful." with the example sentence "Chocolate rocks., except that this is a transitive use of that meaning. To "rock" in the sense of the quotation above, is "To carry out an action in an impressive or exciting manner." --EncycloPetey 23:37, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
A distinct verb sense, read here as synonomous with "to sport" (Both sported designer shades), albeit with a distinct implication of wearing something fabulously or to great effect. (hyperbole) To wear, have, use, operate, or be something in such a successful manner as to imply association with the percieved ultimate success of a rock star; to sport. -- "I was rockin' my new Gucci dress" "rocking the latest gear"
And just slightly different from "carry out an action in an impressive or exciting manner," or other senses of "to rock" carrying implications of both impactful loud music, and "to shake up", as the slight differences in the following: We will rock you. This concert rocks. This college/town/novel/non-musical thing rocks. He was rockin the turntables last night. -- Thisis0 21:21, 16 March 2008 (UTC)




These nouns have conflicting etymologies listed, although presumably they actually have the same etymology. Does anyone know the correct etymology?—msh210 17:18, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

I see no reason to suspect that they have the same etymology. The word "baggy" has been around for a long time, and is obviously derived from the sense of "...in the manner of a bag", like "baggy pants", wherein the drooping cloth has a bag-like appearance. "Baggie", on the other hand is a trade-name based on the diminutive form of "bag" (a little bag), which is why it's spelled that way. RussH 20:14, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Note that (as I mentioned) I'm referring to the noun baggy (not the adjective) in my question.—msh210 20:47, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Our etymologies match up with other respectable sources. As one of my drill sergeants once said, it doesn't matter how wrong you are, as long as you're doing the same thing as everyone else. Besides that, I don't find the fact implausible. My guess is that the brand name "Baggie" came about as a trademarked alternate to the general use "baggy", and then came into general usage as so many other trademarked words have done. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 21:54, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Etymology of L. femina

Hi guys, I should like to start a discussion on this. The Wiktionary entry for L. femina repeats the standard connexion with IE. root dhe- (agreed) but repeats a semantic explanation ("to suckle") which, though often found, is (imo) not at all justified.

Being a n00b I commented at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Talk:femina. A kind admin told me to take it here. The following replicates my talk posting under L. femina.

Some basic material:-

http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE92.html American Heritage on IE. root DHE-

http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE94.html American Heritage on IE. root DHEI

http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE92.html American Heritage on IE. root DHEIGH

There is a clear semantic and phonematic relation between these three roots, which I would argue are not distinct: the latter two are merely variants of the main root DHE-.

The dominant semantic content of all three roots is at its simplest set, do, make and the semantic value of suck or suckle occures only very tangentially. Even the lexicon under the American heritage entry for IE. DHE-, which it glosses as 'suck', has (for the most part) nothing to do with that meaning. In fact the only word with content of suck or suckle which one can positively associate to this root is the Greek verb thelaxo. This is itself an immediate derivate of Gr. thele nipple which is itself closely related to a Greek lexicon with basic senses of produce, be abundant, be fertile, nourish, care for. From this we can see that the semantic basis of Gr. thele is something like nourishing thing with specialization to nipple.

I am reasonably sure that the basic semantic value of L. femina has nothing to do with 'suck' or 'suckle'. I have dealt with this in some detail in a fully sourced article which is available (for free but copyright asserted) at:


The punchline is that L. femina has a more probable semantic origin of female producer or perhaps female producer of small things.

It should also be noted that the definition is wrong: in Latin femina means, primarily, female of any species and, secondly, woman. This is why, for example, in Italian is offensive to refer to a woman as "una femmina" because the secondary sense of woman came to be represented by the much more polite (indeed courtly) word It. donna#Italian (from L. domina#Latin, fem. of L. dominus#Latin master of a house; lord). With that development, only the primary sense of female (of any species) survives in It. femmina#Italian. Generally, in all languages which have descendants or derivates of L. femina, caution is required with some of those words (because they may be pejorative) - all going back to the primary Latin sense of female animal.

My Wiki style is not very good and I do not make unilateral changes anyway. If people agree with me, a basic entry could be something as follows:-


The orthodox etymology is Indo-European ("IE") *dhê-, to suck or suckle, referring to the suckling of infants. Further detail on this root may be seen at Bartleby *dhe-. However the dominant semantic value of Latin words from this root have no relation to 'suck' or 'suckle'; instead they point to more general meanings related to 'produce, be fertile'. This is consistent with the close relation between IE. *dhê- and IE. *dhê(i)- (see Bartleby dhe(i)-) which has a basic sense of 'set, do' and secondary senses of 'make', 'produce'. It is therefore arguable that the basic semantic value of femina#Latin is not 'suck' or 'suckle' but one of the more basic meanings, giving the word the meaning 'female producer'.

It has also been proposed that the -MIN- in L. femina has semantic content as 'small' (cf. L. minor#Latin, minus#Latin, minister#Latin) in which case the word could have the specific meaning of 'female producer of small things'.]

As stated, the definition should also be "female (of any species); human female, woman." That is the orthodox translation of the Latin.

I would therefore invite interested parties to examine the orthodox etymology, which seems to me a male-dominant folk-etymology. The semantic result I argue for is hardly less sexist - it is just where the (abundant) evidence takes us.

My regards, EdwardAftung 13:19, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Interesting. Has the article been published yet? Do you expect it to be? DCDuring TALK 15:08, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Is it correct to add comment here using edit? Anyway, thank you for your comment. I do not expect article (if you mean my article) to be published other than in its present form on the net. EdwardAftung 17:53, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
What we're doing is how we discuss matters of concern to the interested community. The reason I asked about the publication status is that we generally rely on multiple authorities. Authorities include publications in peer-reviewed journals as well as the leading reference works. I am no professional etymologist or lexicologist and would not presume to be able to assess your work. I have presumed to add wiki-links to entries that we might (or ought to) have to entries you mention above. DCDuring TALK 19:34, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
I quite understand your point about peer-review. That is why (1) I have not altered the main wiktionary entry; (2) posted the point here. I am not a professional etymologist, merely a hobbyist :) EdwardAftung 08:24, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
Your etymology seems plausible and the possibility of a sexist bias over most of the past 200 years of etymological research makes the conventional etymology worth a review. I wonder how strong the conventional case is. Once there are too many sound transformations I lose any ability to assess these things. Before Homer I am lost. DCDuring TALK 10:31, 14 March 2008 (UTC)


I'm not familiar with this word, and couldn't work out from a quick google search whether it's comparable or not? Also I'm not certain the definition given covers all meanings (but it might). Thryduulf 22:20, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

It doesn't make sense in the comparative or superlative (though there may be cases of people using it way anyway). The definitions look fine for the uses I am aware of. --EncycloPetey 23:44, 13 March 2008 (UTC)


Recently added by an IP who doesn't know how to wikify. Surprising number of bgc hits! Anyone want to try for a proper definition? (I'm a bit too busy at the moment, btw) -- Algrif 12:46, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

  • I've had a stab at it. Not sure of capitalization though. SemperBlotto 13:18, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Looks good, although I would also question the capital S. There seems to be an equal smattering of both forms in bgc. -- Algrif 14:18, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Sorry User:Algrif, I moved the page to septembrize and tried to argue why that was right. It was my first wikimove. I hadn't seen your entry yet. I'm just here to fix the double redirects. I'm open to suggestion. I thought Septembered would be grammatical, but septembrized wouldn't. :)--Thecurran 03:23, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
np. My gut feeling is that it should be lowercased also. :-) -- Algrif 16:08, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

birthday present

I was about to RFD this as some of parts, but looking at the translations it doesn't on the surface appear to be so in some other languages.

Do we want to keep this in the main namespace? If not, I think it would make a useful entry for the phrasebook? Thryduulf 16:54, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Sounds like a good entry for deletion, and translations be darned, unless it's worth keeping as a phrasebook entry, on which issue I voice no opinion. (One might argue, though, that it's not a SoP, since one must be aware that it means "birthday gift" rather than "this year's birthday" (with a postpositive adjective).)—msh210 17:19, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
I just got a Franklin Global Translator. I love many of its functions but I keep coming across terms on the Japanese side that are wholly unnatural but probably come from word by word translations that assume if the European or Chinese is SOP, the Japanese should be too. I think if we want to continue trying to include every word in every language, some of those will translate into English as a term that is SOP. This leaves us with a few choices: redlinking it, or bluelinking it to a loan, calque, or translation, not wikifying it in its definition. I think the loaning or blue linking to a true match way looks more professional. Leaving redlinks or unwikified text everywhere looks slack. Now, that would be a huge list if we counted every term an agglutinative language regularly produced, so I think we should apply the SOP limit there instead, forcing a large agglutinated word to link to its constituent terms, which are small enough to regularly translate. Anyhow, whether the link feeds to "birthday present" on its own dicdef page or in a phrasebook entry doesn't bother me as long as the foreign language terms that are clearly not SOP aren't left orphaned. What do you think? :)--Thecurran 02:08, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Agree with that -- noun compounds in Korean, certainly, should not always get a free pass. -- Visviva 02:23, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
I disagree with Thecurran. I think that being a translation of a foreign (but not agglutinated) word is insufficient grounds for inclusion. (So does WT:CFI, at least the way I read it.) If a foreign word translates into a phrase in English, link to the separate words.—msh210 18:51, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm having a WordNet day [3]. I think they have it right -- this is not strictly sum of parts, since not all presents received on a birthday are birthday presents (as anyone whose birthday is on Christmas can attest). Likewise, not all birthday presents are received on one's birthday. Also, in practice this refers to a specific, traditionally Western, cultural practice of gift-giving which is far from universal. I suspect these factors also account, at least in part, for the interesting translations. -- Visviva 02:23, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
One detail for consideration: "present" (even when we limit ourselves to the sense "gift") can be translated into many languages with a number of words. Often only one or some of those are applicable to a birthday present. It might be practical if a dictionary helped in the choice of the correct foreign term, but I guess the users are not supposed to be interested in such trivialities. Hekaheka 11:47, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
Isn't that what usage notes are for, either on the English entry or on the entries of the foreign words? Thryduulf 12:56, 16 March 2008 (UTC)


I want to re-write its definition to clarify that it is a conjugation of the reposing "lie", not the fabricating "lie". What are our standards for such a task? Should I try a synonym in the same POS? :)--Thecurran 00:52, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

I took a run at this. Please take a look. DCDuring TALK 01:31, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
A very nice clarification from where I'm sitting. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 01:36, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. So I've added lay - laid. Another confusing one. -- Algrif 16:16, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
I've made a slight change to the gloss on lain; it does not mean placed in a horizontal position (i.e. by an outside agent), since that would be a meaning of lay. The verb lie is an intransitive verb with reflexive properties. --EncycloPetey 23:34, 13 March 2008 (UTC)


foxhound is labelled proper noun but spelled lower case. I'm not sure if this should be split into a common and proper entry. RJFJR 16:40, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Actually, both meanings are common nouns; it just needed to be split iinto a capital and lowercase entry, which Semper has already done. --EncycloPetey 23:42, 13 March 2008 (UTC)


It has been suggested that this word in the US, in the case of roads suggests not only the removal of formal status (def #1) but also the removal of road signs and the process of physical activities needed to achieve the decommissioning. I don't really know, not being a US or road person. Conrad.Irwin 20:27, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

All specific instances of decommissioning have processes attached, when a naval ship is decommissioned it has all kinds of steps including the removal of certain hardware, and there is all kinds of ceremony, they ring a bell 8 times, they lower the flag...but it is still just a specific instance of sense 1. The only way this sense can be separate is if it's usage in the defined way is if that definition is used outside the scope of the original usage to mean the same thing by extension elsewhere. What I mean by this is that if, due to this process being called 'decommissioning' by the NHS(?) other similar processes are now called 'decommissioning' due to the similarity of process. Rereading those last two sentences I realize that no one else will understand them, so I will say clearly that I don't think this sense is distinct. - [The]DaveRoss 20:34, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
I am not a specialist - I'm hoping to see a resolution of the issue. I have told the users involved to read WT:CFI and the request, and provide technical information here, if they wish (they're all well-intentioned users). The issue here as I understand it, is that the examples given by DaveRoss relate to rituals peripheral to, and actions subordinate to, "decommissioning". In the case of roads, removal of signage and redesignation is not a mere "part of the process", but it is (I gather) part of the actual act that is labelled with the term. Apparently "decommissioning" is not merely open-ended "revokation", but revokation specifically in favor of local authority managership, and its defining point is the act of sign removal. By contrast the common usage has no such implication of redesignation inherent in it. But I am not an expert. I have asked those who are, to state the actual usage better. FT2 (Talk | email) 20:38, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
I would think that is the case with all decommissioning processes, the common denominator is that whatever is being decommissioned is having a commission (in this case the commission being the designation as a national highway or whatever) taken away. The fact that there are associated procedures doesn't make this sense distinct, just as the decommissioning of a ship isn't a distinct definition even though it has a very specific meaning in the context of the Navy. - [The]DaveRoss 20:47, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Hello, I'm from the U.S. Roads WikiProject over at the English Wikipedia. I'll try to explain this a bit better. "Decommissioning" tends to refer to a specific highway designation (e.g. Route 4) as opposed to the physical roadbed itself. A highway that is decommissioned basically loses its designation, and the roadbed is almost always assigned to some other agency, like a county or city road department. Or, if the designation is at a national (Interstate or U.S. Route) level, the state may assign it a designation as a state highway. One famous example of a "decommissioned" highway is w:U.S. Route 66, which was decommissioned in the 1980s. Various sections became different things: a lot of it in the state of Oklahoma became Oklahoma State Highway 66, some parts were upgraded to Interstate 40 or Interstate 44, and I think a few segments were abandoned totally and basically left to rot. However, the actual "decommissioning" happened in parts: the U.S. Route 66 designation was removed from the highway in sections (and new designations like Oklahoma SH-66 assigned as appropriate) as those sections were superseded. When the final chunk of U.S. 66's designation was taken off the highway, the highway as a whole was said to be decommissioned. I hope this sort of lengthy explanation is helpful to you. I (or someone else from the WikiProject) can answer any further questions you may have about this. Thanks! —Scott5114 [EXACT CHANGE ONLY] 21:28, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

We have many general terms that have specialized meanings, but those meanings need to exist outside specific official manuals. We also don't like long definitions, which we term encyclopedic (meaning belongs in Wikipedia in our opinion). The use of context tags such "US" and "Engineering" and even custom ones sometimes can help editors restrain their desire to make an entry conform to their understanding of the world. Although it might be useful to refer to an official definition in writing up what you have in mind, the actual definition entered should be as brief as possible. A full two lines is almost always too long. And we would need 3 independent (probably not all from official US government publications) citations. I hope this helps, because we are not against specialty words and welcome such entries that meet our standards. Are there official glossaries of terms of this type that would be a good source of terse definitions or which could reside in some Wiki project? DCDuring TALK 22:57, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
I just wrote the above to sort of give everyone some background. I wasn't intending it to become the definition. ;) If you take a look at w:Wikipedia talk:Requests for comment/NE2 3#References for "decommission" and w:Talk:Decommissioned highway#Reliable sources that use "Decommissioned", you'll find a few articles and books that use the term in the same way as above. As for resources from the various Departments of Transportation, I'm not sure of any that exist offhand. [4], which is a hobbyist website, gives a more concise definition. Hope this helps! —Scott5114 [EXACT CHANGE ONLY] 01:00, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

When used in reference to roads, unless it refers to removal of the physical roadbed, "decommissioned" is only used by "roadgeeks" and people that have used "roadgeek" sources. Professionals use it to mean removal of the road surface and "return to nature" or at least to non-motorized uses. See Talk:multiplex for a similar case. --NE2 23:02, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

By the way, this is an extension of a long-standing dispute on English Wikipedia, with respect to w:decommissioned highway. --NE2 23:03, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

In light of the controversy, I'd like to request a few cites to show that this usage is actually in use please. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 23:44, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
w:Talk:Decommissioned highway#Reliable sources that use "Decommissioned" is what they've found. They mostly fall into two categories: the occasional article about Route 66 where they probably got their information from a Route 66 fan (since the term hasn't been found at all in 1985, when Route 66 was actually "decommissioned"), and using it as tearing down or closing a highway. --NE2 00:01, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
See also w:Wikipedia talk:Requests for comment/NE2 3#References for "decommission". By the way, I don't know of any sources that use or define "decommission" to mean tearing up the pavement. —Scott5114 [EXACT CHANGE ONLY] 00:50, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
w:Talk:Decommissioned highway#How Caltrans uses "decommissioning": "The removal of the existing roadway (decommissioning) and restoration of the surrounding topography would be included for all build alternatives." --NE2 01:04, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
And the U.S. Forest Service: "Decommissioning terminates a facility’s function as a road. Road decommissioning activities meet agency goals by eliminating the environmental effects of unneeded roads and by restoring land occupied by roads to a more natural state." --NE2 01:06, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't see anything which supports it's independence from the initial definition. I am sure that they use the word decommission a lot...but all of those usages support the definition we already have. - [The]DaveRoss 01:34, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
The senses we have fit with my understanding of the meanings of the word and fit with the citations given above. If someone has a 10-or-so-word definition that is more specific with cites that meet our criteria and support that more specific meaning, we would certainly consider it. If the issue is whether it includes tearing up and restoring, we would need cites that make that clear like the USFS cite, provided it is in a durably archived form (printed or in one of our approved on-line sources [not normally including websites, even governmental ones]). DCDuring TALK 01:39, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
Here are 190 or so raw b.g.c. hits [5] involving forms of "decommission", "restore", and "road/highway/roadway". Someone enthusiastic about this should be able to find three citations from this or similar searches. The form for the citations can be seen in many of our entries and in WT:QUOTE DCDuring TALK 01:51, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
The issue is that the others (not me) want to use a different definition that relates to removing a numbered route designation from a highway. This is a definition that comes from the "roadgeek" community and does not have wide acceptance outside. --NE2 02:29, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
No problem, why don't they get citations for such a meaning. We can have different, overlapping, and even contradictory senses (not to mention false and logically impossible senses) if they are supportable with citations. I don't understand what benefit there can be from Wiktionary having some definition. We are hardly a definitive source. DCDuring TALK 02:51, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
See w:Wikipedia talk:Requests for arbitration/Highways 2/Proposed decision#Any use?; FT2 suggested linking here as a way to use the word on Wikipedia, I think... --NE2 03:55, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Here's a proposed definition:

To remove a highway's designation, in whole or in part. The physical roadbed typically remains open but may be transfered to another agency or assigned a different designation afterward.

Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985 after it was superseded by the Interstate system.

I'm not quite sure of Wiktionary's formatting rules or where you would prefer that I place sources, but here's something we can work with. —Scott5114 [EXACT CHANGE ONLY] 17:34, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

We are not exactly looking for sources of the definition. We are looking for 3 examples of the usage of the word in the sense that you are suggesting. Often we would need a link to the page (not just a web page) in the document in which it to see the context. For a usage like this, I would expect Google books to be the best single source of citations. DCDuring TALK 17:47, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
Would the uses have to support the entire definition? The only ones that have been found in books are specifically referring to U.S. Route 66 (or maybe US 99), and only support the wholesale removal of a designation. --NE2 19:40, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
Also, would it be worth it to note that the term was only used long after the "decommissioning" of US 66? --NE2 19:42, 15 March 2008 (UTC)


The master's thesis referring to U.S. 99's decommissioning has unfortunately vanished. All three of these sources refer to U.S. 66, but that's only because it's easily the most visible and popular decommissioned highway out there. Do I need to place these citations on the page somewhere (using <ref/> as on Wikipedia), or are they merely used to satisfy the criteria for inclusion?—Scott5114 [EXACT CHANGE ONLY] 23:16, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

[6] What's this about? —Scott5114 [EXACT CHANGE ONLY] 22:10, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

It should be borne in mind that that edit was done before you noted these cites. However, the second link doesn't work (at least not if you don't have the proper subscription), and even if it did, that's still only two, while our CFI requires three. I'm going to let the edit stand until someone can produce three properly formatted cites on the entry. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 22:18, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, the first one I listed there was a book, so I can't provide a link to it. Here's a couple more links:
Do you have any sort of template on Wiktionary that you use to format citations, or do you prefer something like MLA or APA-formatted cites? —Scott5114 [EXACT CHANGE ONLY] 23:29, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
Take a look at Citations:listen for some good examples. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 23:42, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
Ok, I made Citations:decommission based on that page. Does it look like it meets the CFI? —Scott5114 [EXACT CHANGE ONLY] 00:51, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Nice citations, but I still don't see how this sense is more than a specific instance of sense 1 (which is now very well cited; thanks, Scott). Maybe I'm just dense.—msh210 16:16, 19 March 2008 (UTC)


The definition at glob seems either incomplete or overly specific. RJFJR 03:32, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

This is already listed in WT:RFV. --EncycloPetey 14:38, 16 March 2008 (UTC)


Why is scoff (WOTD today) marked as (South Africa) To eat? This might have an Afrikaans etymology for all I know, but in UK it is a very common word meaning to eat. Try looking at Google books with something like "scoffed the lot" and you'll see what I mean. I request that a standard UK usage is added in the correct etymology, please. Thanks. -- Algrif 10:14, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Thanks William :-) -- Algrif 16:20, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
Uhh... William didn't add the definition. It was already there. Maybe you were staring at the screen too long?  :P --EncycloPetey 14:38, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

flustering as adj?

At the bottom of fluster it says that flustering is adj and pres-part. Is flustering actually used as an adjective? RJFJR 15:12, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Apparently so. I've added the sense at flustering along with four citations from the past 160 odd years. I'd appreciate it if someone could tweak the definition I've given it though. Thryduulf 16:38, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
Isn't such adjectival use of participles common? So common as to be the default. To me the question is can it form a comparative? If so, the case for having it as an adjective PoS is strong. If not, .... The entry asserts that this one does not form a comparative. DCDuring TALK 19:55, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
It forms a comparative. DCDuring TALK 20:04, 14 March 2008 (UTC)


This is very commonly used as a noun. I was considering adding a noun entry. Opinions? (I know... it's the participle vs. noun discussion yet again.) -- Algrif 16:09, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Can it form a plural? Does it have any other meaning besides "action" of the verb? If either of those is yes, then it is certainly worth a noun PoS. Otherwise, I don't like the noun PoS, but certainly wouldn't take action against it. DCDuring TALK 16:47, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
Their bickerings drove me mad after a time. It can certainly form a plural to my ears (also 65kghits) Conrad.Irwin 16:50, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps you're thinking of The Bickerings, a series of radio sketches of a family that characteristically engaged in, well, bickering, each sketch being an instance of bickering, the whole series of bickerings without end. DCDuring TALK 19:59, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
Not sold on this... I'm having a hard time thinking of any present participle for which such a plural can't be formed; comings, goings, singings, leapfroggings, even manifestings are all reasonably well-attested. If there is a meaning distinct from the verb, though, this would definitely merit a noun section. -- Visviva 17:03, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
It is interesting that some -ing-enders don't seem to form plurals. I run a b.g.c. search for the plural. If that isn't a sufficient criterion for something to be designated a "Noun", then we ought to amend our present participle template to reflect the existence of a plural as a default, with uncountability as a selectable option. A substantial (read, excessive) number of -ing-ending words are shown as uncountable plurals (an aspect of one of my pet peeves). Many -ing-enders are shown as uncountable nouns. DCDuring TALK 19:51, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
1329 raw b.g.c. hits for "bickerings".
The kinds of present participles that don't actually have plurals are mostly from the rarer latinate verbs and such words as Americani(z/s)ing. The ratio of raw b.g.c. hits for plural -ing-enders to those for singular -ing-enders is less than 5%, so if there are fewer than 100 hits for the "-ing" there might be expected to sometimes be no hits for the "-ings". Americanizing just doesn't seem to want to be pluralized, perhaps because of "Americanizations" as a more eupohonius synonym. DCDuring TALK 20:23, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

goose egg etymology

Our entry for goose egg (meaning zero) says it is From the oval shape of both a goose's egg and the Arabic numeral zero (0). It's a long time since I was in an Arab country, but I remember the numerals. Zero is a dot, it is the 5 that looks like an oval. Anyone agree.--Dmol 22:01, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

The Etymology for 0 says that "0" is of 10th Century attestation, descended from the "West Arabic" notation (in contrast to the dot), with Indic ancestry before that. The concept of "zero" in arithmetic is certainly Arabic. As to the goose eggs, I'm curious about it myself. DCDuring TALK 22:09, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
See Arabic numeral. —RuakhTALK 23:21, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Heard a word

I heard a word on NPR tonight. Sounded like "Ki-reen" but I think it may have been Cairean meaning a person from (or resident in) Cairo. Can anyone confirm? RJFJR 01:01, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Searching google for "of or from Cairo" leads to the word "cairica" (or "Cairica"?) [7] which means this, at least in botany. It does though give the pronuciation as "(KY-rik-uh)" Thryduulf 01:31, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
The only meaningful English result searching for "ciarean" is [8], although there is a bgc hit in Welsh and a blog in a language that [9] tells me is Catalan. 01:37, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, but "Cairean" ≠ "Ciarean". :-/ —RuakhTALK 01:43, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

accountable officer

Would someone care to translate this definition from semi-legalese into English please! 10:31, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, the above was me suffering the five-tilde typo! Thryduulf 15:34, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Finnish words for family reuniions or family gatherings

I am looking for the finnish words for family reunions or family gatherings? —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

Please write an English list of the terms you want to know here: Wiktionary:Requested_articles:Finnish, and you will be attended. Alternatively, you may write a message on my talk page. Hekaheka 11:32, 16 March 2008 (UTC)


Meaning "full of speech or words; voluble; loquacious" - is this an archaic word? Should we include it? --Panda10 20:11, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

Why not? Not labelled as archaic in MW3. It isn't a garbage entry. If it's challenged, we'll see if it meets RfV. DCDuring TALK 20:48, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for adding it. --Panda10 21:19, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

apache / Apache apaches?

apache (lower case) says it is Spanish for Apache. Shouldn't that be capitalized? Also, should Apache have a plural Apaches? RJFJR 17:11, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Spanish does not capitalize language names, nationalities, or ethnicities, so the lower case form is correct for Spanish. Yes, the English Apache should have a plural Apaches for the common name (ethnic people and the helicopter), but not for the proper noun (language name). --EncycloPetey 17:43, 17 March 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. I didn't know that about Spanish capitalizations. RJFJR 01:26, 18 March 2008 (UTC)


I have come across this word meaning "the transformation of clear to cloudy when water is added to an anise-flavoured spirit (such as absinthe)". However, French Wiktionary does not have this meaning, and my conversational French is not up to asking a question there. Can anyone confirm the meaning, and figure out how to add it without knowing it's etymology? SemperBlotto 11:30, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

I can confirm the meaning — which is to say, “louche” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language). can confirm the meaning, and I can click and read. :-)   According to said, this sense goes under our etymology #1, and is not anise-flavored-spirit–specific or even alcohol-specific, though their first two examples are both of alcohols (one beer, one wine). —RuakhTALK 00:00, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
OK - I've added an adjective sense, and a noun. Thanks. SemperBlotto 16:12, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

gun powder

Is gun powder an alternative spelling of gunpowder? RJFJR 02:03, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

Some numbers:
  gunpowder "gun powder" approx. ratio
books 65,810 1,710 38:1
scholar 55,700 8,980 6:1
groups 488,000 61,700 8:1
web 3,350,000 397,000 8:1
total 3,959,510 469,390 8:1
I think that's worthy of an alternative spelling entry. Thryduulf 03:05, 19 March 2008 (UTC)


Verb (Ety 1) There are 5 definitions and 6 translation glosses. to avoid is not defined. Was this defn. removed or melded at some point in the past? -- Algrif 16:01, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

hi or hello

What is the differance between hi and hello

Hi is more informal than hello. Hello is itself not truly a formal greeting. (Try to picture someone saying "Hello, your honor." in a courtroom.) DCDuring TALK 21:58, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

plural of magnum opus

I note that the magnum opus entry gives the plural as "magna opera", which is presumably correct for Latin, however, I've not heard this used. I'm mostly familiar with the very English plural "magnum opuses" although I recall seeing "magnum opi" on a couple of occasions. Should these be noted in the entry as alternate plurals? If so, do we need a usage note to go with them? Thryduulf 01:24, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

I think "opuses" is far more common in English. As an aside, it is interesting that "magnum opus" being the "greatest" work by an individual would have a plural form, superlatives should be unique, no? - [The]DaveRoss 01:32, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
It seems that some folk are fortunate enough to produce two or more works of equal greatness in their lifetime. Also, it is possible to talk about the "magnum opuses" of more than one person, e.g. "This exhibition displays the magnum opuses of all of the 20th century's greatest impressionsts". Thryduulf 01:46, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I was somewhat relieved to find that at least the "magnus opi" form would not be readily cited. It would not make it as a "common" misspelling. If someone wants to claim it as an alternative form, I would object. DCDuring TALK 16:38, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
It doesn't get many uses, but it does get them. At least on the first page of groups hits, there are at least two independent occasions where it has been used and then others have said it's incorrect. If you want to tag it as incorrect do so, but it can be cited as form that is in use. Thryduulf 17:02, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
In academic writing, the Latin magna opera is often used and it is the plural form with which I am more familiar. (Google scholar generates 233 hits for magna opera and 31 hits for magnum opuses.) I think it would be appropriate to include both plural forms in the entry. -- WikiPedant 02:01, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I've added both alternative plurals magnum opuses and magnum opi and written a usage note at magnum opus about the plural form. I'm sure teh usage note could be improved though, so please take a look.
I've not added citations to any of the forms, but can do so if required). Thryduulf 16:03, 21 March 2008 (UTC)


Vendetta is not revenge or vengeance.
Its the promise of revenge or vengeance.
—This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 05:32, 20 March 2008 (UTC).

  • According to De Mauro it is "moral offence or material damage caused to others in order to obtain immediate satisfaction for an offence or damage". That sounds like revenge or vengeance to me. SemperBlotto 15:39, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

beluga or Beluga

Are these both correct? If yes, should Alternative spellings be added? --Panda10 14:25, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Capitalization of common names is a very gray area. Both forms can turn up in works, though many style guides (and biologists) will advocate for using the lower-case only for common names of plants and animals. Potentially, then, we could end up having two articles for every common name of every species. --EncycloPetey 15:29, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Unless there is almost exactly equal usage, I'd have the main entry at the most common form with the other being an {{alternative spelling of}} entry. Thryduulf 15:41, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
That sounds like a good idea. --EncycloPetey 20:13, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Originally, I was just going to add ===Alternative spellings===. When do we use ===Alternative spellings=== and when {{alternative spelling of}}? --Panda10 23:08, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
The ===Alternative spellings=== header goes in the main entry (the one with a full definition), and contains a wiki-linked list of the alternative spellings. If the alternative spellings also merit a full defintion, then the same format is used on both. If the alternative spelling is less common, it just gets the {{alternative spelling of}} template with no definition.
Compare colour/color and pediatrician/paediatrician. Thryduulf 00:29, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. That was helpful and I understand this part, but I still don't know how to change the beluga/Beluga pair. Maybe I just add the see template for now until someone with a better knowledge about belugas makes the proper change. --Panda10 02:14, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
I'll edit them now, so that you'll have an example of what Thryduulf said. --EncycloPetey 02:19, 22 March 2008 (UTC)


I can't help feel this word needs a usage tag of some description, but I'm not certain which - {{informal}}? {{derogatory}}? Something else? Thryduulf 23:00, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

pejorative slang? --EncycloPetey 02:24, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps an image. DCDuring TALK 10:23, 22 March 2008 (UTC)


There's at least 2 definitions missing here. One for e.g. "Does anyone else speak English?", one for "Breathe, else you die." -21:35, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

The first sense is an adjective sense; the second is adverbial. Our entry was missing the adjecitve sense, but I have now added it. --EncycloPetey 15:54, 24 March 2008 (UTC)


Please have a look at this. The pronunciation is much different from here. Why? Which is correct? Cumeo89 15:36, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

We had only a British pronunciations, whereas MSN had only an American. Someone just added an American pronunciation to ours.—msh210 15:40, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean. The file is En-us-torrent.ogg and MSN is American so they should be identical, aren't they? Cumeo89 15:48, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
The two sound files use all the same phonemes as far as I can tell. What difference are you hearing? --EncycloPetey 16:07, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
The only difference in the soundfiles I can hear is that Wiktionary's female vocalist uses a pronunciation slightly closer to /-ɛnt/ than the /-n̩t/ of MSN's male vocal, both are correct its just a slight difference between speakers. The difference between the US and UK pronunciation is the first vowel sound - US [ɔː] (as in "law") vs UK [ɒ] (as in "stop"), a phoneme not found in Leftpondian speech. On both sides of the Atlantic neither is incorrect, just one is more usual than the other. Thryduulf 16:57, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
I miscommunicated then. I am so used to this difference between [ɒ] and American [ɑː] that I usually think of them as the same phoneme, even though the phonetics are different. In this case, the US pronunciation usese [ɔː] instead, which is significant. --EncycloPetey 18:26, 28 March 2008 (UTC)


We're missing a sense, but I don't know what it means so can't add it. It's used in discussions of light rail (at least here in St. Louis): see google:cross-county-alignment or shrewsbury-alignment for examples.—msh210 15:36, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Seems to mean a collection of railway lines. My local library has a copy of a railway dictionary - I'll have a look on my next visit. SemperBlotto 15:43, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
    • The alignment is the course a route takes, and is used for railway lines, roads, footpaths, canals, etc. possibly rivers as well. For example a bypass is a road on a new alignment. I've added this definition to the entry, but it could do with checking and maybe improving.
    • We are also missing the archaeological definition, see w:Alignment (archaeology), but I've not added this as I'm not certain whether or not it is independent or a special case of definition 1? Thryduulf 16:45, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

laureate and honor

What does honor mean in the definition of laureate (I can't find an appropriate explanation) :

  1. (intransitive): To honor with a wreath of laurel, as formerly was done in bestowing a degree at the English universities.

Thanks in advance. Cumeo89 06:36, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

  • To bestow an honour on someone. SemperBlotto 15:46, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks again. Cumeo89 15:49, 24 March 2008 (UTC)


The definition offered seems restrictive and refers to seismology where you know only distances and hence need three points. Navigation is different. Could this be changed to a more inclusive general definition? - dougher 17:09, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Actually, it needs several more senses. See w:Triangulation (disambiguation). --EncycloPetey 17:16, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
I've made a start - chess sense needs an expert. SemperBlotto 17:17, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
Chess sense added, although I'm uncertain whether it is countable or uncountable. --EncycloPetey 18:23, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

LOL and lol

Is there really a difference in capitalization between the English and Translingual "words"? I would have thought that most Internet users just use whatever version suits the context. SemperBlotto 08:03, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

BTW, does the term Internet now include the phone network and any other communications system that might be using or connected to the Internet? Certainly "lol" is used in IM and in intranet e-mail, for example. DCDuring TALK 14:07, 25 March 2008 (UTC)


What does "downshift" mean in the following sentence?

"We have clearly downshifted in the past year from GDP growing above three percent to probably one to 1.5 percent for this year." [10]

Thanks. Cumeo89 16:37, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

  • It's economic jargon related to sense 1 of the entry. It just means something like "the rate shows a trend toward decreasing". Circeus 21:34, 25 March 2008 (UTC)


What are plural forms of this? From Latin I would expect "alienantes" (?). Because it is a term in linguistics or philosophy, I would expect that to be preferred. But I would not be surprised to find other plurals: "alienans" or even "alienanses". My MW3 does not have the term. OED? DCDuring TALK 19:11, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Another possibility is that this should be taken as an adjective. It seems to be, sometimes at least, used as such. DCDuring TALK 19:14, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
Speaking etymologically, it is a participle. So, it is intended to describe an action, but should function and inflect as an adjective. Do we have any solid suppport that the word actually should be classified as a noun? --EncycloPetey 20:55, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Since someone (;-)) has gotten on my case for characterizing nouns as also being adjectives, I have grown shy of making such determinations. B.g.c. search produced a number of citations where the word was seemingly used as a substantive. IF it formed a plural that would strengthen the case for characterizing it as a noun. I know enough Latin to usually recognize a present participle. I work on the assumption that little besides pluralization forms carries over from Latin grammar into English. I haven't found the form "alienantes" in English. I haven't looked at all of the b.g.c. hits on "alienans" to determine whether any of them are plural. Any advice would be appreciated. DCDuring TALK 23:55, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

fanny (Canada)

Can somebody find details on which meaning this word has in English Canada? It wasn't mentioned in any of the tags, so I tentatively changed the first def to "Commonwealth", but I suspect it could be just as well the second needing to be "North America". Circeus 21:24, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

In Canada it has the same meaning as in the US, confirmed by my CanOD. I'll update the label to (Canada, US). —Michael Z. 00:36, 26 March 2008 (UTC)


The definition of this word needs to be re-written so as not to be circular. Thryduulf 00:50, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Def was from the 1913 Webster's entry for despondent; now replaced (could be improved). Thanks for spotting this ancient mixup. -- Visviva 01:02, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

bombardier = gunner?

Bombardier is a rank in the artillery. So is gunner, but a gunner is also any artillery soldier. This is what my dictionary says, and what I've seen in the Canadian Forces.

But the entry for bombardier also has an additional sense "an artilleryman; a gunner," supported by a quotation from a translated Chekhov story. From reading Chekhov, there's no indication that this is not a rank.

Can someone attest to bombardier (3), or shall I remove it? —Michael Z. 04:07, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Added a couple more citations which seem to support that sense; of course it is difficult to be sure that no rank is meant, but if there has been such a rank in the Russian or Prussian militaries, it is not covered by our current entry. -- Visviva 17:48, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the quotations—the second one appears to support the definition. It would be nice to find a dictionary citation with the separate sense to settle this definitively.
I'm thinking that usage in Russian is not that relevant, but what the English translator wrote is. —Michael Z. 19:13, 31 March 2008 (UTC)


This entry shows two parts of speech: noun and adjective. I would have thought this is a determiner and that our best PoS heading would be pronoun. DCDuring TALK 19:27, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

It's a determiner, and our best PoS heading would be Determiner. --EncycloPetey 19:35, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
Determiner seems to have some kind of third-class status among "PoS" headers: "In Use". It is not a term I was familiar with before WT. It might be useful as a category (possibly invisible). I would be very reluctant to force users (who clearly are not linguists or grammarians) to deal with such a term. DCDuring TALK 20:37, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
I find it extermely useful, since it allows us to accurately describe the grammatical behavior of a class of words that otherwise have to be listed under three or more different PoS headers with the same definition. Determiners function as adjectives, nouns, and pronouns do. And determiners are not limited to English; in some other languages they are far more numerous as a result of inflection. The Determiner is accepted as one of the parts of speech in modern grammars; it simply hasn't spread to grade school instruction yet. I don't find it any more difficult to "deal with" than Adverb (which is a very nebulous category). It is also a narrow, closed set. So we're not likely to keep finding lots of additional ones once the headers are in place. --EncycloPetey 20:49, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't disagree with what you say, but my concern remains with communicating with people other than ourselves. I like the idea of a category. But I also like the idea of understandable PoS headers. That almost certainly means boring, conventional ones, even if deficient by specialist standards. I also like to follow and even enforce policy. DCDuring TALK 21:16, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps then we should link the header to determiner in the same way we link the initialism header? Thryduulf 21:21, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
I have also noted that this putative word does not appear in MW3 or MW online. DCDuring TALK 21:19, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
MW3 included the older (now deprecated) form determinant. Note: MW3 spells some language names with lowercase letters (see their entry for afar); we should not limit ourselves to mimicking the shortcomings of other dictionaries when there are grounds for improvement. --EncycloPetey 21:53, 26 March 2008 (UTC) Addendum: Since you seem disparaging of even the word's existence, I have helped you out by providing citations.
I wonder about why a fairly comprehensive dictionary would omit a word like somesuch. Perhaps because it is trivially SoP? I offered MW3's apparent opinion about the putative word as a possibiity. Other than wanting to implement (or change) policy, I have no agenda, especially not with respect to this putative word. If I had I might have made this an RfV or RfD. I certainly don't need any citations for somesuch, but citations are always useful. I haven't come across an entry in my 1993 edition of MW3 that used "determinant" or "determiner" as a part of speech (or in any other way). Could you direct me to some? DCDuring TALK 01:22, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I hadn't followed the link. I never doubted the existence of "determiner", only that its use as a Level 3 header was in accord with WT "policy". It falls into the third of four classes of Level-3 headers: "In Use". I don't even like "Phrase", "Idiom", and "Abbreviation" as headers (speaking only of English). DCDuring TALK 01:35, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
In that case, I misunderstood you. I did not understand that the putative word you were refering to was somesuch, since it physically followed the previous line of comments. I note that the original OED does not have somesuch either. There are also no returns from Wikisource, except for three talk pages. It may be that this is a fairly recent coinage. --EncycloPetey 18:17, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry if my writing led you astray. In my defence, I had never challenged "determiner" as a word and thought that they referent of "this" ought to be understood as the subject of the Tea.
"Somesuch" may have come about because of printer's or typesetters' economies. "Some such"/"somesuch" appears with very little spacing between the words in some nineteenth century works. A citation in our entry attributed to Samuel Johnson is from a 19th century edition and does not clearly show two words. This English grammar (1853) is the earliest book that I have found that has it clearly as "somesuch". (BTW, that work classifies "somesuch" as an "indefinite pronoun", a classification that seems similar to "determiner". The page offers a list of them.) In any event it is odd that "somesuch" appears in few if any dictionaries but gets hundreds of 20th and 21st century b.g.c. hits, for which ambiguous spacing seems less an issue. DCDuring TALK 19:38, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
To clarify: that work classifies somesuch as a compound formed from indefinite pronouns; it's not obvious to me that it classifies somesuch itself as one. —RuakhTALK 20:25, 28 March 2008 (UTC)


Is the example with the second definition really a quote from somewhere? - dougher 03:09, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

I don't know. It was added by Dmol, fwiw.—msh210 16:47, 27 March 2008 (UTC)


My employer just put out a press release with the headline, "[company name] bows new [product line] software". According to one of my co-workers, bow here means something like "proudly introduce", and that interpretation matches the release (the first paragraph of which is "Today, [company name] took the wraps off of its new software for the company’s [product name] server"). We seem to be missing this sense; I'm not sure if it's related to "bow" as in "take a bow" (in which case it presumably rhymes with "cow"), or to "bow" as in "tie with a bow" (in which case it presumably rhymes with "mow"), or something else. —RuakhTALK 16:42, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Your company needs to get a less creative copywriter. This usage does not match any existing definition in our, or any other dictionary. SemperBlotto 16:53, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
    They should ask you to proof-read at the very least. I think they are ahead of the curve in converting the intransitive sense of "bow" meaning "debut" to a transitive sense. Backward-looking correctness would insist that the software could "bow", but that the company could not "bow" the software. OTOH, the verb debut has both intransitive and transitive sense and usage. It isn't that unusual for intransitive verbs to take a transitive meaning eventually, is it? Or is normal evolution the other way? This would seem to be pronounced as in take a bow. BTW, I'm not sure that the verb senses are properly arranged under their pronunciations in our entry for bow. DCDuring TALK 17:04, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
I wouldn't have said that software could "bow" either; while "bow" often carries some connotation of debuting, using it as a synonym just sounds bizarre. However, a survey of Google results for "bows new" suggests to me that I am behind the times, and the English language as I have known it is doomed. Transitive and intransitive uses are not scarce, even in presumably well-edited sources. [11] [12] [13] Perhaps this was originally a headline-writer's coinage? It is marginally shorter than "debuts." -- Visviva 17:22, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
Is there a need for a context tag to indicate usage that seems limited to headlines? I have not found this use of transitive "debut" sense anywheere but in journalistic headlines. It would not be too much of a surprise if ink- and space-saving considerations led headline writers to do violence to the language. DCDuring TALK 03:26, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
I wonder when debut was first used transitively. Was it already transitive in Old/Middle/modern French? OED anyone? DCDuring TALK 19:20, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
OED's first cite for transitive sense is from 1830 (first nominal cite is 1751). -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 19:54, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
Ooops, I misspoke/typed. The OED has no transitive cites at all. The 1830 is the first verbal cite, they don't seem to have any transitive cites at all. Sorry. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 19:57, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
So they hadn't even recognized the transitive sense of debut, which seems so normal to me!!! It's just a point of curiosity of some value in making inferences about meanings. Does evolution go from trans => intrans, intrans => trans, or both ways. My bet would be on both ways. It seems easier on the ear to drop any object, letting the listener/reader supply it from context or omitting a not too specific determiner. "What're they doing?" "Baking." reather than "Baking something." But any intrans verbs seem to come to be applied in context where there suddenly can be a person causing something to happen that had previously been deemed the province of the thing itself. "The biologist evolved a new strain of fruit flies."
The problem with "bow" (take a bow) is that the intransitive meaning seems so concrete, necessitating the active involvement of the one bowing. The other pronunciation of the verb "bow" involves a passive bending under external force, but doesn't have anything to do with "introduction". This would-be usage seems really inept. Is it used only in writing where the pronunciation problem might escape notice? DCDuring TALK 20:39, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
There are at least two kinds of transitive-intransitive pairs: those where the meaning is the same ("I'm baking" = "I'm baking something"), and ergative verbs, where the meaning is inverted ("the pasta is baking" = "the pasta is being baked"). I'd imagine that in the former case transitive→intransitive is much more common, since it would be so ambiguous to take an intransitive verb and just add an object in the hopes that the relationship is clear; in the latter case, both seem fairly natural to me, but I think intransitive→transitive (normal→causative) is more common. Of course, I'm just talking out of my hat here: I've no data to back it up. :-) —RuakhTALK 23:31, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
One must be careful not to confuse an intransitive verb an a transitive verb allowing deletion of the object. look here for a good explanation. Basically, "I eat" has a default, implied object, so the underlying verb is not actually intransitive, whereas "I close" can be construed as a pure intransitive (cf. "we close at five") in addition to its actual transitive meaning (I close the door), although it's not used much as a "fake intransitive" (there must be actual ambitransitive verbs that are used transitively without object, but I can't think of any on the spot). Circeus 20:43, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one behind the times on this one! :-P —RuakhTALK 23:31, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

Phoenix / phoenix

The capitalized version has five senses, and the lower-case one has only the firebird, and a figurative sense related to that. Is the bird really capitalized in modern English (and if so, doesn't the capitalized version need the figurative sense too?)? Also, that quote seems excessive in the etymology. I came across this after noticing Fénix. Since google isn't helping differentiate the upper and lower case, I'm at a loss as to what to do with fénix and which senses of the two English words go with which of the two Spanish spellings. Dmcdevit·t 03:13, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

To make a start; the mythical bird should be lower case, as is unicorn. The RAE only gives two senses for fénix, one is the mythical bird, and the other does not correspond to any of the English uses, and nothing for the capitalized word. And, yes, I'm sure the one line etymology is sufficient. The quote could go into Citations. -- Algrif 10:18, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
I disagree about capitalization. In some contexts, the Phoenix is capitalized because it is a specific, unique bird (albeit repeatedly reincarnated). It thus is capitalized like Ceto or Sphinx. In other contextx, the phoenix is a species of mythical bird, and should appear in lower-case like satyr and unicorn. In short, both forms are correct for English. Also, the RAE is not relaible when one is looking for proper nouns; it typically omits proper noun senses, and in the majority of cases doesn't even have the proper noun entries at all. --EncycloPetey 18:10, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
RAE is horribly unreliable, isn't it? (Especially given it's status as The Authority on what is correct!!) The es:wiktionary gives capitalised form for the constellation and lowercase for the mythical bird. As for the English entry, I am having real difficulty in finding support for either case. There does not seem to be any consensus in general public usage. This is a thorny one, for sure. -- Algrif 13:16, 29 March 2008 (UTC)


I presume this word has a plural, but I haven't been able to find what it is. Thryduulf 20:27, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

The Latinate plural would be discoboli, but the Latin itself comes from Ancient Greek. If this word entered English directly from the Greek, then I'm unsure what the expected plural would be. --EncycloPetey 22:32, 29 March 2008 (UTC)
Discoboli wins by a mile on Google Web and Books, even when the ichthyological sense is filtered out. Discoboloi is adequately attested, but it is presumably the plural of discobolos, which has the same meaning but is drawn from directly from Greek. *Discoboluses appears to be an illiteracy only, and a mercifully rare one. -- Visviva 14:32, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Underwater mortgages and other financial things

Could someone who knows finances write a general financial definition for underwater? I am starting to find news stories about underwater mortgages and how Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are underwater. I am unqualified because I have never heard of this term used this way until the last two weeks. Thanks. Jesse Viviano 03:08, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Doneish, improvements welcome. -- Visviva 09:34, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
I've added upside down as a synonym and put in reciprocal links between the two. Mike Dillon 14:42, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. Jesse Viviano 15:29, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

One more financial word that has been gaining ground that we have no financial definition for: leverage. This one is getting popular because financial journalists have been stating that some investment banks like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns are highly leveraged. I found a definition at w:Leverage (finance), but I still feel unqualified for this job because I am a novice in advanced finance, where this would fall under. I know that definition 2 of leverage as a noun could be stretched to handle this, but it is not obvious to one who does not know what financial leverage is in the first place. Jesse Viviano 15:38, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Please take a look at the two senses added. DCDuring TALK 18:10, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
They look good to me, but I am really not the right person to ask about this. I am not a finance or business major. Jesse Viviano 18:35, 30 March 2008 (UTC)


The definition says that "either" is used only of two for all uses, but for the conjunction, more than two is standard (and cannot be replaced by "any" as the usage note suggests). For example, "Either they'll come late, they'll be drunk, or they won't show up at all." —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

In your example, "either" sounds better, but is a bit odd (and possibly implies only one of the options). But "either" can be replaced by "any", and usually should be: "What colour do I want? Any of red, orange, or yellow would be fine." ("They will be any of late, drunk, or not showing." —which sounds more British to my ear.) Robert Ullmann 15:19, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
Your first example, "What colour do I want? Any of red, orange, or yellow would be fine.", to my ears, works equally as well with "either" (although most likely the "Any of" would be omitted); but your second example "They will be any of late, drunk, or not showing." sounds very formal and and "Either they'll come late, they'll be drunk, or they won't show up at all." would be far more likely in spoken British English.
With unspecified items then "either" is limited to two possibilities with "any" user for more, e.g. with the question "Which colour do you want?", the answer "Either of them" would be used if there were two colours to choose from and "Any of them" implies there are at least three.
The same holds true where the questioner specifies the choices, but the reply doesn't - "Do you want the red or the blue?", "Either will be fine". "Do you want the red, blue or yellow?", "Any of them will be fine".
However "any" doesn't fit well in place of "either" in the following "Either red or blue, but not yellow or black", "Either red, blue or yellow but not black", "Either green, blue, black or orange but none of the rest", "Either yellow or green, but not any of the others", in all of them though it is not at all unlikely for the "Either" to be omitted. Thryduulf 16:11, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
The restriction of correct use of either only to cases where there are two alternatives is gradually weakening, just as is the restriction on the use of alternative to binary choice situations, between two choices. It is also similar to the situation with between and among. Perhaps we now more often have the luxury of a plethora of choice (57 varieties), instead of hard binary choices {to be or not to be).
I try to honor the old correctness standard, differentiating between binary-choice and multiple-choice situations, but would not waste much time correcting the formerly non-standard usage, except for rather formal or published works or before a demanding group like this distinguished community. DCDuring TALK 18:27, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
The use of either with more than two is quite old; there are several examples from the KJV, for instance:
"Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?" (1 Cor. 14:6)
"And if the priest shall look, and, behold, the plague be not spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin" (Lev 13:53)
"And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded" (Deut 17:3),
"And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked" (1 Kgs 18:27).
In any case, the definitions should reflect actual usage, with a usage note if necessary.

Not the snowclonest short of a snowclone...

Ok, so that is a really confusing title. Two snowclones were brought up by Dmcdevit on IRC and I am not sure exactly how best to list them, and I am sure there are piles of permutations which I am not aware of, so I thought I would throw them out here and see what we can come up with. - [The]DaveRoss 22:05, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

not the X-est Y in the Z

a few examples...

(one OR a few) X(s) short of a Y

a few examples...

I think probably the best and possibly only employable way to deal with these (and other snowclones) is to make separate entries for any permutations that pass CFI as set phrases (since there will be many, many more that don't, and we shouldn't be bothering ourselves with them) and cross-reference those of the same template, via ====Synonyms==== or ====Alternative forms==== (although the latter really wasn't meant for this sort of situation, but the former doesn't indicate the relationship well enough). After that, I think a Snowclones category is in order, and we could potentially have subcategories under "X is the new Y"-type names, but I'm not sure if I like that. Better than that, I think, would be to link, er, realisations of snowclones to an Appendix:X_is_the_new_Y page (or we could invent ourselves a new namespace again, usw.) and on that page just have a brief explanation of the general meaning and then a list of the permutations we have (and we could even list, possibly in a different section, those that we've noticed that don't quite meet CFI—sorta like a mini-LoP). How's that for a first attempt? --Wytukaze 23:39, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
This sounds like a good use of Wikisaurus. List all the synonymous forms there for cross-referencing. --EncycloPetey 23:42, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
Now there's a bright idea. I'd still want the Wikisaurus entry clearly labelled as a snowclone entry, but yeah. Everyone, do that. --Wytukaze 00:48, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

stick in the mud

This word is scheduled to be WOTD on April 2, but the definition seems lacking to me: "A person unwilling to participate in activities, often because he or she believes the activity is not wholly kosher; a party pooper." --EncycloPetey 02:14, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

I don't think the ", often because he or she believes the activity is not wholly kosher" is needed at all. There are many reasons why someone might be a stick in the mud. Thryduulf 14:20, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Thryduulf. But I would say that it also means someone who is very conservative and unwilling to change, or modernise. -- Algrif 18:06, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree with all of you. Keep up the good work. Online ety dictionary suggests that the original metaphor (1750ish) is that one stays stuck in abject circumstance, implying (to me) complacency, laziness, or failure to recognize potential for improvement. MW3 (1993) also leans this way. But current usage in my hearing seems much more like "party pooper", "nay-sayer". DCDuring TALK 19:01, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

pray tell

Isn't this also classifiable as a verb phrase? __meco 14:36, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

I think the editor has the old meaning of pray tell (which is SoP, I think) just to contrast with and show the etymology of the contemporary usage. WT:POS says that "X Phrase" headers are deprecated. Although most inflected forms of this are rare and it may even be "defective", I think it is a verb, possibly categorized as an "English phrasal verb". Perhaps we need to have an etymology with the appropriate gloss on the term "pray". DCDuring TALK 15:06, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
The more I think about it, the more I agree with what the editor has presented. We may need some more work done on the older uses of "pray" {"I [politely, humbly] ask") used somewhat like "please" ("if it please you", "if you please"). My MW3 doesn't cover this use of "pray" very well, so I would welcome some comment. DCDuring TALK 15:44, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
I think that, at least in some stages of its evolution, when "pray" was a productive member of the vocabulary, it might itself have been used like "please", set off by commas. In this vestigial use it seems to be a set phrase, an interjection. I wonder how far back we would have to go to analyze its productive use coherently. Though I would normally like to have the literal meaning of the words in a set phrase provided as a sense in the entry, in this case, I'm not sure that we have a correct characterization, even as to PoS. Should get rid of the obsolete sense or leave it to be corrected when someone can? DCDuring TALK 18:28, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree that this uses the older (archaic? obsolete?) sense of pray. As such, it isn't really sum of parts, because pray no longer is used this way in mainstream English. It's almost become a set phrase through attrition of the definition of pray. That is, I'd call it a set phrase if we didn't have do tell, which says the same thing. I'm not sure how best to handle this or where to put the information. --EncycloPetey 17:34, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
I would think it is a Verb (NOT a phrasal verb, as "tell" is not a particle) which means: 1. "(Archaic) If you wouldn't mind telling me" and 2. modern "(Sarcastic) If it's not too much trouble to provide evidence". It would need a Usage notes entry to show that it is only used in the imperative form as written. (Or is it a kind of subjunctive?) -- Algrif 18:02, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
I've never taken it as imperative or subjunctive, but rather as originally elliptical for "[I] pray [you]", in the same way that prithee (please) was a reduced form of I pray thee or thankee is (I think?) a reduced form of I thank thee. That said, my assumption could be wrong; and etymology isn't destiny anyway, if it can be shown that it's currently treated as an imperative. —RuakhTALK 23:09, 31 March 2008 (UTC)


Are all these senses distinct? Is the fourth defnition used globally or is it just UK? Thryduulf 15:31, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

They don't all seem completely distinct, but the term is used in the first four senses in these particular ways in my experience. The two US politics senses have distinct and specific meaning. The historic sense having to do with Reconstruction has given life to the phrase far beyond the etymology. It seems essential. The not-from-around-here politician sense is fairly vital, being applied occasionally to Senator Clinton (D-NY). The fourth sense of "opportunistic stranger" would seem an important everyday-life application of the term. It would fly in the US, IMO. The fifth sense, however, seems particularly suspect, almost PoV, but perhaps it has currency in the UK press. They are all pejorative, IMHO, based on dislike of strangers, especially successful or aggressive competitors. BTW, the etymology I learned is based on the idea of "cheap luggage". DCDuring TALK 18:47, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
Sense 3 seems to be marginal. Like 5, it really is just a particular application of sense 4, but has particular bite in the American South because of sense 2, possibly the oldest sense or possibly just the most famous old application of sense 4. DCDuring TALK 18:50, 31 March 2008 (UTC)


Sausage has two senses, which seem to only describe two general varieties of the same thing, and I can think of many counter-examples. For example, there are small, hard sausages, some sold in strings (links), and there are soft ones which are preserved by smoking but require cooking. The first kind may be soft before it is preserved, while the second kind usually gets preserved by cooking and becomes hard and sliceable. Neither its relative hardness nor its state of preservation is a defining characteristic of sausage.

Of course sausage could also be classified into many more varieties by their characteristics For example, they could be split up as raw, cured, smoked, and cooked, or as salami, bologna, kubasa, chorizo, merguez, farmer's sausage, etc, but these belong under their specific names, and many are listed below.

Most of the translations on the page are identical for both senses, and some of those that differ are simply examples of specific varieties (e.g., Italian salame/salume/insaccato vs salsiccia).

The definition is also missing a mention of the shape, and the distinction between the substance and the object: sausage, or an example of a sausage. (I'm not sure if this is truly uncountable and countable, since one can refer to both types of sausages and individual sausages in the plural).

sausage (plural sausages)

  1. A type food made of ground meat and seasoning, packed in a cylindrical casing. Also a length of sausage, or an example of a sausage.

Is there any objection to merging these senses with a shorter definition, as above? —Michael Z. 19:48, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

I completely agree with you. You could add that the cylindrical casing was originally a length of intenstine, although it isn't usually nowadays. Widsith 06:54, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

don't worry, be happy

Firstly I don't think this is a verb, but I'm not certain what it is - adjective? idiom? phrase?

Secondly, does definition 1 really need to be an etymology? Thryduulf 23:02, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

Hm. Grammatically, it is a pair of imperative statements.
Perhaps an iconic phrase may rate a dictionary definition, but I think a song title of itself doesn't, so that could be moved to the etymology part of the entry.
Can you find any other song-title entries which can serve as examples? —Michael Z. 23:44, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
Persoanlly, I think this belongs on Wikiquote and/or Wikipedia. It has no lexical value. --EncycloPetey 02:33, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Agree with EP. Unless it has any idiomatic meaning that I don't know of? -- Algrif 10:32, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Agree with Algrif.—msh210 16:53, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Deleted. I also agree that this is not Wiktionary material. It is also grammatically incorrect: as it is a pair of imperative statements, they should be separated by a semicolon or written as two sentences, but if we were to move this to don't worry; be happy or Don't worry. Be happy. we would just look pedantic and foolish. I doubt that anyone ever writes it in this way. — Paul G 17:45, 27 July 2008 (UTC)