Wiktionary:Tea room/2008/November

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discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← October 2008 · November 2008 · December 2008 → · (current)

November 2008


The following is a copy of a short conversation from my talk page:

I can't say I've ever heard the alternative pronunciation [ /fɪθ/ ] in the US, except in specific urban and African-American dialects. --EncycloPetey 23:41, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

I hear it in lazy speech on this side of the Atlantic. I'll adjust the labels and write a quick usage note. Thryduulf 11:41, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Really? To me "fith" sounds perfectly normal. ("Fitty" sounds urban/AA, though.) —RuakhTALK 14:02, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Brought here for more opinions. Thryduulf 14:32, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

The no-second-"f" pronunciation is common in most places I've spent a lot of time (mostly US). More commonly, I think, there is a vestige remaining among many speakers. If someone were asked to repeat the word, they might well articulate the second "f". DCDuring TALK 15:46, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Re: vestige, repetition, etc.: Yeah, I agree. —RuakhTALK 17:29, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
It's not really an alternative pronunciation, it's laziness. Compare curtain, topsail, and especially decibel - they are all often pronounced with vowels omitted, as though written as curtn, topsl, and decibl. That doesn't make them alternate pronunciations (on the entry for curtain we only include the unslurred one), it's just the way people say things quickly. Granted, sometimes that pronunciation can enter the language and even become more common (compare caramel and comfortable), but when it's clearly just omission of a sound to make it easier to say, I don't believe this "alternate pronunciation" should be included at all. Teh Rote 23:54, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
That's how I used to feel about boatswain and Worcestershire, or for that matter norange and petrol or gas (gasoline). Are shortened pronunciations worse or better if the dropped phonemes are taken out of the middle rather than one of the ends?
If someone were to hear such a pronunciation, not understand what s/he was hearing, know IPA, know how to search using IPA, and if we supported IPA search, shouldn't they be able to find the entry? DCDuring TALK 00:39, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm thinking there are entirely too many ifs in that argument. Would you include the slurred pronunciations on the examples I gave above? Teh Rote 15:47, 8 December 2008 (UTC)


Noun, sports senses. In how many sports is there something called a steal? Is there any way to combine some of these without losing users? Or is it obvious to anyone who knows steal#Verb? DCDuring TALK 15:39, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

The baseball and curling senses seem distinct (although I don't know the first thing about curling). On the other hand, the basketball/field-hockey sense probably applies to most (or all) sports where possession is a factor. I am fairly sure I have seen it used in reference to soccer and American football. -- Visviva 16:34, 2 November 2008 (UTC)


Bacteria is the plural of bacterium but I find an awful lot of hits for bacterias, including 1640 at google books even after I change the filter to English only (some seemed to be Spanish). The best I can interpret is that in this sense Bacteria is a species of Bacteria and more than one species at a time is bacterias. But I don't find anything like this in other dictionaries. Anyone have an insight? Thank you. RJFJR 00:00, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm afraid the most obvious explanation is likely to be the correct one: [[bacterias]] is the plural of the singular [[bacteria]]. On the first page of a Google News search for "bacteria-is" I found three uses of [[bacteria]] as a singular. There must be hundreds among the thousands of raw hits on the collocation. The following NY Times headline illustrates:
  • 2002, AP, "Poultry Recall Expanded After Bacteria Is Found at Plant", in New York Times, Oct 14, 2002
Yes, "bacteria" is all too often used as a singular noun (as is, say, "phenomena"), but this is—to be unkind—an erroneous usage or—to be kinder—nonstandard English. -- WikiPedant 00:46, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I guess Merriam Webster and the New York Times don't count, due to their left-pondianism. Perhaps they should start amwikt or uswikt. DCDuring TALK 03:22, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Not seeing this in the online MW3... and the Times, like any paper, is bound to suffer the occasional stylistic slip. I daresay they've even published a typo from time to time. -- Visviva 03:52, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
IMO the usage (such as in the Times headline) to mean "a strain or species of bacteria" is defensible, since "Bacterium Found At Plant" would arguably be ambiguous. (only one, solitary bacterium? must be a darned hygienic plant!) (Not sure if "bacterias" is really the right plural for this though.)On the other hand, the horribly grating usage to mean "a single bacterium" -- as in "there's a bacteria in the corner of Figure 2" -- which I have heard and which has surely found its way into print, really should be tagged as an illiteracy. -- Visviva 03:52, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't agree with that line of argument, since it would also defend "Poultry Recall Expanded After Viruses Is Found At Plant" (which avoids the ambiguity of singular virus). But yes, it's defensible, in that irregular nouns tend to become regular over time, either through the formation of a regular plural, or through a non-plural-looking plural becoming countable-singular or uncountable. —RuakhTALK 12:13, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, I was trying to salvage some semblance of sanity, to avoid succumbing to the impression that the English language is collapsing around us... But I don't think that can be sustained any longer. Fare thee well, sivilizzayshun, we hardlee noo yee.  :-) -- Visviva 12:52, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I think the true number is closer to 800, after filtering for "-las," "-y", "-de" etc. I didn't look through all of them, but every one I did look at (that had limited preview) was written by an academic from a non-English-speaking country. In some cases there appeared to be free variation between "bacteria" and "bacterias"; in other cases it was a natural NNS error for "types of bacteria," as when referring to anaerobic bacteria plus aerobic bacteria as "both of these bacterias." Should be included, since English is a global language, but needs usage note. -- Visviva 03:52, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Two Issues: (1) I don't understand why "Etymology 2" has now been added to bacteria, when it invokes the same Latin root as "Etymology 1." I think that this singular usage should be acknowledged, but as a {{context|nonstandard|lang=und}} sense under "Etymology 1" (or in the Usage Note, as it is now). (2) I think the new entry for bacterias should have a (nonstandard) tag. Can we settle these questions here, or should I rfv each of these? -- WikiPedant 05:26, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Consider it a proposal. I request that attention be paid to Google News hits as well: These are edited works. I also suggest that one's personal reaction to a regional difference is something that can work against the stated objectives of Wiktionary. I have an impression that non-standard tags are applied more generously to "Americanisms" than to expressions from other regions. Could that be the effect or the cause of our low share among US users? Is the reaction a sign that there would need to be a separate wikt for American English? I don't know about the needs of the other colonies. DCDuring TALK 12:11, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
As an American myself, I am horrified to discover that you seem to be right about this being an Americanism. Data points:
  • [1] However, I think this may be partially an artifact of the fact that very few non-US archives are included in Google's archive search.
  • On the other hand, there are at least occasional non-US native-speaker uses (or rather "useses"), like this one from the Guardian: [2]. However, they don't seem very numerous.
  • The COCA corpus yields 6 hits for "bacterias," [3] as against 0 for the BNC (probably not statistically significant).
Bleh. What a travesty. But what's done is done; this appears to be a valid, intentional use that is largely localized in the US. Could we perhaps tag it (non-technical) or some such? -- Visviva 12:52, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree. —RuakhTALK 12:13, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I've sent e-mails to the NY Times asking about the usage. I will let you know what I find. I might to the same for Merriam-Webster. DCDuring TALK 01:43, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
FWIW, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (1999 edition) has this to say on page 35:

bacteria is plural. The singular is bacterium.

... so the NYT itself would consider these uses nonstandard? Or maybe their MOS isn't actually respected by the proofreaders. -- Visviva 02:56, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree there is just one etymology here. Also I'm fairly sure the current Etymology 1 is incorrect -- bacteria is the regular plural of bacterium (NL) from bakterion (grc), which is the neuter diminutive of bakteria (please forgive the sloppy romanization). The singular sense is derived from the Latin neuter plural, not directly from the Greek singular feminine. OTOH, if there are any uses of "bacteria" (or "bakteria"?) to actually mean "a (large) rod," that would merit a separate etymology. -- Visviva 02:56, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Whoops! [4] Looks like "bacteria" (plural "bacteriae") is a valid obsolete synonym for "bacterium." That would be a separate etymology IMO (from the Greek feminine singular, presumably via NL). Now, is this completely separate from the modern singular use, or not? -- Visviva 03:12, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I wouldn't consider that a wholly separate etymology. Latin doesn't make as big a deal or the -um / -a difference in ending, since they'd be considered just different gender forms of the same word (with the complication that the -a form could also be a plural nominative of the -um form). A different inflectional ending does not mean there is an entirley separate etymology; there are just two results from the same Ancient Greek rooting via Latin. If you want to get as technical as your preceding comments suggest, then we should start adding separate etymologies to all plural forms, since the plural forms in English often don't derive from the same root form as the singular. And nearly each and every conjugated form of every French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, etc. verb can be traced back to a particular inflected form of a Latin verb. Does that mean that every one of those gets a separate and different etymology? --EncycloPetey 15:50, 4 November 2008 (UTC)


We have ten definitions for "oh", which one is this? 19:09, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

The first four plus No. 6. —Stephen 02:13, 4 November 2008 (UTC)


The word peg shows PEG and Peg as related terms. Seems to me the only thing they have in common is being spelled with the same three letters. Any objection to my fixing that? - dougher 00:39, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Please do. They should be in the topline "see also," but not elsewhere. -- Visviva 03:07, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Looking for a word...

I am looking for a word. I saw it once several years ago, and have not come across it since. The definition was: A man with god-like powers.

Any help with this would be greatly appreciated!

—This comment was unsigned.

Perhaps demigod? —RuakhTALK 14:00, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

It wasn't demigod. My memory is a bit foggy, but I have it stuck in my head that the word began with theo.

Theopneust is close, but that's an adjective. Ƿidsiþ 08:25, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
Two cents: theocrat (divine ruler), theomancer (oracle inspired by a god), theosoph / theosopher / theosophist (= believer in theosophy, of which one sense is divine revelation possessed by a human being)? Equinox 03:17, 6 November 2008 (UTC)


If you search for "contrued" you will currently find four uses (all as arguments to template:intransitive). Looks like a spelling error, was it supposed to be constructed? RJFJR 15:39, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Fixed, thanks. (They were typos for construed.) —RuakhTALK 15:51, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

modus operandi

Modus operandi is singular with the plural being modi operandi. However, there are ~280 bgc and ~750 groups hits for modus operandum and another 66 bgc and ~100 groups hits for modus operanda, both treated as a singular, which presumably stem from treating modus operandi as a plural.

We obviously should have these in Wiktionary, but I'm not sure how we should categorise them or how we should note them on the [[[modus operandi]]] entry. Thryduulf 15:59, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

I'd like to help, but I'm suffering from infection by bacterias. DCDuring TALK 17:05, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
I would rate those as common errors, and create them as {{misspelling of}} entries. Unlike the situation in bacteria/bacterium discussion, these alternative forms aren't remotely plausible in Latin. --EncycloPetey 18:25, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
They aren't misspellings, however, but incorrect deduction of how singulars and plurals work in Latin. Double plurals and other such irregularities occur from time to time in English. How about a usage note saying to the effect that "careful speakers avoid..."Wakablogger 02:51, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
They're tantamount to saying the plural of "Chinese New Year" is "Chineses News Years". They're errors, plain and simple. It's more than "careful speakers avoid", but "grossly incorrect". --EncycloPetey 05:19, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
If a large percentage of native English speakers say "Chineses News Years," then its validity should be considered. There are many, many cases like this, such as cherubs, which has become accepted, and agenda, which has become a singular noun in English. In any case, modus operandum is not a spelling error, and including the expression "grossly incorrect" in a usage note seems excessively prescriptivist and inappropriate to Wiktionary. There is a reasonable chance that this form may spread, and the pros and cons of using it should be explained to the user. Wakablogger 09:10, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
It "may spread" is a prediction of what may happen in the future. We need not concern ourselves with such predictions. Your cherubs example is not parallel; it is a plural formed according to regular rules for English nouns. If we were discussing "modus operandis" or "moduses operandi", then your example might be pertinent. But modus operandi is a Latin phrase borrowed into English, where the erroneuous "singulars" under discussion are not formed according to the regular rules of either language. As you say "if a large percentage of native English speakers say", then we might consider it, but in this case, the percentage is slight: 76 to 4,710. That's less than 2%, which is usually considered negligible. --EncycloPetey 09:31, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
There are lots of other pertinent examples, but I think what is really key is that Google has 1.9 million hits for "modus operandum" and that this is not a spelling issue. People are clearly using this form and a note should explain the issues, not just dismiss them as being "grossly incorrect". Wakablogger 10:09, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
OK, why don’t you suggest the rationale underpinning those forms which seem to be nothing more than misspellings to me, EP, &c.? In Latin, no other forms beside modus and modi operandi make sense… (Besides modus[5] and modi operandorum[6], perhaps?)  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 19:19, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
For example, locus -> loci, radius -> radii. This is a set pattern in English for words of Latin derivation that speakers are applying. A misspelling would be nodus operandi. (BTW, &c. looks standard to me. Wasn't that common in the nineteenth century?) Wakablogger 20:34, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes it was. By now, the most common abbreviation of et cætera is etc. The ampersand used to be used far more often than it is now (such as in place of “and” in running text, far more frequently than it is employed nowadays).  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 19:48, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
And how exactly does the pattern locus -> loci give rise to "modus operanda"? There is no pattern in Latin or English of -a -> -i, which is what would be required to produce the erroneous form. Again, your example has no relevance to the issue under consideration. --EncycloPetey 20:42, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
You are right there is no exact such pattern. But claiming 1.9 million of these to be spelling errors is unreasonable. Clearly, people are basing it on items like locus -> loci--which does indeed fit if the -s is treated as replaceable with the -m and which is a perfectly sensible inference--bacterium -> bacteria, medium -> media. I am open to another explanation, but nobody seems to be offering anything. Wakablogger 01:23, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
How did you arrive at a figure of 1.9 million? I only got 67.7K [7]. --EncycloPetey 01:30, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

I just did another search and found I was searching only on a limited range of pages. When I searched on Google's entire database, I get 2.7 million for "modus operandum." Wakablogger 02:01, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

And you'll find that a significant fraction of those pages do not contain the term you searched for. Google's "exact search" is not as exact as people believe. It is sloppy with respect to matching the endings of words. Go back and look at the b.g.c. (i.e. CFI-relevant) percentages; it's less than 2%. --EncycloPetey 02:12, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm one of the people who thought the singular form ended in an -m. (I never used it because I always look it up in an dictionary, but that's what my thought was.) My guess is that I and so many others think so for the following reasons: We know that it's Latin and that it has an odd ending. We know that -i is the plural and we have to get it back to the singular form somehow. My guess is that we model the singular after bacterium and memorandum. I don't know what bgc or CFI-relevant means, but when I search for "modus operandum," I see lots of hits in sentences written by intelligent people who are not making spelling errors. On the 22nd page of hits: If so the modus operandum suggests he was drugged or not fully under control. On the 30th page: This change to CGT can severely affect the modus operandum of many smaller high potential companies. On the 38th page: Proposal with CC partners on modus operandum for implementation of access of Accessing Countries' patients to EU facilities (Autumn 2004). The claim that so many people are consistently misspelling this as "modus operandum" when there are only 101 hits for "nodus operandi" just doesn't make sense. Wakablogger 06:43, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
Sure it does. Misspelling the first letter is very rare. I can find hits for modus operandus, and a half dozen other errors where the ending of the word is wrong. That doesn't mean they're valid in any way. We usually look at the percentage, and the percentage is low. It's an error. I can find numerous pages where "from" was intended, but the word is spelled "form", but that doesn't make it a valid alternative. We still would call that an error even if we catalogued half a million examples. --EncycloPetey 07:24, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
Okay, so not the first letter, the last letter. If you look at the last letters, I'm sure you'll find that operandum is much more frequent. I've given examples, a reasonable explanation of why this might be so, yadda yadda yadda. I even explained that I make this error and gave a reasonable explanation of why that might be true. "Form" and "from" is a misspelling issue, not a grammatical one. Modus operandum is a grammatical error not a spelling one. It is in common use and will perhaps become common just as cherubs has overtaken cherubim and formulas has overtaken formulae. Whether it does or not, it is and will continue to be a common form that deserves a explanation, not looking-down-the-nose-at-the-user dismissal. This is my last posting on this discussion. Wakablogger 07:42, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

petrol blue

An anon user has commented that this entry name is a common error for petrel blue. If so, then the current entry ought to be moved or replaced with a "common misspelling" entry and the content created at the new spelling. Having never heard the term, I'm not equipped to judge which spelling is "correct". --EncycloPetey 18:20, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

The talk page now has some coinage information: The "British Colour Council" claims in its 1949 colour dictionary to have introduced the term in 1943. Was petrol bluish or greenish then? DCDuring TALK 18:35, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
I doubt it, although it might be that the name refers to manufacture from petrol in some way; a number of color names derive from the source of pigments used to produce them. However, it doesn't seem very likely that petrol was being used for that purpose in the midst of WWII. I could imagine also that it is a modernism with no logical basis, perhaps like some Russian names that did not appear until after the Bolshevik Revolution (such as a given name is the Russian word for "tractor") or like the names of austral constellations coined by 18th century astronomers (e.g. Microscopium, Sculptor). --EncycloPetey 18:46, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
Sketchy information suggests much earlier usage (1914?) and that the color was the result of a whitener added specifically to avoid an undesirable green color. DCDuring TALK 18:43, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
The OED has petrol blue ("A shade of blue likened to the colour of petrol.") with a quote from 1913, but not petrel blue. In the UK, paraffin is coloured blue (I seem to remember), but petrol is water white. SemperBlotto 19:58, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
Are their citations from US newspapers? News has a cluster of apparent hits dated 1913-4, but not enough info to trust them. I would like it we had the policy of inserting dates for early usage, but we would need to rely on our own attestation efforts to avoid copyvio. Do you suppose we could acknowledge the OED in some way and rely on their date and/or usage citation if we verified it or confirmed the date in other sources?
In any event, I'm reasonably happy that we've attested this entry and handled the user's complaint. DCDuring TALK 20:49, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't see why we couldn't say "The Oxford English Dictionary dates the earliest use of this term to..." in the Etymology section. --EncycloPetey 20:56, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
The OED cite is from that cluster, and specifically this ad in the Fort Wayne News. -- Visviva 02:34, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

On the Canadian Prairies we used to have purple gas, dyed purple, and sold in rural areas with a tax break for farmers. Perhaps British petrol was once dyed blue for government purposes, or distinguish it from diesel or other POLMichael Z. 2008-11-05 22:41 z

Not only UK, but other countries certainly used to add colour to petrol, parafin and derv fuels for taxation and origin ID purposes. Some still do. I'll try to find some concrete info. But back to the main point, I seem to remember from my childhood (not long after the end of WWII) that UK petrol was normally coloured blue for public purchase, and that the term "petrol blue" comes from that. -- ALGRIF talk 13:51, 8 November 2008 (UTC)


This redirects to Template:figuratively. Seems to me it should be the other way around. Contexts in WT and in most dictionaries are expressed as nouns or adjectives—e.g. (dated), (archaic), (obsolete)—not adverbs. Just scanning through the list at User:Robert_Ullmann/Context_labels, the only adverbs I see are terms like "usually" which are used to modify adjectives within a context label. -- WikiPedant 00:30, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Addendum: I just noticed that the same sort of redirect exists from Template:literal to Template:literally. Curiously, the adverbial forms may seem a little more natural when both literal and figurative senses are juxtaposed (with context labels) in an entry. But I still think it would be more consistent to use the adjectival forms. -- WikiPedant 00:41, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

To it seems most natural to write something like (at [[gold#Noun]]):
  1. Figuratively, someone or something that is very valuable.
I feel similarly about "literally", "originally", "specifically", "formerly", "most commonly", "by extension", and a few others.
Is it desirable to have these as context templates? To me they feel quite different from the region/time-period/register/field/etc. context labels, but I can't quite put my finger on why. I think it's because they reflect a relationship between various senses, rather than really a property of a certain sense; but I can't say why that makes me want to present them differently.
RuakhTALK 00:59, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Italicizing them and removing the parentheses would present a problem for "form of" entries, which do sometimes make use of these labels, or for entries on Interjections, which regularly describe the sense and use of the word, rather than expressing a meaning, per se. Your example for gold demonstratives this problem: we italicize "form of" information and we italicize mentions of words. Adding another reason for italics takes away from the specificity of those functions and makes it harder for a user to interpret convention.
I agree that these labels form a separate class of context labels, but I don't see a problem with that. We have several sub-groups of context labels, each of which performs a different function. There are context labels of geography, which limit the range in which a particular sense is used. There are context labels of register, which indicate that a particular sense is used within certain modes of speech or writing (e.e. slang) or even indicate that it is proscribed. There are context labels of time, which indicate whether a sense is still in use or likely to be understood. There are context labels for jargon, which indicate a sense is used only in particular tpical situations.
Now, these labels may appear even when there is only one definition or sense given. You posit that context labels like {{figurative}} compare between senses, and this means they are thus a wholly different thing from context templates. While I agree that these labels funtion by comparison between senses, I see them as fulfilling the same basic function as the other context tags. A label of figuratively indicates that the particular sense is used only in a figurative way. A label of formerly indicates that a particular sense is placed in time, as does by extension. I don;t see any motivating reason to treat these differently from the other context labels. --EncycloPetey 19:56, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Petey's points here: (a) Too much italicization within defns is a bad thing and (b) {{context|literal|lang=und}} and {{context|figurative|lang=und}} do belong to a bona fide class of context labels. I wonder though, Petey, what you think about my original complaint -- that these labels would be better rendered in adjectival rather than adverbial form? Usually, I think of a context label as something that could be used to end the sentence "This sense is ________." And this blank would normally be filled in with a noun or adjective. -- WikiPedant 20:11, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
I think the main template name would be better as the adjective, if only because it is shorter. I prefer the display to be adverbial, but I can't express quite why I feel that way at the moment. I'll give it some thought and see if I can articulate my thinking. --EncycloPetey 20:32, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

compound word

The compound word entry includes school bus as a case of compound word. Is that correct? And is school bus a word? (I'd think it is not a word but a multi-word term.) Per the definition from compound in the context of linguistics, school bus is not a compound, as it is not a lexeme.

W:English compound lists "distance learning" as an example of what it calls open or spaced form of a compound word. It classifies the forms as (a) solid or closed, (b) hyphenated, (c) open or spaced. Strange.

A printed book supporting the definition that includes spaces: Young Writers Guide --Dan Polansky 12:52, 6 November 2008 (UTC)


Hyphens or spaces (any combination) - which is preferred? SemperBlotto

My personal preference would be vice president-elect, but I can't find anything objective so say about why I prefer it!. Thryduulf 19:44, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Vice-President-elect and President-elect in USCA. I would think we would accept the official prescriptions for these official titles, assuming we are talking about the US Vice-President-elect. DCDuring TALK 19:50, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Mathematical symbols

All but one of the entries in Category:Mathematical symbols appear to be Translingual rather than English. Would it be appropriate to recategorize them to Category:mul:Mathematics and put a link in the header of the English category?

And does anyone know why at the top of parent categories (like Category:Mathematical symbols) "Translingual"/"Multilingual" isn't listed in the "Other languages" drop-down with the other languages? --Bequw¢τ 18:24, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

There was a discussion against including "Translingual" as if it were a language. I don't remember much aout that discussion or know where to look for it. More particularly for your question, is there really such a thing as an "English" symbol or a "French" symbol? That is, are symbol categories likely to ever be language-specific and thus behave like topical categories, or does this behave more like a grammatical category, with the symbols being cross-lingual and representing a set of items related by function? In any case, since Symbol is used as a POS header, I'd argue that this should be treated more like a grammatical category, and thus should not get an ISO prefix. --EncycloPetey 19:39, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
I'd say the vast majority of math symbols are translingual. Interestingly, there are some symbols that are much more commonly used in the writings of one language than in those of another, so, perhaps, aren't really translingual: the symbols used to mark an open interval come to mind. (The set of all numbers more than 0 but less than 1, including neither 0 nor 1, is currently denoted in English but, I think, in some other languages.) But that's the exception rather than the rule, and even those cases might be region-dependent or something rather than language-dependent. None of this answers your question of whether to use mul: in the category name, of course.—msh210 06:42, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
Signs can be language-specific, and therefore there should be separation between the "translingual" and "language-specific". ¿ and ¡ are used only in Spanish and few other languages (Catalan?). is only used in English, French and Russian. And have a look at Guillemets (« ») for the many different language-specific usages. I'm sure those more knowledgeable than me can come up with more. I'm indifferent between [Category:mul:*] and [Category:Translingual *], but think they should definitely be moved out of the English (prefix-less) category. --Bequw¢τ 08:55, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
I'll move them to Category:Translingual symbols and topically to Category:mul:Mathematics. That should cut the issue the right way. --Bequw¢τ 09:09, 8 November 2008 (UTC)


What's the technical term for a plipper? --Borganised 15:58, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Electronic car key seems widely used. Equinox 16:03, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
That's a pretty boring SOP term for it. I can understand now why they gave it a different (and pretty damn cool) name. --Borganised 16:15, 7 November 2008 (UTC)


This name is mentioned with the header Luo. Is 'ck' sometimes used in words in Luo or in Swahili? My feeling was that it's not used, and that Barack is an English spelling of the name (but I don't know the Luo spelling). Am I wrong? Lmaltier 07:50, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

You are correct that "ck" is not used in Swahili or Luo. Sometimes spellings (particularly names) are borrowed with a word, but that would not be the case here. Some background:
In one of the nastier bits of British colonialist oppression, the administration of British East Africa (under which both Barack and Barack Sr. were born, 1961 and 1936 respectively), children were required to be given "Christian" names when the birth was registered. The CofE and the Catholic church also required this. So a lot of people who would have been given traditional first/given names were forced to use English names (Robert, Susan, Peter, etc everywhere, to this day). Raila Odinga's father had to battle the system to name his son Raila. (Many people refer to their friends and co-workers by their other names.)
So how did Barack Sr's family, who were Muslim, get away with "Barack", a borrowing from Arabic and a good Muslim name? Simple: it is in the bible, in Judges 4. Point to the bible, and tell the official/priest/whatever: "look, it is a Christian name" (ignoring that that is the Old Testament, and not "Christian".)
But this doesn't answer the question, as the King James version as well as the English vernacular version used by the Catholic Church both spell it Barak. (;-)
We know that Barack Obama's birth certificate, issued in Hawaii in 1961, spells his name and his father's name Barack. But we don't know if his father used that spelling; it could have been "anglicized" in both cases by the clerk there. I've seen the Barak spelling here, but should ask some Luo friends what spelling is commonly used.
Aside: something else you might find amusing ... In the traditions of most tribes here, the mother of a newborn is only allowed to give the child one name. The other names are chosen by specific traditional ritual, involving maternal aunts and village elders. The child will end up with at least three names, typically (given) + (middle, often patronomic) + (family name), where the family name may sometimes not be either parent (say, from paternal grandmother, given to a girl). The name the mother uses initially may end up as the given name, or as a middle name. Got all that?
Now consider a hospital, with newborns having been given only one name by their mother; the rest will happen later. In the last few days this has become a serious problem. What do you do when your maternity ward is caring for several dozen new baby boys ... all named only Obama? ... (;-) Robert Ullmann 13:35, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
That's so interesting! The funny thing is that the Muslim name is actually cognate with the Hebrew name בָּרוּךְ (bārūkh, Baruch) (literally "blessed"), as in Jeremiah 36; the Hebrew name בָּרָק (bārāq, Barak) (literally "lightning") is from a different root entirely. —RuakhTALK 15:07, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Thank you very much for all these details. So, the Luo entry should use the Luo spelling (spelling yet to be checked) and an English entry should use the English spelling (it's an English word by now, it's a first name used in English, even if it's difficult to call it an English first name...) Lmaltier 22:05, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

shelter dog

Shelter dog??? Barak Obama named it as a criterion for chosing a dog as pet.—This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 03:34, 8 November 2008.

A dog from an animal shelter, fka dog pound, but serving other pets (mostly cats). Also known as the humane society or the ASPCA (US). If we have an animal shelter sense at shelter, arguably we've covered it. Analogous terms probably apply in other English-speaking countries. DCDuring TALK 12:44, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
I assume that shelter dog was supposed to be an answer to my question, but it isn't (and I don't understand it)... Lmaltier 12:58, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Someone just asked here because Barack had used the term the day before. No it has nothing to do with the name itself. Robert Ullmann 13:02, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

That looks like an English ip, if it is, this person was probably confused because they are known as 'rescue dogs' and not 'shelter dogs' in England. Kaixinguo 20:33, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

I have made rescue dog, please could someone let me know is that used in America? Also, I should add, according to Google, 'shelter dog' does seem to be used sometimes in the UK. Kaixinguo 20:48, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
In the US I think "rescue dog" also could refer to a dog used in rescues. Perhaps neither term should have a regional-usage tag. What to do about "cadaver dog", "bomb dog", "drug dog", "service dog", "seeing-eye dog"? DCDuring TALK 21:20, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
I think it could mean 'a dog used in rescues' in the UK as well. Perhaps it's a superfluous entry, but I think it's a difference in usage. Kaixinguo 21:31, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

Some sort of mediaeval palace thing

There is a type of middle-ages palace building, called in German a Palas, and (according to interwiki links at the 'Pedia) in French a logis seigneurial, in Polish a palatium. Can anyone tell me what the word is in English? Ƿidsiþ 10:14, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

"Great hall" seems to be the term of preference. [8] [9] The interwikis at w:Great hall may need fixing. -- Visviva 14:01, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
However, in French, a logis seigneurial is a building, not a room (great hall is translated by Grande Salle). The English term for logis seigneurial seems to be seigniorial house. Lmaltier 21:29, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I think great hall can refer to either a building, especially in reference to earlier times of simpler structures, or a room. I've also heard longhouse used this way, but that more commonly refers to native North American structures. Michael Z. 2008-11-12 22:33 z
I spend much of my time in France. What they call a logis seigneurial is usually a large two-storey 11th-15th century house with little or no fortifications, often built with a timber frame, but sometimes stone too, depending on the region. The same style building in England would be called a manorhouse. In most cases, the lord of the manor would be a warrior knight gifted the land, property and people (often the original owners) as a reward, from his King, Duke or other higher noble, for being on the winning side in some conflict. Dickeybird 09:21, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

pevná linka

Hi, I do not know all the Wiktionary customs and my changes to pevná linka were reverted, so I'd like to ask for opinions.

  1. The etymology is defined as "an account of the origin and historical development of a word". Does "Literally “firm line”" fit to this definition? Is the literal translation really useful to a reader? If someone is interested in the literal translation, (s)he should be able to obtain it by clicking to the pevná and linka links, right?
  2. There should be no translation section in the Czech word definition, especially when the landline contains the translation to Czech language, right?

Thank you. --Karelklic 15:14, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree that the translation is redundant; possibly Ruakh was afraid about ambiguity, landline having two meanings - I edited it to make it clearer (and removed the Translation section). As for the etymology, however, I'm afraid I don't care enough about them to have an opinion. --Duncan MacCall 15:42, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, this edit looked like vandalism, so I reverted it; but you're right that there shouldn't be a translations section. As for the etymology, I have to disagree; I can think of no better way to explain pevná linka's origin than to state what it literally meant at time of coining, and I see no reason that readers should have to follow a trail of links to piece that together. —RuakhTALK 15:53, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, at first glance I'd mistaken it for a vandalism as well, before I looked at it more properly, having had created the page - one of my first contributions, too, which is why the unwanted Translations section had appeared there in the first place. --Duncan MacCall 16:23, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

a friend in need is a friend indeed

Does this proverb really mean “Someone who comes to you when in need is a true friend, as he trusts you enough to help.”, as our entry claims? —RuakhTALK 13:55, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

  • Er, no. To me it means, "A friend who helps you when you are in need is a true friend." (ie, not a fairweather friend.) Ƿidsiþ 13:57, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Ruakh is "a friend in need" (of an opinion), and Ƿidsiþ is "a friend indeed" (as he comes rapidly to assist Ruakh.) In other words, I agree with Ƿidsiþ. -- ALGRIF talk 16:22, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
The skeptical reading is: A friend who needs your help will act very friendly to set up the forthcoming request for what is needed. DCDuring TALK 16:43, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I've always thought it meant. So I guess we all agree that the def in the entry is wrong, but not about what the right def is. :-P   And now that I examine the entry's history, I see that the reference likely doesn't support it, since the reference was already there before (talk) changed the def from “Someone who helps you when you are in need, is a real friend.” to “Someone who comes to you when in need is a true friend, as he trusts you enough to help.” So, I'm reverting that change, and adding the def that you and I understand it as, and adding {{rfquote-sense}} to each sense. (I wonder if this is US/UK difference? Are we more cynical than Brits? (Is Algrif British?)) —RuakhTALK 17:18, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Interesting. Maybe there is more evidence of this cynical interpretation. However, I do not think that is what it was intended to mean. The Old English version is much clearer, and older forms in general are less open to other interpretations, eg in Caxton "It is sayd, that at the nede the frende is knowen." And according to my trusty Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, it picks up from a Latin phrase "Amicu certus in re incerta cernitur", from someone called Quintus Ennius. Ƿidsiþ 17:22, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Good to know. That's probably worth clarifying in the entry, either in an etymology section, or in sense labels, or in a usage note. —RuakhTALK 17:26, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
  • The first definition is what I understand the proverb to mean. The second is either creative invention or simple misunderstanding of the term in need. SemperBlotto 17:27, 9 November 2008 (UTC)


  • 1909, William Shepard Walsh, Handy-book of Literary Curiosities, page 400
    Prosperity makes friends," says Publius Syrus, "adversity tries them." To the same effect is Ecclesiasticus, " A friend cannot be known in prosperity, and an enemy cannot be hidden in adversity." Therefore all nations have the proverb " A friend in need is a friend indeed," an expression found in Plautus's " Epidicus," — "Nothing is there more friendly to a man than a friend in need.'1 (Act iii., Sc. 3). Yet he seems to be a rarity : In aught that tries the heart, how few withstand the proof! BVRON : Ckildt Harold, Canto ii., St. 66.
    DCDuring TALK 18:01, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
  • In a volume edited by The great scholar of proverbs, Wolfgang Mieder, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett says that ambiguity is of the essence for this proverb here, pages 113-4. Heris students produced four senses. DCDuring TALK 18:08, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
  • At the risk of nitpicking, the page you link to is actually by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. (Mieder is one of the editors of the book it's in.) But, that's really helpful, a specific source discussing the ambiguity (instead of our having to infer the ambiguity from mutually contradictory sources). This proverb gives new meaning to the proverb that proverbs hunt in pairs. :-)   —RuakhTALK 21:05, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I think you're all barking up the wrong tree. My take on the meaning of this phrase is that it is said in a sarcastic way...a bit more like "a friend in need is a friend my foot". In other words "who wants a needy friend? No thanks." —This unsigned comment was added by Stevedobo33 (talkcontribs) at 15:14–34, 7 January 2009 (UTC).

jacuzzi caps?

I decapitalized the verb examples, links and definitions. There is a note that it can be a trademark. Have I gone to far in changing to lower case? RJFJR 22:04, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

No, you did the right thing. [[Jacuzzi]], currently a redirect, should be changed to use {{alternative spelling of}} or {{alternative form of}} or something, and [[jacuzzi]] should mention and link to it; but the examples and inflections and such at [[jacuzzi]] should all be lowercase. —RuakhTALK 23:27, 10 November 2008 (UTC)


There are two preposition senses given: (1) In relation to or compared with, (2) as opposed to. Are these distinct, or should they be merged? --EncycloPetey 17:54, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

  • I've never even heard sense 2... Ƿidsiþ 19:31, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

have a lot on one's plate

Meaning to have a great deal to do. Is this an idiom we should have or should we add a meaning at plate#Noun. I'm not sure that this sense of plate is used much in any other collocation. DCDuring TALK 18:11, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

This sense of plate can also be used as "have a full plate" and "have too much on one's plate". I think this is a sense for plate. --EncycloPetey 18:15, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
I take the image to mean that you have a plate so full of food to eat that no more can be easily added to it. SemperBlotto 18:19, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, or a lot relative to appetite, possibly. Fairly common in US.

Thinking of this because of in-tray/in-basket/in-box. Also dance card. All synonymous or nearly so. The metaphors seem to have risen to fill a gap in the language. The mass of items (or people) demanding one's attention or decision would need a word like agenda, but there isn't one, AFAIK. DCDuring TALK 19:25, 11 November 2008 (UTC)


The etymology of hysteroid is a simple hystero- prefix + -oid suffix. Do we have a prefix/suffix template like {{suffix}} and {{prefix}}, i.e. {{prefixsuffix}} which we can use like e.g. hystero- +‎ -oid? This template would auto-add the terms to new categories such Category:English words suffixed with “-oid” and Category:English words prefixed with “-hystero”. --Jackofclubs 19:34, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

I don't believe so, but feel free to create one. —RuakhTALK 12:06, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
{{prefix}} doesn't so categorize. I agree it oughta. Unless and until it does, {{prefixsuffix}} oughtn't categorize as prefix+, which would mean (I think) that you can just use {{suffix}} for words like hysteroid.—msh210 18:06, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
Template:prefixsuffix now created as redirect to Template:confix (easier to type). Said template should be suitable for cases such as this, as well as for any examples of "true" confixation (simultaneous addition of prefix and suffix) which may crop up. (I have seen words like "hysteroid" referred to as confixes, but it doesn't seem common; not sure what they are called ordinarily.) Please revise template as needed. -- Visviva 16:34, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Christmas and Passover Proper nouns?

Are Christmas and Passover proper nouns because they are particular days of the year or capitalized common nouns because they occur every year? I can say "It's been three Christmases since we met." does that indicate common? RJFJR 20:56, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

They're both. You give a common-noun use, but we can also say "Christmas is next week" or "Christmas occurs every year." —RuakhTALK 21:28, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

part and parcel

Isn’t this an adjective? Both examples seem to fit. H. (talk) 11:54, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

I don't think it is gradable or comparable. It isn't be used attributively. To me it looks like straight use of noun as part of predicate, modified by prepositional phrase beginning with "of" (as it almost(?) always is).
Etymology is interesting question. The etymological origins of the words "part" (big) and "parcel" {small} would suggest a meaning like "every bit", but it actually means something like "inherent component". DCDuring TALK 12:42, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

put off

Isn't there a noun form also? __meco 13:50, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Yes, but it seems to be hyphenated: [10] -- Visviva 14:24, 12 November 2008 (UTC)


can someone write a real definition for it please! —This comment was unsigned.

Seems that Visviva and DCDuring have now done a good job. -- ALGRIF talk 12:29, 13 November 2008 (UTC)


Attestable, not in other OneLook dictionaries. Non-standard? DCDuring TALK 10:00, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

50 raw gbc hits which mostly look good. It would be a reasonable back formation from multifarious, which has gained common usage. I think it is fine. "Nonstandard" would be POV, given the expanding usage of a new (!!one formal book in gbc is dated 1918!!) word. -- ALGRIF talk 10:19, 13 November 2008 (UTC)


Some more senses need to be separated out, like the computing sense, at least. Also, some of the see also’s are synonyms, or are they? H. (talk) 15:28, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Looking for word: First person one sees in the morning

I recall there being a fabulous word for the first person (or object, I suppose) one sees when he wakes. No amount of searching for keywords related to the definition have yielded any results. Any help would be appreciated, thank you!


Will I get my knuckles rapped if I simplify this waste of space to just "alternative spelling of|organization" ? SemperBlotto 16:01, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Well, as a UK-spelling, it also carries a different pronunciation, so that much at least must remain. --EncycloPetey 17:08, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure I agree. Specifically, I'm not sure the geographic distributions of the spellings always align perfectly with the geographic distributions of the pronunciations; so I think it might be better to cover all the pronunciations at one entry, with appropriate accent labels, than to try to split them by spelling. —RuakhTALK 19:26, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
Huh? Because you're not sure they always align perfectly, we should mash everything together? We have no way on a single page to clearly point out that spelling A and pronunciation X belong together while spelling B and pronunciation Y belong together. So, by shoving all the information to one page, we necessarily lose a key piece of information. --EncycloPetey 19:38, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
Even if you're right, Ruakh, and you usually are, I suspect that each spelling goes more with some pronunciations, which should be listed first. In any event, we seem all agreed that at least the rest of the info — except pronunciation — can be on one page. Right?—msh210 19:43, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
I appreciate your focus on points of agreement. :-)   Yes, I think we do all seem so agreed. —RuakhTALK 02:28, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
OK - I have merged the translations into "organization" and removed all the definitions, making it into an alternative spelling. Perhaps it needs a usage note to explain that although it might once have been a UK/Commonwealth spelling, it isn't used much these days. SemperBlotto 11:11, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

The -sation spelling is still common in the UK, and organization is only a little more than twice as common as organisation.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 21:20, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

This figure seems to include all languages (French, etc.), not only English. Lmaltier 21:27, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
So, which languages share the -zation spellings and which languages share the -sation spellings?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 23:15, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
I stronly disprove the belittling of the official spelling of the word in the most ancient homeland of the English language as alternative spelling and I concur completely with EncycloPetey. I suggest moving the definitions and translations from organization to organisation and leaving in organization the remark alternative or regional spelling. I have numerous English language textbooks with s as the only admissible spelling and they are meant to be used internationally! s is furthermore the more widespread spelling, since the Commonwealth outnumbers by far the USA in inhabitants. Bogorm 20:16, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
(1) No one plans to "belittle" the UK spelling. (2) The <-ization> spelling is more ancient than the <-isation> spelling, so you're basically arguing that we should prefer <-isation> because it's currently preferred in the land that was formerly English's homeland; that seems a bit tenuous to me. (3) The Oxford English Dictionary, an extremely well-regarded U.K. dictionary, prefers <-ization> for some reason; make of that what you will. (4) It's true that the Commonwealth has more inhabitants than the U.S., but the U.S. has at least double the number of native English speakers that the Commonwealth has. (I don't mean to suggest that we should always prefer U.S. spellings to U.K. spellings, but the opposite approach seems no better.) (5) Canada, though part of the Commonwealth, prefers <-ization>. I don't know about other Commonwealth nations. —RuakhTALK 21:27, 1 December 2008 (UTC)


Should this be moved to gussy up, or should we have separate entries for each? --EncycloPetey 19:46, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Move it. At least among the first 200 results for "gussy" without "up", I see one use in this sense, and even that one is really just a misunderstanding (on the part of the character) of "gussy up" (see the previous page in the book). S.v. gussy we can have {{only in|But see gussy up.}}.—msh210 19:53, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. Done. --EncycloPetey 20:02, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
But it is an English word; it seems like we should have some sort of entry for it, even if it's just a stub. How about {{non-gloss definition|Used in the expression [[gussy up]].}} (Used in the expression gussy up.) or <span class="use-with-mention">Used in the expression <span class="mention">[[gussy up]]</span>.</span> (Used in the expression gussy up.)? —RuakhTALK 15:32, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. Words that are only used as particles of a phrase should nonetheless have entries, in case someone looks up the particle. bd2412 T 20:35, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Doesn't gussy currently say in effect the same thing?—msh210 04:52, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Inuit plural

If the plural of Inuit is Inuit then what is Inuits? Non standard or misspelling? Something else? RJFJR 02:43, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Nonstandard, I would say. Someone who types "Inuits" (probably) isn't just hitting the "s" key by mistake, but actually considers that to be the plural. -- Visviva 06:37, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Note that it can also refer to languages or dialects: “the Inuits spoken in the western Arctic sound closer to the nearby Inupiak dialects.”

The CanOD lists Inuit as “noun (pl. same)”, and lacks Inuits. NOAD says “pl. same or -its”, but also has a long note saying that Inuit people don't live in Alaska, and the use of the word in the USA is “usually in an attempt to be politically correct, as a general synonym for Eskimo”. Dictionary.com lists both plural forms, with Inuit preferred for people (as opposed to the language). American Heritage and Merriam-Webster list both forms. Michael Z. 2008-11-15 20:33 z

Say, what?! The language, AFAIK, is called Inuktitut, and Inuit is a plural noun referring to the people as a whole. Though uncommon in English, a single Inuit person is called an Inuk and a specific number of Inuit people — let’s say six — are called “six Inuit”.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 21:14, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Yes, that appears to be the correct Canadian usage. And it follows that the mass noun Inuit can also be used attributively, so: the Inuit, Inuit peoples, Inuit persons, an Inuit man, an Inuit.
The last example in your list is surely a count noun, not an attributive use of a mass noun…  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 17:06, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
But according to the non-Canadian dictionary sources, that's not the only usage. Per every one of NOAD, Dictionary.com, AH, and M–W, the family of languages is also called Inuit, and a member of these peoples is an Inuit. Michael Z. 2008-11-17 05:21 z
Alas! I can well believe that the Canadian (i.e., correct) usage is not the only one. I think we can safely label the “an Inuit” and “many Inuits” uses in reference to people as non-standard. What about the uses referring to the different languages? Would it be more correct to say *Inuktituts? (Inuktitut looks plural to me; I know almost nothing about the grammar of Inuktitut, but I’m guessing that nouns with -k or -q endings are singular, whereas those with -t endings are plural. Then again, the etymology section of Inuktitut seems to say that in Inuktitut, Inuktitut is an adjective meaning “like the Inuit”, or something like that…) Thoughts?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 17:06, 17 November 2008 (UTC)


Is this adjective only ever used with plural nouns? And is that the reason for the -en ending? SemperBlotto 08:38, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

The OED Online says, "orig[inally] and chiefly in olden days, olden time(s)", but it has a number of quotations with other subjects, including singular ones. And, it doesn't have a single explanation for the -en ending. It says that it might be a reflex of Old English -um (dative plural) — against which is a period when the phrase is attested with normal Middle English -e — or that the -n might be there to conserve the trisyllabic structure by protecting the -e from being dropped. Either way, they say that the word was then "perhaps" generalized to other contexts, and that it the end is now "perhaps" understood as having the same -en as golden, wooden, etc. —RuakhTALK 15:21, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
As in “made of old”?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 16:52, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Heh, I guess. Now that "golden" no longer means "made of gold", and "wood" can be used exactly like "wooden", I think the suffix has become kind of vague, imprecise, perhaps metaphorical. So a better gloss might be simply "old", or maybe "oldish". :-P   —RuakhTALK 00:06, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, not in all cases; cf. silken, leathern, silvern, &c., wherein the -en suffix unambiguously retains its original “made of…” meaning.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 19:09, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
Unless British usage is different from American usage, I think you might falling prey to the "I know it, so everyone does" fallacy. You know that "silken" means "made of silk" because "-en" means "made of"; but since "silk" also means "made of silk" (as in "silk curtains"), with "silken" being a bit more old-fashioned-sounding, "-en" is basically just an old-fashioned redundant suffix on certain adjectives. Given that, it's easy to take "olden" as one of those adjectives, even though etymologically it's not. —RuakhTALK 19:58, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, yes, but silken, leathern, and silvern all only mean “made of silk’, leather’, and silver”, respectively.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 20:15, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
Funnily enough, my argument was presuming that (when I described -en as redundant), but I've done some b.g.c. searches now, and I have to dispute that. Of the first ten hits at google books:"was silvern" (to bypass all the last-name hits), seven are using it of speech (either speech in general, or a specific person's, most in explicit reference to an old proverb that speech is silvern but silence is golden), one of a tariff, one of "the world", and one to mean "made of silver". Of the next ten, a greater proportion are literal, but still only half and half. It's possible that in attributive use (which my search would miss) it primarily means "made of silver", but it certainly doesn't only mean that. Likewise, the hits at google books:"was leathern" seem mostly to mean "leathery" or "reminiscent of leather", rather than literally "made of leather", and the hits at google books:"was silken" use it to describe hair, people, and non-silk clothes. "silken smooth" seems to mean "smooth as silk"; and one thesaurus called The Synonym Finder gives "silken" alongside "satiny" as a (near-)synonym for "slick". —RuakhTALK 03:08, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
Heh. I stand corrected. And, thinking about it, ashen, brazen, and leaden refute me further.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 19:27, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Interesting stuff. To answer SB's question, it is sometimes used with non-plural forms. "In (the) olden time" was formerly reasonably common. Ƿidsiþ 17:23, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

immunization countable?

We have immunizations but immunization says uncountable. Should it be both countable and uncountable, just countable or just uncountable? RJFJR 03:23, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

I've added a sense. Reasonable?—msh210 04:59, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
The definition added is certainly reasonable:
  • "The process by which an individual is exposed to a material that is designed to prime his or her immune system against that material."
But, as I read it, the emboldened words may make the definition read as countable. I would like this to be discussed a bit so that I can do a better job in this area, which continues to give me trouble. As I see it each use of "a" risks making the definition seem countable. I think the following is clearly uncountable:
  • "The process by which individuals are exposed to materials that prime the immune system against infectious agents."
Is it necessary to do this "a"-nectomy to make a definition truly uncountable? DCDuring TALK 10:29, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, to some extent countability is independent of meaning — consider shrub/shrubbery, sign/signage, letter/mail, chair/furniture, knife/cutlery, and so on — so the only surefire to indicate that a sense is countable or uncountable is to tag it so. (I do think we should try for gloss definitions that retain certain properties of the headword, such as countability — I think it makes it easier for readers to assimilate the information, especially since many readers won't know the term "countable" — but I don't think it's necessary.) —RuakhTALK 14:57, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, but you cannot correctly define shrubbery as "a" shrub or "a" bush or "a" plant, and so on for each of the pairs. For words that may have both countable and uncountable senses it seems to me important to make the uncountable sense clearly uncountable. I don't object to a lack of precision for those cases where a sense is labelled "uncountable and countable". I still find that we have many cases where something is labeled uncountable (at the sense level) when it is often used uncountably with that meaning. Often people do have good intuitions that a word has one (or more) uncountable sense, but the definition given does not reflect that. Sometimes the effort to define something uncountably reveals that the word is more often used countably beyond the world of textbooks. DCDuring TALK 17:55, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I agree. I don't have a good solution to offer. —RuakhTALK 23:15, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
While I agree that a-nectomy is a good idea, I also agree that it's not necessary, and "The process by which individuals are exposed to materials that prime the immune system against infectious agents" doesn't specify that the material introduced is the one being primed against (although it may be obvious).—msh210 06:48, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
As I understand it, not all (any?) w:immunisations use the exact same material as the target. That may be the intent in some cases, but often the target mutates. In other cases the vaccination agent is known to be merely a cost-effective approximation to the target. From wp: "Artificial active immunization is where the microbe, or parts of it, are injected into the person before they are able to take it in naturally. If whole microbes are used, they are pre-treated. Depending on the type of disease, this technique also works with dead microbes, parts of the microbe, or treated toxins from the microbe." Note the variety of derived materials that are used. DCDuring TALK 18:15, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Someone, somewhere, will find a way to make an English sentence which counts any uncountable noun.

Why don't we rename these properties mass noun and count noun, implying that that is their prevailing usage? The current usage (“uncountable”) seems absolute and practically prescriptive. Michael Z. 2008-11-16 18:48 z

I'm afraid that to most non-native speakers such renaming would still imply the usage, not the prevailing usage. --Duncan MacCall 21:11, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm torn on this issue. "Mass noun" and "count noun" seem to be a bit more common among linguists today, but they're cumbersome for use in context labels, because "mass" is unintelligible, "mass noun" isn't the right part of speech, and "as a mass noun" is a bit unwieldy. Your argument doesn't work for me personally — I don't perceive "uncountable" as absolute, though logically I do see why you would perceive it that way (unqualified "un…able" is usually absolute) — but if there are other readers who also perceive it the way you do, then that would sway me. —RuakhTALK 23:15, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Did you mean "other" to be besides just MZajac and Duncan Macall? I thought I'd made my opinion on the absoluteness of "not comparable" clear perhaps too often previously. The idea of pushing the "uncountable" tag out of the inflection line to the sense line is a good one that doesn't force more change than people can accept. If we had a way of making clear what an "uncountable" gloss should look like, I'd have thought we could avoid the worst confusions. DCDuring TALK 00:41, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I mean "other" to be besides just Mzajac. (Does Duncan MacCall view "mass noun" as less absolute than "uncountable"? I can't tell.) —RuakhTALK 00:58, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
No, that was exactly my point: if I take "uncounable" to be absolute (unless eg exceptions for particular senses are mentioned) than just changing that tag to "mass noun" doesn't make it any less absolute in my eyes. --Duncan MacCall 07:15, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm in favour of normally placing an uncountable tag on the sense line. As DCDuring (and others) have pointed out, most uncountable nouns can be cited in a countable sense, or have a second gloss which is countable. So to put uncountable in the inflection line is equivalent to stating that "this word is never under any circumstances countable". As for "mass noun". Understand it, but don't like it, particularly in a dictionary. Why? Because of the word "mass" It seems OK to use to distinguish between e.g. "chicken (mass (unquantified amount of) noun sense)" and "a chicken (bird sense)". But how can e.g. "music" be considered as a "mass"? -- ALGRIF talk 09:46, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
One of my dictionaries includes senses of mass as “a large quantity or amount of something”. In this sense mass quite naturally quantifies both tangibles like sand and intangibles like music, time, poetry, smarts, good will, quiet.
I understand that uncountable is just a label with a conventional sense. But the word is a flat-out statement of impossibility, and just comes across as inaccurate. And not just when you consider that individual senses may be countable: most terms or senses which are clearly mass nouns (in the “uncountable” category) can be and are counted.
I also don't think recommending using it only on sense lines is a satisfactory solution:
  1. It will keep showing up in many inflection lines, especially since the template en-noun explicitly displays it
  2. It is not sensible to apply a label to multiple senses, when it blanket applies to the term
 Michael Z. 2008-11-18 17:03 z
My point, (and I believe DCD champions this cause) is that it should not be in the inflection line at all. Only in the sense line. And I think you probably agree also, as "blanket" application is almost always incorrect. But really, this discussion should be on BP. (I seem to remember it has been already there more than once). -- ALGRIF talk 17:42, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Even so, “uncountable” is often applied to a sense which, though usually uncounted, is still countableMichael Z. 2008-11-19 18:52 z
I think "mass" in the sense of "mass noun" has little to do with "a large quantity or amount". You can talk about "a mass of people", and conversely, I agree with Algrif that "a mass of music" is awkward at best. "Mass noun" is a fixed expression, independent of its etymology, just as "uncountable" is. I'm not sure why you're so happy to twist the meaning of "mass" to explain "mass noun" away, yet so unwilling to acknowledge that "uncountable" could possibly mean something besides "absolutely never countable". —RuakhTALK 20:21, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
When I first encountered mass noun it seemed intuitive that it referred to something that was amassed, or accumulated as a single mass rather than in discrete units (there's no suggestion to use the phrase a mass of music).
But every time I read un-countable, I equate it with “not countable”, even though I may prefer a full-fat milk, experience passionate loves, or dislike the East-Coast damp. The plain meaning of the word directly contradicts a fact of the term it describes. Michael Z. 2008-11-19 18:52 z
You're definitely entitled to your impressions and intuitions, but I don't share all of them. For me the sentence “One cannot count the noun milk” sounds like absolute nonsense — not true, not false, just meaningless — so I feel no urge to interpret “The noun milk is uncountable” as meaning it. Further, the suffix -able doesn't always pertain to ability or possibility; it often pertains to suitability or fitness. —RuakhTALK 19:14, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
BTW, I agree that "uncountable" means "not countable"; I just don't interpret "countable" the same way you do. —RuakhTALK 20:10, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

cowboys and indians

Both capitalized, or only the Indians? SemperBlotto 23:05, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

The only combination I didn't see in a scan of b.g.c. was "Cowboys and indians". The most common seemed to be "cowboys and Indians". DCDuring TALK 23:14, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Help with a Category page

Hi, could someone please help me create a Category Page to be called "English words suffixed with -ridden". It's kind of complicated for me! thanks --BodegasAmbite 12:15, 19 November 2008 (UTC)


Are the two CJK characters and simplified and traditional variants of each other? They share a radical and are both used in words for "bomb" in various languages but their pages do not mention each other. — hippietrail 21:39, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

I don't do CJK, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think they're just two characters with the same radical and related meanings (which isn't so shocking — it's the radical for "fire"). Their Unihan data ( ) don't mention each other, and give different glosses, pronunciations, and compounds — including Japanese compounds for both, and my understanding (which again, grain of salt) is that Japanese kanji are almost exclusively traditional variants. —RuakhTALK 00:04, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
These are different characters. With, as noted, some overlap in meaning. by itself, out of context, would be seen as "fry", and , likewise out of any context, more like "explode". In compounds, anything can happen (;-). As to Kanji, there was a simplification of many characters, just as in China, with the publication of the Tōyō Kanji list. The older forms (essentially the same as the Traditional Han characters) are Kyūjitai, the simplified characters Shinjitai. But as in China, the simplications are only of a set of several thousands of common Han characters; many tens of thousands are used only in one form. (There are 1945 on the present Jōyō kanji list; there are about 21,000 Han characters in the basic Unicode block, and 70,000+ more in extension B. We have entries here for all of the 21,000 set. ;-) Robert Ullmann 14:56, 20 November 2008 (UTC)


ref has three definitions, two presented as abbreviations and one as a noun - but the noun is defined as "short form of referee. Is there any reason why that would not be just a third abbreviation? bd2412 T 02:15, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

maybe it's because ref is also a word in its own right, in that you can actually say 'ref' in spoken English. In contrast to, say, Chap (as in Chapter).--BodegasAmbite 10:00, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
The other shortenings (for "reference" and "refectory") are more rarely spoken than "ref" for "referree". In my old-fashioned, wasteful U.S. way I would write the first two with a period but not the third. But in discussing preparing documents, I personally have said "refs", meaning references. The modern European approach to punctuation-less orthography for abbreviations eliminates such petty distinctions. Since we have so little usage in the US anyway and may be trending away from a US-oriented approach, I don't feel qualified to address this beyond providing the facts. DCDuring TALK 11:12, 21 November 2008 (UTC)


Is this English or should it be translingual? It is used in German as well, at least. Same with ff. H. (talk) 18:55, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

I'd suggest adding a separate German heading, since they are respective abbreviations of following and folgende (cf. folgen). I can't find anything linked from WT:ELE to confirm that this is the right way to do it, though. Michael Z. 2008-11-22 19:15 z
FYI it's certainly not used in Czech, not AFAIK in other Slavic languages. --Duncan MacCall 20:54, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
Ok, then this simply means German is missing, I’ll add it to Wiktionary:Requested entries:German. H. (talk) 13:59, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

Pejorative vs. derogatory

Do {{context|pejorative|lang=und}} and {{context|derogatory|lang=und}} imply different things? Should they be merged? Equinox 00:26, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

From their denotations they'd seem to be synonymous, but I feel that they do imply different things. My instinct would be to describe "idiot" and "jerk" as pejorative — they're normal words for insulting concepts — but "spic" and "fag" as derogatory — they're insulting words for normal concepts. However, I'm not sure that we really need either one: {{pejorative}} I don't think we need because it can be determined from the definition, and {{derogatory}} I don't think we need because I think we should be using a non-gloss definition that makes it clear. (For example, we shouldn't define "spic" as "An Hispanic person", but rather as "Offensive term for a Hispanic person.") But I certainly don't mind their continued existence, if there are editors who want to use them. —RuakhTALK 15:40, 23 November 2008 (UTC)


Needs usage notes on when and how used. Also, I think some senses are missing, compare with German version. I would propose that even for entries like this, pronunciation information is given, be it saying it is not pronounced. H. (talk) 13:57, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

But it is pronounced, just not the same way it is spelled. If I read the sentence "Copy pp. 32-35." I will say "Copy pages thirty-two to thirty-five." Saying that pp. is "not pronounced" would be incorrect. The pronunciation simply depends upon the meaning. We might want to use a standard template for the pronunciation section of abbreviations that explains this point simply. --EncycloPetey 02:01, 26 November 2008 (UTC)


The word exists (though rare). I have included one example from a Trollope novel in a quote in manfully. But a good definition eludes me. Help required, please. :-) -- ALGRIF talk 15:52, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

womanful exists too, so perhaps make an article for that (based on definition for manful); then womanfully is "in a womanful fashion". Equinox 16:59, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Thx. I've had a crack at both. -- ALGRIF talk 13:32, 24 November 2008 (UTC)


belter a term used in reference to the individual characteristics displayed commonly found in dundonian female personality. in a collective format the reference to being a belter implies that a person is lacking in social skills and intelligence, often associated with monday books and social loan repeat applicants. —This comment was unsigned.

Moved to requested entries. Equinox 11:12, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Key as a verb

The last meaning for key as a verb is

Meaning: (colloquial) To use a key as a tool of convenience. Example sentence: He keyed the car that had taken his parking spot.

Key as a verb means to scratch with a key, which matches the example sentence, but I cannot understand the meaning at all. Is this a dialect issue? Wakablogger 02:15, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

The idea must have been to have a broad sense that included the "scratch, using a key as a tool of convenience" sense but allowed for other ways of using a key as an impromptu tool: lever, screwdriver, stylus, hand weapon, bottle and can opener, tooth pick, back-scratcher. But the scratch sense is the only one common enough to be referred to this way in my experience. Is it "of convenience" that seems strange to you? DCDuring TALK 02:41, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
I guess there are two issues. "To use a key as a tool of convenience" doesn't come across as clearly as I think a dictionary definition should, though it makes sense. The other is that I don't believe key is used except to mean scratch, but I was concerned that perhaps it has other meanings in other dialects. If you use a key to open a bottle, it would be wrong to me to say "I keyed the bottle." (Perhaps "keyed open", but that would be nonce usage.) Wakablogger 03:05, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
There may be contexts in which there are other possible uses for "key". I would favor having this sense of key rather than a separate sense for each context or each improvised use of a key. But I really don't know that all of the uses other than "scratching a nice paint job to make a point" would meet criteria for inclusion. DCDuring TALK 09:01, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
I would agree, I know of no use of "key" with respect to using a key as a tool, other than to scratch up a paint job. Using a key as a substitute for a screwdriver or a letter opener wouldn't have one keying the screw or the letter. On the other hand, I would think that using a screwdriver or a letter opener to scratch the paint on a car might still be considered "keying" the car. bd2412 T 10:12, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
The point that a screwdriver can be used to key a car is a critical point here. Clearly, the verb "key" is not keyed to (LOL) the noun "key", but has an independent meaning. If there are any other meanings relating to using a key as an implement, those can be added in a separate definition. I will update the definition later today. Wakablogger 21:18, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

like unto

I am almost convinced that this expression means "similar to", I encountered it twice in one of Carlyle's works - In the Heavens, in the Earth, in the Waters, under the Earth, is none like unto thee. and Truly, the first condition is indispensable, That Wisdom be there: but the second is like unto it, is properly one with it. Is it worth creating a new entry for it or it would be proposed for deletion if so? Is the meaning verily similar to - I was unable to find it explained in any dictionary whichsoever and unto means either to or until? Bogorm 10:41, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Yes, like = similar and unto = to. It's an archaic but still relatively prominent construction (due to the KJV et al.), and since it is rather opaque to the modern user perhaps it should have an entry. -- Visviva 11:26, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
Accomplished. Do you prefer the tag archaic or dated? Bogorm 16:50, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
Me, archaic, FWIW.—msh210 18:09, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
Me 2. I would say it was probably a self-conscious archaism even in Carlyle's day. -- Visviva 02:55, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Go nuts

Hello all, what does it mean when someone tells me "go nuts" ? Example here. It is probably different from the meaning "he goes nuts". I could find none of those meanings on the nuts article. Thanks ! Nicolas1981 11:01, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

It means go ahead. It's the same slang meaning of nuts (crazy), as though you're being given permission to do anything you want. Equinox 11:13, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
I often get the impression that the speaker can't see why the person seeking permission would want to do the action, but permits it because there is little harm. DCDuring TALK 16:18, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for your helpful answers :-) Nicolas1981 05:32, 6 December 2008 (UTC)

Pulpit in a lecture

A priest uses a pulpit (I think). What does a lecturer use? Also, the paint bumps from a freshly painted wall after it has dried. Is there a word for that? Donek 15:47, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

For your first question, rostrum and podium come to mind. For your second question, nothing comes to mind, but it seems likely. -- Visviva 16:03, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
  1. Also lectern.
  2. blister? DCDuring TALK 16:13, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
Would peel or peel off do? --Duncan MacCall 16:28, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for 1.

2. It's more of a lump than a bubble or a peel. Like when you paint and some drips down the wall. If the drip goes unchecked then the lump will appear when it dries. Donek 17:27, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

'1988, Gregg E. Sandreuter, The complete painters handbook refers to following paint problems: blisters, alligatoring, cracks, flakes, peels, drips, sags, lapmarks, and chalking.
drip is mundane, but accurate. I've also heard the euphemistic term "inclusion" for dirt specs embedded in paint or other coating. DCDuring TALK 19:06, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Need a verb

Thanks for your help guys in the previous question. I am also looking for a verb to replace "he petulantly replied". I have been advised to never use an adverb describe how someone said something, always use a verb instead. Does anyone have one? Donek 21:08, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

he sniffed? DCDuring TALK 21:16, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
snap, sulk, pout, huff. Try Onelook.com if our entries don't help. DCDuring TALK 21:35, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
Just use an adverb - that's what they're there for. SemperBlotto 23:03, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
Just use an adverb. The writers who (purport to) avoid adverbs, such as Stephen King, also mostly avoid quotative verbs besides "said", taking the stance that well-written dialogue stands on its own (e.g. that a petulantly reply will be worded petulantly). If you're rejecting that view, and well you should be, I don't think there's any point to half-measures. —RuakhTALK 01:19, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
English is a rich and inventive language. I would never say never! :-) Good writing includes a rich mixture of "quotative verbs", "adverb + said/replied(etc)" and both at once: e.g. ...he snapped petulantly. Be bold, or you will never be unlikely to write well. -- ALGRIF talk 12:59, 25 November 2008 (UTC)


Shouldn't this be at -iferous? Every derived term listed has the "i"... are there any cases where another vowel is used? -- Visviva 17:13, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Mr. Quinlon's list of affixes has a soft redirect from -iferous to -ferous and has no other vowel+ferous suffix in his index. The etymology doesn't compel it AFAIK. Keeping it at -ferous gives one of our infixes (gainful?) employment. DCDuring TALK 17:43, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

toes, digits, translations, circumlocutions, and anglocentrism

I've just noticed that our article for the English word toe contains translations which literally mean "foot finger" or "finger of the foot", including dedo del pie in Spanish and doigt de pied in French.

I speak Spanish therefore I know dedo del pie is a circumlocution. You only say it when the context is ambiguous and somebody might think you are talking about your finger. 99% of the time you just say dedo. Spanish only has one word meaning digit, finger, or toe. Dedo del pie is not listed at all in the Spanish dictionaries I have checked.

Now my French is not so good but at least on online French dictionaries I could find entries for doigt de pied even though French also has the unambiguous term orteil.

The Portuguese translation entry seems to me me to do it the right way: dedo (do pé)

What about other romance languages such as Catalan, Italian, and Romanian?

For languages with compound nouns such as the Germanic languages, Hungarian, Turkish, etc the problem is different because we usually include all common terms written as a single word.

For CJK and "monosyllabic" languages such as Thai and Vietnamese the question is similar to the compounding languages and I don't know enough.

The issue of Anglocentrism comes into play because us English speakers expect a neat individual translation of words such as "toe", "toenail", "turtle", "tortoise", "mouse", "rat", "alligator", "crocodile" etc into other languages and we have a tendency to think of the usual circumlocutions as lexical units whereas this is not always the case.

Some examples of where English would use a circumlocution to disambiguate translations from common words in other languages would be enlightening contributions to this topic. — hippietrail 01:29, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

In Latin, digitus, which is the etymological source for both digit and dedo, applies equally to a finger or toe, so I would expect most Romance languages to work similarly. (The Latin entry has a list of Romance descendants.) That's not to say that the longer expressions would necessarily be invalid; recall that palma de la mano is relatively standard as an expression in Spanish, even if it is technically redundant, because it distinguishes two senses of palma and so is often used. --EncycloPetey 01:55, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes not necessarily invalid. A native speaker who also understands the issue needs to decide each case. Interesting to see that RAE does not include palma de la mano but does include the two phraes como la palma de la mano and como por la palma de la mano. A better example might be the usual Spanish circumlocution for toenail which is uña del dedo del pie which is pretty cumbersome and only used when uña alone would not be sufficiently clear from context.
A few other Spanish terms with two English meanings come to mind: tienda can mean tent in which case the circumlocution is tienda de campo or shop/store for which I know no circumlocution; muñeca which can mean wrist or doll and I don't know a circumlocution for either; and finally esposas can mean wives or handcuffs and again I don't know a circumlocution in either case. Let alone for tortuga or cocodrilo. — hippietrail 02:54, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Re examples of English words needing disambiguation: eg seal in Czech may refer either to tuleň for earless seal or to lachtan for eared seal, there being no umbrella word in Czech for both, if that's what you had in mind. --Duncan MacCall 08:44, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

ibidem vs. opere citato

The meanings of ibidem (often abbreviated as ibid. or just ib.) and opere citato (often abbreviated as op. cit.) seem virtually identical to me; is there some fine distinction that I’m missing here? Perhaps a usage note or two can be fashioned from the responses, to aid our readers similarly confused…  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 03:45, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

A few side issues I just spotted:
  1. There are latin pages for both ibid and ibid.
  2. There is no English entry on either page yet it is in all the English dictionaries I checked. I'm not sure about the period at the end though.
  3. There is no English entry on ibidem either yet all the English dictionaries I checked have it listed as an English adverb. — hippietrail 05:04, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
The distinction is a bit subtle. The abbreviation op. cit. means specifically "in the work cited", while ibid. has the more general meaning "in the same place".
I haven't created an English entry for any of these, because I've not seen them used as English words that I can recall. They tend to be used parenthetically or at the beginning of footnotes, which makes them less a part of English grammar than a symbolic notation. If these same abbreviations are used in works published in many languages, then a Translingual entry might be made. If they are used in English sentences (the way that etc. or per se is), then I could see an English entry for one or more of them. --EncycloPetey 05:18, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, that’s about as far as an argumentum ad etymologiam got me. Could you perhaps provide some epexegetic examples?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 20:18, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately, the majority of works I own use neither in their citations. My scientific books use name-date citation format; my scriptural and literature books primarily cite the work itself by chapter-verse or by line; my hisotry books typically don't bother to cite anyone. I do have The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's History Plays, which in the endnotes to chapter 8 on King John has:
11 Cousin 1994, pp. 28-32.
12 Ibid., p. 50.
...and has similar usages. I can find some examples in this same volume of "Cit.", but not op. cit.., and these are used when the author is citing someone based on what an intervening secondary author claims the original author said (i.e. sloppy scholarship). I also have a book enitled Medieval Buda (that's the Hungarian city, not the religious figure), which has on p.207:
110 . M. C. Rady, "The Hungarian Copper Trade and Industry in the Later Middle Ages," in (ed) C.M.A. McCauley and J. Screen, Occasional Papers of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, forthcoming.
...[other sources]
115. Rady, op.cit. (see above, n. 110).
116. Ibid.
In my experience, ibid. is used only to refer to an immediately preceding item that is identical (except possibly for the page number) whereas op. cit. may refer back several items previous in a list, as in the example above. The latter is also typically used in conjunction with something like the author's name or a work abbreviation. I would also say that, in general, I've run across ibid. far more often than op. cit., but that's may be biased by reading primarily in certain fields of study. --EncycloPetey 20:44, 27 November 2008 (UTC)


Odds have meaning of handicap? Like in phrases:

"Odds matches versus grandmasters ... He had won 1½-½ when given pawn-and-move, and 2½-1½ (1 win, 3 draws) when given exchange odds but playing black. In two standard games (Milov had white, no odds), Rybka won 1½-½." TestPilottalk to me! 08:15, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

nvm, m-w.com answered the question. TestPilottalk to me! 08:24, 26 November 2008 (UTC)


Is the adjective sense US only? Primarily US?

It doesn't feel like British usage to me, or to the two people discussing it on a talker I'm active on. Thryduulf 13:29, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Of the 126 hits at Google news, approximately none were identifiably from outside the US and more than 100 were identifiably from US, the balance being unidentifiable as to location. I think a US tag is clearly warranted, which warrant I shall execute. DCDuring TALK 18:23, 26 November 2008 (UTC)".
I should have said these hits were for "more addicting than", not "addicting". DCDuring TALK 19:13, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I've only heard addicting as an adjective in "foreigner English", German speakers specifically come to mind but possibly other Europeans too. — hippietrail 18:54, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Who you callin' a furner, stranger? DCDuring TALK 19:10, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Comparing BNC to COCA indicates a significant difference: there is 1 hit in the BNC for "addicting" (adjectival, from a school essay); on the other hand, there are 87 hits in COCA (85 adjectival, I think). Of course, the COCA is almost four times larger than the BNC, but the Time corpus is supposed to be ~100 million words, like the BNC, and has 13 hits. So there is a definite US/UK difference here. ... I'm not sure how to best determine whether this is US/Canada or just nonstandard in UK.
There doesn't seem be any significant difference in how forms like "very addicting" are distributed between .uk and .com domains. If anything "very addicting" seems to be proportionately more common in .uk, whatever that signifies. -- Visviva 03:20, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Great. A US tag seems clearly warranted. It doesn't seem to me at all non-standard in the US as an adjective. US usage just seems to have lost connection with the etymological sense of "devote". Instead of "devoting/addicting oneself to a drug", "the drug addicts one to it." DCDuring TALK 03:32, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
This must be a new informal or nonstandard US usage. As I say I'd only heard non native English speakers use it before but Google turns up lots of hits even in books though none of the three big dictionaries I've been able to check have an entry for it at all... yet. — hippietrail 03:44, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, the Time hits go back to 1936, and don't seem particularly informal or nonstandard (the first is a quote from a Dr Eddy about certain experiments on morphine substitutes). I wouldn't be surprised, though, if this originated in sloppy translations from German (which, a century ago, was the premiere language of biochemistry).
I think MW3 tries to cover it at the bottom of their entry for "addict" ([11], subscription only), where they claim an intransitive sense basically meaning "to cause addiction." The only example they give for that sense uses "addicting," and IMO is clearly adjectival. -- Visviva 04:05, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
I'd consider it a bit "off". addicting may be more common in the U.S. than in the U.K., but in neither one is it even one-tenth as common as addictive. —RuakhTALK 03:56, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Agree with that. Usage note? -- Visviva 04:05, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
"Addictive" means 1. causing or 2. characterised by addiction. "Addicting" seems limited to the causing sense. At b.g.c. the collocation "addicting drugs" gets 752 raw hits whereas "addictive drugs" gets 1102. Perhaps the choice of word reflects a specific view of causality and/or responsibility that may be more prevalent in the US. DCDuring TALK 10:19, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Despite the apparent negative reaction to this word as adjective from many, especially right-pondians, I don't think this is "off" or informal or colloquial. It might be non-scholarly, but that is not a tag that we have available at present. Books and News have much higher ratios or "addicting" to "addictive" than Scholar and Groups do. If it were colloquial, I would expect its use in fiction to be as in Books as a whole or News. Instead its use in fiction is more like the use in Scholar and Group. It seems to be non-scholarly, non-fiction in the US that is the core of its use. DCDuring TALK 17:40, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Just FYI: I have never heard this word used here in the UK and believe that the vast majority of Britons would use addictive irrespective of the distinction which addicting invites (per DCDuring).  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 19:55, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

I had never heard of it either. It's not used here (England). Kaixinguo 20:12, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
No dispute on UK. It seems as if it might actually be non-standard in UK and standard in US, judging by usage on Google and reaction here. DCDuring TALK 20:26, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
I have inserted 3 citations of the adjective, expanded the dictionary notes, and added 2 usage notes. One open question is usage outside the US and the UK: Canada, Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, Hong Kong, South Africa. We are alone among dictionaries (except for the OED) in having this and are clearly correct to have it. If we alone have an entry for a word like this, then we should make it an OED-quality entry and a WOTD. DCDuring TALK 12:03, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
Oh, the etymology of the evolution of the word from its participial past to its adjectival present in its usage area should be added. I will attempt to find supporting citations for the citations page. DCDuring TALK 12:18, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Is it a problem that google books:"addicting personality" gets three hits? —RuakhTALK 00:44, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

The ratios of "addictive personality" to "addicting personality" are on the order of 50:1 on Books and Scholar. To say one has an "addicting personality" circles back toward the old reflexive sense of "addicting oneself to" and re-emphasises individual responsibility. There is plenty of opportunity for the distinction to get lost, especially since spell-checkers won't catch it and most usage guides seem to be fighting trans-Atlantic or lost battles instead recognising the dominant US usage pattern. Even if the "pertaining to addiction" sense were added to "addicting" it would seem to be rare. DCDuring TALK 02:07, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
I personally thing think it's a horrible butchery of the word 'addictive' and almost feels misused and non-standard. I only ever see Americans using the term, and it doesn't feel particularly British, so it seems to me an Americanism. In fact it doesn't feel like a real word at all; it just doesn't sound right. I cringe whenever I hear it. Dantai Amakiir 20:20, 20 December 2008 (UTC)
I just realised how scarily coincidental the time and date of my last post was. . . Dantai Amakiir 20:21, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

The word doesn't seem right to me, but then I've only lived in North America for 7 of my 27 years. Certainly it is in more or less interchangeable usage here (in Canada). Just now I heard it used on "The Outer Limits" (most recent version), but I think the "non-standard outside North America" tag may be acceptable. —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 13:25, 8 January 2009 (UTC).

I'm a reasonably well-read Canadian and I've only started hearing or reading the word "addicting" used as an adjective in the past year or two. "Addicting" is not listed in my copy of Funk & Wagnall's (granted, from 1989). The word irks me so much that I came to Wiktionary to get the final word, as it were. In this Canadian's opinion, "addicting" is strictly U.S. but will probably become Canadian within a half-decade. As a nation we seem to have given up on maintaining our unique language. My daughter is being taught in school that the letter "z" is pronounced "zee", not "zed", but that's another story altogether. [Canuck, January 10, 2009 12:17pm EST]


Is the noun sense US only?

The same people I was talking to above reckon that nihilist is the only one that is correct in the UK. Thryduulf 13:39, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Bishop Berkeley is the apparent coiner. I have made an entry at Nihilarian. His use of the word is often cited in commentaries. I think that might make it a well-know work. As to the entry, it doesn't seem accurate. I find mostly mentions. DCDuring TALK 15:48, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Going on the only citation præsent in our entry for Nihilarian, it is incorrectly defined — it is quite clearly a use of the word as a plural (and thus, common) noun; the citation supports an entry for Nihilarians defined as “Plural form of Nihilarian.” whose lemma should be defined as “An adhærent of Nihilarianism; a nihilist.” or somesuch. As for the UK/US issue: FWIW, I’m an UKian and have never heard this word before; for me, the only valid word is nihilist.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 20:13, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
There is basically only one user of term, the famous Bishop, apparently in works not intended for print. He used it solely to make fun of some mathematicians who dealt with trivialities, in his opinion. I really can't find terribly much usage to base any other definition. Those second-tier dictionaries that have tried to define it, define it as here. DCDuring TALK 20:35, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Should we then mark it as {{pejorative}}? 21:09, 27 November 2008 (UTC)


This has been up on the wanted words list for several days now. I've Googled it all to heck, and all I find are surnames and "club" misspelled. I'm inclined to think this isn't a word at all, but just a misspelling of club.—This comment was unsigned. If it was unsigned, I must have made an error. The entry was mine. -- Pinkfud 16:32, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Given the sheer number of Google returns, I think this qualifies as a common misspelling. --EncycloPetey 17:14, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Do we differentiate between typos and misspellings? This kind of transposition mistake can only be a typo. — hippietrail 18:56, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Given the sheer number of Google returns which are typos for "club" (353,000 hits), this merits an entry. It is an extremely common slip-of-the-keys, and is likely to confuse people for whom English is not their first language. --EncycloPetey 16:00, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

I put this on the project-wanted articles queue as an import from a Wikipedia article, where it is defined as some sort of type of glass. Over here, it is now defined as a misspelling of club. I don't think we allow misspelling entries for slip-of-the-keys sort of things, what should be done about this? Teh Rote 03:24, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Cullet, perhaps? I found no reference to glass in Google searches for "culb". -- Pinkfud 11:03, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
From w:List of English words without rhymes#Words with obscure perfect rhymes:
"bulb /ˈ-ʌlb/, assumed to rhyme with culb, an obsolete word attested from 1683 for a glass distillation vessel"
I haven't been able to find anything to verify that though. Thryduulf 21:30, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
It's in the OED. Couple of cites, both rare, both from the same author. Very obsolete. Ƿidsiþ 21:36, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Unless there are more cites out there than are given in the OED, this doesn't meet CFI; it should be moved to Citations:culb. -- Visviva 05:41, 6 December 2008 (UTC)
If this word is in the OED, it should be considered a word and kept in the dictionary.

Britain a person from Britain (?)

It sounded like an NPR reporter said something to the effect "Several Britains were wounded in the attacks in India." Is Britain the word for a citizen of Britain? RJFJR 01:17, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Britons. Although we don't use it as much as English, Scottish, Welsh and so on. Kaixinguo 01:22, 27 November 2008 (UTC)


This word is a lower case (and therefore erroneous) spelling of Brachyura, which we already have. Can we just delete it from the wanted words list? I'm not sure of the policy for removing "wanted" words from that queue when they're not correct. The only place that links to it is a user page - he can fix his own links. -- Pinkfud 11:01, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Or I guess we could convert it to "brachyurans", the name for members of that group. -- Pinkfud 11:06, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
The system automatically redirects users to the proper capitalization when the opposing entry does not exist. --EncycloPetey 21:10, 27 November 2008 (UTC)


Noun: An employee in industry. Based on my own opinion and a cursory inspection of bgc I have called this dated 19th-mid20th. Does it need more checking? DCDuring TALK 12:58, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Seems about right. One definitely doesn't hear it nowadays. -- Visviva 13:52, 14 December 2008 (UTC)


Shouldn't "hotdog" appear under "related terms"? It's basically a kind of sausage, isn't it? Rklawton 14:11, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

It is a kind os sausage - but it is not related to the word sausage so mustn't be listed as related. SemperBlotto 14:16, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
I've seen some entries with hyponym and hypernym sections, so that would work — unless those sections are deprecated? Equinox 16:38, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Nope, hypernym and hyponym sections are fine ... but I fear the "Hyponyms" section for sausage could be extremely long. -- Visviva 03:12, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

strip down

What do you think about this (from Indonesian National Revolution ) :

  • in english : the Dutch parliament ratified a stripped down version of the treaty
  • in french  : le parlement néerlandais ratifia une version dépouillée du traité

thks Serpicozaure(talk) 16:11, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Space Needle

i want to add this word to the wiktionary but i'am not sure if it will be passible or not? any feedback would be great ty. -- 23:16, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure either. It's highly iconic, but I don't know that it is used "attributively". -- Visviva 03:15, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

at least

More definitions needed I think, which arent with numbers. at least if I don't add them already. --Jackofclubs 13:36, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

The two definitions given seem sufficient ... what other uses are you thinking of? -- Visviva 14:49, 30 November 2008 (UTC)



I was just reading Growing Up Asian in Australia by Alice Pung, Alice Pung (ed) - 2008. In it I came across the unfamiliar word, Pickanese printed twice. I assumed based on the commensurate pronunciation with Pekinese, a common* variant of Pekingese#noun, that it was another spelling I had not come across before.

On searching for verification, it was neither on WikiPedia nor WikTionary but a quick google gave me 757 pages using the word. The top ten seemed to refer to Pekingeses as I expected. I made a redirect on WP for confused readers.

Before writing a WT page, I did a google.books.com to check its prevalence in print. The only item that came up was exactly the same book.

Given that the book is new and faithfully records colloquialisms, I would understand the situation if the websites from the googling were purely Australian, but instead AU, CA, & US sites are found in the top ten alone, so I find it hard to attribute such to the one 2008 print source as it is only 2008 now. Besides the book refers to an event in the 1980's or before, so I doubt it is purely a nonce word, rather than a semi-common misspelling even if it feels like a neologism.

Either way, I feel a little funny trying to trawl the googling for two additional, suitable references to match the gbc. Is it worth it? Will users delete the page automatically based on such a low gbc count?

Sincerely, :)--Thecurran 14:40, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

Excepting the book you mention, I only find the term as a not-so-common misspelling of Pekinese (a recognised variant of Pekingese) on Google Groups (and on the Web where one can find numerous non-words and errors). DCDuring TALK 16:23, 30 November 2008 (UTC)