Wiktionary:Tea room/2010/October

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October 2010[edit]


Does the German word Portal receive as much usage as portal, or can we delete the entry and autoredirect to portal instead? TeleComNasSprVen 04:57, 2 October 2010 (UTC)

It does not matter if Portal is popular or not. If it is valid under the WT:CFI it stays. Read WT:REDIR. We hardly ever redirect (unlike WP), and certainly not in cases like this. We're actually still trying to cleanup the redirects created by the old ConversionScript. We alert readers to similar words using {{also}} in the header. --Bequw τ 05:11, 2 October 2010 (UTC)
Yep, Bequw's left me with nothing to say. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:07, 2 October 2010 (UTC)
But you said it anyway :) Equinox 12:18, 2 October 2010 (UTC)

Category:Politically correct terms[edit]

What the hell is this category? And why does it contain words like steerer, driver, human being, citizen?! Ƿidsiþ 11:13, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

See (initially) WT:RFM#Category:Politically correct terms. Mglovesfun (talk) 11:21, 3 October 2010 (UTC)
I think the contributor means something like "Gender-neutral substitutes for allegedly gender-biased terms", but the title could also include:
  1. euphemistic (sometimes humorous) compounds headed by "challenged"
  2. the various modern demonyms, etc.
It might be a better Appendix or set of Appendices than a category. There might be various subcategories that would be more useful and homogeneous than this one, each of which could be the core of a chapter of a book someone should write (and probably has). DCDuring TALK 17:44, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

User:Robin Lionheart added a whole bunch of words to this category on 2 October - most of them should be removed, as they are just occupations that just happen to be gender-neutral. 20:29, 8 December 2010 (UTC)


Is there any good English equivalent that I'm not aware of? The Italian equilibrismo says "tightrope walking" which if it's synonymous with the French word, is inaccurate but not entirely incorrect. You can balance of chairs, poles, stilts, basically anything at all and it's still équilibrisme. Mglovesfun (talk) 13:49, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

  • English balancing act isn't exactly equivalent, but I think it's pretty close. —RuakhTALK 15:21, 3 October 2010 (UTC)


Can't we even get an entry like this right? See talk:federation. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:15, 4 October 2010 (UTC)


Is there a difference between Alpine and alpine? Maro 17:01, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

Surely Alpine is valid, The Alps are a proper noun. Good spot, thanks. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:02, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

celtic cross[edit]

Shoudn't be Celtic cross? Maro 19:23, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

it's all Greek to me[edit]

Do the benefits of having literal translations outweight the costs? That is, extra information at the price of taking up more space, thus making the table as a whole harder to read. As a reader, which would you prefer? Mglovesfun (talk) 13:57, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

I enjoy reading the literal translations. Wasn't this a word of the day some time ago just because of them? They might bother somebody who only needs one translation, but aren't one- or two-language dictionaries boring?--Makaokalani 12:16, 12 October 2010 (UTC)


Is it sexist to merely define this as the "female equivalent" of gunman? ---> Tooironic 20:25, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

  1. No
  2. Why does it matter, and to who? We're here to give definitions, not be politically correct.

Mglovesfun (talk) 20:29, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

But this definition is not particularly helpful, is it? I mean, as it stands the entry does not define the word so much as redirect the user to another definition. ---> Tooironic 21:00, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
It's inaccurate — a better definition would be "A female gunman" (since a "gunman" need not be a man, any more than a "man-hour" must be performed by a man or a "werewolf" must be a wer; see e.g. [1]) — but it's not really sexist IMHO, unless you consider sexist its mistaken assumption that a "gunman" must be a man. I see no problem whatsoever with defining it in terms of the much more common term gunman. —RuakhTALK 03:18, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
I have wondered about this (and mentioned it on IRC) in the past, because I've often defined Xwoman as "the female equivalent of Xman". If I defined gunman as "the male equivalent of a gunwoman" then there would probably be uproar (remember User:Tyranny Sue?), and yet there are plenty of words where the -man form does imply masculinity. I think this really deserves more thought than "No, why does it matter?". Equinox 22:35, 18 October 2010 (UTC)

up and down[edit]

Hits-a-plenty on OneLook, but is it considered sum of parts? ---> Tooironic 20:59, 9 October 2010 (UTC)


there's gotta be a name for the flashy rotating lights at the top of emergency vehicles, right? It seems gyrolight has been used before, but never caught on. I'm going to name them felonia lights until a decent name comes along. --Felonia 09:26, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

szukać wiatru w polu[edit]

Fun Polish phrase, apparently means to search for wind in a field - definition is "to search for something fruitlessly". Any English equivalent? needle in a haystack perhaps? --Felonia 13:50, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

That would be ‘to go on a wild goose chase’, which we don't have an entry for. I'll add it to the entry for ‘szukać wiatru w polu’. Esszet (talk) 02:55, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Resolved. Keφr 17:02, 13 April 2014 (UTC)


I think this is lacking a definition, and possibly one or two context tags --Felonia 17:33, 10 October 2010 (UTC)


An anon is adding words in the Hoisanese language (and some "Translingual" ones). Is this an acceptable language? If so, could somebody add a definition please. SemperBlotto 07:22, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

Refer to my talk page for details. It seems to be a dialect, so it should certainly not have ==Hoisanese== as a L2 header (unless, of course, our editors agree to disunify it from Cantonese, which needs a BP discussion though). -- Prince Kassad 09:19, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

New demonyms[edit]

Now Sint Maarten and Curaçao are kind of countries now, can someone tell me the demonym of Sint Maarten? --Felonia 17:20, 11 October 2010 (UTC)


Could it be we are missing the sense as in "English corner"? ---> Tooironic 08:25, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

What is an English corner? Equinox 22:33, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
It's a place where ESL students go to practice English. ---> Tooironic 21:53, 20 October 2010 (UTC)


This got speedily deleted early, rightly I think as although there seem to be enough Google Book citations to justify some sort of meaning, I'm not sure what that meaning is. If anyone can figure it out, I think we should restore it. Mglovesfun (talk) 08:22, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

  • I readded it with citations (and antedated the OED by 24 years..). Ƿidsiþ 09:44, 15 October 2010 (UTC)


ethics of the web; the reference to the use of proper or improper ethics used on the web; code of conduct on the web —This unsigned comment was added at 14 October 2010.

Have you made the word up? Mglovesfun (talk) 09:03, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

"kluge on to"[edit]

I heard something that sounded like a person using the phrase "kluge on to" to mean "attach to and then become part of". I can't find any quotes supporting this use, is it possible I'm misspelling the word that sounds to me like 'kluge'? Anyone else ever encounter this phrase? RJFJR 20:53, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

Err, cling on to? Nothing to do with a Klingon, too. --Felonia 21:12, 13 October 2010 (UTC)
glom or clue on to? DCDuring TALK 18:18, 14 October 2010 (UTC)
What about "glue on to" ? (Glued sounds a bit like kluge) - ALGRIF talk 12:55, 16 October 2010 (UTC)


For some reason, I was thinking about this last night. It's used in the Da Vinci Code, which by any imaginable standards is a well known work in English. Is the Da Vinci Code set in a fictional universe? I don't think so. I think this is just a nonce word used in a well-known work, ergo it meets CFI. Thoughts? NB see Talk:cryptex Mglovesfun (talk) 10:38, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

I would say that a fictional universe doesn't have to involve anything really "out there" like time travel or elves. Dan Brown's book is fiction, so its universe (with all of its invented characters, events, and places) is a fictional one. Equinox 09:40, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
Didn't you create that Moby-Dick nonce word a few months ago? How is this different? Mglovesfun (talk) 09:54, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
It's different because a "cryptex" is a specific invented thing or device that exists only in that universe. The word from Moby Dick was just a newly-coined poetic adjective, something along the lines of stormtossed; can you remember what it was? Also, Dan Brown sucks :) Equinox 10:16, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
I think it was a noun, somethingwood. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:18, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
Right, I was thinking of lashwise (Melville, but not Moby Dick), but you mean warwood; I don't think warwood is a new, sci-fi type of wood that Melville invented, but an unusual (nonce) name for some actual kind of wood that really exists. I couldn't find out what it was, unfortunately. I'd say cryptex is more comparable to Tardis. Equinox 10:22, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
Ha! If we don't know what it means, we don't know if it's fictional universe only or not. I mean Melville's characters were fictional too. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:13, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, since the novel is supposed to be about real whaling in real ships made of real wood, I feel pretty sure about this. (Perhaps it's any wood wrested from the natives in wartime?) I suggest a separate RFV/RFD if you want to pursue that! Equinox 15:49, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
Some editions of Moby Dick, including the earliest ones that b.g.c. lets me preview, hyphenate it as war-wood (which we don't have an entry for). But as the latter elsewhere seems to mean "shield", or at least some sort of thing that's made of wood and used for war (rather than some specific sort of wood, perhaps related somehow to war) — see [2][3][4][5] — that doesn't seem to be terribly helpful. The book at one point uses the phrase "certain little canoes of dark wood, like the rich war-wood of his native isle", which really seems to indicate that Melville means a kind of wood. —RuakhTALK 22:27, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
Another issue to the one Equinox mentions is that IMO Brown is not "a well-known work" as that phase is used in the CFI. It's not exactly Shakespeare or even Lewis Carroll. Wait fifty years or something and see how popular it is.​—msh210 (talk) 15:44, 18 October 2010 (UTC)


Should we have and entry for Goldilocks (cap G)? We have goldilocks and we have Goldilocks planet. But I'm not sure if this makes cap G Goldilocks eligible. -- ALGRIF talk 12:49, 16 October 2010 (UTC)


Is this a valid English word? -- OlEnglish (Talk) 11:22, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

Sounds like a noun for militate. Chambers has that verb but not the noun. I can see a few uses in Google Books ("without putting forth any militation whatever against conscience"; "To advocate and practice opposition to this distinction normally creates militation against the laws of nature"). Equinox 09:44, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Ye-es. Sort of. OED calls it obsolete (they revised the entry in June), but that seems premature – I see some usage in modern academic texts. I added three cites and labelled it (now rare). Ƿidsiþ 21:17, 18 October 2010 (UTC)

bag of bones[edit]

The POS is adjective. Isn't it a noun? --Panda10 14:17, 17 October 2010 (UTC)


Would be nice if a native speaker of English who understands some German would have a look at the translation of the quote I added. H. (talk) 16:09, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

United States minor outlying islands[edit]

Shouldn't this be written in capitals? -- Prince Kassad 08:46, 18 October 2010 (UTC)

whiskies plural of whiskey?[edit]

It is hard for me to believe that whiskies can be the plural of whiskey (and not only of whisky). Can somebody convince me, perhaps by means of other similar words? Equinox 20:40, 18 October 2010 (UTC)

Well, monies remains relatively common, even though mony seems rather definitively obsolete (and I don't think *monie was ever in currency). monkies also seems to be much more common than either monky or monkie. Additionally, google books:"whiskey" "whiskies" shows that the same authors frequently use both, often right next two each other (though google books:"whiskeys" "whiskies" turns up some examples of those two being used together, so make of that what you will). —RuakhTALK 22:09, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, if a text is talking about both whiskey (Irish) and whisky (Scotch), then you will of course find both plurals in the text. I suspect that whiskies plural of whiskey is a common mis-spelling. That's to say, common among the heathen non-whisk(e)y drinkers, at least. -- ALGRIF talk 12:23, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
Oh, weird. I should have read the usage notes. I just thought they were different regional spellings. Even so, if you look through google books:"whiskey" "whiskies", I think you'll agree that most of those authors are not drawing any sort of distinction. As for "misspelling" — the Merriam-Webster entry for "whiskey" gives both plurals without comment. —RuakhTALK 13:29, 22 October 2010 (UTC)


I think we're missing some senses. One is the sense that a book may be described as a "companion volume" relative to another book if they're sort of intended to "go together" but are nonetheless sold separately. Another is the sense of, say, The Oxford Companion to Wine, where I think it means roughly "guide" but I'm not actually sure. (I think it's not supposed to be wine's companion, but rather a "reader's companion", but the phrasing would be odd if it weren't a stock formula.) And I've heard usages along the lines of, say, referring to the Moon as "our celestial companion", which I think are anthropomorphizing, but common enough that I think they warrant some sort of coverage. —RuakhTALK 03:13, 19 October 2010 (UTC)

Book marketers would like to get you to think of a book as your personal friend. I'm not sure that such a use is any better than poetry for indicating normal human usage. OTOH, some lemmings have the "guide" sense in a publishing context. But being so close to the publishing business they may take the book marketer's handiwork as more than poetry.
There is an astronomical sense for a celestial object that is associated in some unspecified way with another, but that would not fit your exact example.
Accompanying is a synonym for the attributive use in "companion volume". Other common usages: "Pain was his constant companion in his last years." and "The young wolf was his sole companion that summer." The "wolf", "pain", "volume", and "Moon" senses are all things (not persons) that are not possessions of what they accompany. In addition, they are not necessarily figurative companions of a person. Of the four senses only the "volume" sense seems to be covered by the senses other lemmings include. Arguably anthropomorphizing a "wolf" into a companion of a person would be includable in the senses we have. The "pain" case would be more of a stretch. But the double anthropomorphizing in the "volume" and "Moon" cases seems too much. The "one of a pair, set, or group" sense that some lemmings have doesn't include the "Moon", "wolf", or "pain" cases. Thus we would seem to need a sense that no lemming has to include all four of these cases or even just the "Moon" case.
Perhaps: "(figurative) A thing or phenomenon that is closely associated with another thing, phenomenon, or person." Though this is rather abstract. DCDuring TALK 00:27, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. I've stolen your defs. —RuakhTALK 13:36, 25 October 2010 (UTC)


The two verb senses are very similar, and I can't really figure out what the essential difference is. This is making it hard for me to judge which sense translations belong under. If anyone can figure it out, can they improve the definitions? And some usage examples would be useful too. Thanks. —CodeCat 22:28, 19 October 2010 (UTC)

The first sense is supposed to be about sense perception and attention; the second about some more delayed post-perceptual process within the mind, like pattern recognition or coming to an insight about something. HTH. There are some (2-4) less common and obsolete/archaic senses missing. DCDuring TALK 23:36, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
The latter sense in the example seems similar to realize, am I right? Maybe that could be added to the definition if so. —CodeCat 23:42, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
Yes, close to the one relevant sense of realize. Though the metaphor for "realize" is active and that for "notice" passive. DCDuring TALK 01:05, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

drawing dead[edit]

Poker definitions seem to be inherently hard to write. Three possibilities:

  1. This entry, roughly as it is
  2. Create to draw dead, though never in my life have I seen this conjugation
  3. Add senses to draw/drawing and dead. But, as far as I know these senses would be poker only

To complicate matters, there's drawing thin (very unlikely to win the hand no matter what the remaning community cards are). Mglovesfun (talk) 11:42, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

thermal imaging[edit]

Is this SoP? I ask in reaction to User talk:Mglovesfun#re: Veterinary Thermal Imaging deletion. The problem is perhaps that thermal collocates with quite a few things; thermal imaging, thermal image, thermal video. Yet, how can I user guess what a thermal image is without appropriate definitions? Mglovesfun (talk) 12:13, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Thermal imaging sounds like it should mean "using heat to create images", whereas (according to our current definition) it means the more specific "using heat to create images whose purpose is to show where the heat is". I'd say it's not SOP.​—msh210 (talk) 15:14, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
Also thermal camera, right? I agree, not entirely SoP. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:21, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
Some OneLook dictionaries have it, but only Encarta, Collins, CompactOED, Cambridge Adv Learners, Macmillan. Notably absent are MW, RHU, and AHD. imaging/image#Verb ought to contain most of what one needs to construe this properly. {{only in}} would work. Your call. If the definition runs to more than 15 words, it probably doesn't belong, IMHO, but others seem to know no such limits. DCDuring TALK 17:49, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
Is in Chambers: "the visualization of objects, substances, etc by detecting and processing the infrared energy they emit, used in medical thermography and to locate bodies underground." Equinox 23:32, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, it doesn't meet using (i.e. manipulating) heat to make images, like using a blowtorch. It means making a visual representation of heat. I can't see a way round it other than creating the entries. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:47, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Probably deserves an entry. If X-ray were "X-ray imaging", it would be included without a doubt. I don't think that a person who does not know what thermal imaging is could be expected to guess from the parts. -- ALGRIF talk 12:06, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
I would expect this to fail the coordination and modification set phrase tests.
"Imaging" seems to be highly productive in forming collocations (found in COCA) with words specifying the type of imaging along the dimensions of:
  1. the medium/spectrum of the information being sensed (UV, IR, photo, nuclear, MR, doppler, optical, multispectral, ultrasound, X-ray, radiographic, radar)
  2. the type of object being imaged (brain, molecular, deep-sky, breast, target, solar)
  3. purpose of the imaging (diagnostic, preoperative, functional, volumetric)
  4. discipline/real/profession of use (space, astronomical, medical, linguistic, biomedical, scientific)
  5. output generated (3-D, color, hi-resolution, video, tricolor, stereo)
  6. other technical aspects (electronic, digital, computer, virtual, CCD)
  7. other (space, satellite, lithographic)
I suppose speakers/readers who only run across one or a few of these collocations might treat when as lexical units. But none of the collocations are misnomers/opaque, especially when not appearing out of context. Few would actually take "medical imaging" to be diagramming medical procedures, let alone more fanciful or willful misinterpretations. For example, though I don't know what "linguistic imaging" is, I might imagine it to be something to do with visualizing something to do with language. If I encountered it in the journal Style, I would not think it likely to do with linguistics, rather than more generally with language. Actually all 8 COCA hits are from a single work of literary criticism in Style. DCDuring TALK 16:24, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

A near-perfect synonym is heat imaging. Does that deserve an entry, and/or a special sense of heat? If you ask me, although thermal imaging often refers to particular technical methods, the term is quite general and encompassing, meaning “imaging of or by heat.” Thermal could be expanded a bit, as “of, using, resulting from, or pertaining to, heat” (does that cover it?). And compare thermal printing, in which heat is exploited in a different manner. Michael Z. 2010-10-26 16:28 z


Sometimes x is used to denote a sequence of missing letters in an abbreviation ("300 WORD TXLATION INTO GERMAN IN TWO HOURS"), even where x does not appear in the full word. Does this merit an entry? Equinox 23:29, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

We might find that this usage is limited to certain particular words, such as CNX is common for cancellation or cancelled in the travel and tourist industry, for instance. If that is really the case, then perhaps txlation and cnx and any other similar should be included as headwords. It would make more sense than an entry for -x- imho. -- ALGRIF talk 11:59, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
This seems pretty common in medicine, as Rx (Latin recipe), Hx (history), and Fx (fracture).​—msh210 (talk) 15:56, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
I see we have pax = persons already. -- ALGRIF talk 12:00, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
I don't think -x- is worth an entry. Perhaps just a usage note at x? Or, probably better, nothing. We should, though, have the individual (attested) abbreviations.​—msh210 (talk) 15:56, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
In broadcasting, tx = transmission. I agree with Msh210's solution, personally. Ƿidsiþ 16:33, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
It seems an interesting morphological element for the etymologies of abbreviations. From the cases mentioned, -x (The current entry is not in same sense, possibly just specious in English.) seems much more common than -x-. I would also xpect x- (especially meaning "cross-" or "trans-" to be more common. DCDuring TALK 19:03, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
I have added xfer (transfer), X-country (cross-country), and xing (crossing). I'd be very surprised if there weren't more. DCDuring TALK 19:57, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
Looks like you're working with two different senses of "x"; representing "cross-", because "x" looks like a cross, and "x" representing a bunch of letters that have been omitted. — lexicógrafo | háblame — 20:00, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
Definitely. BTW, how fascinating that "x-" works for "transfer" and "translate". I also forgot moto-x (moto-cross). There are a few etymologies for this family of orthographic relatives. DCDuring TALK 20:17, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

case quarter[edit]

This exists, but so (with the same meanings m.m.) do case nickel and case dime. Do we delete this (and add a sense to case), or add those? If the latter, then to we add a sense to case anyway? What etymology and POS of case?​—msh210 (talk) 18:07, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

See this bit of research found via OneLook. It would seem to be a new etymology, possibly from Yiddish [script needed] (keser, crown), from ???. DCDuring TALK 18:21, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
Ooh, interesting. The Yiddish word comes, I've no doubt, from Hebrew כֶּתֶר (kéter, crown).​—msh210 (talk) 18:25, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
Not much OneLook coverage, either. We'd be ahead of the game. caser (a crown (UK coin)) seems clear enough, often mentioned, almost certainly attestable. DCDuring TALK 19:20, 22 October 2010 (UTC)
The language show A Way With Words discussed this phrase a while ago. It's mostly a Southern US, black-folks' term. Their theory was that it comes from a shortening of caser, as DCDuring mentioned, which comes from the Yiddish keser. There is also a similar sense in the game of faro (and apparently poker), case money (the last money you have to bet) and case card, the last of a particular denomination (such as the case ace or the case seven). — lexicógrafo | háblame — 19:25, 22 October 2010 (UTC)


The slang sense of case (to scout for purposes of committing a crime such as burglary or robbery) is included under Etymology 1, which has the "box" and "enclose" senses. Doesn't this seem more likely to be from the "situation, event, fact" etymology? Can the OED or DARE help with this? DCDuring TALK 20:08, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

The OED has this sense under the same etymology as our entry, but it doesn't explain how the word came to have this meaning. Dbfirs 14:33, 23 October 2010 (UTC)
I'll try DARE then for early use. Per OnlineEtyDict it is US in origin c. 1915. DCDuring TALK 16:41, 23 October 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure that it is better than folk etymology, but some sources attribute the term to the practice among players of faro of watching cards being dealt from a "case" in hopes of detecting cheating. The "case" was itself some kind of box supposed to prevent cheating, but apparently often of a design to facilitate cheating by the dealer/banker. DCDuring TALK 18:02, 23 October 2010 (UTC)


What is a "rub" in cooking (e.g. a "chili rub")? I think we lack this sense. Equinox 01:35, 24 October 2010 (UTC)

As I understand it, it is a mix of herbs and spices that are applied dry to meat (or fish ?).
AHD has six senses of rub, of which one is "a substance applied by rubbing" with two subsenses: "a liniment or balm" and "a seasoning of ground spices and herbs applied to the surface of meat, fish, or vegetables before cooking." DCDuring TALK 04:25, 24 October 2010 (UTC)
That makes sense. Please add it :) Equinox 21:21, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

Grammar: "I walked faster than Bob"[edit]

Is there a grammatical argument against "I walked faster than Bob" on the grounds that faster isn't adverbial (i.e. I should be saying "I walked more quickly")? Equinox 01:59, 24 October 2010 (UTC)

CGEL lists 57 adverbs that are identical in form to the corresponding adjective, among which "fast" and "hard" are leading examples. The comparative and superlative forms (if they exist) for most of these 57 are also identical, I think. DCDuring TALK 04:16, 24 October 2010 (UTC)
You'd have to be really conservative to argue against it, IMO, it's so natural to say. Mglovesfun (talk) 06:27, 24 October 2010 (UTC)
No, there is no such grammatical argument to be made. Faster is indeed an adverb.--Brett 13:14, 12 November 2010 (UTC)


We are missing the sense as in "that's a wrap" - or should that go at that's a wrap? ---> Tooironic 07:59, 24 October 2010 (UTC)

Or is it that's a rap? Mglovesfun (talk) 09:37, 24 October 2010 (UTC)
Yes. SemperBlotto 07:05, 25 October 2010 (UTC)
I thought it was wrap, as in wrap up. Chambers agrees ("cinematog, TV the completion of filming or recording, or the end of a session of filming or recording"). Equinox 15:16, 25 October 2010 (UTC)
I've never heard this except in "that's a wrap". We should find some other usage in this sense. DCDuring TALK 15:56, 25 October 2010 (UTC)
I'd forgotten about "wrap party", "after the wrap". I took a run at a definition. Note that, in one instance, it is used to terminate a live TV news/commentary show. Please take a look. DCDuring TALK 16:20, 25 October 2010 (UTC)
I've added the related (source?) verb sense that's common in the video/TV/movie production industry, i.e. "to finish filming". —Rod (A. Smith) 16:05, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

sit a gee[edit]

What does sit a gee mean? (it's currently redlinked, and no sense we have for gee seems to apply. The phrase is in "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General".)​—msh210 (talk) 16:23, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

It's a horse (a gee-gee). Equinox 21:20, 25 October 2010 (UTC)


Maybe a usage note explaining the difference with convert is in place? I find it confusing, especially the adjectival use inverted/converted/turned. H. (talk) 08:55, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

Dunno how to explain it. Basically invert is to "opposite" as convert is to "different". To invert something is to change it to be the opposite or the reverse of what it was, whereas to convert something is simply to change it to be something else. That something else generally has to be specified, unless it's implied from context. If you look through the example sentences at [[convert#Verb]], you can get a sense of the wide range of uses.
Inverted, analogously, means "reversed" or "upside-down"; for example, google images:"inverted pyramid" shows you a bunch of upside-down pyramids and downward-pointing triangles. Converted, by contrast, just means "changed". More specifically, in many cases it can be glossed as "former"; a converted dormitory, for example, is a building that used to be a dormitory, but now serves some other purpose.
However, inverse and converse are more or less synonymous, as are inversely and conversely. They all imply the opposite or reverse or "flipped" version of something, so are semantically closer to invert or inverted than to convert or converted.
Does that make any sense? If so, can I convince you to write the usage notes? :-)
RuakhTALK 13:20, 27 October 2010 (UTC)


I was looking for a definition for emissary recently, and looked it up in the dictionaries on my computer first. The full 1913 Webster's definition is at Talk:emissary, but in short "An agent employed to advance, in a covert manner, the interests of his employers; one sent out by any power that is at war with another, to create dissatisfaction among the people of the latter." This is not the definition that we have, and it's not the definition that w:Emissary has, nor does it seem to fit the Star Trek usages listed there. It does, however, fit the Dryden quote in the 1913 Webster's entry. Is there another definition here, possibly an older definition where an emissary was distinctly covert and destructive?--Prosfilaes 05:25, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

That definition seems "dated", though it does fit the Latin etymology and at least the current sense of the possible French etymon. MW online includes "a secret agent" as the second definition, so I could be wrong about it being dated. DCDuring TALK 12:45, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

like watching paint dry[edit]

Maybe it should be moved to 'watch paint dry', since it can be used in sentences like 'I'd much rather watch paint dry than this movie.' Kayau 11:50, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Good catch. I agree. We should probably have a usage example at watch paint dry that used "like watching paint dry" as that is probably one of the most common collocations and forms. DCDuring TALK 12:23, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
I agree. Possibly redirect there from this heading. Equinox 13:32, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
Done Reverse or edit to taste. DCDuring TALK 14:43, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
The current entry says watch paint dry means "to watch something that has virtually no movement, hence, something very boring" — but then has a usex that says watching some play was "like watching paint dry" (emphasis added), which is not a good example of the definition. Is the definition correct? And if not — that is, if watch paint dry is only used in similes and means merely to, er, watch paint dry — then it's SOP and deletable.

Note, in favor of the proposal that the definition is wrong and watch paint dry just means what it says, that all the Google Books and Google News Archive hits for "was watching paint dry" are in similes ("as though he was..." or "must have thought he was..." or the like) or meant literally. Google Groups, too, except maybe this one — though I think that's also meant literally.​—msh210 (talk) 15:35, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

I don't see why we should render the entry inaccessible to a user who enters "like watching paint dry" in the search box. As we have no home for non-idiomatic collocations other than as redirects or in usage examples, it seems unwise to simply prohibit usage examples with the taint of simile.
I thought we simply excluded terms only attestable as non-idiomatic similes, ie, having one a simile marker such as "like" or "as" and possibly some others. I can't imagine that we would want "red as an apple", "as an apple", or "like an apple", for example. OTOH, once we have attestable metaphorical usage, as I believe this can be shown to have, we can have the entry, I would think.
If we exclude similes, how should common collocations involving simile markers be handled to allow users entering them in the search box find our entry?
If we include similes, do we need special criteria? Or should all attestable similes be included. DCDuring TALK 16:32, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
To clarify, at least a majority of the entries in Category:English similes seem to be either set phrases or otherwise no longer transparently interpretable from the current meanings of their components. That is to say, they are idiomatic. Some, such as white as snow, white as a sheet, are transparent, though why we select these particular similes for whiteness, rather than "white as an egg", "white as paper", "white as titanium dioxide", or "white as an albino dove" is sometimes deemed to be beyond the capability of language learners.
In contrast with the idiomatic simile expressions, "like watching paint dry" seems transparent. To "watch paint dry" without a simile marker is a metaphor. The absence of a metaphor marker seems to me to make it potentially less than transparent.
I have long been skeptical about some of the not-clearly-idiomatic members of Category:English similes, such as white as snow. Is this worth WT:BP discussion? Or is it something for Wiktionary talk:About English being more particular to English simile-marker words? DCDuring TALK 17:02, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
"White as snow" is because snow seen in full daylight is dazzling not merely white, is relatively common and is remarkable for not only its whiteness but its whitening power. Coal is not only black but blackens. Similarly "pale as a sheet" is associated with illness and bed, and doubtless started life as "as pale as their sheets". Likewise "strong as an ox" has it's roots in a time when oxen (and horses) were the strongest things around, and have not been updated to "strong as a rhino", "strong as an elephant" or "strong as a sperm whale". Rich Farmbrough
All of those you mention (with the possible exception of "strong as an ox") seem transparent, as the knowledge required to interpret them remains in the body of everyday knowledge most literate people have, if only by virtue of movies, TV, and the internet in the case tropically situated English speakers. If "whitening" alone were a criterion, then "bleach" would work. If "being white" and "whitening" were sufficient, than "titanium dioxide" would work. I think the requirement is something like "remarkably white", as you suggest, "almost always white", and "almost entirely white", all being part of common knowledge. Eggs and paper aren't always white and aren't entirely white. "Albino doves" and "titanium dioxide" aren't part of common knowledge. DCDuring TALK 23:42, 27 October 2010 (UTC)


Confused. There's one language here and the rest at vis-á-vis, this meant the redirect is lost, and well.. it looks a mess to me. But I don't know how it should be so I'm not going to hack it around. Rich Farmbrough

Hmm, the big question is "is vis-á-vis a common misspelling?". Vis-a-vis should have English, well I'd have thought so. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:23, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

nothing to do with[edit]

I'm not sure about the correct "home" for this phrase, from examples such as: I have nothing to do with drugs. or He has nothing to do with politics. or We are nothing to do with the Socialist Party., and so on. The entry do with seems not to be a good enough fit. Ideas? -- ALGRIF talk 17:09, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Redirect to [[to do with]].​—msh210 (talk) 17:16, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
Done.​—msh210 (talk) 05:11, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I think our current [[do with]] should be moved to [[can do with]], and the page [[do with]] should be a disambiguation page (gasp!) for the two phrases can do with and to do with (perhaps via {{only in}}??).​—msh210 (talk) 17:19, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
Done.​—msh210 (talk) 05:11, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
Nicely tidied up. Thanks. Striking. -- ALGRIF talk 09:47, 2 November 2010 (UTC)


The first definition says "Given as an honor/honour, with no duties attached, and without payment". I've just added "honorary degree" as a usex, as I think that was the intent. The third definition, which I just added, says "Describes a position or title that is assigned to the one holding it Describes the holder of a position or title that is assigned to him as a special honor rather than by normal channels", and has the usexes " honorary citizen, honorary consul, honorary vice president". These two senses should have matching meanings — either "given as an honor" and "describes the holder of a position/title given as an honor", or "given as an honor, without duties, without payment" and "describes the holder of a position/title given as an honor, without duties, without payment" — but which is correct?​—msh210 (talk) 18:31, 28 October 2010 (UTC) Updated to reflect edit to entry. 19:07, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Also, what's the second definition, "Voluntary"??​—msh210 (talk) 18:31, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

I think the first and third sense are really one sense. Lack of duties and lack of payment are likely properties of an honorary anything, but are not definitional IMHO. (In other words, I'd support {{rfd-redundant}}ing the first sense.) —RuakhTALK 19:02, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
But one describes a person, the other his position.​—msh210 (talk) 19:07, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
Oh, I see. Sorry, I missed that.
. . . but I still think they're the same sense. "Transformational grammar" and "transformational grammarian" are not using two different senses of transformational. I think this is the same thing: an honorary author is not an author who's honorary, but rather an author whose authorship is honorary. (Right?)
Given the frequent and varied use of "honorary + human noun" to refer to a person, I retract my suggestion of {{rfd-redundant}} — it merits its own sense line — but I think it should refer to the other sense rather than matching it.
RuakhTALK 19:24, 28 October 2010 (UTC)


Interesting walking round Bristol Cathedral, there was a good mix of hic iacet and hic jacet. So it's probably worth noting at WT:ALA that we exclude -j- forms whether they are attested or not. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:20, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

And so users looking for jaceo will not find it. Is that in line with our aims? SemperBlotto 21:23, 28 October 2010 (UTC) p.s. Did you cross College Green and look in at the Lord Mayor's Chapel?
I don't see a disadvantage to allowing j forms as alternative forms only. In the Cathedral, all of the hic jacet forms seemed to be post-1600. So what would we call that, Ecclesiastical Latin, or Renaissance Latin? Mglovesfun (talk) 13:53, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Post-1600 is "New Latin". This is a specific usage of long-I. Latin did not, and does not, consider "I" and "long-I" to be separate letters If we're allowing entries for that, then we need to allow entries for long-S for English entries by the same criteria, and entries for forms spelled with "ɑ" versus "a", which is also an orthographic variant.

What we need is a way to list and search orthographic variants, without opening a free-for-all with entry creation. See my recent comments elsewhere about Shakespeare's "Romeo and Ivliet". --EncycloPetey 03:16, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Any evidence to back this up? Mglovesfun (talk) 16:23, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
Lewis & Charles list this word as jaceo. Neither the OED nor any other dictionary that I can find lists words with a long-S. I doubt if there are many people who would know how to type it. SemperBlotto 12:03, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
If we allow j, then shouldn't we really allow v to be used instead of u on the same grounds? I'm not sure that's desirable. —CodeCat 11:51, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
If we can find attestable use then yes, we should allow it, but we definitely shouldn't go out of our way to actually create such terms. SemperBlotto 11:54, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
The Romans themselves used V and I, so that's not a problem. The problem is really how later users of Latin wrote things. Given that they weren't really native speakers, can we really treat their spellings as proper Latin? It would also seem odd to use a non-native rendering of English spelling as basis for a dictionary, after all. Nevertheless, the fact that I/V and J/U were treated as the same letter at the time of writing, should mean that we should treat this as a purely typographical issue, so I support Mglovesfun in that. But I think a list of typographical variants is not necessary. —CodeCat 12:12, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
If all the writings of native Latin speakers were to disappear, Latin would still be a very important language to study. Right now, I wouldn't dismiss Indian English as simply not proper English, because it's a major dialect of English, even if it's not spoken by native speakers.--Prosfilaes 13:36, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
Charles & Lewis was published more than 100 years ago, and has been superceded by the Oxford Latin Dictionary and others. These later dictionaries uniformly use iaceo, not jaceo. Also, I can find English dictionaries older than the OED that list all their words with long-S, which is exactly analogous to this situation. --EncycloPetey 03:08, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Some of my best friends...[edit]

There's an overquoted phrase often heard, "Some of my best friends are gay", which seems to have some residual connotation not obvious to me. I just heard another phrase "Some of my best friends are ghosts" in the 1957 film Curse of the Demon (~10-15 min), and according to a web search it seems to be recognized among parapsychologists, as a book title, etc.

I wonder which phrase came first - assuming one is derived from the other.

In general, is such a phrase within the purview of Wiktionary? Wnt 22:21, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

I think we would find that forms of the phrase with "are Jewish" or "are Negroes" predate 1957. It gained some notoriety as a stock preamble to "frank" discussions about Jews or Negroes, an attempt to give the speaker license to say negative things without being considered anti-Semitic or racist, reespectively. Though not as negative as "you people", it is a phrase to be avoided, at least in the US, except in irony.
The entry for you people was controversial. I am not sure that "Some of my best friends are...." would meet our standards for inclusion as an idiom. We are likely to do a good job with an appendix on such a subject, though an Appendix on political correctness would probably attract a lot of, erm, discussion.
One possibility would be to use the phrase to illustrate a rhetorical strategy such as procatalepsis, refuting anticipated objections. ("You may dismiss what I am about to say because you think me an anti-Semite. Well, if I were an anti-Semite, would I have friends who were Jews? In fact, some of my best friends are Jews.") DCDuring TALK 00:06, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
1942, The reaction of Negro publications and organizations to German anti-Semitism, by Lunabelle Wedlock: "I have heard upper-class Negroes say "Some of my best friends are Jews" with the same defensive, frequently unthinking rationalisation that the average genteel white person employs when he utters the apologetic "—but some of my best friends are Negroes", or "I never think of 'X' as a Negro". Indicating it was a stock phrase even then. Earliest Google Books turns up of "Some of my best friends are Negroes" is a non-ironic use in a 1931 Time Magazine. "Some of my best friends are Jews" are coming up in critical uses and a few non-ironic uses all through the 1920s.--Prosfilaes 01:25, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
1892: “ [] I wish to say that I am not prejudiced in any way. No, sir; prejudice is foreign to my nature. Some of my best friends are English. [] but the best of them [Englishmen] [] were not his [the first-class American carder’s] equal in skill.” —RuakhTALK 02:56, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
1831 “On the contrary, I love the Army as I do the Navy, as individuals: some of my best friends are in the profession : []1852: “Have mercy on the priestocracies: [] We have no animosity or ill-will to them, [] Some of my best friends are, or were in the church.” —RuakhTALK 03:06, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
Wonderful. Its own entry (idiomatic by reason of rhetorical, pragmatic, or discourse analytic consideratons?)? Examples in a {{examples-right}} box in procatalepsis (where search would find them)? Or just in Citations (where default search would not find them)? DCDuring TALK 12:08, 30 October 2010 (UTC)


The verb entry merely gives the part of speech as "verb", which is insufficient. This is certainly transitive, with a person as the object, but do ditransitive (compare "send") and intransitive senses also exist? — Paul G 08:04, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Though our most preferred sources of attestation don't show it in sufficient numbers, web use shows it being used like send. I have added a sense.
Also, usage already seems to indicate that one can "sext" an image, not just text. I'm not sure that normal usage is going to distinguish by communications channel when the salient feature is the content and the blend is so brief and appealing. If we can find clear evidence that one can "sext" via e-mail or by sending sexual images as part of a voice call, that would attest to that extension of meaning. DCDuring TALK 15:12, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

aprés#Old French[edit]

Can anyone arbitrate this dispute? User:Actarus Prince d'Euphor claims based on the French Wikipedia that acute accents weren't used in Old French. However acute accents are used in actual Old French texts. I consider rfv'ing but it would be silly to rfv something I know I can cite. The dispute goes a little further than that - that Modern transcriptions use acute accents where the original texts don't. Problem is, original texts are in university libraries such as Oxford University, so I can't exactly just 'pop in' and check. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:30, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Have emailed Widsith on the matter. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:41, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
Are the editions that you would use for attestation of the accented character from the period of Old or Middle French or facsimile editions thereof? When are the first instances of accented characters (or similar effort to distinguish pronunciations)? When did accented characters become widespread?
If the citations can only be found in subsequent editions, than it seems like a matter for a vote of the parties interested in Old French and Middle French. Ease of citation using readily available scholarly editions would seem to be a relevant consideration. The accented-character version could be treated as a transcription in the inflection line. DCDuring TALK 12:36, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
They're all type up versions, 'unicode' versions as I liked to call them. Not sure if there are any online sources for scans of the original texts. Like you, it had occurred to me to use the head= parameter in {{infl}} and {{fro-noun}} if necessary. I've been trying Wikimedia Commons so far. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:28, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Well, it's all quite confusing. I do see it in some texts:

  • Aprés ad s'amie espusee (Afterwards he married his friend) — from "Fresne" by Marie de France (technically, this is in Anglo-Norman)
  • Et que est ce, ici aprés, / fait Davïez, en ceste engarde? (And what is it that David did just afterwards, in such an elevated place?) — from "La Damoisele qui ne pooit oïr parler de foutre"

...however, it's not entirely clear exactly how accurately these printings reproduce the manuscripts. I had thought accents were not really used until the 16th century, but apparently they were occasionally used in Old French. (Rickard 1974-1989, pp. 93-6 summarises the situation well, although annoyingly he doesn't talk about grave accents, only acutes and cedillas.) If I understand the sound changes properly, popular Latin adpressum should give [aˈprɛs] in Old French, meaning that <é> stands for a mid vowel, which seems very strange to us. In conclusion, I'm not sure what the accent means or who put it there, but it seems attestable, at least in modern editions of OF texts. Ƿidsiþ 10:36, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

PS. I do have one facsimile kicking around, of the Holkham Bible. This includes such lines transliterated as Aprés que deux out adam fet ("After God had made Adam..."); however, although it's in the transliteration (described as a "diplomatic transliteration"), I can't see any trace of the accent in the actual manuscript facsimile. Ƿidsiþ 11:10, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

I've emailed my former tutor on the matter. She teaches this sort of thing up to PhD level, so that's undeniably the best source I have. Mglovesfun (talk) 11:37, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

"Hi Martin,

Most medieval manuscripts don’t have accents on them as modern punctuation tends to have been added by the editors. So “ele ont trove” would be written without the accent. You do sometimes find tremas ie umlauts but not often. Acute and grave accents are modern additions.

Hope this helps.


[Name removed]"
So, what do people think? I'm happy to move to all accentless Old French and Anglo-Norman. Mglovesfun (talk) 16:59, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
Go for it. Such entries might need a usage note so that future editors don't try to add the accents back. SemperBlotto 17:03, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
I totally agree. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:28, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
That's kind of bizarre. She's saying that modern editors add their own acute accents to Old French works in places where Old French had [ɛ] and Modern French uses grave accents? I don't understand that at all! But anyway, Ƿidsiþ raises a good point. This is a bit tricky. If almost everyone who reads Old French reads it in editions that include the accents, then in a very real sense, the accents are used in Old French, even though the people who spoke (and wrote) Old French didn't use them. —RuakhTALK 17:31, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
Yes, the accented forms can still be attestable, such as 'used in a well-known work' where the well known work was written in 'Unicode' in the 19th or 20th Century, but you can hardly consider them Modern French either. In a word, damn, this is tricky. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:34, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
Why not attest the forms that people are going to look up? The number of people who are reading manuscripts and trying to look up words is dwarfed by the number of people who are reading modern editions and are trying to look up words in Wiktionary.--Prosfilaes 18:01, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
  • Yes, I think we will have to include them, but maybe as some kind of soft redirect. ("Alternative form of"? With some sort of usage note?) Like Ruakh, I am confused about why modern editors are putting them in at all, especially when it's only sometimes. Ƿidsiþ 19:16, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
It seems like a back-dated spelling reform. I admit I've seen supporting evidence before, that accents only appeared in Middle French - according to the French Wikipedia, something like 1550, so not even in early Middle French. That said, this seems comparable to macrons in Old English, Latin (etc.). But as Prosfilaes says, how many people will get to read the original manuscripts? It does seem odd to 'lemmatize' a form that less of 1% of Old French readers will ever see. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:41, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but why an acute accent when it's pronounced as grave? Seems bizarre. As for lemma forms, I know it's a bit weird, but printing conventions change whereas manuscripts don't. Old English long vowels always used to be shown with acute accents, now the fashion is for macrons. French editorial fashions probably change too. Ƿidsiþ 10:18, 2 November 2010 (UTC)
Paper dictionaries can easily get around this issue as French dictionaries ignore diacritics, punctuation and capitalization with respect to alphabetical order. So marier and marïer appear in the same place alphabetically, under the entry 'marier'. Marïer should be deleted, IMO. BTW, w:fr:Cédille says that the ç has been used in French since the 9th Century. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:20, 3 November 2010 (UTC)


The word is currently listed as an adverb, presumably because it can be replaced with adverbs such as previously or earlier. But there is a serious syntactical catch here: (almost) no other adverb can be replaced with ago. It seems to always require an antecedent, i.e. two hours ago. This in itself is strange, since I'm unaware of any definition that says an adverb can require an antecedent. It seems to me that ago is in fact a postposition, not an adverb at all. Can anyone comment on this? —CodeCat 15:19, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

The CGEL agrees with you, classifying it as a "preposition". (Their analysis produces many cases where prepositions aren't followed by complements, so they don't worry overmuch about the etymology of the "pre-" part.) —RuakhTALK 17:53, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
As Ruakh implies, our practice has been to place English "postpositions" under the Preposition PoS header and in Category:English prepositions. I'd favor making all of them members of Category:English postpositions or Category:English postpositive prepositions. (The latter category might be a candidate for Category:English oxymoronic category names.) DCDuring TALK 19:06, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
I completely support Category:English postpositions. Anything else would just be weird. —CodeCat 19:40, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
Butting in - that discussion is now at Category talk:English postpositions. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:55, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I noticed, reading an old discussion, that our definitions of preposition and postposition are rather strange. From what I know, the definition of preposition would better fit the term adposition. Prepositions, postpositions, ambipositions and circumpositions are then simply adpositions that are placed before, after, on either side or on both sides of their antecedents, respectively. —CodeCat 11:03, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I think we would all agree that, for linguistics, "adposition" is a less misleading term than "preposition" and one that allows the specific locationally prefixed hyponyms to each be well defined and constitute a mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive set of categories. The difficulty is that, in English, "adposition" is merely technical and "preposition" is widely understood, though possibly mis- or incompletely understood. This, in turn, is based of the rarity of any adpositions other than prepositions in English. I believe that we can easily find attestation of the use of preposition in English to include postpositions, possibly even circumpositions and ambipositions. As the word preposition is often used outside of specialized academic discussion, it should not have a context tag for "linguistics" or even "grammar", any more than "motor" should have the tag "mechanical engineering". IOW, it is easy to argue that "preposition" needs at least two and possibly three definitions:
  1. A non-technical one (possibly Simple's ?) (that omits mention of postpositions, reflecting common pedagogical practice)
  2. One specific to English grammar reflecting the use in works such as CGEL and other monolingual English (and other?) grammars.
  3. Another more suitable for translingual linguistics.
Notwithstanding the fact that these distinctions would be attestable, most dictionaries would not bother. The standard approach is to just define it once using a definition like 2. Ours follows this practice but introduces non-defining (ie, encyclopedic) characteristics that make it read like a textbook definition rather than a natural-language definition, IMO. DCDuring TALK 16:41, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
While I agree we can't simply start redefining established meanings of terms, we can decide to forego the use of the term 'preposition' when we think it's not appropriate. That is, we adjust our own Wiktionary usage of the term based on the linguistic definitions. —CodeCat 18:50, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
Which of our uses would you propose to change? Use as a term in headers and categories? Use as a defining term? Use in our discussion pages? The first two don't seem places where we can impose a definition as they are important to whatever normal users may find us. We know that some anonymous users notice PoS headings, based on Feedback, Info Desk, Talk page, and discussion page comments and queries. DCDuring TALK 19:08, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
You're using the term "the linguistic definitions" to mean your personal usage of the term, ignoring the fact that there are actually many linguistic definitions. For example, as I mentioned above, CGEL uses preposition in a way that differs both from your usage and from that of traditional grammar. (CGEL, of course, has the advantages (1) of being specific to PDE, so they don't have to worry about consistently applying their terms crosslinguistically, and (2) of being so authoritative that it can get away with redefining terms in whatever way it thinks is best justified by its analysis. We have neither advantage, and our terminology will likely differ in some respects from CGEL's. That doesn't make our definitions any more, or any less, "linguistic definitions" than theirs.) —RuakhTALK 20:09, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I am thinking of people who aren't aware of this rather special and unusual of 'preposition' and assume, as I have, that it refers exclusively to a word placed before its complement phrase. A linguist, similarly, would certainly be able to see that 'pre' means 'before'. So yes, I do consider that the linguistic definition of the word. Anyone who calls a postposition a preposition is, I believe, simply doing so because the term 'postposition' may be unfamiliar to someone who was educated only in English, or because they themselves are unaware of other kinds of adposition. But I don't think that should be an excuse to propagate misuse of the term on Wiktionary. —CodeCat 20:39, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
That it isn't true to the etymology and that it doesn't conform to usage in translingual linguistics hardly makes it a misuse. In most normal-user English dictionaries the sole definition of "preposition" includes a phrase like "typically preceding its complement". It certainly wouldn't be difficult to attest to this element of a definition. There may be as few as 4 US/UK postpositions plus UK-only on (later) ("Five years on we still have unrevised Websters 1913 definitions.") See Category:English postpositions.
Which of types of usage in Wiktionary of "preposition" would you propose that we change? DCDuring TALK 21:21, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
@CodeCat: I'm sorry, but your belief is simply mistaken. —RuakhTALK 21:24, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

[de-indenting] Notice that even if we completely reject the CGEL's analysis and terminology, we have to accept that the word "preposition" is correctly and universally used in reference to words that don't always precede ("pre-"), or even abut ("ad-"), their complements, such as about in "the book that she talked about". Sometimes there's no obvious complement at all; in "The book was talked about in reverent tones", note that "the book" is actually the subject, not the object of any preposition. (I think some analyses would say that there's some sort of pro or PRO or trace or something that follows "about" and is co-indexed with "the book", but obviously it has no surface realization. Traditional grammar addresses this issue by saying that these uses are simply grammatically incorrect — the words are prepositions, ergo they must precede their complements, ergo any other uses are errors — but you know as well as I do that that's stupid and useless.) So it's kind of quibbling to say that "ago" can't be a "preposition", but rather must be a "postposition" or "adposition", while still accepting "preposition" in all the other cases where its etymology its wrong. —RuakhTALK 22:11, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

The instance you give results from use of the passive voice. The "actual" subject is the people doing the talking, but the shift to the passive voice places the book (the object of the discussion) into the grammatical position of the subject phrase. In an active voice, the sentence clearly reveals that "about" is a preposition: "We talked about the book in reverent tones." Use of the passive voice produces grammatical constructions that aren't often taught in school, because the passive voice is often considered bad writing. MS Word always flags passive voice constructions as grammatical errors because the constructions differ from the expected norm. --EncycloPetey 03:03, 2 November 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. I was taking for granted that everyone knew that, but it's probably good to be explicit. —RuakhTALK 11:01, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

travesty show[edit]

Anyone here ever heard of *"travesty show" or *"travesti show"? What would *"travesty show" be, if anything? I find some Google books hits, but overall these phrases look suspect. (google books:"travesty show", google books:"travesti show".) --Dan Polansky 09:58, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Okay, from travesti, which means "transvestite" (cross-dresser) in several languages, some non-native English speakers have probably first generated "travesti show", and then "travesty show". Given than "es:show" is show, "es:travesti show" would be a transvestite show, or the like. --Dan Polansky 10:05, 31 October 2010 (UTC)