Wiktionary:Tea room/2013/May

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discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← April 2013 · May 2013 · June 2013 → · (current)


The definition is "A mythical beast traditionally represented as having the legs of a buck, the body of a horse, the tail of a lion with a single spiral horn on its head; a symbol of virginity." We have a 17th century painting that shows exactly what I would expect; a horse with a horn. I don't want to just delete it, but this "traditional" (whose tradition? when?) representation is not the normal representation of a unicorn.--Prosfilaes (talk) 02:38, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

Not quite. If you look at the right foreleg in the painting you can see it has a cloven hoof, so its legs are more goat-like than horse-like. (It also means that if unicorns chew their cud, they're kosher.) The tail isn't lion-like, though. This picture also shows cloven hooves and a somewhat ambiguous tail. For more on this traditional representation, see w:Unicorn#Heraldry and the sources it cites. —Angr 10:36, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

grammar question

Is this sentence correct: "Recently he has had a lot of bills to pay. Besides, he has lost a lot of money gambling." Specifically, is there a problem with the use of "besides" here? Thanks. ---> Tooironic (talk) 04:07, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

It's definitely colloquially correct. I think you need a NP after besides to be more formally correct: Besides which, he has lost…. But get confirmation of that.​—msh210 (talk) 07:28, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
I don't think it is used much in formal English, but it is definitely "correct". Our entry for besides seems reliable, based on my reading of MWDEU and Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd, both of which discuss the beside/besides alternations and distinctions. DCDuring TALK 15:49, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
Same as my comment below, not incorrect just not optimal. I suppose moreover is better but much more formal, so wouldn't work well in a colloquial conversation. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:52, 3 May 2013 (UTC)

Plurals that link to the page they're on

Greetings. I recently noticed that on the series page, because the plural of series is series, it gives you a link to the page you're already on where it normally has the plural of the word (just below the "Noun" heading). Also, there isn't a meaning on the page stating that "series" can also be plural. Is there any guidelines for how Wiktionary normally deals with this (words who's singular and plural forms are identical)? Thanks. TeragR (talk) 22:18, 2 May 2013 (UTC)

I don't know about a written guideline, but I believe the most common practice is if an inflected form is a homograph of its lemma form, then the inflected form (1) isn't listed separately and (2) appears in bold rather than being linked in the headword line and any inflection table. See for example series#Latin, where the vocative singular and nominative/accusative/vocative plural aren't listed separately and are bold in the inflection table. I'd say the plural ought to be bold rather than a link in the English section as well. —Angr 23:30, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
Understood. Thanks! TeragR (talk) 03:31, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

grammar question 2

Is this sentence incorrect? "House prices have soared in the last few years." To my ears it sounds wrong - shouldn't it be "over the past few years"? ---> Tooironic (talk) 11:26, 3 May 2013 (UTC)

Stylistically, I'd prefer during or over, but in is common and correct. "Soar over" might start a reader on the wrong track, the more literal meaning of soar over. DCDuring TALK 15:52, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
The preposition could also be omitted: "House prices have soared these last few years." (I think I would say "these" for some reason.) DCDuring TALK 15:56, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
I would say "over the past few years" but I'd also say it (the initial phrase) is not incorrect, just not optimal. Mglovesfun (talk) 16:12, 3 May 2013 (UTC)


When looking for cites for this word, I found several results that seem to be related to a use in marine biology, probably with a different etymology. I wasn't able to work out a meaning though, so if someone else who knows more about that field than I do (not difficult) wants to take a look that would be good. Thryduulf (talk) 15:45, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

  • Hmm. I think it is a muscle that causes a fish's fin to bend (somewhat akin to an "erector", "depressor" etc. It can also mean "a metal framework that holds a carboy, allowing it to be inclined for pouring", and an alternative form of "inclinometer". SemperBlotto (talk) 16:00, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
    • The fish muscle and carbody senses are presumably from incline + -ator? Is that likely to the be the etymology for the "inclinometer" sense too? Thryduulf (talk) 17:40, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

void under nails

Is there an English noun for the space under the free margin of one's fingernails (which has the tendency of collecting dirt)? --Hekaheka (talk) 13:13, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

Not that I've ever heard. When someone is said in English to "have dirty fingernails", it is that dirt-filled void that is meant. Metonymy at work again. DCDuring TALK 16:42, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
It is sometimes called the subungual space in scientific literature. Equinox 16:43, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
Searching for unguis, I didn't find that term in anatomical atlases. The closest I found was free margin for the edge of the nail under which said dirt can readily accumulate. DCDuring TALK 16:50, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
Where did you find that? Just in the OP's question of four hours ago? —Angr 17:15, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
All right, thanks for your help. I'll include this info in the entry on kynnenalus. --Hekaheka (talk) 22:49, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
Sometimes, under the fingernails, you can find not only dirt but the truth :). See подноготная. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 04:34, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
Yep. Sometimes in the form of DNA evidence... —Angr 18:52, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

brownout questions

I added a sense to brownout: a temporary firehouse closing. I have not bothered adding citations, other than one to the NYT on the Discussion page. It's very easy to Google multiple newspaper articles on the subject.

I'm unsure about certain minor issues.

  1. The alternative form brown-out simply refers back to brownout. But the alternative form brown out repeats the already existing two senses—I have not added the new sense, and uniquely includes the verb sense. It seems from the upkeep point of view this should all be on one main page.
  2. There is a reference to the Wikipedia article Brownout. But this article is simply a redirect page. Should the individual articles be separately referred to over here? (Note that I created a redlink appropriate for the new sense.)
  3. If not, and we refer to the disambiguation page, should we follow WP's recommended style here, linking to the explicitly named Brownout (disambiguation) redirect? The rationale doesn't actually apply here: this cross-wiki linking is from one kind of disambiguation page (multiple definitions) to another kind (multiple links), so perhaps no one is fooled.
  4. Over on Wikipedia, the Brownout disambiguation page refers back here, to four variants. I assume this should refer to one entry, and the alternative spellings given as part of the article directly.
  5. Should rolling brownout get a separate entry? I added it as a Usage note.

Thanks for any suggestions. Choor monster (talk) 16:59, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

With regard to your first minor issue, there is a rule for such compounds (I can give no authority, but it is a rule /I/ use) that the hyphenated form is a noun, while the two-word form is a verb; e.g. a soccer match starts with a kick-off, when the team that won the toss will kick off. If this rule applies, brown-out and brown out are not really alternative forms, but noun and verb respectively; brownout probably covers both. I wish you luck with editing the entries to reflect this! Peter Kenny —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).
  1. I’ve made the noun section of brown out use {{alternative form of}}
  2. Actually it’s good that they have a disambiguation page, otherwise we’d have to create a link to three entries.
  3. Does it make a difference?
  4. That’s their problem. I’d fix it, but they’d probably revert.
  5. Certainly. But note that if “temporary closing of a fire station” is only used as rolling brownout (I don’t know if it is), it should only be at rolling brownout, not at brownout.
Ungoliant (Falai) 23:00, 8 May 2013 (UTC)


Could someone who speaks French check this edit and, if Echtio is right that the usex was not grammatically correct, remove it? The version Echtio added doesn't contain the headword. google books:"je n'ai jamais vu" suggests that string is well-attested (but dated/archaic?). - -sche (discuss) 20:22, 7 May 2013 (UTC)

"je n'ai jamais vu" is perfectly modern, standard French. His point (gonna assume male until told otherwise) is in this particular construction, it would mean "the biggest cake that I have never seen" (not "that I have ever seen"). I tend to agree but I'm not sure enough to remove the example and definition that goes with it. I didn't think this construction took the subjunctive either, so "le plus grand gâteau que j'ai vu" (instead of "que j'aie vu"). Clearly this needs sorting out using evidence and not removed unilaterally. Mglovesfun (talk) 20:55, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
The definition is clearly wrong and should be removed. In the case of "the biggest cake I have ever seen", the correct French translation is « le plus gros gâteau que j'aie jamais vu ». The original example, « le plus gros gâteau que je n'ai jamais vu », does mean "the biggest cake that I have never seen" (and not just litteraly).
I also have doubts on the second definition. Who wrote this, and based on what? Dakdada (talk) 19:58, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
This seems like a not-uncommon use of ‘expletive ne’ to me, maybe I'm crazy....I easily found some examples on line though:
  • Singer décrit ce film comme le plus ambitieux et le plus grand qu'il n’ait jamais fait. here
  • J'avais eu un réel coup de cœur pour cette émission, notamment pour le décor, le plus grand que je n’aie jamais vu sur un plateau de télévision. here. Ƿidsiþ 12:01, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
Also this from Dumas's La Dame aux camélias: ‘Ajoutez que Marguerite était revenue de ce voyage plus belle qu'elle n’avait jamais été.’ Ƿidsiþ 12:03, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
Those would go under the third sense (expletive ne). In this case, ne is usually not mandatory, and it is not negative. The fourth sense and example are still wrong. Dakdada (talk) 15:59, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

Query probable typo in entry for "an die Kandare nehmen"


I'm new to this and not sure how to handle it, so apologies if I've got it wrong. The entry in the English Wiktionary for the German phrase "an die Kandare nehmen" says "to put a tight reign on." The word Kandare means a curb bit for a horse, so surely it should be "a tight rein"? It would still be a red link, but it would be correct.

For future reference, could I have gone ahead and edited this myself, as with any Wikipedia entry, or are there more formalities with Wiktionary? I don't expect to be able to make many corrections - I'm just a regular user rather than a dictionary creator - but if it does happen I will create an account.

Thanks for advice

Peter Kenny

Hi, thanks for pointing that out, I fixed it. And of course you can always go ahead and fix things yourself (you don't even need an account for it). Longtrend (talk) 13:03, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Just a minor nit-pick about your edit. By including the word 'someone' you restrict the application to a person. The original context in which I found it was: "Singapur nimmt die heimischen Banken mit neuen Regulatorien an die Kandare." (Handelsblatt press summary, 8 May 2013), which shows a wider use. I think it is better with 'someone' deleted, so I have done that; hope you agree. Peter Kenny
That's right, thanks for fixing. Longtrend (talk) 21:15, 9 May 2013 (UTC)


The IPA pronunciations that we have claim that this pronounces itself as /mənt/, but to me it usually sounds like /mɪnt/, sometimes /mɛnt/. For this reason and others, I’m starting to worry that I have dysacusis. --Æ&Œ (talk) 18:29, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

No, I don't think that's the problem. It depends where you've heard it. I've heard all three. You are probably correct that BBC English is slowly moving away from /mənt/ towards /mɛnt/, but I don't think we should change our entry yet. Dbfirs 17:32, 23 May 2013 (UTC)


I was looking beaujolais (which may or may not have an English meaning) and found "A red AOC wine from Burgundy, France". Okay, so what does AOC mean? It's not a British military wine, and the French definition looks about right. Then either AOC needs an English definition along the lines of the French, or beaujolais needs its definition rewritten to be all in English.--Prosfilaes (talk) 21:16, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

  • The definition is of the French word, therefore the French definition of AOC is understood. Anyway, it is a trivial matter to remove it. Done. SemperBlotto (talk) 21:21, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
    • I don't see why the French definition is understood; definitions in the English Wiktionary should be in English.--Prosfilaes (talk) 06:28, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Appellation d'origine contrôlée. — Ungoliant (Falai) 11:28, 9 May 2013 (UTC)


There was an RFV for this, but I think I've found enough citations to recreate. Some of them are not really Modern English, so I'd like to get input before I create it. If it doesn't warrant {{archaic}}, then there's a case for filing it under Middle English; there's another Prose Merlin cite around if it needs it, which would make three. Hyarmendacil (talk) 08:27, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

There's not three modern English cites there; there's an 1859 one and a 1954 one. 1500 is the ISO dividing line between modern English and Middle English; except for Widsith, who doesn't believe in Middle English, the editors with an opinion on it have generally felt that's as good a division as any. Your Merlin cites aren't independent, I don't think, but Middle English only needs one anyway.--Prosfilaes (talk) 11:20, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
(PS, it's not that I "don't believe in" ME, I just think it's more academically normal, and more useful, to treat it as a historical stage of "English" rather than a separate independent language. Ƿidsiþ 11:33, 10 May 2013 (UTC))
I am inclined to agree. It's really English with a slightly different grammar and pronunciation. I think many have even given up making ME entries because they're basically the same as English ones. Leasnam (talk) 16:21, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
That's true for many pairs of languages. They're certainly not spelled the same, which makes a lot more difference for us then it does the OED. In any case, the Middle English cites couldn't be used to cite fremish because they weren't spelled that way, and adopting English's three-cites-with-that-spelling rule for Middle English would really hurt the ability to cite any Middle English.--Prosfilaes (talk) 20:45, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
Middle English is not "really English with a slightly different grammar and pronunciation". The grammar, spelling, and pronunciation are greatly different, and (most importantly for a dictionary) a lot of words have significantly different meanings to modern English. It would be tedious for both editors and readers if all of these senses were listed under the ==English== header and marked {{archaic}} or even {{context|Middle English}}. Much better to treat ME as a separate language. Also, keeping them separate allows ME to have a separate CFI threshold than ModE. —Angr 22:16, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oops sorry, I saw the citation page and recreated the entry, not having seen this discussion. Feel free to redelete if necessary (although it looks good to me). Ƿidsiþ 11:30, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
I went looking in the OED 1 for Fremish and found
As you can see, all cites are before 1500 and neither of them are spelled fremish.--Prosfilaes (talk) 11:51, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
I've added a third cite from Usenet. The Middle English should probably go to pages that match their spelling; Middle English is a pretty strong argument for merging spellings like the OED does.--Prosfilaes (talk) 12:10, 10 May 2013 (UTC)


Merriam-Webster offers a couple definitions for this word, but searching for google books:"cobhouse" and google books:"cobhouses" seems to entirely turn up hits for a different sense or two. Can anyone demonstrate that either of the M-W senses are citable, or figure out what the BGC sense(s) is/are? Thanks —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 01:18, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

I think we miss some sense of cob, such as MW 1913's: "A lump or piece of anything, usually of a somewhat large size, as of coal, or stone." I think it would need to specifically include wood, too. DCDuring TALK 03:17, 11 May 2013 (UTC)
I've taken a run at some definitions. DCDuring TALK 03:19, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

ninefold decrease

Hi! If I want to say that a company's profit has fallen and is nine times lower now, is it OK to write "a ninefold decrease" or "it took a ninefold tumble to.." or do -fold words only apply to growth? What's the alternative? --CopperKettle (talk) 02:47, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

P.S. How does one write about a profit that is 2.5 times lower? "Fallen 2.5 times" seems unnatural. --CopperKettle (talk) 02:52, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
It is clearer if one says that profits are 60% lower than what they were or 40% of what they were, for the "2.5-fold decrease", at least in business and non-scientific contexts. It seems to me that "X-fold increase" and, especially, "X-fold decrease" are mostly used in scientific and engineering contexts. DCDuring TALK 04:13, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
It's confusing, because it isn't clear what it's nine times or 2.5 times of. I would say instead (if I understand what you meant) that it's fallen to one-ninth of what it was, or two-fifths/forty percent of what it was.
Thank you! (yes; a decrease from a previous period); --CopperKettle (talk) 06:24, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
I agree. I have trouble intrepreting "nine times lower now", let alone "ninefold decrease" or "ninefold tumble". I'd say "reduced to one ninth of what it was" or "reduced by eight ninths" or "reduced by 89%". Multiplication by a number greater than 1 makes things bigger, not smaller. —Angr 12:10, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
The trouble is that the Russian language allows it easily, and original texts are peppered with with X-кратный (fold) decreases, especially in today's choppy economy. --CopperKettle (talk) 15:54, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
I think of "X-fold decrease" as marketingspeak. It seems designed to give an advertiser a way of using a large number when expressing a product improvement (?) that is naturally expressed as a reduction of something considered bad. If I say I "reduced waiting time by 4 seconds", "cut waiting time from 8 to 4 seconds", or even "cut waiting time in half", it doesn't sound as impressive as a "twice as fast" or "double the speed" or "200% faster". DCDuring TALK 16:39, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
The translator's job is not to slavishly follow the source language but to make the text understandable in the target language. A profit that's "nine times lower" than it was has fallen 88.9% (or "about 90%" or "almost 90%" if the "nine times" is approximate rather than precise); one that's "2.5 times lower" than it was has fallen 60%. Even DCDuring's example, though, the "twice as", "double", "200%" examples are all being used to describe something that has increased, namely the speed. It's the whole formula of "n times less X" that bothers me, because (as I said above) multiplication by a number greater than 1 makes things bigger, and using it with something that's getting smaller is just going to baffle people. —Angr 17:03, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
n-fold decrease is valid (and common) even for non-integer n. You can get 2.5-fold decrease and 4.1-fold decease and even down to two decimal places. In a non-technical context you might say "[property] has suffered a 250% decrease", but this isn't standard beyond 1000%. It would be better then to say 'a factor-of-10 decrease' or '10-fold decrease'. 'n times less X' is easy to understand when you interpret it as a factor-of-n decrease - i.e. just divide by n (except where n < 1!). Hyarmendacil (talk) 21:48, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Common, yes, but certainly not standard to anyone who tries to think precisely! Dbfirs 17:10, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
I've added twice as less, no marketing talk examples. Choor monster (talk) 16:59, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
One of the citations, "men and women with higher qualifications were twice as less likely to be...", is IMO "twice as {less likely} to..." rather than "{twice as less} likely to...". - -sche (discuss) 19:43, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
I'm having a hard time seeing the difference. The meaning becomes "half as likely" either way. (I can't bring myself to type in "much" here.) I think what's really going on is that "twice as ..." means "half as ..." when the blank is reduction. The cited Orr book, in its preface, mentions "twice as small as".
For what it's worth, Orr specifically says these usages are from BEV. Her book begins by explaining how she learned, the hard way, that standard idioms and prepositions frequently meant different things to her math students. Choor monster (talk) 19:57, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
  • P.S. Thank you all for a very interesting discussion! Got busy and forgot to check up on it. --CopperKettle (talk) 07:44, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

Australian slang: as/az

On Australian TV, I hear people say things like "I thought this wedding was going to be boring as, but..." It seems to imply "as hell" or something like that. I believe the title of the show "Beached Az" is the same usage. Is that right? Or am I mishearing that?

Yes, I've heard it too. Not sure whether the word is omitted out of decency (e.g. "boring as f--k") or just to save time speaking. Equinox 00:53, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
I've heard it a lot. I'd argue it's an entity in its own right, and not an abbrevation of a profanity - though that's likely to be its origin. Certainly, using it wouldn't be considered profane in any way. Hyarmendacil (talk) 01:35, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
It's common colloquial Australian English (mainly used by younger people). "The concert was sick as!" There is a stress on "as". The expression isn't thought of as an abbreviation of a profanity. This, that and the other (talk) 03:01, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
It reminds me of the UK expression "it's as near as, damn it", which should be at least mentioned somewhere, if not given its own entry. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:31, 18 May 2013 (UTC)


Are there side effects of to having a colonic? —This comment was unsigned.

You'll have to ask your doctor. We're a dictionary and can't help you with that. —Angr 17:29, 14 May 2013 (UTC)


I've just created the FSVO intialism ("for some values only"), but we really need to define the meaning of "for some values only". It has a literal meaning in mathematics ("for some values of x"), but in internet slang usage it also has an indiomatic menaing, e.g. "FSVO "responsible, caring and kindly."""responsible, caring and kindly." rS49LI. What part of speech is it though? Thryduulf (talk) 22:43, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

Is the expression abbreviated for some values only or for some values of?
The first seems to function as an adverbial adjunct. The second would seem to function as a preposition. DCDuring TALK 23:42, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
As far as I know, it's short for for some values of, suggesting those "values" (or "meanings", "examples") were handpicked to promote/show/use a non-standard value/meaning/w:WP:POV. -- 20:45, 16 May 2013 (UTC)
Compare http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1382/does-2-2-5-for-very-large-values-of-2 -- 03:10, 18 May 2013 (UTC)


This has as its sole definition "(linguistics) elevated", but our entry on elevated doesn't contain any definition pertaining to linguistics, so the definition doesn't make any sense. Is the definition incorrect/inexact, or are we missing a definition on elevated? -- Liliana 13:50, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

What is meant by "elevated" is probably sense 2b here: "formal, lofty". I don't know if the label "linguistics" is really adequate, but it does refer in particular to a lofty way of talking/writing and I don't know if any of the existing senses of elevated covers that. Longtrend (talk) 14:09, 17 May 2013 (UTC)


This entry has some errors in it, because "pra" is not a valid language code. "Prakrit" is not a single language, but rather a collection of languages. What should we do in this case? —CodeCat 14:44, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

pra is a valid ISO 639-2 and -5 code, just like the other codes for language families and subfamilies, so there's no reason we shouldn't have {{pra}} just like we have {{cel}} and {{gem}} and {{ine}}. But obviously it can't be used with {{term}}; we need a real language for that. —Angr 15:03, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Oops, i see those are all red links, while {{etyl:pra}}, {{etyl:cel}}, {{etyl:gem}}, and {{etyl:ine}} are all blue. In the case of khanda, I found the Sanskrit origin at Wikipedia (and will confirm it with Monier-Williams when I get home tonight, if I remember), but the only thing we can do more generally in such cases is try to find a specific language the term derives from. —Angr 15:08, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Of the other English terms derived from Prakrit languages, Afghan uses {{term}} without specifying a language, beryl uses a bare link, and Dravidian uses {{term|lang=und}}. —Angr 15:38, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
This kind of problem is not uncommon: I came across gumbo yesterday, and didn't know what I should do to fix it. This, that and the other (talk) 02:56, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

given over

What do you reckon? Worth categorising with Category:English irregular past participles?

give over

give over = "(intransitive, with with) cease" apparently. I have providing quotations for the sense in the entry, but under a different definition:

"(usually in the imperative) To stop fooling around; to stop being annoying; to stop saying silly or flattering things."

This seems overly specific, but it is claimed to be UK, idiomatic".

I am not familiar with this usage. Is give over used intransitively without with? DCDuring TALK 13:13, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

  • Yes. Usually just on its own as an interjection: ‘Oh, give over!’ Ƿidsiþ 13:33, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
    Thanks. The interjection seems to be what's left in speech of what was once much more common and not limited to the UK. I've left the usage example in the imperative, but reduced the definition to intransitive "stop" in line with usage over centuries. If you think the colloquial use is distinct from that sense, feel free to enter or reenter a correct current definition if it is more specific, perhaps as a subsense. DCDuring TALK 14:32, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
"I told him to give over" sounds wrong; it's quite hard to use it other than as an imperative. Mglovesfun (talk) 20:56, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
It doesn't sound wrong to me because I've often heard it. (Sentences such as "he gave over smoking" and "she's given over doing that" are also found colloquiallySorry, these are the transitive usage.) I think the colloquial usage is the same sense (not just in the imperative), but heard less often by modern speakers. Dbfirs 17:14, 23 May 2013 (UTC)


In the etymology for concede, con- listed as "wholly" --- but linked to "with" or "together"? I know very little about how to read these variations; is there a way to decide between the two readings in this case? Dedeo sfi (talk) 20:58, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

I have corrected con-#Latin. It is the sense of "thoroughly, wholly". DCDuring TALK 21:46, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

Popper (can't find definition)

I'm trying to find the definition for popper (or something similar; I'm not sure of the exact spelling) in regards to a person living in the Elizabethan era (in the 1500's or 1600's), probably in England. (E.g., "He was a popper.") I've looked at popper and poper, and neither of them seems to have it. Any idea where it might be? Thanks. TeragR (talk) 16:58, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

I can't find it. Could it be a typo or scanno? Do you have a specific, extended quotation that you could provide? Or perhaps you could explain the context. DCDuring TALK 19:46, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I don't have it spelled out in a piece of text, I just heard it spoken (in a video). It talks about how actors in this time period (the Elizabethan era, like I said above) weren't highly regarded, and it says they fell in social status somewhere between popper and assistant popper. I thought it was just a level of status in their society, but it could also be an occupation. (I don't see a sense like that though, either.) TeragR (talk) 20:46, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
pauper. Actors did not receive a wage, but just passed the hat round. They were effectively beggars. SemperBlotto (talk) 20:49, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes, that's it. Thank you!TeragR (talk) 03:35, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
The transcript of what you must have heard is here. DCDuring TALK 08:55, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
I don't see how anyone can be an assistant pauper (though perhaps a joke was intended). Dbfirs 16:53, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
Well, it is from a TV show, albeit PBS. DCDuring TALK 17:06, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

Spanish translation

Discussion moved to Wiktionary:Translation_requests#Spanish_translation.


This entry cautions that it refers only to elderly humans and animals, while יָשָׁן is used to refer to old inanimate objects. What about plants? What word describes an old tree? - -sche (discuss) 08:19, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

Most languages that make animacy distinctions treat plants as inanimate, so יָשָׁן would be my a priori guess. —Angr 21:14, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
Interesting question. I believe a tree is זקן actually, at least in older Hebrew. The commentary of w:Rashi to the Babylonian Talmud, Avoda Zara 49, reads (in part) "אם הבריך או הרכיב יחור של ערלה באילן זקן מותרים פירותיהן מיד", for example, and that's my impression from, I guess, having seen it in various other places. But I await a native speaker (or someone who'll bother Googling) re modern Hebrew.​—msh210 (talk) 01:49, 27 May 2013 (UTC)


I don't blame Wiktionary for it, as other dictionaries missed it too. There must be another meaning for the word "crumpet" than a specific kind of cake or a desirable woman, for in P.G. Wodehouse's "Young Man in Spats", first published in 1936 the word clearly refers to a type of young man, wearing spats, like the title of the book states, but here the word is used to distinguish them from two other types of young man in spats that visit the Drones Club in London: "eggs" and "beans". As I'm not British, and even worse I'm Dutch, I have great difficulty, sensing the nuances in closely related non-temporary English slang words. Is there anyone who can help me out and tell me what are the differences between "an egg", "a bean" and "a crumpet" in Wodehouse's short stories?

This is a Wodehouse invention, probably not suitable for a dictionary: it is only used in his books. See Eggs,_Beans_and_Crumpets and Drones_Club. Equinox 12:58, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

Irregular Russian Pluralization? (голоса/копокола)

While in the nominative case most Russian plurals (nouns at least) end with -ы or -и but I've recently come across a few that end with -а such as "голоса" and "колокола". Being a novice at the Russian language, I was curious if anyone could enlighten me as to the reason for this? Much obliged.

Different nouns follow different patterns, often depending on the gender of the noun. -ы or -и are most common for masculine or feminine nouns, but -а or -я for neuter nouns. There is a lot more information on w:Russian grammar. —CodeCat 01:39, 28 May 2013 (UTC)


A contributor noticed that the citations for this entry were for an adjective sense that we didn't have, so they tried (and failed) to add a definition based on them. I corrected it so it's not blatantly wrong, but it's still not quite right. In the cites, it's used in the phrase "conflate reading" (using an obscure and specialized sense of reading), but a Google Books search on "a conflate" turns up combinations such as "conflate text" and "conflate manuscript". It also turns up the phrase "a conflate", which means that the adjective sense may just be attributive use of a noun sense that we don't have. It also seems to be broader than biblical criticism, since there's also the quote " Menes appears to be a ' conflate ' personage of legend." I can see why no one has tried until now to add a definition based on the cites. Chuck Entz (talk) 13:59, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Century Dictionary had it as an adjective: "In diplomatics, marked by conflation; inadvertently formed by combining two different readings into one: as, a conflate text or passage." I didn't find any cites for use in this context.
This seems to actually behave like an adjective inasmuch as a few instances can be found of gradable use and predicate in the context of hermeneutics, but almost exclusively in Biblical interpretation.
  • 1975, Frank Moore Cross, Shmarjahu Talmon, Qumran and the history of the biblical text, page 283:
    While it is not expansionistic, it is normally inferior to the Old Palestinian tradition preserved in 4QSam [sic], and often to the Egyptian despite the more conflate traits of the latter.
I even found an instance of comparability on the web.
The noun usage seems derived from this, but I don't know how to tell based on the evidence. DCDuring TALK 14:41, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

study one's own interests

To study one's own interests - does that mean (almost) "pursuing one's own interests"? I'm translating a sentence where a director of a company rebukes a counterpart by saying that while "we're faithful to the interests of our Republic, you're studying your own". Will that do? --CopperKettle (talk) 14:34, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

It seems to be 'polite', inasmuch as the director is not actually accusing the other of overt actions contrary to his responsibilities as citizen, but mere investigation, though possibly implying covert action. Perhaps "seemingly pursing". DCDuring TALK 14:54, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Thank you! That's what I need. (0: --CopperKettle (talk) 15:00, 28 May 2013 (UTC)


While fixing up the entry on hisself that had gotten mangled by a bot, I noticed that the entry gives that the plural of it is themselves. It would seem to me that in dialectal/nonstandard English, the corresponding theirselves would be more likely to be used. Anyone have any ideas as to whether there has been any serious study of the colocation of those two forms? — Carolina wren discussió 01:24, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

It's probably possible to find the frequency of one collocation relative to another using the Ngram Viewer, although I can't offhand think of how. - -sche (discuss) 02:53, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. That was helpful, tho not to the specific formulation of my question. Quite a few of the uses of both nonstandard forms are in grammar books telling people not to use them. I was able to find at least one author who used them both in a context other than being a grammarian, but once dialectal language started getting printed regularly, the ratio of hisself to theirselves is noticeably higher than that of himself to themselves. It's also more volatile because of the sparsity of printed usage. Still, what I saw convinced me of the desirability of including both themselves and theirselves as plurals for hisself. — Carolina wren discussió 16:28, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Sounds good. - -sche (discuss) 17:26, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

berry blue

Berry Blue

Wacky Watermelon

"An artificial flavoring used in candies and punches that is colored blue and meant to simulate the flavoring of blueberries, blackberries or raspberries." This suggests that the flavouring itself is coloured; is that accurate? I would have thought that the colouring was just accompanied by a flavouring. Equinox 02:03, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

A friend once told me that when her brother was a little boy, his favorite flavor was red. Nevertheless, I think you're right that the color and the flavor are two different things. A priori one would expect something called "berry blue" to be the color rather than the flavor, but who knows for sure? I'd say this is an issue for WP:RFV so we can find out exactly what "berry blue" really is. —Angr 05:38, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
This is is the name for a KoolAid flavor, so it's based on the usual silly word-play: "how blue is it? Berry. Berry, berry blue, like a blueberry- get it? Har har har!" Other flavors have included Goofy Grape and Loudmouth Lime. It's one of those quasi-brand-name things like Crayola colors that probably aren't entry-worthy. Chuck Entz (talk) 07:26, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, the berry/very pun is quite a common marketing device, e.g. "Berry Delicious" bakery, "Berry Berry Good" frozen yogurt. Equinox 17:24, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
There are enough instances of Berry Blue/berry blue as a product from different companies, and enough citations of those brands independent of those companies, to satisfy WT:BRAND Purplebackpack89 (Notes Taken) (Locker) 17:30, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment: Universally, all products that are flavored berry blue are colored some shade of blue. The color blue is an inherent part of the berry blue product. Not seeing the issue here, 'cept that once again, my contributions are being unfairly criticized. And to Chuck Entz, it's worth noting that Kool-Aid is hardly the only brand that markets/marketed a berry blue product Purplebackpack89 (Notes Taken) (Locker) 15:20, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
There are no citations. Is this used in product names, in ingredients lists, or in industry jargon? There is no evidence supporting or denying any sense other than simple SOP. Even quoting the product packaging would be better than nothing at all.
I have added this entry to WT:RFV#berry blueMichael Z. 2013-06-01 15:29 z
For starters, as I've said time and again, SOP is bullshit and needs to be abolished. But even if it isn't, it isn't SOP because it isn't made from actual berries, it just tastes like them. And it doesn't taste like blue berries; sometimes it tastes like strawberries or raspberries, which aren't blue Purplebackpack89 (Notes Taken) (Locker) 15:34, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
We’re not going to abolish SOP, so deal with it. — Ungoliant (Falai) 16:17, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
  1. These aren’t independent uses of the term Berry Blue as a noun – they are mentions of trademarked product titles, two Jello-O and one Yoplait. That is why they are capitalized.
  2. The second one is a product title Yoplait Berry Blue Blast Gogurt, and is not an independent use of Berry Blue as a noun.
  3. The definition is wrong, or at least it does not follow from the citations. None of these references is to any specific artificial flavouring.

They are product marketing copy only, whether they are trademarked names or not. They are simple titles made up of the normal English words berry and blue, strung together to fool shoppers into believing the product has something to do with blueberries. Michael Z. 2013-06-02 21:07 z

"They are product marketing copy only". Uh, last time I checked, none of the citations are in materials printed by Jell-O, Yoplait or anybody associated with them. Therefore, not product marketing copy, and therefore acceptable citations. It is not forbidden to have product names as entries, and berry blue/Berry Blue isn't a product name, it's a flavor offered by many different companies. Much like rocky road. For some reason, you apparently have some vendetta against this entry. Please stop being disruptive Purplebackpack89 (Notes Taken) (Locker) 18:02, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
The origin of the name is product marketing copy - it’s used on artificially blueberry-flavoured products that can’t have “blueberry” on the package because they contain no blueberries. The citations are essentially quoting the package copy.
But in the interest of figuring out whether or how this is really a term, I have created Wacky Watermelon. Is this an English term? I think it might be a proper name, formed as a simple SOP of wacky + watermelon. If so, does it belong in Wiktionary or not? What do you all think? Michael Z. 2013-06-06 19:04 z
The two are not analogous Purplebackpack89 (Notes Taken) (Locker) 18:02, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
I think it is not a good idea to create junk in order to refute junk. At Wikipedia this would fall foul of WP:GAME. Also the definition just suggests it's watermelon, without indicating that it's specifically a marketing brand, nor why the "wacky" is there (presumably to make it seem exciting and different from "boring" everyday flavours). Equinox 18:12, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
I don’t know what a better definition is. Please try to improve it based on the citations. Perhaps there is more than one sense represented. Michael Z. 2013-06-17 20:21 z
Yeah, the Watermelon entry is definitely junk. No citations or indication that it passes WT:BRAND (both of which Berry Blue has). I have nominated it for deletion Purplebackpack89 (Notes Taken) (Locker) 16:38, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
There are seven citations. Maybe your reading glasses are junk. Michael Z. 2013-06-17 20:21 z

Perhaps this will help:

  • 2010, Adriann Bautista, Sanctuary of Snow, page 157:
    Or the wonderment in not 1 but 2 rainbows as they cap off a berry blue sky now void of thick heavy rain clouds.
  • 2010, A LaFaye, Nissa's Place, page 132:
    The washstand had white linen towels and a berry blue pitcher and basin.
  • 2010, Guillermo Del Toro, Chuck Hogan, The Strain, page 325:
    People get nervous about poison, especially parents, but the truth is that rat poison is all over every building and street in Manhattan. Anything you see that resembles berry blue Pop Rocks or green kibble, you know rats have been spotted nearby.
  • 2009, Amanda Little, Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells---Our Ride to the Renewable Future, page 350:
    Two blocks away from the 5-mile-long Industrial Canal that links Lake Pontchartrain to the Mississippi River, a cluster of new, candy-colored homes—lemon yellow, tangerine, berry blue—on 8-foot stilts rises up from narrow grassy lots, adorning the scarred landscape like jewels in ash.
  • 2007, M. M. Etheridge, Hannah: Woman in Red, page 69:
    Hannah, clad in her berry-blue cloak, quietly slipped into the space next to Jess.
  • 2007, Jason Murk, Tokharian Tales, page 248:
    “It's good coffee, isn't it?” says Martin, and he's got good taste, he drinks huckleberry coffee from Montana, he drinks bits of morning berry blue in his coffee as if they're flecks from the Big Sky itself.

I see nothing comparable for "wacky watermelon", capitalized or not. bd2412 T 17:12, 12 June 2013 (UTC)