Wiktionary:Votes/pl-2008-01/Appendices for fictional terms

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Appendices for fictional terms[edit]

  • Voting on: Proposal to require that terms originating in fictional universes (such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons) which have three citations in separate works, but which do not have three citations which are independent of reference to that universe may be included only in appendices of words from that universe, and not in the main dictionary space.

By way of example, the following three references to "protocol droid" would suffice to permit the phrase to be included in a Star Wars appendix, but not in the main dictionary space:

  • 2000, Elizabeth B. Davis, Myth and Identity in the Epic of Imperial Spain,[1] University of Missouri Press, ISBN 0-8262-1277-8, page 216,
    Perhaps it is no accident that one of the most poignant moments in the whole Star Wars trilogy is the scene in Return of the Jedi where the protocol droid C-3PO relates the story of the Galactic Civil War for the assembled Ewoks in a language only they can understand.
  • 2002, Pamela Rice Hahn and Jesse Flores, Journey to the Center of the Internet,[2] Syngress, ISBN 192899475X, page 59,
    “But moving right along, let’s talk about protocols,” Dr. F. continued.
    Finally, a movie reference I understood! Finally, something I could get excited about! “Like C-3PO!” I shouted. “He was a protocol droid!”
  • 2004, William Sims Bainbridge (ed.), National Science Foundation, Berkshire Encyclopedia Of Human–Computer Interaction: When Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact,[3] Berkshire Publishing Group LLC, ISBN 0974309125, page 469,
    C-3PO is a protocol droid, or translator, whose function is to help humans communicate with aliens and machines.

By contrast, the following three references to "lightsaber" would suffice to permit the word to be included in the main dictionary space:

  • 2004, Rob N. Hood, Beyond the Wind, p. 1:
    Wielding his flashlight like a lightsaber, Kyle sent golden shafts slicing through the swirling vapors.
  • 2004, Les Pardew, Game Design for Teens, p. 71:
    With some of the modifications [to the World War II battlefied game, 1942], you can even play with a lightsaber, thus showing how one idea can branch into many others.
  • 2006, Maddy B., The Haunter of the Loch, p. 41:
    [After finding a glowing blade,] Brian being Brian, his first thought was of a lightsaber.

For purposes of defining a single work, a series of books, films, or television episodes by the same author, documenting the exploits of a common set of characters in a fictional universe (e.g. the Harry Potter books, Tolkein's Middle Earth books, the Star Wars films), shall be considered a single work in multiple parts.

With respect to names of persons or places from fictional universes, they shall not be included unless they are used out of context in an attributive sense, for example:

  • 2004, Robert Whiting, The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime, p. 130:
    Irabu had hired Nomura, a man with whom he obviously had a great deal in common, and, who, as we have seen, was rapidly becoming the Darth Vader of Japanese baseball.
  • 1998, Harriet Goldhor Lerner, The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life, p. 159:
    Steve and I explained the new program to our children, who looked at us as if we had just announced that we were from the planet Vulcan.
  • Vote ends: 12 February 2008 05:21 UTC
  • Vote started: 13 January 2008 05:21 UTC


  1. Symbol support vote.svg Support Visviva 07:22, 13 January 2008 (UTC) Definitely the direction we need to move in.
  2. Symbol support vote.svg SupportRuakhTALK 14:21, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
  3. Symbol support vote.svg Support Conrad.Irwin 14:49, 15 January 2008 (UTC) I feel this is the start of something exciting.
  4. Symbol support vote.svg Support Connel MacKenzie 19:10, 15 January 2008 (UTC) Please don't make me regret this.
    I'm not planning on running off and making a bunch of appendices of this sort, if that is your concern. bd2412 T 20:01, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
  5. Symbol support vote.svg Support DAVilla 19:08, 21 January 2008 (UTC) Per Ptcamn's comments, I see these proposals as reasonable stop-gap measures, albeit on the long term. I do not believe words should have different criteria just because they are fictional or because they are company names instead of brand names. The two cases made here seem straightforward, so there may be more gray area than we expect, but it will be a healthy experiment. When the picture is clearer, we can aim to unify the different criteria by explaining when a word must be cited out-of-context and how that is determined. DAVilla 19:08, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
  6. Symbol support vote.svg Support Cynewulf 20:17, 22 January 2008 (UTC) The "protocol droid" citations above are less independent than the "lightsaber" ones. It's not about fictional vs. real, but about independence. "protocol droid" as cited above is closer to a single author or set of co-authors working on one book than it is to three completely independent authors writing different books. Cynewulf 20:17, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
  7. Symbol support vote.svg Support Rod (A. Smith) 01:07, 25 January 2008 (UTC) seems reasonable. Rod (A. Smith) 01:07, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
  8. Symbol support vote.svg Support EncycloPetey 20:05, 27 January 2008 (UTC) After thinking a lot about this, I've decided it's not an ideal solution, but it will allow us to accumulate a bank of words (and citations?) from which we can further refine community opinion. --EncycloPetey 20:05, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
  9. Symbol support vote.svg Supportmsh210 20:44, 29 January 2008 (UTC)


  1. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Ptcamn 18:25, 15 January 2008 (UTC) I don't see why fictional concepts should be treated any differently from non-fictional ones. And also, I don't like this sort of appendix. If something is valid for inclusion on Wiktionary, it should go in the main namespace; if it's not, it shouldn't be included at all. As far as I can tell, the purpose of an appendix is to act as a sort of badge of shame, saying "these words aren't real".
    Ah, but those words aren't real! bd2412 T 18:30, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
    No, ptcamn is right, they should be included in the main Namespace -along with all the language codes, country codes and other things that aren't real words. However, the community at the moment will not accept that - see the (now archived) conversations that lead to this vote. This is not (imo) the best way forward, but it is a great deal better than not including the words at all. So lets get consensus about including the words, and then decide what to do with them. Conrad.Irwin 19:13, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
    If I make up a word right now - say, zippwleding, which I define to mean "putting a zipper on the dimple of a Martian werewolf", and then I use this word in a bunch of random posts about werewolves on internet forums, should it then merit entry in the dictionary? That an author gets published in print instead of electronically is not much better of a justification for including a wholly made up word with no application in the real world (at least language codes add country codes have applicability outside of fiction). bd2412 T 20:06, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
    Your example would not pass RFV anyway. The proposal here is that even if a term passes RFV, it has additional hurdles to get past if it's from fictional world. I don't think words only used when discussing fictional worlds should be treated any differently to words that are only used, say, when discussing a specific real-life technical field. --Ptcamn 05:25, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
    Ok, how about Tellarite (a member of a fictional Star Trek race of porcine-humanoid beings descended from herd animals, with about 185 Google Books hits - all Star Trek novels or books about Star Trek). bd2412 T 07:19, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
    How about sfermion (a class of subatomic particles whose supposed existence is still unconfirmed, with about 150 Google Books hits - all about a particular hypothesis within particle physics)? Both terms are quite specialized, and I see no reason why they should be treated differently just because one is fictional while the other is merely hypothetical. --Ptcamn 08:39, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
    They should be treated differently just because one is fictional (and therefore has no possible application for describing things that exist in the real world, or even in fictional universes outside its own) while the other is merely hypothetical. As a rule of thumb, we presume physics in fictional universes to match the physics of our own except to the extent things are explicitly described as otherwise. Thus, in the Star Wars, Star Trek, and Harry Potter universes, objects fall due to the gravitational force, water freezes at zero degrees Celsius, hydrogen is lighter then helium, the strong nuclear force holds atomic nuclei together, and the sfermion can be hypothesized to exist. bd2412 T 11:38, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
    Sorry, but we can't start requiring philosophical proof of existent of the referent for inclusion. If we did, then unicorn, elf, and Osiris could not be included. Also under your criterion, chupacabra and Zeus would fall into the same category as Tellarite, but Kzin and Cthulhu would not because they are used in more than one "universe". --EncycloPetey 19:11, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
    Ok, Star Wars may put those out, but Harry Potter, James Bond, and Captain Kirk would presumably all be aware of Osiris as a mythic figure and unicorns as mythic beasts (although, for Harry Potter they may not be mythic, but a unicorn would mean the same thing to him as it would to the others). There is a line between the mythic and the fictional. But - and here is the kicker - even with the myths we would not include a word that failed to meet the CFI, and it is easy to find multiple references to Elves, unicorns, and Osiris that are not tied to any specific universe of fiction. And even with fictional things, we do include them if they come to meet the CFI through mention in sources absent mention of the universe from which they are derived (see hobbit, kryptonite, lightsaber, muggle, orc, phaser). bd2412 T 21:16, 22 January 2008 (UTC)


  1. Symbol abstain vote.svg Abstain Widsith 11:43, 16 January 2008 (UTC) I am sympathetic to Ptcamn's point of view, but I also feel there is a difference between fictional coinages and those which are coined by scientific or social groups with a view to describing real things. I can't really decide what I think about this issue.
    I think the transplantability of a concept as between universes should go a long way towards making that distinction. Presumably, the fictional universes of Lord of the Rings, Superman, or even The Simpsons contain actual oxygen, nitrogen, berkelium, and dubnium, but not actual axonite, dilithium, octiron, or thiotimoline. bd2412 T 18:38, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
    I don't see any particular reason to assume that (particularly wrt Middle-Earth). -- Visviva 16:26, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
    They have fire and water, yes? If there's water, we can presume it's H2O unless we have some reason to believe otherwise. If there are horses, we can presume they create horse shit (which is high in nitrogen). But it wouldn't make sense to presume that the visitor to Middle Earth can find dilithium crystals (purely a construct of the Star Trek universe) or kryptonite. bd2412 T 00:15, 3 February 2008 (UTC)


  • Passes 9-1-1. DAVilla 03:14, 16 February 2008 (UTC)