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Dictionary:Tea room

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A great obstacle to happiness is to expect too much happiness.
Bernard Le Bovier Fontenelle
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Please do not edit section titles as this breaks links on talk pages and in other discussion fora.

Translations of the week
1 tit
3 dark

Collaboration of the week
2 clear

category=Tea room namespace=0 count=1000 mode=none order=ascending </DynamicPageList>


August 2008

to marble#Verb

I visited the page of the word 'marble' for i wanted to know the meaning of the verb 'to marble'. But i noticed that the verb from is missing, i could only find a noun. Can anyone complete this entry because i want to know what it means. Thanks Vin 17:27, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

Added 2 senses. DCDuring TALK 19:46, 1 August 2008 (UTC)
The second of them, "(intransitive, beef) To be interlaced with fat", doesn't seem to be a verb, it's more like an adjective.--Dmol 22:20, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
If you can word it better, I'd appreciate it. The idea is that it is the steer that marbles its muscles with fat by eating well, although there is also a rare transitive sense of breeders marbling the meet of one breed of cattle by interbreeding with other varieties. DCDuring TALK 22:53, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
for cake batter thats "marbelize" 16:29, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. marbelize and, marbleize are synonyms for marble per Random House. DCDuring TALK 16:51, 6 August 2008 (UTC)


How to pronounce it? Just like "who is" or "wh-oo-i-z"? Thanks. 16@r 21:09, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

I've added the pronunciation to the entry, but to reply here it is like "who is". Thryduulf 15:04, 12 August 2008 (UTC)


As best I can see the "Related terms" section contains no etymologically related terms at all. Should this section simply be deleted? -- WikiPedant 18:44, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Some of them could be kept as synonyms or see alsos (carrion) and some should simply go (creodont). But yes, the related terms header should definitely go. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 18:53, 3 August 2008 (UTC)
Agreed and done. -- WikiPedant 15:25, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Knitting as a euphemism for pregnancy.

Mum often said that when she was growing up (in the 1940s) that talk of pregnancy was unheard of, and that the ladies in her town used the term 'knitting' to announce if someone was pregnant. Eg, "Betty is knitting" meant that Betty was pregnant. Mum, then a child, could not work this out as knitting was a popular hobby at the time.

Was this euphemism widespread, or was it only a local term among the women of her town.--Dmol 19:13, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

The connection is clear, since pregnant women traditionally set to work knitting booties and sweaters and such for the expected baby, and the image of a woman knitting little booties was sometimes taken as an indication that she was pregnant. But I've never heard this euphemism and can't find it in any of the major dictionaries I've just checked, including the Random House and the OED. -- WikiPedant 21:13, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

the snippet from Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend: Mythology and Legend By Maria Leach, Jerome Fried Published by Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1949 Item notes: v.2 in google books says Although there are collections of phrases meaning "to be pregnant" (/To be expecting/, /To be waiting for the stork/, /To be knitting little things/, but i cant see the page 16:24, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Here's a bit more of the same, completing the sentence: [[2]] 17:06, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

oh and here's another one 16:26, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

and another one and maybe another one 16:37, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Really more of a metonym than a euphemism. - Jmabel 03:13, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Pragmatically it is a euphemism, whether or not it is also a metonym. Also see sprain one's ankle

DCDuring TALK 18:41, 22 August 2008 (UTC)


Anyone know the earliest published uses?

I've found a 1966-05-06 TIME mention, but the current WP article m:w:en:Californication (portmanteau) mentions "sentiments known in the 1940s", but it and the 1959 and 1965 mentions don't make it clear if the word was used then. -- Jeandré, 2008-08-04t09:02z

Not here at Californication, either. DCDuring TALK 15:59, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

rectification countable?

Is rectification countable? The entry currently says uncountable. 500,000 raw googles for rectifications. RJFJR 16:30, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

Sounds like you've got your answer.. Ƿidsiþ 16:35, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
There are many falsely declared uncountable nouns and not comparable adjectives, readily disproved by the most cursory of searches, even those limited to b.g.c. Why? DCDuring TALK 17:37, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
why? cause theres no option in the templates for leaving it blank thats why. it either says what the plural or comparitive is or it says that there is none, theres no "i dont know, leave it for another editor" option 17:46, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
OK. But why not assume that there is a plural? DCDuring TALK 18:15, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
cause ppl dont want to make assumptions like that, safer to say theres no pl than to say "there is one and its whatever" Same for the comparable. the templates need a ? value for the plural parameter to say "i dunno" and categorise it as needs inflection help or sth 16:15, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
I think there is a need for a "not usually comparable" from of en-adj. There are many adjectives that are comparable, but not that often so used. Circeus 20:27, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
Could be. What would be the standard for classification (corpus, relative frequency, other)? As it is now, I personally make a quick assessment as to whether the form would likely meet RfV.
For plurals, I check both for the existence of the form and for what number of verb it takes if it looks like a plural.
For comparability, I use "more-X-than" as first search, following up with "more-X", then "very-X", "too-X" (for gradability in marginal cases, assuming that gradability usually implies comparability) all in b.g.c., but going to News (some new and regional terms), Scholar (academic terms), or Groups (colloquialisms, neologisms} on occasion.
I do not usually check quantitatively for each sense. The complications of doing this quantitatively are significant. Simple criteria seem to be as much as we can hope for over the next few years. I'm not at all convinced that an additional intermediate category helps contributors or users very much at this point. DCDuring TALK 20:52, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
I was only thinking of the template, not the categories. I don't think extra categories would help, but having some sort of subtlety for the template (if only in having a way to completely replace the content of the parentheses for the extreme cases) would be simpler at times than having to resort to usage notes. Circeus 21:22, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
By category, I meant the normal sense, not ours! Even so, "almost always", "usually", "frequently", "sometime", "rarely" imply quantitative criteria. OTOH, if they would reduce some of the sillier controversies resulting from absolute terminology, they would be useful. DCDuring TALK 22:32, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
relying on attestability to say if its comparable is less controversial than debates over sometimes vs frequently vs usually vs rarely vs almost always vs whatever will be 16:17, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

The template should say mass noun instead of uncountable (and its counterpart count noun). This seems to be the more common terminology in grammar, and it doesn't rule out counting the noun, merely implies not normally counting it. This is English, people—someone, somewhere is going to be pluralizing everything. Michael Z. 2008-08-07 23:31 z

That would help for new entries. What is worse is that we have no ability to identify which of the 74,000 nouns that are not marked by the uncountable and countable sense tags are presented to our users as uncountable, mostly by operation of en-noun. I suspect thousands. Many of these are wrong. I'd bet much more than half are at least partially wrong. In our zeal to correct the category (as if most users used it!), we have removed them from the Uncountable English nouns category so that we cannot identify them. DCDuring TALK 00:45, 8 August 2008 (UTC)


I have a question about the word "rowdy". Yesterday at my sons' football practice, the cheerleaders were doing a cheer. "r-o-w-d-i-e thats how we spell rowdy...we're rowdy". Could I be wrong in their spelling of rowdy? To my knowledge...there is only one way to spell it. Could you help please? When I mentioned it to the cheeleading coach...she said she looked it up in the dictionary. Thanks Lisa

rowdie was used in the 19th century, when the word seems to have entered mainstream English. w:Rowdie is the name of the mascot red bear of the AAA baseball team, the Indianapolis Indians. You can tell the coach that it is the olde-fashioned spelling that Charles Dickens used when writing about his travels in America:
  • The roughest private soldier in the army, the noisiest rowdie in New York, the humblest ostler, or porter, or stage-driver, long-shore man, or dustman, or scavenger, speaks the language used here by tolerably educated tradespeople.
"r-o-w-d-i-e / that's how Dickens spellt it / We're rowdie."
Also, in Scottish English, an old dictionary shows it as meaning "a big lusty woman", just the kind of image you'd want for cheerleaders. DCDuring TALK 14:57, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
Rowdie is an American slang, the meaning of which is synonymous with the fourth sense of "jock" (second etymology), an "enthusiastic athlete or sports fan". That's probably why they got the two confused.--TBC 15:03, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
Rowdie is also a cheerleader acronym for "Ruthless, Obnoxious, Wild, Dedicated, Insane, Egotistical, Students", apparently.--TBC 15:08, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Copyright infringement

write an algorithm to generate the first 10 prime numbers? In addition,write a program to implement this algorithm

Err... what?--TBC 14:51, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
Assuming you're on Windows and have a Perl interpreter named perl somewhere in your path, the following shell command theoretically computes all the prime numbers, then prints the first ten:
perl -e"my@list=(2);I:for(my$i=3;1;++$i){J:for(my$j=0;$j<@list;++$j){my$tmp=$lis​t[$j];next(I)unless$i%$tmp;last(J)if$tmp*$tmp>$i;}push@list,$i;}print(qq{$list[$​_]\n})foreach(0..9);"
As for the algorithm, just tell your teacher that the algorithm is implicit in the command.
(N.B. there's probably room for optimization; this command takes infinitely more time and space than is, strictly speaking, actually needed.)
RuakhTALK 18:34, 7 August 2008 (UTC)


Does this deserve its own entry with translations, or just an inflection page like other plurals? I'm not sure how to format it- if the plural form is more common than the singular does it get its own entry? Nadando 21:54, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

The policy on that has not yet really been decided. There are a number of folks who think that all entries should get full entries, while there are others (such as myself), who think that such a policy is impractical, and that all useful information should be transferred to gill, and gills turned into an inflected form entry. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 22:01, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
The entry is not complete. Until I just added it, it didn't even have a link to the singular. It doesn't have the second etymology. If it had an image, would it be necessary to have multiple gills in the picture? It thought that we at least had a policy against translations and semantic relations for plural entries. A typical minimal plural entry would be the one for booklets. DCDuring TALK 04:38, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Two things surprise me in looking at the current entry on gill (after the changes based on the above):
  1. There is nothing here to indicate that it is a word far more commonly found in the plural, don't we indicate things like that? I would think we should, it's somewhat unusual.
  2. Nothing to lead to the common expression "stewed to the gills", whose meaning would be by no means obvious to a non-native speaker. Don't we usually indicate colloquial meanings like this? (I don't spend a lot of time with Wiktionary, but that's something that as a user I'd expect of any good dictionary.)
Jmabel 00:04, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. Good points. DCDuring TALK 00:17, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
On-line dictionaries present it singular as we do without making any special reference to the plural. A parallel case is "eye". Because, standard-issue mammals have two eyes, much usage is in the plural. Similarly "bone". In popular parlance, "gill" can refers to the opening and not to the organ or organs within the animal (not necessarily a fish). "to the gills" certainly warrants an entry, and probably "stewed to the gills" as well, both linked to "gill". DCDuring TALK 00:35, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, this isn't the same as eye or bone. The problem is that, although it is easy to point to an individual eye or bone, one rarely ever sees a single gill. Fish do not have two gills; they have two pouches, each containing gill arches, each of which bears "gills". This is a case more like the reverse of hair, where "hair" is used to mean an individual strand or all the hair on the head or body. For gills, the plural is used to mean either a particular unit (plural) or collectively all the gills on an animal. And while zoology books may list "eye" or "bone" (both singular) as a topic in the index, typically the plural form "gills" is used this way in the index. --EncycloPetey 03:23, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

periodic acid

Is this really uncountable? Thryduulf 00:38, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

I suppose there's the 7% periodic acid in the tall jar, and the undiluted periodic acid in the flask—that's two periodic acids. I would call it a mass noun, which would indicate that it isn't normally pluralized, but not that it can't be. Michael Z. 2008-08-08 04:15 z
Not to mention the different isotope ratios. This renaming for Wiktionary purposes of the concept, apparently in closer conformity to grammarian practice, seems highly desirable. It does not eliminate the need to review all of the nouns displayed as uncountable because many of them aren't mass nouns either. DCDuring TALK 04:26, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

acquited - alt or misspelling?

Should acquited be an alternative spelling or a misspelling of acquitted, or neither? RJFJR 13:16, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

A lot of raw hits on b.g.c. (980 vs 2880 for acquitted) (34%), but no on-line dictionary supports it AFAICT. Tiny ratio (0.1%) in newspapers, which use the term often. If I were a prescriptivist, I would say misspelling because of the hesitation it causes due to the pronunciation it suggests (a - quite). DCDuring TALK 13:33, 9 August 2008 (UTC)


not stable; akward


There are two pronunciations of the verb grease that I hear in the US and that are now shown in the entry. One is identical to the noun and the other ends in a "z" sound. Does anyone have any information on the distribution of the pronunciations? DCDuring TALK 10:35, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

I've only head the IPA: /gɹiːs/ pronunciation in the UK. Thryduulf 12:13, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
Likewise, IPA: /gɹis/ or IPA: /gɹiːs/ in Canada. Michael Z. 2008-08-11 00:08 z
Eureka. AHD has a regional note on pronunciation here. Apparently, the difference in the verb pronunciation is an important marker for Southern US origin of speakers. The coverage goes from New Mexico east to include the whole South and also splits Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. So, this regional difference is what has led to the long pronunciation section. DCDuring TALK 01:04, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Because much of US pronunciation was strongly influenced by the pronunciation of the the British region originating most of the early settlers, one might suspect that there is (or was) some region(s) of the UK that also had this pronunciation. w:Southern American English suggests that it would be the West Country of the UK. Is it still current there? DCDuring TALK 01:15, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
The OED Online gives only /s/ for the noun, but lists /z/ before /s/ for the verb and all the derived forms (greased, greaser, greasy, etc.). —RuakhTALK 01:43, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
WTF? How good is their proofreading of their entries?
MW3 at "greasy" has a note (referenced at "grease") which puts the "z" pronunciation in the South, and UK; both "s" and "z" in NYC, Midland (?), Western Pennsylvania, Middle Atlantic. Sometimes "s" is used for literal grease, but "z" for something "sleazy". The WP article references more recent research. DCDuring TALK 02:15, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Not knowing anything about UK pronunciation, I've always assumed that their pronunciations reflected UK norms, but I certainly can't vouch for that. —RuakhTALK 01:32, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Maybe OEDOnline is not going to let UK pronunciation get in the way of more market share.
I am confused by this. MW3 and OEDOnline give the "z" pronunciation a US UK location. MW3 and AHD give it Southern US. Thryduulf doesn't hear it in UK.
Camb Adv Learner's shows only "s".
Longman's DCE shows "s" before "z"; Random House prefers "s" to "z". Cambridge Intl prefers "s" to "z".
OEDOnline shows "z" before "s"; Webster's 1913 seems to prefer "z" to "s".
Webster's 1828 shows only "z".
What do our other UK speakers say? Anyone from the West Country? DCDuring TALK 03:39, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Until the end of last year I was living in the northern part of the Westcountry (Somerset). I've just looked at my 1998 edition of The Chambers Dictionary which gives only the "s" pronunciation for the the noun, marks the verb with "sometimes [z pronunciation] in UK"; shows the s then the z pronunciations with no further qualification for greaser and repeats the "sometimes [z pronunciation] in UK" note for greasier.
I don't recognise the z pronunciations for any of these. If I had to guess where in the UK you might hear these it would be possibly Devon/Cornwall or the West Midlands (where bus is sometimes homophonous to buzz). Thryduulf 15:00, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Re: "MW3 and OEDOnline give the 'z' pronunciation a US location.": Wait, I'm confused. I don't see anything like that in the OED Online; it doesn't seem to give any regional information for these words. It lists /z/ before /s/ (except for the noun grease, which it only lists /s/ for), but doesn't seem to say anything about the distribution of the variants. —RuakhTALK 16:50, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Sorry. I need a proofreader. Corrections made above and highlighted. DCDuring TALK 16:59, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Interesting. I have only ever used /s/ for simple and suffixed forms. But my girlfriend (who's Scottish) routinely says /gri:zi/ for greasy, so I always assumed it was a Scottish/Northern thing. Ƿidsiþ 07:36, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Ah. And I note that while the OED has both pronunciations, the DSL gives only the /-z-/ form. Ƿidsiþ 07:37, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
FWIW, Scottish Highlander colonists (with others from the North and West of the UK, including Wales) settled the Ohio River Valley and the states to the the South of that river and continued south and west from there. This would correspond to the northern part of the "greazy" pronunciation zone in the US. DCDuring TALK 12:44, 14 August 2008 (UTC)


Information on this word's pronunciation is a mess. I've found all of /kɔɹjɘl/, /kɔɹdjɘl/ and /kɔɹdʒɘl/ given, and possibly some ending in -æl too. And just to make things even more interesting, nothing is ever specified as to whether the noun happens to have a pronunciation different from the adjective. Any help? Circeus 21:00, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

In my hearing in the US the adjective and the noun are pronounced identically, using the third pronunciation, if my IPA reading is sufficient. This kind of anecdotal evidence is all that you can conveniently get for pronunciation, I suppose. DCDuring TALK 21:13, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree with DCDuring; /kɔɹjəl/ sounds very wrong to me, and /kɔɹdjəl/ sounds iffy. Interestingly, our audio has something like /ˈkɔɹ.di.əl/; I'm not sure if that's EncycloPetey's ordinary pronunciation, or if that's what he sees as the underlying correct pronunciation of which /ˈkɔɹ.dʒəl/ is a colloquial version, or what. I'm pretty sure he follows this page, so hopefully he'll see this and let us know. :-)   —RuakhTALK 21:37, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
I would do a double take at the audio pronunciation given, but I'm basically a New Yorker, so a grain or two of salt may be necessary. DCDuring TALK 22:28, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

I think #1 looks like a typo. #2 would be better as /kɔɹdiəl/ in my opinion, and then it and #3 would agree with my paper dictionary (CanOD). Probably should be a regular schwa ə, instead of ɘ. NOAD only has the version with the ezh. Michael Z. 2008-08-11 00:10 z

In the UK the norm is IPA: /ˈkɔːdɪəl/. You'll occasionally hear this as IPA: [ˈkɔːdʒəl] but I wouldn't call it phonemic personally. Ƿidsiþ 06:32, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I messed up the character... And I checked various sources to "compile" that list. Circeus 18:00, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Do you remember what source gave /kɔɹjəl/? Is it possible that it uses j to mean /dʒ/? —RuakhTALK 18:05, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I double-checked and it turns out it was one of those non-IPA systems. It's transcribing /dʒ/ AUGH! Circeus 13:04, 14 August 2008 (UTC)


The second definiion is marked as rare. I think that is placing the threshhold too low. __meco

Interesting. I agree that the second sense is not worth having. It seems intended to save the possibility on countability. I can find enough cites (~5, on b.g.c.) to attest to the plural form stoutnesses. That they represent a distinct sense of stoutness is not at all clear. I have the feeling that sense 1 is a kind of generic, lazy lexicographer's (or a bot's) definition formed by adding "The state or quality of being" to the adjective, which seemingly precludes countability. If a bot had written instead "A state or quality of being", then we would have declared it countable. To me, the attestability of the plural compels the use of a countable-style definition using "a" instead of "the". Although we do not have standards for rarity, it would seem that stoutnesses is indeed a rare form. It would be nice if we had the convention of saying "usually uncountable" in such cases. DCDuring TALK 12:19, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I took the liberty of altering the inflection line to illustrate the inflection-line display. This has the disadvantage of not using a specific template or set of template options, thereby being less findable in the long run. DCDuring TALK 12:31, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
In my opinion, separating sense is often appropriate if the meaning are related, but their synonyms/antonyms clearly make separate sets. That is why I split unnecessary. In the absence of evidence, I'd argue against that second sense too, though. Circeus 18:02, 13 August 2008 (UTC)


I've found the following examples for the difference between approve and approve of in a newspaper article: "I approve this message" means "I give it my stamp of approval". "I approve of this message" means "I like it". Are our Wiktionary examples clarify this difference? --Panda10 11:43, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

There is a difference?? Circeus 18:28, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes. In modern use, it is used intransitively to indicate that something is considered good, and transitively with a more official sense, of sanction. Ƿidsiþ 18:32, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Concur. For example, a political candidate would say "I approve this message" meaning it goes out as an official statement from their campaign. If they said "I approve of this message", they'd just mean they agree with the sentiment, but would not be saying anything about its official status. They could "approve of" another candidate's statement, but could only "approve" their own. - Jmabel 23:51, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Can this be added in Usage notes? This explanation was clear to me, but I still don't think it is clear in the entry. --Panda10 00:37, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
w:en:I approve this message is also relevant in this context. Since I've been slapped down most times I've tried to edit Wiktionary entries in any non-trivial manner (apparently there are several hundred style conventions I haven't mastered) I'm not going to attempt the edit, but it should happen. - Jmabel 03:12, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

sizable and sizeable

We have different definitions for these. Aren't they just alternative spellings? SemperBlotto 22:00, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

I think so, yes. —RuakhTALK 00:54, 13 August 2008 (UTC)


Even after looking at the project page on etymology and at Tagalog I can get no sense of how to add etymology to the adjectival form of "moby", which is presumably uncontroversial but by no means obvious. It is a back-formation from "Moby Dick", the whale that is the title character of Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick; also influenced by "megabyte" (MB) circa 1970 when that was still a very large unit of memory.

Seems to me that this information should be there, especially for anyone who is not a native English speaker and / or not a techie (or simply too young to remember that a megabyte was once "big"). That is to say, there are a significant number of likely readers to whom the etymology would be by no means obvious.

I note also that "Moby Dick" is right now a redirect to "moby", where "Moby Dick" is not mentioned at all. - Jmabel 23:10, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

Nearly a week later, none of this has been addressed and no one has responded to me. - Jmabel 03:06, 20 August 2008 (UTC)


how would I corprate the word epirdermis into a conversation please help

You could substitute it for the word skin in most places. RJFJR 13:19, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
And then there's the old schoolyard joke: "Your epidermis is showing!" - Jmabel 18:03, 14 August 2008 (UTC)


WP has an article W:Intoku that begins: Intoku means "good done in secret", i.e. doing good for its own sake and not just to look good. Can anyone confirm this word? It is marked as a Japan-stub there but the full article says it is an eastern concept without spcifying Japanese as the source of the word. (No entry for intoku here.) RJFJR 21:29, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

apple of somebody's eye

I wonder if we could reach a consensus? All entries should be either someone's or somebody's, but not both, or mixed at random. I personally vote now for someone's, and eliminate (move) all the somebody's entries. -- ALGRIF talk 15:06, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

Re-reading this... I meant to say "one's" This entry should be redirected the other way, shouldn't it? If I enter apple of one's eye it redirects to the "somebody's" entry. What exactly is the consensus? -- ALGRIF talk 11:52, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
I think there might be a meaningful difference between "one's" and either of the others in some uses in our headwords. There are cases where "one's" makes it clear that there is a restriction on the possessive used in the expression. For example, we would not substitute "mind someone's manners" for "mind one's manners" in the normal idiomatic use of that expression. "Someone's" doesn't put the appropriate limit on the pronoun: that minder is minding his own manners. I would argue that it is misleading to imply the restriction on the possessive in "apple of someone's eye". "X is the apple of Y's eye" with the choice of X or Y implying no grammatical restriction on the other. DCDuring TALK 12:45, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

mondegreen, malapropism, folk etymology, eggcorn

This topic just became current on RFV. It's worth a refresher on the differences among these terms:

  • Mondegreen: reserved for misheard lyrics, recitations, slogans, etc. The kind you grow up saying one way in your head, and have a good laugh at yourself when you learn much later how it really goes.
  • Malapropism: In plays, films, written dialogue; intentional by the author, to create a character who utters such absurd, humorous mis-shapings of colloquial idioms. Garp, Marx Bros., Phoebe from Friends ("the sperm of Satan") are Malapropism. Sometimes used to describe when people do this in real life, but best refers to the intentional theatrical use for humor.
  • Folk Etymology: describes firmly established and accepted expressions that arose from an original mishearing, false cognate, assumed non-existent language relationship (isle and island); in this way, the eggcorn of yesterday (shamefaced) becomes accepted language today.
  • Eggcorn: one of those casual massacrings of an expression that isn't accepted use, but can be very widespread (for all intensive purposes) or quite idiosyncratic and isolated (the woman who always thought "acorn" was "eggcorn"). This new term, eggcorn, currently has a broad scope, filling the void of a word desperately desired to describe such pet-peeve foibles. Eventually, if this term sticks, it may limit itself to those more idiosyncratic and unusual re-imaginings (actually like the unique example of "eggcorn" for "acorn"). As with the other terms, the term's coinage is instructive to its scope. ("Mondegreen" is actually a misheard lyric, "laid him on the green"; "Malapropism" from the name of such a flighty character, Mrs. Malaprop, whose name was invented to accompany this phenomenon; "Eggcorn" from the unique idiosyncratic mishearing of a word) If Eggcorn ends up staying truer to it's roots, we'll all need a new word for the common malapropism. -- Thisis0 18:53, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
edit: also, malapropisms don't have to be homophonous; usually they are just similar in a superficial way ("alligator" for "allegory"; see Appendix:Malapropisms), whereas eggcorns and mondegreens are mostly homophonous (have almost the exact same sound, at least in a given dialect). -- Thisis0 19:12, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
edit2: also, essential to the definition of an eggcorn is that the new term makes sense on some level, perhaps more sense than the original term ("tow the line", "nip it in the butt"), especially when the original term is archaic, or the only extant remnant of an otherwise extinct word ("just deserts", "on tenterhooks"). Contrast with malapropism, where the new substitution is not required to make any sense, and in fact is necessary that the new word has an entirely different absurd meaning ("I can say that without fear of contraception" [contradiction]) -- Thisis0 19:22, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
The source of the misinterpreted material doesn't come up much in the definitions I have looked at. I'm also not sure that fine distinctions are going to be sustainable in a general dictionary, though we might make the finer distinctions in our glossary.
Mondegreens and eggcorns are both types of mishearing the evidence of which is some subsequent use of the term by the mishearer. The expression that gave mondegreen its name is a perfectly valid interpretation the sounds in their immediate context. "They hae slay the Earl of Murray, / And laid him on the green." (Misheard as “And Lady Mondegreen”). I would conjecture that "egg corn" is repeated in print because some people who write about things that others say are "acorn-shaped" don't have "acorns" in their experience or vocabulary and re-analyze what they hear into words they know. Another case, "old-timer's disease" for "Alzheimer's disease" perhaps makes this kind of re-analysis more plausible.
Literary productions are likely to be good sources for such material because the demands of meter and rhyme may cause a dramatist, lyricist, or orator to put words together in ways that tax the skills of the audience. Who could tell whether it should have been "Excuse me while I kiss the sky" or "Excuse me while I kiss this guy"? The ants are my friends blowing in the winds. The ants are a blowing in the wind. DCDuring TALK 20:09, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
It is my impression that the greatest difference between a mondegreen and an eggcorn is that a mondegreen is a mistake on the part of the listener, while an eggcorn is a mistake on the part of the speaker. --EncycloPetey 20:31, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes. An eggcorn was also formally defined as "when a word whose etymological sources have become too detached is reanalysed with more common words that still make semantic sense". It's rare for a single word, but very common of multi-word explression (rein/reign). To quote the differential (my comments in brackets):
  • It's not a folk etymology, because this is the usage of one person rather than an entire speech community. [aka it's idiosyncratic and not widely accepted as a variant. Accepted eggcorns have made a jump into this category]
  • It's not a malapropism, because "egg corn" and "acorn" are really homonyms (at least in casual pronunciation), while pairs like "allegory" for "alligator," "oracular" for "vernacular" and "fortuitous" for "fortunate" are merely similar in sound (and may also share some aspects of spelling and morphemic content)
  • It's not a mondegreen because the mis-construal is not part of a song or poem or similar performance.
Circeus 18:17, 16 August 2008 (UTC)


What does this etymology mean by "Anglo-Latin"? Thryduulf 20:34, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

I would guess that it means it comes from a Latin word known only from the British Isles. --EncycloPetey 20:36, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Apparently, the term is used to refer to the Anglo-Saxon-influenced ecclesiastical Latin used in Britain from the arrival of Augustine in 597AD through 1066, though at least one author puts an end date of 1422. Apparently it has had influence on British legal Latin. But as far as etymology goes, EP's probably correct. Our appendix of Webster 1913 abbreviations doesn't show any abbreviation, so perhaps W didn't use it. The term Anglo Latin also doesn't appear in the Onelook dictionaries' etymologies for "crap", though the word crappa does. OED? Scholarly research? DCDuring TALK 21:33, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Artium Baccalaureus (abbreviated AB)

This is one of the two undergraduate degrees granted, for over 350 years, by Harvard College (and for a bit of that time, by Radcliffe College, as well). The other degree granted by the College is the Scientium Baccalaureus, abbreviated SB. Neither of these appear in the Wiktionary and I feel they should.

Please confirm and verify this with the Harvard Registrar's office and produce the appropriate entry.

N.B., the College does NOT confer the English-named degrees, Bachelor of Arts (BA) & Bachelor of Science (BS), although some fellow alumni do adopt the camoflage of the English initials among non-Harvard men in order to avoid the appearance of pedantry or hubris. These are usually the same folks who claim to hold an undergraduate degree from Harvard UNIVERSITY which, of course, they don't.

There's also AM. These are not only given by Harvard.—msh210 20:46, 20 August 2008 (UTC)


Hi, I'm new to editing here, and I know the rules here aren't the same as for Wikipedia, so I thought I'd post this here before I do anything with the entry. Anyway, the definition is "an athletic contest comprising seven events; normally for women". Now, by looking at the roots of the word, I'm sure the first clause is correct. However the second clause, "normally for women", raised an eyebrow. Clicking on the link to the Wikipedia article will show that there are existing heptathlons for both men and women. So isn't this a bit misleading? — CF84 23:25, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Reading through w:Heptathlon, it sounds like women more commonly do heptathlons, while men more commonly do decathlons. w:Decathlon makes an even stronger claim, stating simply, “The decathlon is contested by male athletes, while female athletes contest the Heptathlon.” Our current definition sounds reasonable to me. —RuakhTALK 00:49, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, judging from the linked articles: men do decathlon and women do heptathlon -- outdoors. Indoors, do men compete in heptathlon, while women do pentathlon (though I see nothing which claims that women never competes in heptathlon indoors). And finally, "In recent years some women's decathlon competitions have been conducted" (though it isn't standard discipline in major competitions) - and iaaf recognizes outdoor's world records by male and female decathletes, but not by male heptathletes, and for indoors: only male heptathletes and female pentathletes. \Mike 15:04, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes; or, to boil it down to its essence, women more commonly do heptathlons, while men more commonly do decathlons. (Keep in mind that all of these are primarily done outdoors. There do exist indoor heptathlons, which are almost exclusively done by men, but they're not nearly as common, in either occurrence or discussion, as the outdoor ones, which are almost exclusively done by women.) Would it be better if we replaced “normally” with “usually” or “most commonly”? —RuakhTALK 16:27, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

interjection: um-umm-uh

I have heard "um-umm-uh" used to express mild suprise to sarcastic skepticism like "wouldn't be funny if that were true?" (Big Daddy: The Long Hot Summer, Tennesee Williams).

I believe it originated with African Americans.

Can anyone tell me how this can get listed and how it should be spelled?


A question from OTRS

I have heard people use the term sircie (sp) to describe a small little gift, but I am not sure how this is spelled. Can you offer any assistance?
We are not sure what word you are referring to, do you know which region or dialect the word might come from?
I thought maybe Italian, but I am not positive. Maybe it is just slang?

Anyone have any idea what word they might be looking for? - User:TheDaveRoss/sig 01:11, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

is it with a Hard C sound like Cake or a soft C sound like Circumflex? (I'm asking my friend atm)

Maki (finnish)

I stumbled over this site quite by accident and I don't feel I have the experience to go about editing things...but I thought I may have found a mistake.

I believe that "maki" in Finnish means "hill". It is currently defined on this site as "lemur".

Perhaps one of you with more knowledge and confidence than I may want to look into it and edit the page if it is found to be in error.


I don't speak Finnish, but it looks like you might be confusing maki (lemur) with mäki (hill). —RuakhTALK 16:28, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

ventriloquy -- what is the legitimate plural (or is their one) ie. is it grammatical correct to use ventriloquys

I am a writer and have used the word ventriloquys in an intro to a short editor has queried me about the legitimacy of the word.. ie. what is its plural, can it be used this way... would someone know if this is the proper usage/plural and can be used (certain that it is grammatically correct).

here is the context..end of line... "the ventriloquys of silence"..

I can't find it in any dictionary... would appreciate if--Yossel 06:24, 20 August 2008 (UTC) someone could advise...


  • I don't believe that it is countable. SemperBlotto 09:36, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Thanks Jeff for the there anyone else more certain of its correct usage. (...ventriloquies of silence.) —This unsigned comment was added by Yossel (talkcontribs).
That license has generated 50 raw bgc usages of ventriloquies (only 4 of ventriloquys). "Instances of", "portions of", or "types of" purportedly uncountable sense almost always creates one of more countable senses. DCDuring TALK 12:30, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Thanks i realized the alternate spelling (uies) brings up more examles of usages, but am still interested in what is grammatically correct (as I now have 'ventriloquys' (of silence) and had assumed addingthe 's' wold e sufficeint....and am still wondering it anyone would know for certain if that is acceptable/correct grammatically, not simply artistic licence. Thanks, Would be very much appreciated if someone could let me know. Thanks. —This unsigned comment was added by Yossel (talkcontribs) 17:34, 20 August 2008 (UTC).

The regular plural for words in consonant+y in English is in -ies, period. "-ys" plural is a bit of a stretch in artistic license, and sounds more like a painful attempt to get your license noticed. Circeus 17:47, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Thanks...I realize the usual plural ends with ies...but in this case I am uncertain of whether it can be used simply adding an 's', as both are scarce in finding usage in dictionary. I am a writer, not usually stumped by words, but this is an introduction to a small book, and I am tentative about artistic licence (ie. it is not a poem or prose piece), but I would prefer to use the plural of the word...context is (ventriloquys of silence) more than one manifestation (or (here I am using artistic licence/metaphor) manifesto)...

I wonder if anyone might be more certain of its usage. (ie. is its plural (ventriloquys) grammatically correct. The deadline for the piece is tommorrow.

Thanks again.

—This comment was unsigned.

I personally would not use ventriloquys. When something is used less one tenth as often as a rule-following form with no alternative rule (as with some direct borrowings from other languages) to justify the unconventional spelling, why use it in preference to the conventional plural? Ventrolquisms (a synonym) is also an alternative, used more than six times as often as ventriloquies and more than twice as often relative to its singular. DCDuring TALK 00:23, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

soliloquys gets 600 b.g.c. hits, to soliloquies' 2670 — better than 1 to 5. The -ies spellings are certainly more common (and, I think, preferable), but apparently a lot of writers have felt (for whatever reason) that the -y-ies rule doesn't apply to -quy. Certainly the ratio is nothing like this with storys vs. stories. —RuakhTALK 01:29, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Need a word

I need a noun for naming a number of letters when together make a phonetic sound alternative, similar or identical to sounds by single letters on their own. They may occur at the beginning, middle or end of the word. Examples:

ph in phonetic is identical to f and occurs at the beginning sh in wishes is similar to s and occurs in te middle th in month is completely different to any other English letter and occurs at the end

Apologies if this is patronising just want to be accurate. Thank you, Donek (Wikiversity) 13:46, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

It's normally called a digraph. Ƿidsiþ 13:52, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

What if the number of letters is greater than or equal to two? multi-, poly-, pluro-? 14:10, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Well, trigraph is fairly common (French eau, German sch). But although polygraph can mean a combination of many letters, it has a specific use in cryptography and is not as far as I know used in linguistics. Ƿidsiþ 14:13, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
    • The generic term Wikipedia lists is multigraph. Circeus 16:43, 20 August 2008 (UTC)


Okay, this word is set for WOTD on August 27, and I'm a bit iffy with it. Currently it has two meanings, only one is properly attested in dictionaries (#2). However, I has a damnably hard time finding good quotes for it, and it is clearly a "repeated nonce" to me, i.e. a word that many people over the years have coined separately without believeing there "existed" the term. THe first meaning is the only one that is truly in use (indeed it compeltely drown the "member of a subculture" meaning). There was a third meaning that had no use whatsoever I could find ("underground animals", though "A person or animal that spends a lot of time underground" is a sum-of-parts meaning to me).

Basically, I'm wondering if I should leave the second definition in because I'm iffy with it, having added quotes for all the August WOTD. Circeus 16:49, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

mouton enragé

Of our three quotations, one is saying that a person is like a mouton enragé (italicized), and another is saying that a person might remind us of a mouton enragé (italicized); and for good measure, the headword is italicized in the third quotation as well. Overall, it seems like mouton enragé doesn't actually mean “A normally peaceful person who has become suddenly and uncharacteristically angry”, but rather, “A French phrase meaning ‘angry sheep’; used in metaphors and similes to describe normally peaceful people who have become suddenly and uncharacteristically angry.”

However, we only have three quotations, so it's possible that they're not very representative. Does anyone know better?

RuakhTALK 18:04, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

This source [3] says it has been adopted into English. It's also used attributively in Harper's New Monthly Magazine:
  • 1896 — William Black, "Briseis", chapter V, Harper's Magazine, vol. XCII, p.231
    And meanwhile young Gordon, who had been eying with a vague curiosity this mouton-enragé sort of creature, and who was not much interested in his shop-talk, had been inwardly saying to himself "My fat friend, it would do you a world of good if you were made to crawl six miles up the Corrieara burn with a rifle in your hand. And perhaps two or three days starvation wouldn't do you much harm either."
I also find this 1826 quote:
  • 1826 — James S. Buckingham (e.d), "Summary of the latest intelligence from India and other countries of the East", The Oriental Herald and Journal of General Literature, vol. 9, p 343.
    But our " mouton enragé " pursues a different course. He rushes blindfolded into a Burmese war, ana creeps with the utmost circumspection to the siege of Bhurtpore.
It is placed in quotes, not italics, but no explanation is given for the meaning. This predates the 1829 French article "Le Mouton Enragé" often cited as introducing the word into English; it seems that article merely popularized the term.
I also find:
  • 1857 — George Gilfillan, Galleries of Literary Portraits, page 270
    This mildness of tone comports with his character (a man of timid and gentale temper, foaming and thundering in the pulpit, may well remind us, as well as the French, of a mouton enragé)
So the term has been used in English contexts for a long time, even if often italicized. --EncycloPetey 18:46, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
For the record, it seems the nickname was originally attributed to w:Nicolas de Condorcet. Circeus 19:27, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that it's not used in English contexts; and I have no problem with this sort of word appearing under an ==English== header provided everything is made clear. My question is entirely about the meaning of the term; in most of the cites, it seems to mean not "a person who blah-blah-blahs", but rather "[French] an angry sheep [used in similes and metaphors for people who blah-blah-blah]". It's like how "sore thumb" doesn't mean "someone who sticks out"; rather, it's a stock example of something that sticks out, so that we tend to say that someone sticks out "like a sore thumb". (Do you see what I mean?) So I think the definition needs to be rewritten a bit. —RuakhTALK 23:06, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
I'd say the quotations I've cited above support the existing definition. That's not to say that some of the other quotes may require the definition to be expanded or another sense added, but the first two at least mean a normally quiet person and not a sheep. --EncycloPetey 23:09, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm not so sure. I don't think that in the first quotation it does mean a kind of person, else they would have written "mouton enragé" instead of "mouton-enragé sort of creature". (They're taking advantage of English's lax rules for attributive nominals.) The second quotation does seem to mean a kind of person, but the use of quotation marks, and the paucity of other such quotations, makes me wonder if this is a stock metaphor — if the quotation is metaphorically comparing the character to an angry sheep, using the stock phrase "mouton enragé" that is used in this comparison, rather than actually saying that the character is a "mouton enragé [which is a kind of person]". —RuakhTALK 23:59, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
The citation from The Economist makes it clear that mouton enragé means a kind of person. Also, please can someone find a reference for this being Nicolas de Condorcet's nickname and put in the References section? Thanks, Harris Morgan 19:09, 28 August 2008 (UTC).
Added a reference that mention the nicknames and gives its origin in comment notes. It's in French, though. The expression has little currency in modern French. Far as I can tell, the other nickname along these same lines, un volcan couvert de neige (a snow capped volcano), is the one likely to be referrenced (though still uncommon). Circeus 19:30, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks - much appreciated. Harris Morgan 21:47, 28 August 2008 (UTC).
So is it a proper english phrase and that it can be used in essays etc.?
Yes. But it could still be used in essays (etc.) even if it were only a French word. French words and phrases are often included in literary works, although not as commonly today as in the past. --EncycloPetey 04:22, 30 August 2008 (UTC)


Needs opne more defiition, as inn "to squash into a small space". I've already done lots of work on that page, but can't word this defiition properly (never was that good with writing defiitions after all ;p), Thanks, - WF --Pourquoipas 11:23, 21 August 2008 (UTC)


Different syllabic stress makes different inflected forms of this noun. I've indicated this using two separate noun headers. Is this a good way to handle this? Michael Z. 2008-08-22 05:57 z

This seems a good way to handle this, although some IPA might be nice. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 06:56, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
Oops, that's where it gets awkward. I've added IPA to each noun heading, but then it must go after each inflection and definition. Michael Z. 2008-08-22 17:10 z

category "linguistics" meaning "of wishes, hopes, blessings"

Hi, hope I'm in the right place. I need a word... I'm looking for a word that will probably need to be placed in the "linguistics" category... the word refers to "wishes, hopes, blessings." I thought the word was deontic but apparently not, so it might be similar in sound or shape... tks Ling.Nut 06:47, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

optative, cohortative [moods]??
A non-specialist and legal word that is close is precatory. DCDuring TALK 17:12, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

say wha

My knee jerk reaction was to just delete this offense. Even the definition uses [[what|wha]]. - Amgine/talk 04:25, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

I wouldn't think we need a separate entry for a clipped version of an expression where the clipped spelling is not hard to connect to the original. Otherwise it seems just to be an alternative pronunciation. This particular pronunciation could be heard 2 miles from my house. DCDuring TALK 13:08, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
I think we should add [[wha#English]], with a definition like “{{eye dialect of|[[what]]}} {{eye dialect|wha}}”. Once we do that, I agree with y'all that we shouldn't have [[say wha]], because it'll be sum-of-parts. —RuakhTALK 14:37, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Done, but only for interjection. Not confident about other PoSs. DCDuring TALK 16:03, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
If we have [[say what]] (which we do), then [[say wha]] can redirect, as we do for other phrases.—msh210 20:37, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
No, we don't use redirects on Wiktionary unless absolutely necessary. If it is a slang alternative form of "say what", then this is what should go at say wha (and indeed we now have something similar). A redirect is unhelpful because it doesn't explain the relationship between the entry linked from and the entry linked to. — Paul G 17:12, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. [[gave in]] redirects to [[give in]], because [[gave]] already explains that gave is the past tense of give, so [[gave in]] doesn't need to. Likewise, [[wha]] already explains that wha is an eye-dialect spelling of what, so [[say wha]] doesn't need to duplicate that explanation. (Presumably someone looking up say wha already knows what wha is, else they'd be looking that up instead.) —RuakhTALK 00:25, 9 September 2008 (UTC)


I'm not sure the definition given, an early guided missile, is correct, even though it seems to agree with what is listed under guided missile. A V-1 had only the most basic guidance, and could not be controlled after launch. Secondly, is it a missile, or is flying bomb more correct.--Dmol 14:53, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Yes, keeping itself on course by making corrections via its control surfaces didn't apply to the V-1 as far as I can remember. Perhaps it just needs a longer, more specific definition. SemperBlotto 15:01, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
The WP article describes the control system. It is a stability control system, not a course-correction system, more analogous to the feathers on an arrow. DCDuring TALK 15:55, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Not so: it had a gyrocompass, and thus would correct course. Robert Ullmann 16:05, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Since it has a guidance system, however elementary, it is a guided missile (for which, I guess, flying bomb is a dated synonym). This doesn't necessarily mean remotely guided or controlled. Michael Z. 2008-08-25 06:33 z
It was a course-maintenance system. Most definitions of guided missile provided by other dictionaries refer to external control or a homing system. The WP article refers to "preset guidance" as a variety of guidance. That is very similar to calling an arrow a guided missile because the archer presets the path and the vanes minimize the departure from the path or calling a rifle bullet guided, because it uses a gyroscopic principle to maintain its course. The lack of external referents is key to the distinction. To call it guided makes our definition (and Wikipedia's) depart from prevailing definitions of "guided missile", whether or not it conforms to a more idiosyncratic definition of "guided missile". DCDuring TALK 10:32, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
See also w:Guidance system.
Of course contemporary guided missiles are more sophisticated—a typical dictionary definition wouldn't be intended to cover the entire history of guided missiles. Perhaps the V-1 needs a “historical” label. But unlike an arrow, it armed itself, had several inputs (altimeter, pendulums, gyro), effected its own course, and tried to blow itself up on the target (conceptually identical to a Tomahawk cruise missile). Michael Z. 2008-08-25 16:27 z
Some of the same would be true of a fused, finned artillery shell, especially one gyroscopically stabilized by rifling, or a finned, fused artillery rocket. Fancy contemporary cruise missile carry sensors and compare what they sense with a stored map. I simply don't believe that our definition accurately defines V-1 using the ordinary meaning of the terms used in the definition. An encyclopedic article that can explain itself at length can stretch and redefine terms in ways that we should not. DCDuring TALK 17:14, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
No, the V-1's guidance system uses feedback from sensors to alter its control surfaces. Arrows, spinning bullets and finned rockets don't respond to their own roll, pitch, yaw, tilt, or distance travelled (the V-1's cumulative airspeed counter is not just a timed fuse). For decades, guided missiles had no stored maps or digital computers—these things don't define them. Michael Z. 2008-08-25 18:35 z

On a tangent, a guided missile isn't really a vehicle; it's a weapon, in the class of bullets, shells, and bombs. It can travel through air or space, and may guide itself by control surfaces or redirecting its jet or rocket exhaust. Needs work.

And missile (military) and rocket (military) define themselves by each other: the definition of the latter, simpler device needs some help. Michael Z. 2008-08-25 16:56 z

I agree: the ordinary meaning of "vehicle" is not really right for this, whether or not it is technically correct. DCDuring TALK 17:14, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, it works, although it's not immediately clear, the missile itself is nothing without the warhead or equivalent element, hence it is the "carrier" of the warhead, AKA its vehicle (much like a substance can be a vehicle for a disease). Circeus 18:00, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
There is a strong analogy, but this isn't a great definition.
“Unmanned vehicle” implies an airplane or rocket ship with the cockpit replaced by a guidance system, akin to a drone or remotely-piloted vehicle (RPV)—a guided missile is none of these. In theory, there are guided missiles without warheads (see w:Kinetic Energy Interceptor). Michael Z. 2008-08-25 18:43 z
  • Some definitions of "guided missile" from our competitors via OneLook:
    1. MW: a missile whose course may be altered during flight
    2. Encarta: a self-propelled missile that can be steered in flight by remote control or by an onboard homing device
    3. AHD: A self-propelled missile that can be guided while it is in flight.
    4. (RH): an aerial missile, as a rocket, steered during its flight by radio signals, clockwork controls, etc.
  • IMHO, only the last would be consistent with a V-1-style course-deviation/stability control system constituting guidance. The ordinary meaning of the word "guided" would seem to imply some external agency (remote control) or, at least, target seeking. DCDuring TALK 19:05, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
    Man, I interpret that rather differently (and add one more):
    1. MW: When the V-1's incorrect roll, pitch, or yaw are moving it off of its intended course, it uses its control surfaces to alter its actual course.
    2. Encarta: This one depends on the definition of homing device. The V-1 is steered in flight by a device which enables it to find its target (historically, only about 25% of the time).
    3. AHD: Self-propelled, obviously. Guided by its guidance system.
    4. Ditto.
    5. CanOD: “a missile directed to its target by remote control or by internal equipment.”
    I dispute your interpretation of the “ordinary” meaning of guided. A guided missile is one with a guidance system. None of the definitions above requires external guidance or remote control. Michael Z. 2008-08-25 21:52 z
Going by the above definitions, I feel like a "guided missile" is one that, if you somehow teleported it twenty feet mid-flight, would theoretically still end up at the same place. By contrast, from its Wikipedia article, it sounds like the V-1 would end up twenty feet away. Am I right? —RuakhTALK 23:21, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
No. Any craft which uses inertial guidance would fail the test. That would include airliners, Apollo moon rockets, and Minuteman ICBMs, although I would assume that more elaborate systems would eventually compensate for the error by incorporating external inputs.
I get the impression that everyone here assumes that after the V-1, say starting later in 1944 with the V-2, everything called a “guided missile” must have had GPS, Google Maps, and scanned the ground with giant laser eyeballs. Come on folks—there's no magic. A guided missile is any one with some system which pivots a rudder or gimbals a rocket motor in response to its own movements. For the first thirty years of their existence, they would have used a lot of mechanical parts for this, and had very little reliance on any external input. Michael Z. 2008-08-26 04:20 z
Ah, O.K., that makes sense. Thanks for explaining. (And I am so glad to live in the era of GPS, Google Maps, and giant ground-scanning laser eyeballs. Progress is great. :-) —RuakhTALK 12:24, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Giant. Laser. Eyeballs.
I've tweaked the definitions for rocket and missile. Please have a look.
—This unsigned comment was added by Mzajac (talkcontribs) 15:10, 26 August 2008 (UTC).
Re: giant laser eyeballs: Yeah, I heard you the first time. What, you're the only one allowed to have a sense of humor? :-)   —RuakhTALK 15:16, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I would argue that most weaponry missiles are not guided missiles, but ballistic missiles. Nobody would claim that an airliner or a manned space vehicle was a guided missile.
OTOH, the use of the word "guidance" in "inertial guidance system" suggests that the idea of guidance has to do with the ability to adjust power and control surfaces as opposed to the nature of the information to which the control system responds. It still seems more encyclopedic than we can accommodate. A less problematic definition would say that the V-1 was a "cruise missile". DCDuring TALK 16:30, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Ballistic missiles include some artillery rockets, and theatre and strategic missiles which are fired at an area on the ground (elaborate ones also have terminal guidance which helps them hit a target precisely). They do not include antiaircraft, antitank, antiship, or anti-missile missiles which are fired at potentially moving targets, nor any kind of homing or smart missiles, nor terrain-following cruise missiles. I merely referred to planes and rocket ships to point out that not only the primitive V-1 would fail a purely theoretical teleportation test, and that many sophisticated systems relied on similar principals.
Yes, guidance means what you refer to, but inertial guidance only includes inputs from internal sensors (although practical systems would supplement that with additional types of guidance if possible, e.g. ground-based nav beacons for aircraft). I suppose in theory the V-1 might be called a primeval cruise missile, but as far as I know this category normally means missiles which follow terrain features to evade radar. Michael Z. 2008-08-27 17:43 z
What I liked about "cruise missile" (vs. "guided missile") was that it sidestepped the encyclopedic discussion of guidance to focus on more salient and much less debatable features of the V-1: 1., its use of jet propulsion and, 2., its operation under power for almost its entire run to the target. DCDuring TALK 18:23, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, jet propulsion and an airplane-like trajectory is common to both the V-1 and cruise missiles. Scanning through w:V-1 flying bomb and w:cruise missile, I see that the two are historically related.
But constant propulsion is a characteristic of all missiles except ballistic missiles. And the more I think about it, all modern missiles also seem to be guided missiles. Perhaps guided is an optional qualifier or intensifier, distinguishing post-1943 reaction-propelled missiles from pre-modern missiles such as sling stones, javelins, arrows, crossbow bolts and catapult projectiles. Michael Z. 2008-08-27 19:41 z

Regarding rocket, rocket engine, rocket propulsion and jet, jet engine, jet propulsion: I'm thinking the fact that the latter breathes air and the former doesn't may be a defining characteristic. Michael Z. 2008-08-26 15:25 z


Im looking for anyone who has any ideas on what "SS OOO DRET PARMI LES FAUVES" could mean. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

  • "parmi les fauves" = "among the wild beasts".
  • "parmi les Fauves" might mean among the fauvists.

The rest looks misspelled to me, but my French is poor. DCDuring TALK 19:03, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

"dret" could possibly joual for "droit" "straight with the beasts". Circeus 19:20, 26 August 2008 (UTC)


There's a note on feedback about a pharmacology sense for the interaction of drugs having a greater than merely summed effect. Also, I've heard it defined as "the total is greater than the sum of the parts" (i.e. that it is nonlinear and not only the independant effects are seen but also an additional component from the combination). Anyone see a neat way to incorporate this? RJFJR 03:52, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

I tried to add it. What do you think? —This unsigned comment was added by Circeus (talkcontribs) 13:26, 26 August 2008 (UTC).
That looks good to me. I think it's a good idea to keep those senses separate, as you did — they're similar and they're in related fields, but they're really applied quite differently. —RuakhTALK 13:57, 26 August 2008 (UTC)


"A public official in certain countries having control of public revenue." I do not believe I ever heard this in the US. (I worked in government for a while.) Where is it used? It could use context. DCDuring TALK 18:57, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

The only example I can think of off the top of my head is procurator fiscal (see wikipedia), which is the approximate equivalent of the coroner/public prosecutor in the Scottish legal system. However this should have its own entry (and be listed as a derived/related term at fiscal?) Thryduulf 00:07, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I can find usage of "fiscal" as noun as a short name for the Scottish "procurator fiscal". I can also find usage for "fiscal" as noun (possibly also as a short name) with a related meaning for various former colonies of Spain, the Netherlands and the UK (Sri Lanka, BWI, Guyana). I'm not as clear about the connection to the public revenue. Some of the dictionaries reporting in the public revenue sense seem to have entries identical to ours. If someone were trying to help someone understand what the officer called "fiscal" in, say, the Philippines did, "fiscal" would not help a US English speaker. We may need Spanish and Dutch (and Portuguese ?) entries for this. Perhaps we can encourage users of the word to keep it in italics in English text. DCDuring TALK 01:16, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
this is interesting. Robert Ullmann 17:23, 27 August 2008 (UTC)


The second noun definition is currently "(mostly UK) A petrol filling station, or place where cars are serviced and repaired.".

I'm wondering if this shouldn't be split into two senses, "petrol filling staiton" and "place where cars are serviced and repaired"? The functions are related, but different. Although there are establishments that do both, these are getting fewer and are now the exception rather than the rule. Use of the term "garage" for the meaning "petrol filling station" is also being supplanted by "petrol station" (although I have only anecdotal evidence for this). Thryduulf 01:07, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

I think you could well be right. Splitting them would be correct, as these two functions are becoming more and more separated. It would also make translations easier. I believe most languages have different words (eg Spanish taller, gasolinera) -- ALGRIF talk 11:53, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree as well. Further, the second sense in that definition is also used in the US, but the first sense in the definition is not. --EncycloPetey 15:44, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I have added a dated sense: "an independent automobile repair shop". Is that US, No Amer? It was very hard to write {{dated|20th century}}. DCDuring TALK 16:02, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, but I can't speak for Canada, eh? --EncycloPetey 16:23, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
All of these senses are used in Canada too, eh. I don't see why the last should be marked dated—perhaps such garages are less common, but it is still a common name for them. Michael Z. 2008-08-29 17:46 z
How about being a bit more nuanced: "a place where petrol is sold, or where cars are repaired and serviced, or combining both functions"? We are not constrained to short definitions (although crispness is always an advantage), so if the longer, slightly more complex one better describe the reality, then so be it. Circeus 18:04, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
Because that sense does not apply to the US meaning of the word. In the US, a garage does not sell petrol (or gasoline); it is a repair facility. A gas station / filling station may have a garage facility present, but a garage would not sell gas. --EncycloPetey 18:09, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
In the US until a few decades ago almost all gas stations were also garages (repair shops) and vice versa. You could often also pay have your car garaged there. The first function that disappeared (mostly) was the storage function from which "garage" began. Wondrous strange, this evolutionary process, isn't it? DCDuring TALK 19:20, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Originally, service stations were the only place you could get either gas or a mechanic. The two senses reflect divergence of function: many gas now stations have no mechanic and many mechanics do not sell gas. --Una Smith 05:47, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

I've split the sense as I suggested and added usage notes explaining that the storage, servicing and refuelling functions were originally all one, but that they are becoming increasingly separate. Almost certainly though the usage notes could almost certainly be improved. Thryduulf 23:18, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Has anyone actually seen a use of "garage" used as a noun for an amateur rock band? I've only ever heard it as "garage band", which is listed under "derived terms". grendel|khan 13:16, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

"garage" as an adjective in reference to bands and their music is common, but I can't recall seeing just "garage" as a noun in this context. Thryduulf 22:06, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

English word: upit

"Sensing new shift, Syria butters upits old ally" is a newspaper headline from Minneapolis newspaper the Star Tribune[4]. We don't have an entry for upit or upits, nor do Merriam-Webster or Is this a legitimate word? Does anyone know what it means? And the headline as a whole? __meco 06:54, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

  • They just missed a space, it should be Syria butters up its old ally... Ƿidsiþ 07:21, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Ah, I didn't expect a spelling error in a headline. __meco 08:07, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Dilate vs. Dilatate

What's the difference? I always assumed that hollow objects dilate (e.g. balloon) and fluid filled objects dilatate (e.g. blood vessel). Am I mistaken? Donek 18:17, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Glancing around, it seems that medical dictionaries say that the two are synonymous, while non-medical dictionaries don't include the verb dilatate at all (though the OED Online does include it, marking it obsolete). So, the difference seems to be that dilatate is specifically used by medical people while dilate is used by everyone. —RuakhTALK 21:55, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Dilate means to increase size without changing shape. Dilatate means to change shape while increasing in size. Example: The pupil of a human eye dilates, whereas a cat's pupil dilatates. —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 20:49, 20 September 2008 (UTC).


In English many of the words this morpheme forms are most frequently spelled with a hyphen. Is this truly a prefix derived from the Old High German prefix (meaning "thoroughly")? Or is it some kind of combining form of the proper noun Ur? Or is one "influenced by" the other? DCDuring TALK 19:59, 27 August 2008 (UTC)


I was surprised to find nearly 20% or b.g.c. usage had "odds" taking a singular verb, which seemed absolutely wrong to me. "The odds is in favor of the sun rising tomorrow morning."?????? Where is this acceptable (or even preferred)? DCDuring TALK 03:45, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

NOAD calls this a plural noun. Michael Z. 2008-08-28 05:24 z
So does the OALD. Plural noun, thus plural form of verb. --Duncan MacCall 22:25, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

reservoir dog

Hello, First of all, i'm not a native english speaker, but i'll do my best ! :) Is there someone who know the expression reservoir dog ? I've found a link in urban dictionary but i'm not that confident (with my english and with the serious of this dictionary). So I leave it to someone more capable. Thanks

There seems to have been no special use of the term before the stylish w:Quentin Tarantino movie, w:Reservoir Dogs. One of film's makers, when asked about the title, said that it was an old American expression referring to dogs that hung around reservoirs. DCDuring TALK 11:23, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
That sounds doubtful; I'd heard that it was Tarantino mishearing "Au Revoir Les Enfants" and liking the way the words sounded together. The words in and of themselves are as meaningful as "twinkie house". grendel|khan 13:24, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

dead or alive

I was ready to rfd this, but thought it might be salvageable. I am not sure whether the thought would be better at wanted dead or alive or wanted: dead or alive. It also may not belong in wiktionary. DCDuring TALK 11:16, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

I'd keep it at this title; might redirect one or two variants. We should keep the entry, it is a set phrase, and it is more than sum-of-parts: it means taken by any means necessary. If you have to shoot him, fine; if he gets beaten up, fine. Whatever condition. Robert Ullmann 11:37, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

English vice

This term is hugely polysemic; it would be fascinating to discover in just how many senses this term has been and is used. I need to go to bed now, but the entry already has six senses, each with at least one citation. Add more if you can everyone — it’s a challenge!  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 02:41, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Are some of these one-offs, or are they all broadly attributed? Perhaps English vice only has one sense: a vice being associated with the English. Michael Z. 2008-08-29 18:02 z
Well, I’ve found eight senses so far; each of them has one or two citations showing such usage. All of these senses will have the same etymology — which is the one and only “sense” you suggest exists.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 18:58, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't know, most of those quotations are either mention-only, or would work almost as well with “British vice” or “English flaw”. I'm not sure this is really an idiom. —RuakhTALK 23:57, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
None of them are mentions, but most define the term in some way as well as using it. (Nota that it’s easier to define a term with such quotations.) I partly agree that British vice could be a near-synonym, but I’d say that’s down to “England” and “Britain” being near-synonyms for many people more than anything else. “Flaw” wouldn’t work — “vice” denotes that the negative quality is (at least semi-) intentional. I think this term is one whose meaning will not be immediately obvious to many who encounter it. I reckon it deserves an entry; we have entries for a great many terms which are far weaker idioms.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 00:35, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Byzantine Greek

The etymologies for the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian entries at papa cite "Byzantine Greek" as part of their derivation. Wikipedia shows this to be a period in the history of the Greek language between Ancient Greek (grc) and modern Greek (el) which does not have a language code of it's own. The etymologies in question currently use the format "Byzantine {{Gk.}}", categorising it as modern Greeek. The following item in the etymology is the Ancient Greek word of which it is a descendant.

The page Witkionary talk:About Ancient Greek includes the passage "It should be remembered that Byzantine Greek has significant differences from Modern Greek" (although this is in the context of phonology and pronunciation).

The {{Gk.}} template is deprecated in favour of {{etyl|el}}, but I have not changed it yet (as it isn't modern Greekn) pending input from those knowledgeable about the history of Greek on how we should handle cases such as this.

A search suggests that this issue also may also occur on the entries for pope, σαπούνι, slave, metaphysics, patriarchy, talisman, ieftin, , slav, plagal, monophysite, diaper, exonarthex, papaz, , Griko, σαπούνι (which also uses the term "Hellenistic Greek"), pappagallo, myristic and paripa.

In theory at least, this will also occur with "Koine Greek", although I do not know if there are any actual examples of this en wikt. Thryduulf 12:40, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Ancient Greek (grc) includes all Greek up until 1453, and thus including Byzantine. Byzantine is to be treated as a dialect of Ancient, along with Attic, Homeric, Koine, etc. Thus this situation is similar to New Latin, and would require an old style etymon language template, until {{etyl}} might be capable of handling dialects. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 18:02, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
This would seem to link in to the discussion (apparently without conclusion) about French Canadian at Dictionary:Beer parlour#Replace all etymon templates with proto and etyl. Thryduulf 19:28, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
  • I tend to use "Byzantine {{etyl|grc}}" in this situation. It will probably get an ISO-code of its own at some point. Ƿidsiþ 19:35, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Adjective -er/more -

Are there some adjective that form a comparative but where some add -er, some take more - and some that can do either? How do we determine what should be used in en-adj? Can all words that can form a comparative by adding -er also take the more - method? RJFJR 18:42, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure I fully understand your question, but there are adjectives that form the comparative either way (i.e. they can take -er or more), for example the comparative of snowy is either snowier and more snowy}; brisker and more brisk are both valid comparatives of brisk. This is indicated in the {{en-adj}} template by code such as
I can't think of any adjectives that form the comparatives in -er that can't also form them with more, however the more forms can sometimes sound a bit odd. For example, "That ship is bigger." sounds better than "That ship is more big.", an exception is when the comparative is being used as a contrast, for example "he's more big than clever" sounds natural, whereas "he's bigger than clever" feels unfinished and I want to add "is" afterwards even though this doesn't make sense (but compare "he's bigger than Simon is" (here the form "he's more big than Simon (is)" sounds much less elegant) and "he's bigger than he is clever"). Thryduulf 19:22, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
I can think of a few irregular adjectives like good (better) that do not use "more" to form the comparative. I'd hazard a guess that this applies to any other adjectives whose comparative is irregular, although some like bad (worse) don't even have a comparative in "-er". --EncycloPetey 22:36, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree. I can pull up very few b.g.c. hits using "more good" as a comparative of "good", and they all sound very wrong to me. Likewise with "more far" as a comparative of "far" (instead of "farther"/"further"), though "more far-reaching" doesn't sound so bad, even though "further-reaching" exists as well. —RuakhTALK 04:17, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Thryduulf's discussion fits with my native speaker ear. Most of the time -er forms seem preferred when they exist. We are fortunate that more forms seem to always exist so that they can be used when the "sound" of the "-er" form seems wrong. I doubt that we could get much consensus on any preference for a "more" form over an "-er" form or vice versa in most cases. Or at least that we could briefly express it in usage notes. '
There is a related question in my mind as to whether there aren't adjectives and adverbs that form comparatives more readily with words other than "more", like "less" or "further"/"farther". There are also words that have comparative- and superlative-like forms that end in -more or -most, though these may be vestigial from different (Old English? Middle English?) grammar. DCDuring TALK 21:03, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Somewhere we had a discussion along those lines before. One example is along, which forms the comparative as "further along", but never as "alonger" or "more along". In general, adverbs that also function as prepositions do not form the comparative with "more". --EncycloPetey 22:30, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, taken narrowly, I think "further along" is really the comparative of "far along": "He's far along, but she's further along", not *"He's along, but she's further along." Similarly "how far along", not *"how along"; "as far along", not *"as along"; etc. —RuakhTALK 04:11, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
That would be farther along, not further along. "He'll be along in a moment." vs "He'll be further along in moment." But you can't say "He'll be far along in a moment." --EncycloPetey 04:16, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Interesting! That's not true in my dialect — for me "will be along" is an idiom meaning roughly "will come through here" or "will come see you", and while both "will be further along" and "will be far along" are grammatical and possible, neither has the idiomatic sense. So, in your dialect, are you saying that "will be far along" is ungrammatical? Or rather, that "will be further along" has the same idiomatic sense of "will be along" (except being comparative), while "will be far along" does not? This is so intriguing to me. (Also, you're drawing a distinction between "farther along" and "further along" that I don't think exists for most speakers. There is a slight tendency to prefer "farther" for literal uses and "further" for metaphorical ones, but according to various dictionaries' usage notes, it's nothing close to a hard-and-fast rule. Personally I think I use "further" almost exclusively.) —RuakhTALK 12:20, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes.We did chat about this before over Tea in December 2007. futher / farther & furthest / farthest with words such as upstairs. Re. the above discussion, I think that you just need to add a bit of context. We normally qualify far along in some way, such as He's quite far along ...., or He's not very far along..... and then the comparative would be but she is further along.... -- 14:07, 31 August 2008 (UTC) (signing again) -- ALGRIF talk 14:10, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

could someone please spell paradine, paradyn, paradym, para-dine etc.; i ll use it in a sentence: this generation could start a new paradine......


You’re looking for paradigm — silent ‘g’; formerly spelt paradigma (and pronounced far more phonetically).  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 02:19, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

finicky usage note

The entry at finicky has this usage note:

The comparative and superlative forms "finickier" and "finickiest" are nonstandard, therefore are only used in a jocular manner.

How do we go about confirming or refuting this? RJFJR 22:56, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

I would think that if little of the bgc usage of these in books classified as "Humor" and if there is nothing obviously humorous about the snippets or, better, the pages or paragraphs from which the snippets were taken we could reject the note. A quick look suggests that this would be rejected on that basis. Confirming it would be easy if the overwhelming majority of the bgc hits were "humorous" in some obvious way. In the gray area we would require more care or editing the note with a weasel word like "sometimes", "often" or "usually". DCDuring TALK 23:21, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
+1 —RuakhTALK 23:29, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
(after edit conflict) Looking through the b.g.c. hits for more finicky and for finickier, I find that the former is much more common (several hundred vs. barely a dozen) and further, that texts containing the latter are much more likely to contain eye dialect; but it seems that when the latter is used, it's not used jocularly (regardless of the presence of eye dialect). Funnily enough, though, looking through the b.g.c. hits for most finicky and for finickiest, I find something slightly different — the former is still much more common, but by a slightly less-wide margin (several hundred vs. several dozen), and the contexts containing the latter are overwhelmingly normal (e.g., no eye dialect) — but as before, the latter is not used jocularly.
Overall, I think the usage note should say something like,
The forms finickier and finickiest also exist, but are exceedingly rare, and perhaps nonstandard. The forms more finicky and most finicky are much more common, and certainly standard.
or maybe with "likely nonstandard" instead of "perhaps nonstandard".
RuakhTALK 23:27, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

forboding / foreboding

forebode lists present participle as forboding rather than foreboding. Can we confirm this? RJFJR 23:17, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

It would be a good bet that forbode had forboding and forebode had foreboding as their respective present participles. bgc search confirms that both forms exist and that the relative hit ratios of the inflected forms are not "too" far off from the relative hit ratios of the lemmas. The only OneLook dictionary that shows forbode in MWOnline, which does not show inflected forms. (I'm not sure that they ever show regular inflected forms.) DCDuring TALK 23:41, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

I changed the template at forebode to use fore- instead of for-. RJFJR 00:16, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

mythic inversion

Looks like a viable entry but I can't quite get a clear definition from the mentions on wikipedia- anyone? Nadando 01:47, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

It looks like a coinage from w:Roland Barthes, possibly as "mythical inversion" in translation. Good luck to whoever takes this on. DCDuring TALK 02:38, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

abbreviation: "Armor."

I've just formatted the etymology at funnel, which looks like it originally came from Websters 1913, removing most of the abbreviations. The abbreviations in compare are not ones I'd come accross before, or are in Dictionary:Abbreviations in Webster, "W." I've presumed is "Welsh" as I recognise the orthography of the following word (ffynel).

However, "compare Armor. founil (funnel)" has me stumped. The goolge hits on the word founil (excluding a very large number scannos of found) bring up what looks mostly to be French (although the translations section at funnel doesn't support it having the meaning ascribed to it. A couple of hits suggest it might be Provençal or Breton, but "Armor." is not a logical abbreviation for either of these. Googling "Armor." has proved fruitless due to the existence of armor (the US spelling of armour), and the countless abbreviations used by the military for various pieces and types of armour. Webster being the originator of the armour/armor spelling difference does not help matters either. Thryduulf 14:44, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

By going to w:Special:PrefixIndex/Armor and Ctrl+F-ing for "language", I find exactly one: w:Armorican language is a redirect to w:Breton language. confirms that "Breton", "Armoric", and "Armorican" are all names for the same Celtic language of Brittany. (Granted, sometimes dictionaries don't draw distinctions that experts do, but then, the same would likely be true of Webster 1913's etymology.) —RuakhTALK 15:52, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, I'll update funnel. Should we have entries for Armorican and Armoric? Thryduulf 21:14, 1 September 2008 (UTC)


Do you know what this means? Part of a text message...-- 19:17, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

This is the ONLY hit for this word on google. I suspect a spelling error has occurred somewhere. RJFJR 13:58, 2 September 2008 (UTC)


The definition for the word "bastard" says "born to unmarried parents". Does this mean that birth rather than the point of conception is the determining factor or can people have sex before marriage and the female gets pregnant and then they get married and the baby after it is born is not a bastard or do the have to be married to have sex first? Benighted 03:34, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

I believe "born out of wedlock" is a synonym and that definitely states it is the time of birth. RJFJR 13:54, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I do believe that the big issue was being born outside of a marriage, which is what led to the idea shotgun weddings. The idea being the father of the bride ensuring, by any means necessary, that the groom was available to give a name to his daughter's child. I have no research on this, but it's what I had always heard. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 16:55, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
Bastardy, back when it really mattered, was first and foremost a legal status, such that the details depended on time and place; but yes, that's the usual definition. You may be interested in the articles “Legitimacy (law)” and “Bastard (Law of England and Wales)” in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (one of our sister projects). —RuakhTALK 17:16, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

labour union

I just added the 'US' label to labor union as this is usually known as a 'trade union' in the UK. However, should labour union be labelled as 'US' according to the usage of the term or 'UK' according to its spelling? I am focussing on 'US' and 'UK' in this question as I am unsure of Canadian, Oz and other spellings and usage. Pistachio 23:03, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Label it UK. This term is commonly used in the British media. Donek 08:11, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Used in Canada, too. Michael Z. 2008-09-03 14:17 z


Hi. Can any of you left-ponders confirm a definition of a boomer as a person who catches rides on freight trains. Something similar to a hobo? -- ALGRIF talk 14:18, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

I think boomer in railroading refers to a recently hired worker, who would get the low-paying jobs, bad shifts, irregular assignments, and might be prone to making mistakes. Recently hired might mean recently fired from another railroad or just new to the industry, following changing seasonal job opportunities at different railroads, or just trying to gain seniority on the job. Etymology might relate to many of them being hired in "boom" times.
A ne'er-do-well railroader might be inclined to "ride the rails" to another railroad where he might get hired. There might be some transfer of meaning between railroad worker and hobo, in either direction. DCDuring TALK 15:14, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes. According to Green 1998, it's a US term for "a transient worker, a migrant" – from "S[tandard]E[nglish] boom, an economic upswing; the US boomers moved from one boom oil camp to the next during the 1920s-30s". Ƿidsiþ 07:28, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I've added an entry. I'll try to find a quote to back it up. -- ALGRIF talk 10:55, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

needing little

How do I call a person who has low spending, low material needs, but also no savings, so frugal does not seem to do? Prototypes coming to mind are a lone monk or an older person used not to spend. --Daniel Polansky 16:26, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't think frugal implies that a person has savings. google books:"had to be frugal" gets 199 hits, and google books:"had to live frugally" gets 149; and in most of these, I think it's because the subject lacks money, rather than because (s)he needs to save. (But I don't think frugal implies that a person doesn't have savings, either.) —RuakhTALK 01:47, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
I see. I guess I have mispercieved frugal. Thanks for the Google books links. --Daniel Polansky 05:48, 4 September 2008 (UTC)


Found on Brian0918's hotlist. I looked it up, and there were only hits for some obsolete dictionaries, mentions but no context. Sso does this merit inclusion here? It may even be Middle English, but I don't know much about that. --Jackofclubs 07:35, 4 September 2008 (UTC)


I added PP and pp and peepee as homophones here, but I'm not sure about which syllable is the strong/weak/hard/soft one? --Borganised 10:54, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

The translingual abbreviation pp is not a homophone, since it's pronounced "pages" in English. For peepy, the first syllable has the primary stress, but for PP and peepee, both syllables are stressed, so they're not pure homophones, and in the UK the final vowel is different for peepy. --EncycloPetey 20:02, 4 September 2008 (UTC)


I just split this into the two etymologies. Questions arise:

  1. To which etymology belongs the verb sense “to wet the end of a joint?”
  2. To which etymology belongs the noun sense “a drinking spree?”
  3. Does the adjective sense really have attested comparatives bummer and bummest?

Thanks. Michael Z. 2008-09-04 19:48 z

Regarding the comparative/superlative: yes, a search of Google books will turn up many print citations for both forms. In fact, I'd be more suprised to see "more bum"/"most bum". --EncycloPetey 20:00, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
Geeze, I should have tried the search myself and saved you the trouble. Thanks. Michael Z. 2008-09-04 21:36 z

And now for some fun with English

In case you haven't heard of it, Engrish refers to the wonderful "dialect" of English spoken in Japan. I recently got my hands on a whole treasure-trove of Engrish. Behold as English words assume strange and wondrous formations we never realized possible!

Goldmine of Engrish

Hope you enjoy :) Language Lover 05:27, 5 September 2008 (UTC)


This entry was made by a bot as "plural form of fashion". I'm not a native speaker of English, but plural seems very unlikely :-) So, could someone please correct this? Thanks, SPQRobin 15:17, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Done DCDuring TALK 15:30, 5 September 2008 (UTC)


Aside from the noun sense already mentioned at the entry, I've seen this used quite a bit as a present participle and also astroturfed as the past participle. The problem is I haven't seen it used in the infinitive verb (astroturf), so how should I format the entries? Should astroturfing be the 'lemma' article in this neologistic case? --Bequw¢τ 03:36, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

See Astroturf which I have added with 2 cites for the verb in the not so figurative sense. I can't find much for astroturf as a verb. One thing for sure: astroturfing isn't an adjective (no comparative, no predicate use). DCDuring TALK 04:17, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Completely different sense/idea. See astroturfing which is political jargon for a PR campaign that shows fake "grass roots" support for an idea (heance the play on a word for "fake grass"). Astroturf is a very regular verb (infinitive, past, participles, etc.), whereas the question remains about astroturfing. --Bequw¢τ 19:19, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
The figurative sense of the verb will certainly be identical to the literal sense in its inflection. Whether "astroturfing" in the political sense is a noun (forms a plural, etc.), I don't know. DCDuring TALK 19:27, 7 September 2008 (UTC)


I'm frustrated at the current definition, despite being from Webster 1913, in that it doesn't adequately convey what a pandiculation really is. I find that the Wikipedia article w:Yawn gives a better description than our definition from which I cannot exegete the actual phenomenon as one immediately grasps when seeing the image that I now added to the article. Do others agree that the Webster definition is inferior in this case? __meco

That picture certainly helps...a lot. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 20:24, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Excellent image. No text can replace it. Existing text is adequate, not easily improved, IMHO. DCDuring TALK 18:28, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Emoticons in parentheses

It seems like noone quite knows what to do with emoticons in parentheses. If the emoticon is a smily and at the end, many people will make the smily face double as the closing parenthesis, like this: (blah:) But another possibility is to insert space after the emoticon, and then a regular closed parenthesis, like this: (blah :) ) It seems the former is preferred, from my limited experience...

What do you guys think? Language Lover 20:08, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Personally, I always use the "(blah :) )" construction, but I have seen "(blah :)" and even "(blah :))". In my subjective experience, the last of the three forms is clearly the least common, but I wouldn't say either of the first two is more common than the other. None of them look "right" to me though! Thryduulf 12:56, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Where do these appear? Michael Z. 2008-09-10 14:36 z
Unfortunately for Wiktionary, I suspect the vast majority are from the non-durable sources such as text messages and instant messaging. There will be occurrences on usenet though. Thryduulf 14:57, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

To be in on

Isn't this an idiom? I was looking it up but we don't have it currently. __meco 15:58, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps better: in on? As has come up before in similar cases, there are words involving "appearance" (seem, appear, etc.) versus "reality" (be) that also can be used with this in the same sense. I think the verbs all take adjectives. "in on X" seems to be adjectival. DCDuring TALK 18:24, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Seems appropriate. I found that the combination English definition had to be given two different Norwegian translations though: one for being part of and another for being privy to. Perhaps it's not possible to make that distinction in the English idiom. __meco 07:07, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
He smiled a little to himself, as he was in on the plan. Yes. It is an idiomatic phrasal verb. Thanks for pointing out the omission, which I shall correct at once. -- ALGRIF talk 14:02, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

pad Hungarian

Hallo. In the Hungarian article of pad is something wrong. My Hungarian grammer is not the best but I think the Possessive of pad under Declension is no good because there is written:
az ő padjuk, padjaik
but right is
az ők (plural) padjaik
I don´t know the singular form but right is az ők padjaik (in plural).
--Magellan 10:30, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Good catch, thanks! I've fixed it now (by editing {{hu-pos}}). —RuakhTALK 17:20, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
It is true that the third-person plural personal pronoun is ők (they), but in a possessive expression when I want to say "their house", the correct form is "az ő házuk". There is no such as "az ők házuk". Please read [5], a Wikipedia article in English. --Panda10 23:23, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Whoops! Thanks for the link. :-) —RuakhTALK 00:17, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, last night I thought about this, I say az ök házuk? No, that can not be sure, in this form it is me very unknown. But this too. :) Thank you. --Magellan 06:41, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

potable pronounce

(Copied from talk page RJFJR 15:04, 8 September 2008 (UTC)) I think the phonetic description and the sound file are wrong on this: according to all the dictionaries I have, it has a long o, not as not pot-able, as in "able to put into a pot", but as in poh-table, as in the latin potare to drink. —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

Can someone better at IPA check and fix this, please. RJFJR 00:11, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
  • The audio file is wrong; I'll clean up the IPA. --EncycloPetey 06:46, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Huh? EncycloPetey, you haven’t corrected it; according to the anon., it should be: (UK) /ˈpɒtəbl/ and (US) /ˈpɑːɾəbl/. (Nota that the US pronunciatory transcription may not be 100% correct and that I’ve removed the non-phonemic [ɫ] from both transcriptions.)  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 08:12, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Actually the anon says that it should have a long o (UK: /ɘʊ/), and that is what my dead tree dictionary says. However, I have added /ˈpɒt.ə.bəl/ as a second UK pronunciation as this is the only way I've ever heard it pronounced on this side of the Atlantic, and Wiktionary is descriptive rather than prescriptive. If the short "o" is how the US audio is pronounced (I can't listen to audio atm due to hardware issues) then I suggest that a short "o" option is added to the US transcription also. Thryduulf 12:47, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Oh, sorry. Right you are; I misread what he wrote. I’m not so sure about the argument for adding a “descriptive” pronunciation; however, if you can somehow reference an audio recording (such as an archived news video or YouTube clip) to back it up, that would be great.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 09:59, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Other than recording my speech and that of other people I know (which I do not have the technical capacity to do, otherwise there would be many more UK audio pronunciations than we currently have!) I have no idea how I would go about finding such an audio clip. To me someone pronouncing the word with a long "o" would sound incredibly pretentious! Thryduulf 12:50, 11 September 2008 (UTC)


From a news article in Asia Times Online[6]: "A spate of Indian media reports have since appeared based on government "leaks", thumb-sketching behind-the-scene efforts by Chinese diplomats to somehow scuttle a NSG consensus decision on Saturday." I can find this word neither on Merriam-Webster nor, and a Google search doesn't immediately give me an answer either other than that it may be connected to a software application. __meco 22:58, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

The set phrase thumbnail sketch dates from 1852.[7] I think thumb-sketching may just be a nonce-word variation influenced by the habit of using thumbnail or sometimes thumb for a digital thumbnail. Michael Z. 2008-09-13 17:55 z
[[thumb sketch]] or [[thumb-sketch]] seems to exist as noun and possibly as verb. Both thumb-sketched and thumb-sketching can be found as adjective and noun respectively, but possibly also as true verb forms. [[thumbsketch]] also seems to exist as a noun at least, although not so common in bgc. DCDuring TALK 21:39, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

please help with a word to best complete the sentence?

"• Can our technical expertise outweigh that of the competition? - looking for a word that could replace this - meaning "better than" - please help? —This comment was unsigned.

exceed? —RuakhTALK 19:39, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
beat? Language Lover 03:06, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps pwn, if you’re looking for incongruous informality…   ;-)    (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 10:02, 11 September 2008 (UTC)


Please check Talk:\ for a question. Language Lover 03:06, 11 September 2008 (UTC)


I added a new section at congee for an Asian food. Quick internet research gave me a simple definition, and Wikipedia has lots of information about etymologies and local names, but it is mostly in Asian languages which I daren't tackle. Could someone else have a quick look at it? --Jackofclubs 09:55, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Chinese restaurants here serve congee as a dish of rice porridge, containing bits of meat or seafood, often accompanied by a long doughnut. Michael Z. 2008-09-14 19:38 z


A lot of senses seem to be missing. See M-W and OED. H. (talk) 10:43, 11 September 2008 (UTC)


When the plural form of a word is overwhelmingly more common (and indeed often used instead of) its singular, do we still just define metadata as "Plural of metadatum"? same goes with normal data/datum too I suppose. Conrad.Irwin 17:47, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

I'd say that metadata was used as an uncountable collective noun primarily. I'm not certain I've ever heard metadatum used, although it does get bgc hits. Thryduulf 13:45, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Metadatum is extremely rare—I count about 15 English-language G-books hits, earliest published 1993.
It appears that Metadata was first registered as a product name in 1974, and metadata hadn't been used before at least 1969.[8] I presume that data was already used as a singular noun by this time, but I'd like to see a citation supporting that. NOAD defines it as “a set of data...”, neatly accounting for its singular number.
I believe metadatum could be considered a singular back-formation based on the presumption that metadata is plural and following the example of datum, although I don't know what kind of evidence we have without citing a lexicographer's opinion. Perhaps this presumption could be considered a hyper-correction, or pedantic view that data is always plural. Michael Z. 2008-09-13 17:38 z
It’s true that metadatum is rare; it’s a little over four-and-a-half thousand times rarer than metadata. Use of data in the singular seems to have been fairly uncommon before the late-1980s, but such usage did exist quite a bit before then, as evidenced by this 1908 publication; I can’t say whether this usage would have been considered standard back then (I’m guessing not). As for evidence of the etymology of metadatum, we have the strength of your theory, which seems pretty likely; we often have to make assertions that cannot be referenced, by virtue of the fact that we can and do add many words that professional paid lexicographers don’t bother with or that they take far longer to treat. Lastly, I don’t think that the back-formation could be considered pædantic or a hypercorrection — data may be a lot more common as a mass noun than as a plural, but that doesn’t make the plural use (or the use of its singular, datum) at all a hypercorrection.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 23:15, 15 September 2008 (UTC)


Etymology: Swahili just seems unlikely to me. Other online sources agree it's from Swahili (etymonline doesn't have the word), but I haven't access to good offline sources. See also World Wide Words, which agrees boma in Swahili means a place of concealment, but doesn't like it in the etymology of gossypiboma, so suggests "+ -oma" and uses hand-waving to explain the b. (See also the tangentially related boma.) Does anyone know the etymology for certain?—msh210 19:47, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Incidentally, is our pronunciation with /z/ correct?—msh210 19:47, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
It does seem to be a whimsical coinage. Obviously, some of its appeal -oma is a standard medical suffix. "Gossypioma" might have been morphed into "gossypiboma" intentionally by a clever student of medical error or medical professional, but the here-hypothesized early form has left no trace on the web AFAICT. The use of "gossypiboma" dates from 1986 on bgc, mostly citations of articles beginning that year. DCDuring TALK 20:25, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Very unlikely. "concealment" is a very minor connotation of Swahili boma, if at all. It means fortification, or a defensive structure, and thus the house of a chief or administrator, or similar. (our present senses 1, 2, 5 for English) Why this would be used to coin the instant word I have no idea, -oma makes a great deal more sense: "cotton disease". I think the Swahili connection is entirely spurious. (Oh, and 6, 7 at boma are wrong, they are just uses of boma=enclosure ...) Robert Ullmann 14:07, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

As to my question about pronunciation, I wonder whether it is correct and was influenced by gauze.—msh210 16:56, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

With the coinage so recent apparently, we should just ask the coiners what was on their minds. DCDuring TALK 18:41, 15 September 2008 (UTC)


Should the legal senses be moved to Bar or the Bar? Is the first legal sense UK only (all the others are marked as being)? Thryduulf 13:38, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

In the U.S. we definitely refer to the exam as "the Bar". And I'm not sure the other senses are actually UK-only, either — we have "bar associations", which are typically just called "the Bar" — but we don't have barristers per se (as in, we don't distinguish barristers from solicitors), so maybe our uses should just get their own sense lines. —RuakhTALK 13:50, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm confident that lower case use would be more common than the upper case use in the US, though upper case use would not be rare. The following illustrates a fairly common usage without "the":
  • 2003, Philip Hamburger Matters of State: A Political Excursion, page 132
    Tricia was married in New York, and Eddie passed his bars there. And not the sort of bars you have been passing this evening!
Also, the wording of the UK senses excludes the US only because of the term barrister. The phrase "admitted to the bar" is common in the US, meaning that an attorney is allowed to practice in a state or at the Federal bar. DCDuring TALK 15:17, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Bar is used in Canada too, but not exactly as in Britain (outside Quebec, all lawyers are both barristers and solicitors, but barrister doesn't appear that much in popular use). Per my paper dictionary, in North America the bar means lawyers or the legal profession, in Britain the Bar (capped) means barristers. I think a separate sense is simply an abbreviation of bar examMichael Z. 2008-09-12 17:58 z
IMHO: No, don't move to the Bar; but if necessary, move the legal senses to "Proper noun" heading, otherwise just keep it the way it is now, which seems clear enough. Or, copy the legal senses to "the Bar" or "the bar" but keep them under "bar" so they wouldn't be missed by a reader looking up "bar"; but the thought of having articles starting with 'the' doesn't seem attractive, because there could be lots of proper nouns preceded by 'the', such as "the Great Lakes" or "the Supreme Court"... —AugPi 05:03, 7 November 2008 (UTC)


monolog is listed as (US). Is it standard or nonstandard? Is the pres. part. monologing, monologging or both? RJFJR 17:36, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Presumably it's listed as US as the standard British spelling is monologue. Thryduulf 17:54, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
It's monologue in Canada. Perhaps monolog should be tagged nonstandard? I'd definitely tag the verb sense as a nonstandard form of monologize/monologiseMichael Z. 2008-09-12 18:03 z
Is catalog a non-standard form of "catalogising"? DCDuring TALK 18:17, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Catalog(ue) has been used as a verb since 1598.[9] The monolog spelling and the verb form to monologue appear to be neologisms, absent from many dictionaries (monolog(u)ize/-ise seem to be more common in a few dictionaries). Michael Z. 2008-09-12 21:14 z
I guess I mussa missed da monologize/ise joke. I's jes' a simpul 'murcan. DCDuring TALK 22:32, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Aw bugger, I completely misunderstandified. Michael Z. 2008-09-13 01:14 z
The noun is a standard alternative form I think. As to the verb, I don't find much usage of monologing or monomologging or monologged or monologed at news, bgc, or scholar. I inserted an rfv-sense tag at the verb, though the absence of explicit standards or procedure for distinguishing among standard main spellings, alternative spellings, common misspellings, and uncommon misspellings makes it less than rewarding to pursue citations. DCDuring TALK 18:14, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

medical school & medical degree

Hello all. Greeting from an encyclopedist at Wikipedia. I have just created the medical student entry on Wiktionary and others, including; EncycloPetey and Nadanado were kind enough to welcome me and show me a couple of things and add a couple of things to it.

I've just finished mediating a dispute on Wikipedia that has brought up some interesting possible terms that may need inclusion here at Wiktionary . They are medical school and medical degree. These terms stem from discussions held recently at w:Talk:Medical degree. The questions for here really are; 1) should their definitions exist here, 2) if they do, does the use of the terms indicate some unseen usage of the term medical, and 3) are their meanings modified at all by the inclusion of new professions such as naturopathy and chiropratic etcetera within the "medical profession"?

I think that it's an interesting little problem for us.

There is some discussion between myself and EncycloPetey here and to gain a deeper understanding of how this topic has come up, you could observe the discussion here. :-)

Thanks! :-)

Fr33kmantalk APW 03:15, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

In the discussion at your talk-page, EncycloPetey argues for the inclusion of [[medical student]], making the comment that "The term medical student is unusual because the descriptor is the adjective 'medical', but this adjective describes the field of study for the student, rather than the student directly." However, I'm less convinced; quoting Dr. Arnold Zwicky on the topic of “non-dual citizen” and “transformational grammarian”, “There are many different sorts of non-predicating modification — including things like electrical engineer, Vietnamese war, indigenous language, marital bliss, and daily prayers — and there is a gigantic literature on their analysis, in a number of languages.” This doesn't mean that no non-predicating modifications warrant inclusion, only that it's a regular feature of English grammar that a prenominal adjective may not be predicating, so not all non-predicating modifications warrant inclusion, and therefore non-predicating–ness of a modification is not (by itself) grounds for inclusion. (I suspect that not all editors will agree with me, however.) —RuakhTALK 15:13, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I would think that Zwicky's authority would make us look for other warrants for the inclusion of phrases involving the use of [[medical]]. How could such criterion or criteria be operationalized? Would the use of [[medical student]] or others attributively be evidence of idiomaticity of some kind? DCDuring TALK 16:59, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
(starting a new comment, so people can reply to each separately) As for the problem that you describe — the question of whether a student of non-allopathic medicine (or perhaps of neither-allopathic-nor-osteopathic medicine) counts as a medical student — I don't see that as a problem. If we do include [[medical student]], we should define it as it's used; this means we'll certainly have either an allopathic-specific sense or an allopathic+osteopathic-specific sense (or both), since at least one of those is definitely a specific sense that people use, and might mean that we'll also have a catch-all sense. —RuakhTALK 15:13, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree and expect that we will find a catch-all sense and a sense limiting the term to "real" medicine, harkening back to the late 19th century (in the US) battles to restrict the profession of medicine to exclude quackery and some fields deemed quackery. There is a chance that a current inclusiveness trend in medical education may force us to rely on older citations for the restrictive sense. I don't see any difference between [[medical student]], [[medical degree]], [[medical education]], [[medical practice]], and possibly others in this regard, which makes me wonder whether any of these warrant inclusion. Can't the battle be fought once/twice at [[medical]] and/or [[medicine]]? DCDuring TALK 16:59, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
If it is "fought" there, then it also has to be fought at student. Consider "biology student", but not "biological student", yet "biological education" and "biological degree" (although rare and a bit awkward) do make sense. Now, it may be that this is more a property of the adjectives and descriptors involved, but in this case the modified noun plays a role as well. The same noun may sometimes take an adjectival descriptor, but other times use an attributive noun. The expectation, then, is for "medicine student", using the otherwise common pattern of attributive noun to describe the field in which the person is a student, just as for "enginerring student", "art student", "communications student". --EncycloPetey 18:07, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
The "fighting" I was thinking about was whether the field defined by the word "medicine" did or did not include fields like homeopathy, osteopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, etc. We are much too polite to fight over RfD matters. DCDuring TALK 21:47, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Exactly the discussion that led to the dispute on Wikipedia. After a while we "negotiatied" that it did, but only if the profession provided "hands-on" clinical healing to the level that the average Joe would condier to be a "doctor" :-) Fr33kmantalk APW 23:57, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
These still devolve to a SOP argument: is [[medical student]] intrinsically different from [[medical]] [[student]]? I submit it is not. - Amgine/talk 21:31, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I hadn't considered that perspective before. If medical student is merely sum of parts, then a person studying pharmacology would be a "medical student", but that is not usually the case. So, the word seems not to be merely the sum of its parts and merits an entry on that basis. --EncycloPetey 00:02, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm not totally sold on that. I think a pharmacology student who says "I study medicine" is either lying, joking, or not a native speaker; medicine is a specific field, and while pharmacologists deal with medicines, that's not the same thing. Now, you can ask why medicine→medical but not medicines→medical, but that quirk isn't specific to "medical student"; the same applies to "medical intern", "medical doctor", "medical textbook", "medical practice", and so on, and therefore needs to be documented at [[medical]]. —RuakhTALK 00:32, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I'd only say that a pharmacy student in my hospital has "student pharmacist" on their IDs; a nursing student has "Student Nurse" and a physiotherapy student's ID has "student physiotherapist". In each case it is the intention of the hospital to convey a "title" upon the student: preliminary though it might be. Student doctor, is not used because its use is controversial. Whilst its use is permitted by the individual student and many students are introduced to patients and addressed by doctors as such. Patients, and thus the public perhaps, know students as "medical students". Indeed further argument could be gained by the fact that the government address them as "medical students", their professional associations address them thus, and the regulatory bodies do likewise. However, Oxford doesn't directly have an entry for the term, but does recognize its usage as
'"2. a. A person who is undergoing a course of study and instruction at a university or other place of higher education or technical training. Also const. of, in (a subject); often with defining word prefixed, as art, law, medical student."[1] (If that link doesn't work or if my use of a quotation is not allowed or incorrect, would someone kindly remove it?)
Fr33kmantalk APW 01:31, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I'd submit that it is different. The term medical student denotes a student doctor and no other possible person whatsoever. I'm not an expert in "words" but the fact that these people are addressed and introduced to patients and colleagues as such makes me wonder if this has become essentially, "a word". It's irrelevant to the discussion really (I am still UNINVOLVED and it's only come up because of the dispute), but on my hospital ID card it entitles me as a "medical student" as does every other ID for student doctors in the UK. Every piece of paper I get from professional sources calls me a "medical student" Fr33kmantalk APW 23:52, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
The special organizational status of "medical student" would not, in itself, lead us have an entry. We would need three citations from durably archived sources that illustrate the usage, but I'd bet they would be found. I wonder whether there will be/already has been a time when a "medical student" could be studying "alternative medicine". DCDuring TALK 00:14, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
You know? Discussion here is much more intelligent, ahh, interesting! I've not done the research, but I'd say that medical student has almost always been associated with the schools of allopathy and osteopathy: DOs in the US and a few locations elsewhere that is. I'd say that it has always held the meaning of a person training to be a physician (even if they later become a surgeon). I'd also say (given my study of the history of alternative medicine), that there may have been a time during the late 18th century or early 19th century where students of alternative medicine (as we entitle it today) might have been referred to as medical students. I'd have to do the research. Fr33kmantalk APW 01:31, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
1, 2,3... these each are referring to students of Ayurvedic medicine as medical students. It seems to me that any student of any traditional healthcare philosophy other than holistic care models tends to be called a "medical student" - at least in English texts. - Amgine/talk 18:58, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Don't we theoretically have a cooccurent/coordinate terms section accounted for in WT:ELE that can deal with this in a clean and simple way?? Circeus 23:12, 16 September 2008 (UTC)


Hello, sir. I need to translate the word Smith into Ukrainian.--Chris Wattson 14:10, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

коваль (kovál’), m. noun. A popular surname, Коваль, common English spellings Koval, Kowal. I've added it to smith#TranslationsMichael Z. 2008-09-14 19:27 z

Pollyannaish / pollyannaish

Is this properly capitalized as currently done? It comes from a name but is it being used commonly? RJFJR 14:41, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

They are capitalized in the NOADMichael Z. 2008-09-13 17:02 z


I posted this comment below on the word "atheism":

"1. Absence of belief in 'the existence' of God or gods.

I think the emphasized text above could imply actual existence of God or gods which would represent a bias and is inappropriate for the definition.

I propose "the" be changed to "a" or "an". Which ever is gramatically correct.

'1. Absence of belief in an existence of God or gods.' "

and I received response:

I'm not sure exactly why, but "an" simply seems incorrect, to say nothing of value neutral. The wording should stay. If you'd like a wider audience, you may want to bring this up at our Tea room; almost no one here reads talk pages. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 17:55, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

I disagree and feel that the current wording should not stay. A look at the definition and usage of the article "an" [10] would contradict both arguments presented above by the responder. Firmends 18:24, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

I see where you're coming from, but I agree with Atelaes. It's always the existence of a thing, not an existence of it (since it has at most one existence, making its existence a unique entity); and "I don't believe in the existence of" gets tens of thousands of hits on Google (whereas "I don't believe in an existence of" gets only one as of this writing). —RuakhTALK 19:57, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I think the "a" would be better placed before god, that way it does not assume which God the person does not believe in. Conrad.Irwin
Ah, yes, I think you're right. —RuakhTALK 20:34, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree that would do well to solve the problem. In such case, should "god" be capitalized? Firmends 23:01, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't think so, god is any generic god. God is the one true/false god. Conrad.Irwin 23:04, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. Firmends 23:09, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Why was a third definition added to this page? It represents my initial argument and may imply actual existsence of god. I propose the third definition be removed.Firmends 23:22, 30 September 2008 (UTC)


Is this an adjective? Same questions for three-quarters. Conrad.Irwin 19:19, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

The both seem like nouns, but SoP nouns: three + - + fourths. I'm less certain about it in "three-fourths part", where it seems like an adjective or some more recent grammatical category. I haven't even looked to see whether there's supposed to be an apostrophe in this last. DCDuring TALK 04:20, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

When hyphenated they are typically used as adjectives. I'd agree that such constructions are SoP in English. However, I think we might want to make an exception and include one-fourth and three-fourths (and the associated "-quarters") as entries because of their extremely high frequency in English relative to all other such fractions. --EncycloPetey 05:18, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Emprically, based on the first 100 visible usages on bgc, "three fourths" is always a noun, as expected. "three-fourths" is used both as adjective and noun. Of the noun usage, "three-fouirths" is more common than "three fourths". High frequency seems like a meaningful consideration, but is not part of WT:CFI. It probably should be. Vote? DCDuring TALK 12:18, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Wouldn't it be an adverb too, as in “three-fourths full of water”?
Should we set some arbitrary limit on fractions, or find attributions for each one? Carpenters and mechanics might regularly use thirteen thirty-seconds and twelve one hundreths.
I'd be in favor of using a slight modification the same standards we have for cardinal numerals. That is, allow all one-unit fractions from half to hundredth (half, third, fourth, fifth, .. ninety-ninth, hundredth) and allow their plurals as well. For fractions smaller than hundredth, allow thousandth, millionth, etc. Note that all of these words (except half) will also be ordinal numbers in addition to being fractional numbers. The biggest differences in grammar between the fractions and ordinals are: (1) fractions have common plural forms, whereas the plurals of ordinals are rarely encountered (except "firsts", which is reasonably common), (2) fractions can be used adverbially to modify adjectives (as noted above), in addition to having the ordinal numerical properties of functioning as either a noun or adjective, and functioning adverbially with a verb (He finished second in the race).
I also think we should allow two-thirds and three-fourths / three-quarters, but no other multiples of unit fractions. --EncycloPetey 04:48, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Young Aunties

(copied from Talk:aunt) I'm going to be an aunty soon but im not even 15.What could I be called except from Aunt or Aunty? —This comment was unsigned.

Whatever you want! My first thoughts are perhaps just your name, or if you (or your future neice/nephew's parents (presumably your sibling and their partner)) want something a bit more, perhaps you can use a word from another language you like the sound of. Thryduulf 02:21, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
It's not technically accurate but you could use the term cousin (in a sense, you are cousins once removed, but that would be a zeroth cousin once removed and there is no such degree). RJFJR 14:11, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Just a quick note: One of my first cousins is younger than his nephew (or niece, I forget which now). I don't know what they call each other.—msh210 16:22, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Instead of Aunt Given Name, try Miss Given Name. --Una Smith 03:55, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
There's always "tante" (pronounced like "want-tuh" Amina (sack36) 11:41, 4 October 2008 (UTC)


Unlike our definition implies, fatigues can be worn when doing other things than menial labour. However I'm not certain whether we need to expand the existing sense or add additional ones. See these bgc searches for example - wearing fatigues and wearing fatigues -"wearing fatigues".

You're right. I was thinking of the idea of one so clad being ready for "dirty work", but it is just "relaxed" clothing, intended to "save" fancier uniforms, I suppose. DCDuring TALK 17:24, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

I'm also not certain whether terms such as battle fatigues and combat fatigues should get separate entries or not. I don't think that "jungle fatigues" should, although again I'm not completely certain of this. Thryduulf 16:31, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

My inclination would be to let usage examples and/or citations carry the water for those expressions. Both terms might well have had two valid sense, at least when "fatigues" was more commonly used for instances of "fatigue". I wonder, has there been some long-term drift toward uncountability and abstraction in terms like "fatigue"? DCDuring TALK 17:24, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
My own impression has always been that fatigues is a synonym for combat dress or battledress. I presume that the “relaxed uniform for fatigue work” definition comes from 1836, when combat dress looked more like a parade uniform.[11]
Does any military service still have different uniforms for manual labour and combat? (A few years ago the Canadian Forces had work dress, for the office, classroom, or casual parades.) Michael Z. 2008-09-14 19:15 z
The camo that US troops wear seems like it might be more expensive than what you would want for, say, basic training. DCDuring TALK 20:48, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Re: "I wonder, has there been some long-term drift toward uncountability and abstraction in terms like 'fatigue'?": I don't know, but I haven't had that impression. And in the specific case of fatigue, b.g.c. finds uncountable use going back centuries. (Going by the OED Online's entry, it seems like its original use was uncountable, meaning "tiredness", and it developed an extended countable use, meaning "thing that causes tiredness", with this latter use being the origin of the military uses.) I think the long-term trend is that different words change differently over time — gaining uses, losing uses, etc. — and when we read old works, we mostly only notice the usages that we no longer have. (I think this is the same reason that many French people think Quebeckers speak a more conservative, Molière-like form of the language: they notice usages that are shared by Quebec and Molière, but not by France, whereas they don't notice (or don't have the knowledge to recognize) usages that are unique to Quebec, or that are shared by France and Molière but not by Quebec.) —RuakhTALK 20:12, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Going off the topic, I've heard the same said about the Welsh spoken in Patagonia (that it's an older, more conservative version). Thryduulf 23:15, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I haven't researched it, but I suspect "fatigues" is plural because of its specific clothing meaning, just like "clothes" and the slang term "togs" and "duds" are all pluralia tantum. It probably started as something like "fatigue dress" (with fatigue having its meaning "menial labor in the military"), which was then shortened to colloquial "fatigues", which then stopped being colloquial, and stopped being applied only to clothes worn for menial/manual labor. That's my guess. Angr 15:15, 8 October 2008 (UTC)


The current definition for sense 5, "being achromatic in subject" is rather self-referential. I think that it means, "dull, uninspiring, grey", but I'm not certain. The etymology is also in need of some attention. Thryduulf 00:54, 15 September 2008 (UTC)


There seem to be a few more sense kicking around. This is mainly a reminder to me to come back and define them, but anyone else is free to. Conrad.Irwin 23:44, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

There's the sense of foolish that's easy to see. Added, with King James Bible quote. --Jackofclubs 17:47, 16 September 2008 (UTC)


I was looking for a Latinate æquivalent of psychosomatic used in English, but all I found were three books that used the Spanish term corporomental. Now, I don’t speak Spanish at all, but I decided to give it a shot nonetheless, so I created an entry for a word, guessing the meaning from the etymology. I could very likely be totally wrong; I’m curious to know. I hope the fact that I added three citations outweighs the effort that must now be expended in cleaning up the mess I’ve made…   :-S    (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 23:53, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

It's not in either of my Spanish-English dictionaries, nor in the Spanish and Spanish-English dictionaries I usually turn to online (DRAE, Spanish, Spanish-English). Going from the quotations, I don't think it means "psychosomatic"; I think you've identified the right components, but semantically they seem to fit together a bit differently somehow. I've added translations of the quotations (which other editors will hopefully improve), so you can judge for yourself. —RuakhTALK 02:28, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree. The 2007 cite kinda fits, but the other two don’t support the meaning of psychosomatic. Glad to know I got the etymology pretty much right (not that it was a particularly difficult challenge). Thanks for seeing to this; I didn’t know you could speak Spanish…  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 02:54, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I’ve just now added a pronunciation too; I gave it as: /corporoˈmental/, seeing as I read that [a], [e], [i], [o], and [u] were based on the pronunciations of their Spanish counterparts. Is this correct, or is Spanish phonology nowhere near as straight-forward as I thought it was?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 03:00, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
It's more accurately transcribed as IPA: /(ˌ)koɾpoɾomen̪ˈt̪al/. I put the secondary stress in parentheses because I'm not sure if it in fact ought to be there. Note that dental /n/ may not be phonemic but rather allophonic, but I included it in the transcription all the same. I'll make the changes to the IPA on the entry page, as well. Anyone who would like to remove the secondary stress may do so there.--El aprendelenguas 03:29, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • It doesn't mean "psychosomatic" (the usual word for that is psicosomático). From the citations it just seems to mean "mental", or more specifically "having bodily presence in the mind", but I'm having trouble thinking of a good English translation.. Ƿidsiþ 07:04, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • On second thoughts, perhaps these quotations are quasi-nonces more indicative of a general "body and mind" conjunction, best translated into English with something like physico-mental. Ƿidsiþ 07:13, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes, I think you're right. —RuakhTALK 13:22, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Nota that I have created an entry for its plural form, corporomentales, as well; it may need attention.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 00:16, 17 September 2008 (UTC)


I've added fortyish here - said it was an adjective, but I am not sure. I'd put it as a simple cardinal number and possible even a noun. Also the word fortysomething could also be used as the same part of speech --Jackofclubs 17:52, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Also, clearly, there's scope for twentyish, thirtyish, fiftyish, sixtyish, seventyish, eightyish, ninetyish etc. ... in theory oneish, twoish, threeish....two-hundredish etc. --Jackofclubs 17:52, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Re: Above "(i.e. there are fortysomething people in the room)": I'm unfamiliar with the likes of "fortysomething" as an adjective preceeding its object like this, 'though as a noun (see entry fortysomething) it rings true. "Fortysome" as an adjective and its ilk are more common in my hometown speech (Appalachian SW Virginia Blue Ridge Mts.). Twentyish, thirtyish, etc. sound familiar to me. As an aside: An art professor at Virginia Tech (ca. 1963) decried words like "yellowish" or "redish brown", the "ish" being imprecise. Wayne Roberson, Austin, Texas 01:12, 17 September 2008 (UTC) (9-16-08, 8:11pm CDT)

Can't we just make do with the various suffixes that go with numbers, like -ish, -odd, -some, and -something? I'm not sure that they are worthwhile as headwords, though it would be nice if a seach for the terms found a relevant related entry thirtysomething et al. as "Derived terms" of thirty. DCDuring TALK 02:07, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Enjoy this amusing comment I got at my language blog

I got this amusing comment at my language blog concerning criteria/criterion, and thought some of the more cynical contributers here might get a chuckle from it.

Anonymous: Nouns are not conjugated, they are declined.

Anonymous: (same anonymous as above) The plural form of the English word "criteria" is not "criteria," it's criterion.

I came to this blog from a thread I saw on Steve Pavlina's website. Don't you think you should learn English well before you start a blog instructing people on learning a foreign language? I stopped reading after the "criteria" error. In my opinion, based on what I've read in the beginning of this article, you don't have credibility in this topic and, as a blogger and a linguist who takes writing seriously, I would not network with you.

My Response: Thanks for the comment, anonymous. You have criterion/criteria backwards, criteria is the plural and criterion is the singular. See:

As for learning English, I'm a native of the United States, therefore anything I speak is perfect native English *BY DEFINITION*, and if it disagrees with a rule, then the rule is wrong.

Thanks for the conjugation/declension correction. I appreciate corrections like this from people who are so well-studied in linguistics and I hope you'll keep reading the blog.

I guess this anonymous commenter was a very serious blogger and linguist, huh! Too bad he won't network with me!

From Studying Foreign Language Proper Nouns. Language Lover 20:23, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

If you want to fry him, point out criterium, plural criteriums. Robert Ullmann 12:43, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Double-drat ... or dratted single? (or is that 'drated'?)

Got a question from someone which I answered with "Well, one is supposed to be English English and the other is supposed to be American English, but I always use ..."

No, not the dreaded 'Jewellery' gem, but rather the 'ellish 'l's, as seen in 'cancelled' vs. 'canceled' and 'labeled' vs. 'labelled'.

Now I'd rather not get into which form is correct (it's always obvious) but... why don't entries like this have links to ... 'somewhere' that discuss the common variants of words with respect to just this kind of issue. That is, is there a place in enwikt for meta-entries? Not usage prescriptions, but usage descriptions in a neutral tone, with the odd Strine for humor.

If there is can someone point out examples? Shenme 00:27, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Sounds like a good idea, maybe an Appendix or something? Language Lover 00:54, 17 September 2008 (UTC)


Should this be capitalised at Hants (or even Hants.)? --Borganised 11:42, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Indeed. I moved it. It had been converted to lower case by a bot long ago. I couldn't find evidence of its use in lower case. Perhaps it is spelled that way, too. We left-ponders need the upper case entry for snail mail, though the entry needs at least a link to Hampshire or w:Hampshire.
I think we have adopted the standard of not necessarily having the period following an abbreviation, in line with more modern European practice. It would make like simpler for us not to have "alternative spelling" entries for abbreviations that differed only by the presence or absence of a period. DCDuring TALK 12:25, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Not famine

I need a word to describe a situation where there is plenty of food in a country but the majority of the poor cannot afford to buy it, such as the situation during the Great Irish "Famine". Is there such a word? Donek 15:55, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

The other name for the Great Irish Famine, the "Potato Famine", focuses the attention on the idea that it was a shortage of a particular food that was involved. Most people who have bought produce in the last 150 years would realize that potatoes are cheap and that problems with that crop would have the major effect on the poor. I cannot think of a single word that summarizes the idea of the differential effect of a commodity shortage or price rise on those who have an inelastic demand for the commodity. It would also be applicable to France at the time of the Revolution. (Was it the wheat crop there?) DCDuring TALK 16:46, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

I understand very well the Irish (regional) potato famine, being Irish myself. However, in some parts of the country, the potatoes were fine. Potatoes were not the only food grown in Ireland at the time. So if the was a potato famine in the parts of the country where the potatoes were suffering a "blight", what was happening in the other areas where the potatoes were fine and the shops were full but the people couldn't afford to eat? Donek 17:51, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

High prices (extending beyond Ireland to elsewhere in the British Isles and perhaps beyond), due to the blight, for potatoes, previously the cheapest food available. What I was trying to say is that one word will not provide a substitute for knowledge of and empathy for the economic and social consequences of a shortage of a critical food. DCDuring TALK 18:01, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

I also understand that you don't know of one. Does anyone else know if there is one? Donek 18:17, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I would be amazed if there was a single word for such an complicated concept as it is probably summed up most basically as "famine among the poorest people caused by the staple food(s) being too expensive". Now I could imagine that being one word in an agglutinative language such as Finnish or German, but not in an analytical language like English. Thryduulf 18:34, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
How can this be? If the shops were full, then either (1) they were well-frequented or (2) there was some sort of monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel that was capable of suppressing competition and keeping up the price or (3) shopkeepers would lower prices to the equilibrium price whereat the quantity supplied and quantity demanded are equal. There have been situations where food has been left to rot on farms because demand (in the economics sense) wasn't sufficient for prices to be high enough for it to be logistically worthwhile to transport the food to where the people are; but if there's enough food on store shelves, then by and large, people will be able to buy it. (There will always be some people who are too poor even for that, and there will always be some food that gets thrown away, because competition is never perfect — shopkeepers would rather throw away some food than lower prices too far — but in an economy like the hypothetical one you're describing, shopkeepers would presumably sell old potatoes (undesirable, but still edible) at severely reduced prices.) —RuakhTALK 19:12, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
You are forgetting exports. In the recent crisis in Burma/Myanmar, the generals were exporting rice on existing contracts to further add to their own bank accounts; similar things have happened in Ethiopia (1973, IIRC) and many others. The food in the shops does sell, to the 0.1% of the political/economic elite, and in smaller amounts to people using large proportions of their income. Ordinary people may be spending 100% of income to buy substantially less than their minimum needs; the food in the shops sells, but there is a famine.
In all the cases I've seen and studied, this is still called "famine", even though the primary cause may be economic distribution rather than drought and crop failure. Robert Ullmann 19:24, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm aware of exports; I was referring exclusively to Donek's description of the erstwhile situation in Ireland, where he claimed the shops were full. —RuakhTALK 19:35, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I totally agree with Robert's assessment. A number of short phrases are easy to coin to describe this particular type of famine. The general situation is fairly well covered by food insecurity. The general economic situation is referred to with a different point of view as a "food price crisis", which nonetheless clearly implies what we are talking about. "Prices-induced famine" is a fairly short descriptor that is not difficult to analyse into the concept we are discussing. I wouldn't be surprised if a term WAS in use amongst NGOs or economists already, but we just don't know about it. Circeus 19:31, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I can't agree with "price-induced famine", because the implication would be that the prices caused the blight. "Price-induced starvation" or "food-price crisis" are better, but exogeny is usually where one looks for causality. The exogenous factor was the blight caused by the near mono-culture of potatoes (from a gene pool of limited variety). One's choice of terms will certainly be influenced by one's PoV. "Institutional factors" that contributed to the lack of relief efforts (ethnic discrimination, religious conflict} made the Great Famine particularly devastating compared to others of the time and more recently. DCDuring TALK 21:10, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Potatoes weren't being sold in the shop, other food was being sold. The poor had no money so lower prices wouldn't make a difference. Anyone who worked was paid in potatoes until the blight. When it happened, they were evicted and couldn't buy the plentiful food. The surplus was subsequently exported leading many (not me) to say it was not a famine. I think, from my own analysis of my history lectures, some regions had a famine, some had plenty of food being exported. I'm looking for a word or a clever term to describe this. Donek 20:51, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

I did not read Robert's post when I wrote my last one and he sums it up nicely. Maybe the wikt definition should be extended to include a certain group of people and a certain type of food to address this circumstance. Donek 23:26, 18 September 2008 (UTC)


As an adjective, it has about the same meaning as [[rapt]]. The phrase "wrapt attention" has 650 raw bgc hits, nearly a third as many as "rapt attention". Although we could certainly call it a common misspelling of "rapt" or as a misconstruction, to me it appears as if it might also be considered as its own word with an etymology based on "wrap", "influenced by" "rapt". DCDuring TALK 15:18, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

  • To me it's a misspelling. Ƿidsiþ 10:58, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Translation of fonosimbolo (Italian)

I'm struggling to translate the Italian word fonosimbolo. It is roughly an interjection e.g. one dictionary describes brr as a fonosimbolo. Its Italian definition translates (also with difficulty) as "A phonic event that may be formed by sounds outside of the phonetic or morphic language to which it belongs and that is able to evoke its meaning in a relatively immediate manner to speakers of a language community". Any ideas? SemperBlotto 10:11, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Onomatopoeia? --Una Smith 03:36, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
Italian Wikipedia has fonosimbolismo, which links to sound symbolism on English Wikipedia. --Una Smith 03:40, 4 October 2008 (UTC)


I can cite that both abductors and abductores are plurals of abductor. But I can't determine if abductores is solely the plural in anatomy. RJFJR 12:22, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Heath Robinson

I would like to make some kind of entry for Heath Robinson There are a lot of examples out there, but they are mainly in the form Heath Robinson-style contraption or Heath Robinson-esque and so on. Although I did come across:- I like the discipline of harvesting the rainwater, Heath Robinson fashion. The sheet of corrugated plastic I have used to catch the rain is not an aesthetic arrangement, but you can get away with murder in the line of growing to eat. Any suggestions for a good way to treat this one? -- ALGRIF talk 14:51, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

I think it's an idiom implying quickly hacked together. I use it as in "Isn't that a bit Heath Robinson?". Not sure exactly how to format the entry. Conrad.Irwin 14:57, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
I've given it a go. SemperBlotto 15:24, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Hey, there's no Rube Goldberg, or GoldbergianMichael Z. 2008-09-21 15:49 z

Oldtimer's disease

On English Wikipedia, today's Featured Article is Alzheimer's disease. One of the questions that has come up concerns the eggcorn "oldtimer's disease". I am wondering if Wiktionary folks would be interested to search for early uses of that phrase? --Una Smith 02:59, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Seems to have first wandered into print around 1985, becoming popular in the late 80s and 90s. [12] [13]. -- Visviva 07:30, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for that. It doesn't occur in any folk etymology studies? --Una Smith 03:15, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
Not that I can find, although it would seem like a logical target for any linguist studying eggcorns. It's OR or No-R, I'm afraid. -- Visviva 08:14, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
Please explain "OR or No-R". --Una Smith 04:54, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
Sorry... "original research" or "no research" (i.e. nothing). As you probably know, original research is anathema on Wikipedia, but we are compelled to allow a certain limited amount of it here. Of course, it is possible that there is a scholarly treatment of this phrase somewhere; I wouldn't be surprised if there was, but my cursory check didn't show any sign of one. -- Visviva 08:38, 19 October 2008 (UTC)


I was wondering whether the etymology of the child's toy - marble - is in fact a corruption of marvel? If so, then the entry needs to be split. -- ALGRIF talk 14:19, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

  • No, they're so-called because they used to be made of actual marble. Ƿidsiþ 16:26, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Thx for the info- -- ALGRIF talk 18:49, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

more potential redlinks

Just a note to inform you for the existence (thanks to w:User:R'n'B) of a list of redlinks, some of which will meet our CFI, at User:Msh210/R'n'B.—msh210 16:33, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't think that page is very useful. There's lots of rubbish in there that maybe could be filtered out somehow...too much for humans to manually sort, IMHO. --Jackofclubs 16:58, 23 September 2008 (UTC)


Is -aĉ- a circumfix or infix? The circumfix header is non-standard. --Jackofclubs 09:13, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Definitely suffix. It is, quite obviously, missing a matching prefix to be a circumfix... Circeus 15:47, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
As currently described, it's an infix. On the other hand, it could also be a suffix masquerading as an infix. It can't be a circumfix, though, since that would have the form X-Y rather than -X-.
How do Esperanto grammars treat this one? -- Visviva 14:53, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
Based on the examples given, it's a suffix, not an infix, as it is attached to right edge of a root, not inserted into the middle of a root. The fact that it's inserted between the root and the ending doesn't make it an infix. In skribi, the root is skrib- and the ending is -i. When the suffix is added, you get skrib-acx-i. If it were an infix, it would be something like skr-acx-ib-i. And if it were a circumfix, it would be something like a-skrib-cx-i. It's just a suffix. Angr 15:26, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Nevertheless, there are languages with circumfixes, so the bot should stop tagging ===Circumfix=== as being a nonstandard header. Angr 15:29, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

thank one's lucky stars

A few things on this one: First, concerning the move I did, is the current title correct? Secondly, and relatedly, is the inflection correct? It all seems to work except for the third person bit....what should be done there? Finally the etymology. Does anyone know about this, or have some sources they could check? I have no idea, nor do I have usable sources, but it does seem plausible. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 01:37, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Ancient and primitive peoples didn't speak English; and belief (or nominal belief) in astrology is still fairly widespread even today. If Shakespeare can write of a "pair of star-cross'd lovers", then I think the etymology is too vague. —RuakhTALK 02:17, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

The Geordie Word Netty

(Please note I put a reference section on this piece as the text has cites.)

Hello, we have a two party disagreement on the Geordie page between me (toasty874) and [the dragon slayor] (Sigurd the Dragon Slayor if my link fails [14]). You can see a detailed discussion on Sigurds page[15], look for the toilet talk sub heading, as a Netty is a toilet. (It is of note that there is even more discussion about the netty on his page, but this is from earlier edits -7. His Sig, and downward- that were done weeks before this one.)

I requested a third party, and a third party suggested I come here as you specialise in etymology.

He (Sigmund) recently put in an edit to this text,

However gabbinetto is the Romanic modern Italian diminutive of gabbia, which actually derives from the Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure") the root of the loanwords that became the Modern English cave, cage, and gaol.

Over five edits on the Geordie page.[16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

So the text would look like this

The geordie word netty,[2] meaning a toilet and place of need and necessity for relief[3][2][4] or bathroom,[3][2][4] has an uncertain origin,[5]though some have theorised that it may come from slang used by Roman soldiers on Hadrian's Wall,[6] which may have later become gabinetti in the Romanic Italian language[6] (Such as this article about the Westoe Netty, the subject of a famous painting from Bob Olley[6]. Another article about the Westoe Netty is featured here [7]). However gabbinetto is the Modern Italian diminutive of gabbia, which actually derives from the Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure") the root of the loanwords that became the Modern English cave, cage, and gaol. Thus, another explanation would be that it comes from a Modern Romanic Italian form of the word gabinetti.[5] Though only a, relatively, small number of Italians have migrated to the North of England, mostly during the 19th century.[8]

Some etymologists connect the word netty to the Modern English word needy. John Trotter Brockett, writing in 1829 in his A glossary of north country words...[4], claims that the etymon[9] of netty (and it's related form neddy) is the Modern English needy and need

Bill Griffiths, in A Dictionary of North East Dialect points to the earlier form, the Old English níd; he writes thusly "MS locates a possible early ex. "Robert Hovyngham sall make... at the other end of his house a knyttyng" York 1419, in which case the root could be OE níd 'neccesary'". [3]

Another related word, nessy is thought (by Griffiths) to derive from the Modern English "neccesary".[3]

Using the material he put in (that is concerned with Gabbi) I edited the text even more, he had a problem with it and reverted [21].

I reedited with more detail and restructured the piece, kept my detail in he took out and reordered the piece into three thinking points [22], and Sigurd reverted. (The article has three thinking points: Thinking point one is the O.E origin from necassary. Thinking point two is from an italian migration where netty is a contamination of gabinetti. Thinking point three is about a shared latin root between Gabi-netti and Geordie Netty, which highlights a latin parent route that is not contaminated)

To baby feed my restructuring I will put in bold how I reorganised the thinking points, though note I’m not using this Baby feed term to insult anyone here:

The geordie word netty,[2] meaning a toilet[6][7][3][2][4], a place of need and necessity for relief,[6][7][3][2][4] bathroom, [6][7][3][2][4] has an uncertain origin,[5]

Thinking point 1: Some etymologists connect the word netty to the Modern English word needy. John Trotter Brockett, writing in 1829 in his A glossary of north country words...[4], suggests that the etymon[23] of netty (and it's related form neddy) is the Modern English needyand need

Bill Griffiths, in A Dictionary of North East Dialect points to an earlier form, the Old English níd, he writes thusly "MS locates a possible early ex. "Robert Hovyngham sall make... at the other end of his house a knyttyng" York 1419, in which case the root could be OE níd 'neccesary'". [3]

Another related word, nessy is thought (by Griffiths) to derive from the Modern English "neccesary".[3]

Thinking point 2: However gabbinetto is the Romanic modern Italian diminutive of gabbia, which actually derives from the Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure") the root of the loanwords that became the Modern English cave, cage, and gaol. So an explanation could be that the term netty comes directly from the Romanic Italian form of the word gabinetti.[5] Though only a, relatively, small number of Italians have migrated to the North of England, mostly during the 19th century.[8]. Making this possibility more inert, and keeping the roots of the Geordie Netty and Italian gabinetti separated on different descending paths from what can only be the shared Latin parent.

Thinking point 3: It is theorised, Netty, using the passage of Latin roots that it may have come from Latin slang used by Roman soldiers on Hadrian's Wall,[6] which may have later in a separate root become gabinetti in the descending Romanic Italian language[6][5] after the Roman occupation from AD 43 to 410 (Such as this article about the Westoe Netty, the subject of a famous painting from Bob Olley.[6] and this article on the famous Westoe Netty origin and restoration.[7]) and which may have become the adjective netti in Italian and the verb nettoyer in French.

Concentrating on the two roots in gabi-netti/gabi-netto(Toilet/toilets) separate root passage, with the Italian migration thinking inert,[8] thus making the Geordie netty' and gabinetti roots separated. We can see a shared meaning, that happened, "despite" root separation through lack of regional Romanic migration[8] since AD 410.

Gabbi: in gabi-netti/gabi-netto (toilet/toilets), is the Romanic Italian diminutive of gabbia, which derives from the Roman Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure") the root of the loanwords that also became the Modern English cave, cage, and gaol

Nett: In French, another later Romanic language, like Italian et al, the verb nettoyer means to wipe. And in Romanic Italian the adjective netti, means to clean. Signifying the root of Nett, in gabi-netti, nettoyer, Roman slang Netti/Netty and Geordie netty, goes back to Roman times. If weighting using separated Roman Latin roots; Nett/Net it can be argued ‘ "Nett" been historically used as a place and a process for basic human hygiene, refreshment and relief, to wipe clean since at least the Roman times.

It is off interest the Italian netto/ netti, the French word net, the English word neat, the Spanish word nítido are all share phonographic sounding, similar to netty and all these words are root related to the Latin niti-dus which also means to clean, shine and polish.

Putting Gabbi, which is derived from the Roman Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure"), and putting it with with the Latin Root of nett, (found in nettoyer, netty and gabinetti et al) we can elucidate more using the Romanic Gabi-netti. Using its Roman Latin roots we can see highlighted an outside Roman toilet, with a cavity, hollow, and convenience to refresh away from the dwellings for hygiene, which later became an inside toilet enclosure when the technology became available. The same way the Geordie netty, which came from a separate root, came from Latin following AD 410.

He (Sigmund) reverted the above using vague reasoning, and ignoring the fact I used his recent edited text about Gabbia to partially help expand thinking point three (which might actually invalidate his reasoning, and his original edit, for thinking point two seen here:[24] [25] [26] [27] [28]). Now when he reverted I knew this might lead to an edit war. So rather than go for an edit war I went for a third opinion, and they sent me here.

Now I see nothing wrong with my reediting. I respected his recent edit of:

However gabbinetto is the Romanic modern Italian diminutive of gabbia, which actually derives from the Latin cavea ("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure") the root of the loanwords that became the Modern English cave, cage, and gaol..[29] [30] [31] [32] [33]

His (Sigurds) edit which is concerned with thinking point 2.

My reedit, which revolves around point three, and a little touch up of point two using a cite, does not conclude anything, it merely expands on the etymology, adds more logic, adding more links and even adds dates, it uses one more cite (that highlights root separation since 410AD), than his recent reedit of concern[34] [35] [36] [37] [38].

I was wondering what you lot think of the differences in edits? What should be done here? Is my edit wrong? Does something need restructured etc?

Thank you to all who suggest and look into this.

Again for reference you can go to Sigurds talk page [39]

--Toasted874 08:32, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Netty References

  • Notes:
  1. ^ "Oxford English Dictionary Online lookup of word "medical student"."
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Graham, Frank ((November 1986)). The Geordie Netty: A Short History and Guide. Butler Publishing; New Ed edition.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Griffiths, Bill (2005-12-01). A Dictionary of North East Dialect, p. 122, Northumbria University Press. “Netty outside toilet, Ex.JG Annfield Plain 1930s. “nessy or netty”Newbiggin-in-Teesdale C20/mid; “outside netties” Dobson Tyne 1972; ‘lavatory’ Graham Geordie 1979. EDD distribution to 1900: N’d. NE 2001: in circulation. ?C18 nessy from necessary; ? Ital. cabinette; Raine MS locates a possible early ex. “Robert Hovyngham sall make… at the other end of hys house knyttyng” York 1419, in which case root could be OE nid ‘necessity’. Plus “to go to the Necessary” (public toilet) Errington p.67 Newcastle re 1800s: “lav” Northumbrian III C20/2 re Crawcrook; “oot back” G’head 2001 Q; “larty – toilet, a children’s word, the school larties’” MM S.Shields C20/2 lavatory”
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Trotter Brockett, John (1829). A glossary of north country words, in use. From an original manuscript, with additions., 214, Oxford University. “NEDDY, NETTY, a certain place that will not bear a written explanation; but which is depleted to the very life in a tail-piece in the first edition of Bewick’s Land Birds, p. 285. In the second edition a bar is placed against the offending part of this broad display of native humour. Etymon needy, a place of need or necessity.”
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "Netty."
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 "Urinal finds museum home." URL accessed on 2007-10-08.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "Famed Geordie netty is museum attraction", 2007-03-31.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Saunders, Rod. "Italian Migration to Nineteenth Century Britain: Why and Where, Why?." URL accessed on 2008-09-03.
  9. ^ (*et•y•mon Pronunciation (t-mn)
    • n. pl. et•y•mons or et•y•ma (-m)
    • 1. An earlier form of a word in the same language or in an ancestor language. For example, Indo-European *duwo and Old English tw are etymons of Modern English two.
    • 2. A word or morpheme from which compounds and derivatives are formed.
    • 3. A foreign word from which a particular loan word is derived. For example, Latin duo, "two," is an etymon of English duodecimal.[1])

aggravated assault

Should we have a list of senses, one for each different definition used in some jurisdiction?—msh210 22:35, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps a separate subpage for statutory definitions? I would find this to be a dubious proposition in the main entry, as there are many words which are defined in statutes for particular purposes. I can think of a half dozen federal statutes offhand that have distinct definitions of "employee", whether it be for tax purposes, labor relations, ownership of intellectual property generated in the line of work, etc. Doubtless state statutes are legion on this point. bd2412 T 23:13, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Black's doesn't give an exhaustive list or table of definitions, but has one main definition and a select few definitions from statute or case. An appendix would seem the right place for anything that was trying to be more comprehensive or particular. It would provide a good basis for the main definition or definitions if there were clear classes of definitions. DCDuring TALK 23:35, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Are the legal definitions so diverse that different senses are required? Doesn't it mean “assault with wounding or endangerment of life” everywhere? “Varying in definition by jurisdiction” is redundant, because it applies to every single legal term in the world.
If the everyday meaning substantially differs regionally, then yes we should provide different senses.
But isn't legal dictionary out of scope for Wiktionary? I don't think we should be duplicating or summarizing statute, or writing encyclopedic articles about it. Michael Z. 2008-09-25 00:29 z
"Law" is one of the contexts that we support, like "computing" or "finance" or "physics". Existing definition seems SoP, though we do not have the right sense of aggravated (but see aggravation). It is incomplete, however, omitting situations where the assault is committed in the course of another crime or is especially heinous. A more complete definition would seem not so SoP. DCDuring TALK 00:47, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
I suppose the thing to do would be to use the definition in the Model Penal Code, which is the collective work of a group of top experts in criminal law and is fairly widely adopted. The MPC states as follows:
(2) Aggravated Assault. A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he:
(a) attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; or
(b) attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.
That would be the best "legal" definition to use, in my opinion. Cheers! bd2412 T 04:20, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. I've changed it to that and added a usage note. Comments/reversion welcome.—msh210 16:47, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
It's left out the serious injury clause. If that is added, then it ought to apply in Canada, too. Michael Z. 2008-09-25 17:34 z


Sense #1 is currently One who attends to the slightest desire of hotel guests. Is this a good definition? RJFJR 13:27, 25 September 2008 (UTC)


[40] has sense two as "To be kno". Looks like it should be "To be known" but I don't know Chinese so how can I be sure? RJFJR 00:44, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

lamb chop sum of parts?

Is lamb chop sum of parts? It's a chop from a lamb. (I'm never sure about these things.) RJFJR 01:19, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

I'd say yes, along with pork chop and veal chop, considering the definition of chop (1). We just happen to say steak instead of beef chopMichael Z. 2008-09-26 06:33 z


Obviously a complicated one....I am looking at senses 5, 7 and 9 of this verb. Is there really a meaningful difference between them, and, if so, can we find some better example sentences to make this more clear? Ƿidsiþ 10:42, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

5 and 9 seem to be the same, linking the subject to an adjectival description. But 7 might be different as it links the subject to a noun. Descriptions could be improved, possibly / probably. -- ALGRIF talk 14:00, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
They look different to me:
Sense 5 describes actual identity: "He is my older brother." That is, the referent and the predicate describe the same unique entity. (If "ignorance is bliss" is actually meant in this fashion, that would imply that there is no bliss apart from ignorance, and no ignorance which is not blissful.)
Sense 9 attributes properties (sky != deep blue): "My older brother is a tall man." "Ignorance is a blissful state." There are many tall men, but only one is my older brother; likewise, there may be many blissful states apart from ignorance.
Quite distinctly from these, sense 7 describes playing a role: "I'm being your mother now." Obviously the "president of France" example could equally be sense 9, so this should be replaced.
At any rate, this is messy stuff and IMO how one draws lines between senses of "to be" has more to do with philosophy than with actual word usage. Suggest a survey of other dictionaries as a starting point. -- Visviva 14:49, 26 September 2008 (UTC)


not sure what it means and i don't have a good context to use it in....

See malarkey. --Una Smith 03:29, 4 October 2008 (UTC)


There is currently a dispute concerning one particular sense of this word at Talk:back#Adjective, the question being whether to classify it as an adjective or an adverb. Anyone ready to give an opinion is welcome to do so. Duncan MacCall 04:48, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

I would appreciate clarification on this point because it has general applicability. "Back" in "He went back." is not disputed as an adverb. "Back" in "He is back" is in discussion. As a predicate is seems like an adjective to me. DCDuring TALK 11:23, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

I consulted my printed dictionaries: (1) Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (2000) says: " adj [only before noun] 1situated behind or at the back of something 2 of or from a past time 3 owed for a time in the past" for the adjective, and within its seven senses for the adverb includes " 4 to or into the place, condition, situation or activity where sb/sth was before", giving among other examples also "He'll be back (=will return) on Monday" and "We were right back where we started, only this time without any money. (2) Webster's Universal Dictionary and Thesaurus (1993) says "adj at the rear; (streets, etc) remote or inferior; (pay, etc) of or for the past; backward. * adv at or toward the rear; to or toward a former condition, time, etc; in return or requital; in reverse or concealment." (Italics and bold type given as they appear in the dictionaries.) In my opinion these corroborate the view that back in He is back is and adverb rather than an adjective. Duncan MacCall 15:05, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

We are only talking about the sense back as "returned". I'm wondering whether this is a UK/US difference. Merriam Webster shows that sense as an adjective, as does cambridge Dictionary of American English. It seems wrong to exclude either the analysis as an adjective or as an adverb, both being used by reasonable authorities. OTOH, Wiktionary usually gives the back of its hand to US users (as reflected in its relative share of users by country), so have at it. DCDuring TALK 19:19, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
What about changing the adjective definition 2 to "{{context|US|after a change}} In the previous state or position." and the adverb definition 1 to "(Not comparable) To or in a [[previous]] condition or place." then? Would that be a satisfactory compromise? As a non-native speaker I certainly don't want to pretend I know English better than Webster or Cambridge... frankly, I don't even know what have at it means - have it your way? go ahead? I'm still unconvinced? --Duncan MacCall 19:58, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Never compromise. Find the creative, unifying solution. We all want Wiktionary to be a comprehensive, useful description of languages. I am dismayed that what thought I knew may not be universally accepted. I cannot see an obvious solution, because I am unaware of how we have resolved such matters in the past. Regional preferences for one PoS over another? Do users care? As to [[have at it]] or [[have]] [[at it]], you correctly identified the senses included. DCDuring TALK 20:40, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

I think life is all about when to compromise and when not to, but never mind... I've been mulling it over and in the end resolved to edit the page the way I consider the best, namely removing sense 2 of adjective and moving the examples to sense 1 at adverb. If anyone reverts me, so be it. Nevertheless I left there the Tea room box as it would be arrogant of me to remove it, consensus having been by no means achieved. --Duncan MacCall 14:34, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

I think this is reasonable. Of the nine dictionaries I surveyed when starting Appendix:Dictionary notes/back, only the OED and MW3 had this adjective sense, and both give examples that seem very distant from "I'm back" ("back action," "back shad"). On the other hand, all seven dictionaries that acknowledged the existence of adverbial senses included this as an adverb. Be back probably requires its own entry. -- Visviva 17:16, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
  • While we're having our tea here, I'd like to raise another issue for back#Adjective: comparability. The section is currently labeled "not comparable," but most spatiotemporal senses seem to be comparable using further/furthest:
    His house is further back than mine.
    I look back on my youth, and further back to my childhood.
On the other hand, the more abstract senses -- e.g. in arrears, as "back rent" -- are not comparable. And just to uglify the situation a bit, the phonetic sense ("back vowel") can be compared using "more back" or "backer," but only very rarely "further back" AFAICT. Guess we need to give this info for each sense individually... Is there any elegant solution here? -- Visviva 17:16, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
As regards the phonetic sense, could it have a definition of its own with the comparative and superlative mentioned? After all, the definitions as they are at the moment hardly match this meaning so as to enlighten anybody who doesn't already know what a "back vowel" is. But as for the other two examples you're giving, I can't help it but I see there "back" as an adverb again (and the comparative & superlative with further & furthest resp. are there all right). --Duncan MacCall 14:52, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
The way to handle a mixture of comparable and noncomparable senses is with {{not comparable}} or {{comparable}} on the appropriate sense lines. There is no policy as whether each sense line needs the appropriate tag (too cluttered, IMO), just the noncomparable senses (my choice, because of the common "prejudice" against comparablility among some contributors), or just the less common among the senses (bad for editor learning-by-example). DCDuring TALK 16:16, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
The problem here, though, is in addition to some senses being non-comparable, different senses are comparable in different ways: "further back" vs. "backer." -- Visviva 16:28, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm sure I've said this before, but I think it's misleading to describe “further ~” as a comparative of “~”, even if semantically it's similar to one. “Further ~” is a comparative of “far ~”; it's not *“how back in history are the days of Sumer?”, but rather “how far back [] ?”, and not *“Ancient Rome is less back in history than the days of Sumer”, but rather “ [] less far back [] ”. You seem to be acknowledging this by using “far back” in your first clause. Also, this is a secondary concern, but it seems arbitrary to choose “further back” over “farther back”; the former is slightly more common on Google Books (6480 vs. 5410), but way less common on Google Web (1.7m vs. 11.6m). —RuakhTALK 18:18, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
It probably isn't such a good idea for inflection-line purposes because of the unfamiliarity of the terminology, but the notion of "gradability" is a useful generalisation of comparability, for example to test for whether something is an adjective (vs. attributive use of noun}. From an ordinary-user perspective semantic comparability is probably more meaningful than a stricter sense. DCDuring TALK 19:57, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
“Meaningful” can be a bad thing; I'd rather say something meaningless but true than something meaningful but false, because the former is useless while the latter is actively harmful. (Of course, my top choice would be to say something meaningful and true, and my #2 would be to say nothing at all.) These “further ~” constructions don't behave like comparatives of “~”; for example, you can say “back room” and “back door”, but not *“further back room” and *“further back door”, which makes sense, because they're really comparatives of “far ~” (*“far back room”, *“far back door”). As for “test[ing] for whether something is an adjective (vs. attributive use of noun}”: well, there are other possibilities. In this case, I think modern linguists would consider back a preposition. For a similar example, would you consider “higher up” to be the comparative of “up”? We follow the traditional dictionary practice of listing objectless prepositions as adjectives and/or adverbs, and I think that's fine, but we shouldn't let ourselves be deceived about what we're really dealing with. —RuakhTALK 21:00, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I was thinking more of gradable as a substitute for or addition to comparable or of something in usage notes or a usage appendix. I remembered your prior mention of similar points. DCDuring TALK 21:21, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I misunderstood. Yes, I think usage notes would be good. —RuakhTALK 22:05, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Oops, you're right, the second example is adverbial (I sure think the first one is an adjective, though). How about this: The days of Sumer are far back in history, even further back than ancient Rome. -- Visviva 16:28, 4 November 2008 (UTC)


I've gotta make this fast, as AutoFormat is probably only seconds away from undoing my work. Take a look at how I've arranged the definitions on ἐξίστημι. Pretty weird, huh? Now, take a look at the usage note. Now, I realize this arrangement is really not kosher, and, honestly, I'm not really happy with it myself. I used a more standard approach on εἴδω, and it works. However, the contags for ἐξίστημι ((Template loop detected: Template:context 1), (Template loop detected: Template:context 1)) would be enormous, and would just look silly in front of all the defs. I can't really divide the defs by etymology, as the ety does not differ between them. This is not an isolated incident in Ancient Greek, and so I'm hoping to figure out a practical solution which I can use in this and other entries. Thoughts? -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 05:19, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

If the second group of definitions do not apply to the entry form, then shouldn't there be another lemma? In Latin, this would be a deponent / no-passive pair of verbs, and each would get a separate lemma page. I'm not sure I could locate an example quickly, but I know I came across some similar verb pairs recently. --EncycloPetey 05:57, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
I guess I'm a little hesitant to split them up, perhaps for no other reason than the fact that there is not a nice even split. This is not a matter of active vs passive (or at least, not simply). -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 06:49, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

I am looking at my Greek edition of Liddell-Scott dictionary and I see that the entry is divided into two main sections. The first one includes the transitive meanings and it relates them to Present, Imperfect, Future and first Aorist. The second section includes the intransitive meanings which are related to the middle/passive tenses, the second Aorist (ἐξέστην) and active the Perfect-Pluperfect. So, I don't see any sign of middle/passive Perfect-Pluperfect. --flyax 07:51, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Weird. Both my LSJ and my BDAG agree, perfect and pluperfect active, with no mention of their middle/passives. However, some of their quotes have them, so they exist...... Oh, also, I've got a ἐξίσταμαι (don't know where it's from), so it looks like the perfect can have both an alpha and eta linking vowel. And if you think that ἐξέσταμαι also exists, then we've got that as well. *sigh* As if ἵστημι didn't have a complex enough inflection, we have to deal with compound craziness as well (such as the fact that the initial epsilon can't take an accent, even though it should, or the κσ weirdness. Is that because τ has no aspiration, and ξ does?). Note, if you're reading this and have no idea what this and the preceding comment mean, don't worry about it. You do not need to understand them in order to discuss the initial issue. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 08:16, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
Since it looks so complicated, I suggest that we stick to what seems to be clear and safe and be very careful about anything else. The only thing we can do in addition is to find quotes with different tenses and write them down. I've started doing it and I intend to go on for a little while. Another thing: this middle Aorist 2 «ἐξεστάμην», where does it come from? It looks to me more like a pluperfect. Also «ἐξίσταμαι» is the middle present and doesn't look like perfect at all. --flyax 14:58, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

dry eye

Is there scope for an entry like not a dry eye or to not be a dry eye, because it is quite a common expression e.g. in "there wasn't a dry eye in the theatre, because she made such an emotional performance." (i.e. everybody was weeping). I started one up at dry eye, but it could do with improvement. --Jackofclubs 18:26, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

It is a troublesome variable expression. ("-n't" or "not" or "not [verb phrase]" or "scarcely" or "hardly", etc.) ("a dry eye in the") ("house" or "theater" or "room", etc.). There are also forms with the plural "dry eyes". Usage notes and examples of the main variants at dry eye might be the best we can do. DCDuring TALK 12:28, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it seems to be a negative polarity item. —RuakhTALK 15:23, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
I wonder whether that concept would be helpful in cleaning up some of our entries that include the word "not", though other negative words are commonly substituted. DCDuring TALK 17:02, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

the#Usage notes

I added a section about usage notes for [[the]] for proper nouns, as it can be quite confusing. I'm sure I've missed out lots from that section, but I put in all I could think of. I may have repeated some of Appendix:English proper nouns, which I'll link to from [[the]]. --Jackofclubs 08:32, 28 September 2008 (UTC)


The English section of this, referring to an obsolete word claims that some 40 terms are derived from it. Most of the terms seem much more likely to be descendants of Latin words that are in their turn derived from Latin manus. Some have French spellings suggesting a derivation from "main". I am uncertain as to whether any of the terms shown are actually derived from English manus. DCDuring TALK 00:07, 29 September 2008 (UTC)


It states this is a comparative of little. Surely a superlative? --Jackofclubs 10:42, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

superlative, yes. The whole bunch of little, littler, lesser, less, littlest, and least could do with an overhaul, to say the least ;-) -- ALGRIF talk 13:15, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

inquiry for collective term

-- 03:36, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

Hi all,

What is the collective term for coffee, sugar, milk, milo and candies. I served these stuff for our trainings and during requisition of payment for expenses I find it long to write all names of these items.

Would love to know your idea.



I have always thought this word to mean

a.) verb- to saunter in a rainstorm i.e.) After we went watheing for a while, we decided it best to go home and dry off

b.) noun- a walk where one becomes wet/soaked with rain i.e.) She and I embraced during our wathe.

Now there has been discussion that the word "wathe" comes from latin derivitives meaning "moist" and "walk". Others beleive it be from current mixture of modern colloquialisms pertaining to wash and bathe.

What are your thoughts?

—This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 00:51, 1 October 2008 (UTC).

The word doesn't seem to exist. It's not in the Oxford English Dictionary Online, nor in any of the dictionaries at, nor in UrbanDictionary; and Google Web Search and Google Book Search don't turn anything up on a cursory look-through. If it does exist, then I'd hazard that it's probably quite new, and therefore more likely a blend of walk and bathe than any sort of Latinism. —RuakhTALK 01:26, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
You probably meant wade. H. (talk) 10:06, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
There are words spelled something like that that mean "ford", "path", "harm, injury" that are UK dialect, or Old English, or Middle English. I haven't yet found something closer to what you have heard. Where would you have heard or read it? DCDuring TALK 12:42, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

need help

to get around something _ _ _ _ _ _ _ E N T What is it? —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 01:28, 1 October 2008 (UTC).

We have an entry for get around, and it contains the word you're looking for. —RuakhTALK 02:57, 1 October 2008 (UTC)


I don’t like the definition of the noun senses 3, 6 and 7 and the verb sense 4. They are sort of derived senses, that fit with the sense of the quotes, but aren’t really explanations of the word ‘gall’ in them itself. H. (talk) 10:03, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Galled, are you? Indeed. Perhaps we need a usage note about the connection between the gall bladder and bile and the various bilous states that galled people according to the psycho-medical theories of the time. Some of the quotes might be better on the citations page. Maybe it is even simpler than that. Gall (noun) means various shades of anger. Gall (verb) means to cause those shades of anger: irk, annoy, exasperate. I think that would allow consolidation of the senses that galled you. DCDuring TALK 12:10, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
Gee, there's so many different definitions for this word. I have this as a vocabulary word, and I have no idea which one is the correct definition. Hmm, I wonder which one is most commonly used. 14:33, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't like the definition of noun sense 8; noun sense 7 is the same thing except in humans, and stated better. The quotation used for 8 is bizarrely not to the point; was it written by "armchair" horsemen? --Una Smith 05:33, 24 October 2008 (UTC)


I've done some googling and some reading about this, but most of it is just a little bit beyond my grasp. The mathematics of co-algebra seems to be related, and seems to be the study of `recursion` into the depths of a not well-founded set; however I'm not sure how distant the computing definition is. Conrad.Irwin 21:37, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

yeah or ya?

What is the correct spelling for when you want to express happiness, or excitement about something, yeah or ya? I always think of yeah as meaning yes. But ya does not seem correct either? —This comment was unsigned.

Perhaps yay. DCDuring TALK 12:35, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
As our entry states, yeah can be an expression of “joy, celebration, glee, etc.” Ya (you) is normally pronounced /jə/ (rhyming-ish with “the” and with “duh”), whereas ya (yes) is normally pronounced /ja/ (rhyming with “la”, “gah”, “saw”, and/or “far”, depending on your form of English). So far as I know, neither sense of ya is used as an interjection of happiness or excitement. —RuakhTALK 12:44, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
yahoo comes to mind...? --Una Smith 03:22, 4 October 2008 (UTC)


The current pronunciation given has a soft g, but I've always pronounced this word with a hard g. Similar English words with a soft g end in "-gy", not "-gey" (vide bulgy, edgy, argy-bargy), so my assumption has always been that Lewis Carroll (aware of this) used the "-gey" spelling purposefully.

Ultimately, the question comes down to how people are actually pronouncing the word, but it's not in most dictionaries, so I can't check that way. does anyone have access to audio recordings of Carroll's poem, perhaps through a local library? The only audio source I have at hand to check is the Pythonesque film Jabberwocky, based very loosely on the poem. --EncycloPetey 19:36, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

  • It is in the OED, pronunciation as given. Ƿidsiþ 20:33, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
I've always used the hard g. And I am fond of reciting the poem (;-). I think it is a matter of personal choice, it is an invented nonce and used by its creator in a written work. (As against, say, "supercalifragi..." which has a canonical pronunciation from the film.) Perhaps we ought to give both alternatives? Robert Ullmann 14:51, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Carroll does give us guidance in the preface to Through the Looking Glass:
The new words, in the poem "Jabberwocky", have given rise to some differences of opinion as to their pronunciation: so it may be well to give instructions on that point also. Pronounce "slithy" as if it were the two words "sly, the": make the "g" hard in "gyre" and "gimble": and pronounce "rath" to rhyme with "bath".
but unfortunately does not mention "tulgey" there. There is more in the preface to The Hunting of the Snark, but again not about this specific word. Robert Ullmann 14:59, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Cubist Capitalized?

Cubist is currently capitalized with a redirect to it at cubism. Does this need to be capitalized? RJFJR 01:08, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

Other OneLook dictionaries almost entirely have cubism and cubist lower case. Usage seems to be both ways. We don't have an easy way to count relative frequencies of upper- and lower-case forms, AFAIK. DCDuring TALK 01:18, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

New word - numberth

This new word "numberth" is like an ordinal number but its value is unknown. It is used as Adjective. When we question it with "what", its real ordinal number position is known and it will indicate its position in the ordered-sequence of numbers. Its known value will be like fourth or fifth, etc. The sequence must be in some order - that may be chronological, or seniority, size, importance, etc, order as per the context of the matter in the question. The word - Numberth doesn't mean "How many?" or "How much?"

Please read the following statements under mentioned.

1. Mr. Kennedy was the 35th president of the USA. 2. I am the fourth child in my family. 3. I am going to see this movie third time. 4. My British uncle is visiting India for the first time. 5. She is his second wife.

The straight-forward questions for the above statements are given below by using the word numberth.

1. What numberth president of the USA is Mr. Kennedy? 2. What numberth child are you in your family? 3. What numberth time are you going to see this movie now? 4. What numberth time is your British uncle visiting India now? 5. What numberth wife is she to him?

Source: Tamil Language Author: Er.S.M.M.Hanifa, Kadayanallur

—This unsigned comment was added by Hanifasmm (talkcontribs) 11:29, 5 October 2008 (UTC).

You may be interested in [[Dictionary:List of protologisms]]. —RuakhTALK 12:36, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
Well it seems to already be in use in English, especially in writings about computer programming. From there it might spread. There is a particular usage that has some promise: "For the big-numberth time. ...." I had heard and said "For the nth time (where n is large) ...." repeating a phrase common in mathematical proofs. It is somewhat natural so I am almost surprised that it hasn't appeared in dialogue, supposedly spoken by a child or an uneducated native speaker. DCDuring TALK 13:49, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

chase a rainbow

I'd like to add this expression but need the help of a native speaker. What is the correct form: chase a rainbow or chasing a rainbow, what is the POS: idiom or verb? Thanks. --Panda10 12:37, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

It is a verb - should be tagged with {{idiom}} —This unsigned comment was added by Jackofclubs (talkcontribs) 15:09, 5 October 2008 (UTC).

greatest thing since sliced bread

Claims it is "sometimes used sarcastically". Any more so than other phrases in English? --Jackofclubs 15:08, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

Probably not, but hard to document one way or the other. I think such comments about the "tone" of an expression almost always belong in Usage notes, if anywhere. The assumption that the "tone" in which an expression is used in one's own cultural reference group is worth recording seems common. DCDuring TALK 12:13, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
Doesn't seem particularly meaningful here, at least barring evidence disproving that every expression is sometimes used sarcastically. I just don't think “sometimes” is a useful context label. Michael Z. 2008-10-07 13:43 z
I agree with your specific point. "Sometimes" is usually a low-value word in an entry, particularly a definition. Words like "rarely" and "usually" communicate something for such a phenomenon whereas "sometimes" does not. DCDuring TALK 15:58, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I've commented out the "sarcastically" bit. --Jackofclubs 17:27, 7 October 2008 (UTC)


How should English-speakers pronounce this? --Borganised 08:56, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

"Any way that others will understand," is the short answer. According to the Cambridge Pronouncing Dictionary, the UK pronunciation is /ˈvrɒt.slɑːf/, but they don't use the inverted "r" (ɹ) or its variants in their transcriptions. --EncycloPetey 23:50, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, that sounds about normal. Often these days the /l/ is pronounced Polski-stylee as /w/. Ƿidsiþ 11:25, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
NOAD gives /ˈ(v)rɔ(t)slɑf/. Interestingly, it gives the English spelling as Wrocław only, with the slash-el, and Breslau is defined as the German name. Michael Z. 2008-10-09 16:20 z

Santana wind

In the Etymology section of this entry is a purported Spanish term "vientos de Sanatanas", for which the translation "Satan's winds" has been given. Spanish is not a language of mine, but cursory search suggests that "Satanas" would be the word. The spelling gets to the plausibility of Santana wind vs. Santa Ana wind. "Sant' Ana" is my favorite etymology, based on not much. DCDuring TALK 23:43, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

  • "Santana" is a common Spanish abbrev. of Santa Ana, and I'm sure that's the source of this term. I think the Spanish given here is probably just a mistake, since the Spanish Wikipedia article calls the phenomenon Vientos de Santa Ana. Ƿidsiþ 11:34, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Random House and MW3 (print}, the only two that have Santana or Santana wind, both favor the contraction etymology. To me this seems settled, not really disputable. The only authoritative sources that have spoken on the subject come to a conclusion that seems to fit the data I can find and a linguistically simple, unromantic conclusion. OTOH, Santana wind and probably santana/Santana seem fairly common usage and should remain or be added. DCDuring TALK 20:34, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
I just realized that another entry I looked seemed to illustrate a somewhat similar phenomenon: San Diego < "Santa Iago". I want to tread carefully because evidently folks in Southern California get very excited about this. The first thing is to get the "satanic winds" etymology handled appropriately. The earliest News cites call it the "Santa Ana wind", but date only back to the early 20th century. I (or the entries) could use a little help from someone with some Spanish. DCDuring TALK 14:27, 8 October 2008 (UTC)


What is someone born in Leo called? i.e. Sagittarian is to Sagittarius as ???? is to Leo? --Borganised 11:22, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Rather disappointingly, it seems to stay unchanged. "I'm a Leo" etc. You would expect "Leonine" but it does not appear to be used in this way. Ƿidsiþ 11:30, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
    • I've found Leonian actually - but thanks for pointing me in the right direction. --Borganised 11:38, 8 October 2008 (UTC)


I know zilch about Esperanto. This entry translates itself as unagreeably. Does this word exist? (537 raw google hits) Or should the entry be modified to disagreeably? -- ALGRIF talk 15:42, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Unagreeable is in a few dictionaries. unagreeably is in one. They both look citable. Disagreeable is vastly more common. Though disagreeable is a synonym of unagreeable in Webster 1913, the sense of "disagreement" between or among people seems to leave room for unagreeable, meaning something more like distasteful or unpleasant. There were a large number of occurrences of "not unagreeably", BTW. To me the word has an old-fashioned sound. I have no idea what the Esparanto nuance is supposed to be. DCDuring TALK 16:55, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Hot or spicy?

I've been asked about the difference between hot and spicy and I have answered that they are synonyms. I've found, though, a text saying that a meal was hot and spicy. Are there any differences in their meanings? Thanks. —This comment was unsigned.

See hot#Adjective and spicy#Adjective. DCDuring TALK 21:48, 9 October 2008 (UTC) Also see hot#Synonyms. DCDuring TALK 21:58, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

To me, spicy usually means “hot” (as in pungent, peppery, piquant), but sometimes also means “spiced, fragrant, or aromatic” thanks to spices and herbs. In contrast, sweets are more often called spiced or spice in combination (e.g. spice cake), rather than spicy. I think the set phrase hot and spicy makes it clear that one means hot of taste, not in temperature, and may also imply both kinds of spicy. Michael Z. 2008-10-09 22:33 z

See also hendiadys. —RuakhTALK 20:17, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

blinde Passagier

This is the inflected form. Is there any reason it's there instead of at the non-inflected form, blinder Passagier? -- Prince Kassad 22:10, 9 October 2008 (UTC)


An IP has just created this as a redirect to pundit. 1. It might well be a real word and 2. I don't think it means pundit. Opinions please. -- ALGRIF talk 14:56, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Seems to be a misspelling of both pundit and pedant - I have already deleted the redirect. SemperBlotto 15:06, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
The bgc hits were mostly scannos or French, with one possible nautical exception. There was one misspelling there of "pundit", 5 on news, 2 on Scholar, a long way from a common one, though there was a mention that complained about "pundit" being pronounced "pundant" on US TV. DCDuring TALK 18:28, 10 October 2008 (UTC)


A request for Brits: Why are people with no mates called Billy? Maybe we should have a page Billy No-Mates too. --Jackofclubs 09:54, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

I've waited a while to see if anyone responded. Basically because I have never come across this before, and I've lived in all 4 corners of UK. -- ALGRIF talk 08:56, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • OK, I will respond then! Yes, this is pretty common. I have heard it lots--I used to think it was a kind of playground slang, rbut recently I've heard from people of all ages. I don't know why it's Billy no-mates rather than any other name, but there you go. It does have a certain ring to it. Also, see here for a not-very-convincing trace of the word to 1996. Ƿidsiþ 09:52, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm sure I heard this long before 1996, as I think I remember it from primary school in the mid-late 1980s. Thryduulf 15:05, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
    Indeed, a quick google has found it in a usenet post from December 1994 [41]. And a books hit [42] implies that it was used in the 1990 book "The psychology of consumer behavior" [43], but this doesn't seem to be indexed online anywhere. The hits do seem to confirm though that it is typically a children's phrase. Thryduulf 15:20, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Prince Albert

Would a Prince Albert be classed as jewlery? --Jackofclubs 08:19, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Only if you wear it in a way that people can see it. (Were you thinking of doing so?) SemperBlotto 15:41, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
  • A Prince Albert is a piercing, like a pierced ear or nose. You can wear jewellery in it, but it isn't jewellery itself, or that's how I would see it. Ƿidsiþ 15:53, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Agree with Widsith. This is a type of piercing, not a type of jewelry, as illustrated by the price list from my favourite piercing parlour. -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 19:20, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
  • {What the hell is an Apadravya? Ƿidsiþ 07:38, 16 October 2008 (UTC))


I just read,23599,24486511-2,00.html and was wondering: why would you call “Taxi!” if you hear someone breaking a glass? Maybe someone can add that usage? H. (talk) 15:30, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

I doubt it's a different sense; it seems to imply that if a glass breaks, someone may have had too much to drink, and they need a taxi. sewnmouthsecret 15:37, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

To fraud

Does the word 'to fraud' exist ? It is mentioned in my English workbook, but I can't find it in a dictionary. Shouldn't it be 'to defraud' ? Thanks! Vin 17:42, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

To defraud is correct. Michael Z. 2008-10-14 18:56 z
"To fraud" exists, but is definitely not preferred, not appearing in current dictionaries. It appears occasionally in some fictional dialogue, older print works, and some technical and legal works. Much better avoided. DCDuring TALK 19:02, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED} confirms that "to fraud" is an obsolete verb meaning "to defraud." The most recent quotation the OED provides for this sense is dated 1623. -- WikiPedant 19:06, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

what you call someone with a large vocabulary

I need to know what the word is that defines someone with a very large vocabulary —This comment was unsigned.

Clever?? -- But seriously, I don't think there is one single word that means that exactly, although I'm sure one of my learned colleagues will soon put me straight. -- ALGRIF talk 08:53, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
No - inteligence has nothing to do with it. The obvious answer is adult - most adults have an enormous vocabulary. But if you mean "much larger than average" - I suppose literate comes reasonable close. If you find such a person, they will probably know what the word is! SemperBlotto 08:59, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps Mr Ammon Shea could help (see this). Duncan MacCall 09:30, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm guessing you've seen that Marilyn vos Savant recently addressed this in her column, without finding an answer? —RuakhTALK 12:22, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Shakespearean would be a possibility. He had about 29,000 words at the last count. (I jest, of course) -- ALGRIF talk 15:37, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • logodaedalus is "someone with great word skill"....then there is sesquipedalian "using many long words". Neither of them are quite there. Words like polyloquent don't really do it either. A word like multiverbal might do the job, though whether it's ever been used like that I don't know. Ƿidsiþ 16:21, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I would think lexical would work but I don't know if that is a used sense. sewnmouthsecret 16:59, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • There is also vocabularian - one who knows and uses words that are beyond the comprehension of normal people --Ivan Štambuk 17:10, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Also there is the vocabulous, which Urban dictionary defines as The attribute of a large vocabulary, To have an extensive knowledge of words and their definitions., but it probably wouldn't pass CFI.. --Ivan Štambuk 17:26, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • ...and there is verbose. sewnmouthsecret 17:12, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
    Which in many cases will be antonymous to the speech of someone with a large vocabulary who will be able to use a single word that expresses what others would need several for. Thryduulf 19:30, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
    The ability to use one word where others would use many would likely show one having a large vocabulary, would it not? sewnmouthsecret 20:48, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
    Yes, but that is being concise not verbose. Thryduulf 21:17, 15 October 2008 (UTC)


I came across this word in an article in the journal "Nature". It looks like a mispelling of toxicology, but Google shows quite a few hits in other official documents, and scientific journals. Is it really just a common misspelling that gets through the spellcheckers? SemperBlotto 09:06, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Sure looks like it; a lot of webpages use it interchangeably with toxicology, and I don't see anything to suggest a distinct meaning. Has about 1/1000th of toxicology's web frequency (according to Google), and about 1/2000th of its frequency on b.g.c.; that seems about right for an occasional typo. Odd that it would find its way into Nature though... -- Visviva 10:36, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

banjo - verb

Apparently to banjo someone is British slang for to deck someone or kick someone's ass. Any suggestions? --Borganised 13:26, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Not just UK, I think. DCDuring TALK 14:16, 15 October 2008 (UTC) Also:

  • 1989, Susan S. M. Edwards, Policing 'domestic' Violence: Women, the Law and the State, page 95
    Admitting the assault, the husband said that he had given her a 'banjoing' but that she had asked for it.
  • 1998, "Fergie's world just gets Madar."(Sport), Sunday Mailm Jan 4, 1998
    Madar was turfed out on a final misdemeanour of banjoing one of his teammates in training before a big game
  • 2007, "Return of Smeato, the extraordinary hero", Times Online, Jul 31, 2007
    "Me and other folk were just trying to get the boot in and some other guy banjoed [decked] him”.


Suggest a name

We are UAE based non-profit trade association, our members are companies engaged in the business of Construction equipment include Authorized distributors, independent dealers, rentals, manufacturers & related industry trade associations. Kindly suggest us a name for our organization.

Similar words

What are the similar words to Distributors or Dealers. -- 16:15, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Define the word cantacle

Hello all,

I'm stumped and wonder if anybody knows the definition of the word cantacle? If you do know and would be so kind e-mail the definition or link Thank you,


See canticle. DCDuring TALK 03:12, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

ain't- Usage notes

I believe a couple of points in the usage notes may only apply to the US, or don't apply to UK usage. For example, "This word is commonly considered non-standard and is possibly stigmatized often based on racist issues,", well I am not aware of any racial issue surrounding 'ain't' in England. Also "However, its use is common among all social classes." In England, I would say its use is not common among all social classes, it's more of (but not exclusively) a working-class thing. It sounds like 'ain't' is somehow more controversial in the US than the UK. In England, it's just part of some accents like a London accent, and sounds a bit slangy. If anyone is aware of these issues existing in the UK then I would be interested to know about it. Kaixinguo 20:13, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree with you, I know of no racial connotations to "ain't" in the UK. It is a feature of some dialects more than others - I head it far more in Yorkshire than in Somerset for example. It's a slang word that isn't considered proper, at least in middle and upper class speech, although I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say it's working class. Thryduulf 11:36, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
I think that "ain't" is just a focal point for broader concerns about dialectal English in the US, which are somewhat associated with race and with education policy and practice. Although ain't is used in AAVE, it is also used in dialects of mostly white speakers. As statistics suggest, we don't seem to have enough US users, especially contributors, to be well covered with respect to US regional dialects and slang. DCDuring TALK 12:15, 25 October 2008 (UTC)


Does anyone know the latin word for step? As in "to take a step" or "a journey begins with a single step." —This comment was unsigned.


"Sounding horribly." Granted it's fairly obscure, but rather a nice word I think. Would be nice to see it included. What do people think? —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 22:12, 18 October 2008 (UTC).

It definitely meets our criteria for inclusion. —RuakhTALK 14:28, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

plural of denarius?

What is the plural of denarius? RJFJR 14:04, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

Denarii and denariuses are both attested, with the former being much more common. (I listed both in the entry, but actually I'm not sure if denariuses even warrants mention there.) I couldn't find any evidence for plural use of denarius, nor for denari in this sense, but neither would shock me. —RuakhTALK 14:36, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

"in the weeds"

I've seen this several times in print by professional cooks meaning "behind in work" or "overwhelmed", but the other day I heard it on NPR to describe McCain's trailing presidential campaign. But I'm not sure where to put this weeds, in the weeds? RJFJR 15:11, 19 October 2008 (UTC)


Acvot. To our new regeim in the u.s —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).


why does all these easy word get sentnese and noot harder words like disposition! why i really need help and a sentces would help!thanks, from, confused and annoyed

—This unsigned comment was added by (UTC) (talkcontribs) 20:59, 21 October 2008.


can someone discribe how the four processes in the formation of a protein —This unsigned comment was added by Guyselman (talkcontribs) 00:47, 22 October 2008.

You'll likely have better luck over at the reference desk; Wikipedia has articles like protein biosynthesis which might be useful to you as well. grendel|khan 20:05, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Seeking Turkish speaker

Could someone please verify the following Turkish sayings: "it havlar, kervan gider" or "it ürür, kervan gecser". I have no idea if the spelling is correct, but they are supposed to mean "the dog barks, the caravan proceeds". Some sources say the Hungarian saying a kutya ugat, a karaván halad came from the Turkish saying. Thanks. --Panda10 23:01, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

You might ask User:Sinek, who speaks Turkish. --EncycloPetey 20:00, 6 November 2008 (UTC)


Etymology looks incorrect to me; at the very least, there would be an intermediate Latin etymon.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 19:20, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

I added Latin, and there's more at etymonline.[44] Michael Z. 2008-10-23 20:56 z


Feb 9 -35

red rag to a bull

I wish to make an entry for this expression. The problem is that it does not always occur as "like a red rag...", and the entire phrase is too complex to be called a noun. (Or is it?) What does anyone suggest? -- ALGRIF talk 14:59, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

I'd put the entry at red rag to a bull, with a redirect from like a red rag to a bull. As for the header, "Phrase" or "Idiom" perhaps? Thryduulf 22:58, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I was thinking of something like that, except that these headers are now deprecated, AFAIK. At least, they no longer appear in WT:ELE -- ALGRIF talk 12:14, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Seems nounish enough to me (although I think one could be forgiven for using "Idiom" in this context). "Rag" is the head of the phrase, and both "red" and "to a bull" (="as perceived by a bull"?) are just specifying attributes of the rag. -- Visviva 12:26, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
OK I'll take both your advices (this word really ought to be countable ;-)). Then if anyone disagrees, they can edit it as they see fit. Cheers. -- ALGRIF talk 12:50, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
On checking further, I find that red rag without the "bull" is used a lot with the same meaning. This would make red rag to a bull the secondary etymology, and so now simply a special case. -- ALGRIF talk 13:04, 25 October 2008 (UTC)


Are all these noun senses really distinct? Thryduulf 11:32, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Well, the nautical sense and the working-group sense are definitely distinct IMO. The theatrical sense doesn't have much support in the other dictionaries I looked at (RHU, MQ, WN), but it seems as distinct in its own right as the nautical sense. In both theater and sailing, "the crew" is *the* crew, a specific entity not requiring further definition, whereas in more general use it is simply *a* crew -- the B&G crew, the repair crew, my crew -- one of many possible groupings of people. -- Visviva 12:20, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
I added the sense of loose social grouping. Such groups can be capable of working on a common task (getting into a fight, raising money for a good cause), but don't usually. I don't see the theatrical sense as really distinct from, say, a logging sense, both of which seem to fall under sense 2. To me there is some kind of shared purpose, but somewhat distinguishable kinds: shared tangible piece of equipment, shared task or project, shared potential to act as a unit. I can't think of words that would allow fewer senses. DCDuring TALK 12:53, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
I've started Appendix:Dictionary notes/crew for our entertainment and edification... Only the OED has anything resembling the theatrical sense. And yet, I can't help but think that "crew" (="not cast") is at least as important a distinction as "crew" (="not officers"), which gets a separate sense in 3 of the 9 dictionaries I surveyed. -- Visviva 15:30, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for very interesting and well-presented e&e. An excluding-leadership sense seems important. The idea that there can be multiple sections of the total complement operating a piece of equipment (eg, flight crew, cabin crew) is also worth capturing for completeness. I am disappointed in myself for having forgotten the hip-hop sense (roughly synonymous with "posse"), despite living in the self-proclaimed hip-hop capital of the world, though it is not really distinct from the older sense. I also think that that older social-group sense is often pejorative as a few of the dictionaries indicate or perhaps jocular. I have never liked definitions with narrow contexts that differed little in substance from definitions in other contexts, but the cost in loss of concreteness and vigor in the wording of a general, multi-context definition can be high. DCDuring TALK 16:21, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I've done a bit of work on this now, though I'm not sure it is really in any better shape than when I started. I found on close inspection that both the theatrical and quasi-nautical senses can refer either to a certain type of group (plural "crews") or to a member or members of the group (plural, and rare singular, "crew"). It seemed like this was too much information to pack into a single sense line, so I have split both of these senses for now (having first attempted to unsplit the quasi-nautical sense before realizing what a mess that would create). If anyone has a better idea, please jump in. Thankfully this does not seem to apply to any of the other senses.-- Visviva 15:12, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
    These could be merged by adding “or a member of such a crew,” but then it may not be explicit how the respective plurals are formed. Michael Z. 2008-10-30 15:31 z
    A usage note regarding the plurals would probably be a good idea in that situation. Thryduulf 17:45, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
    Well, in addition to the plurals, these two senses (or aspects of a sense?) have will have different synonyms (sailor, hand, crewer vs. ship's company, staff) and frequently different translations... I expect that would apply to the dramatic sense(s) as well, though I'm less familiar with that case. -- Visviva 02:59, 31 October 2008 (UTC)


Is ther a sense for trail meaning to use as bait or offer as bait? (Might be a primarily british use.) RJFJR 22:42, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

could this be to drag something odoriferous (like a red herring!) to train or mislead a scent-following hunting animal? DCDuring TALK 23:03, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Here's the cite: Charles Stross, The Atrocity Archives (It's a spy/horror novel, the laundry is a nickname for a secret agency. I checked: the author is British):
"It's you they're after. As long as you're here in a laundry safe house they can't get to you. But if we trail you in front of them, ... , we might be able to draw them out."
It seems like a figurative extension of the second sense of trail, more specifically the sense I suggested above (Owww! [pulled muscle patting myself on the back]). I would definitely put the citation on the citation page. I don't think the usage is particularly UK, but the UK has reputedly had better spies-on-the-ground than the US. The question is whether it would be better to have:
  1. a figurative sense of "trail" which would be closer to the use above, but not include purpose
  2. an extension of sense 2 incorporating purpose, but remaining concrete, physical about the "trail".
  3. a sense specific to the usage illustrated.
  4. more than one of the above.
I think I prefer having both 1 and 2, but not 3. DCDuring TALK 19:41, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
I would gloss this as dangle, which is somewhat different from what we have at sense 2 currently (though the senses are certainly related). Supporting cites for something like this: [45], [46], [47]. Seems likely to be derived from the angling sense, in which one trails a lure behind a boat. -- Visviva 15:33, 30 October 2008 (UTC)


It's also a French name meaning transom (architectural). 01:38, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for this, I've added a French section to imposte and the French translation at transom. You may wish to take a look at these and check I've understood you correctly, as I don't speak French myself. Thryduulf 11:07, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
I think that French imposte means fanlight, and that the French for transom is either croisillion or meneau. What does French Wiktionary have to say? SemperBlotto 11:25, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't know any of these words in French or English, but to answer your question, [[fr:imposte]] has three definitions, roughly:
  1. (Woodworking) The fixed upper portion of a door or window, that lessens the height of the moving portions.
  2. (By extention) The fixed glass portion of a door or wall, that's intended to give daylight to a dark room.
  3. (Architecture) The last stone of the upright of a door or arcade, that sticks out over the other stones and is usually somewhat decorated.
[[fr:croisillion]] is a redlink, but I'm guessing you mean [[fr:croisillon]], which has three definitions, roughly:
  1. A crossbar, the horizontal bar of a cross.
  2. (By analogy) An arm of the transept of a church.
  3. Pieces of wood or iron, arranged in a cross shape, across a bay (??) or frame of a window, which hold the panes.
[[fr:meneau]] has one definition, roughly:
  1. (Architecture) A wood, stone, or iron upright or crossbar that divides an opening to form a cross shape.
Hopefully those translations are sufficiently accurate and clear that y'all can figure out the right English translations. (You can also click the links; there are helpful images for some of the senses.)
RuakhTALK 18:45, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

some queries??

Hi there.I've some questions.I hope I'll be helped out.What's the plural of crux?What's the difference between instant and moment?Suggest me the most appropriate synonym for 'moment'.Moreover what is a hairpin curve?Are hairpin curve and hairpin turn the same.Moreover what's the meaning of short in electricity?Thanks. —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).


There's a fair chunk missing from this entry. Like an adjective part for a start. --Jackofclubs 14:43, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

I added the adjective and preposition, but better somebody check it after me. --Duncan MacCall 15:23, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm not seeing the difference between these two senses:
  1. No longer existing.
    The days of my youth are gone.
  2. Used up.
    I'm afraid all the coffee's gone at the moment.
msh210 20:06, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
In the first sense the thing has finished or passed with time, without anybody's action, while in the second sense somebody must have done something to make the thing "gone". --Duncan MacCall 22:41, 29 October 2008 (UTC)


Is sense 4 (terrorist, slang) real, or perhaps only restricted to fiction and video games? A quick search finds a bunch of schlocky-looking novels, one historical reference to charlie tango (CT) for “communist terrorist”,[48] and one non-military book.[49] Michael Z. 2008-10-27 20:02 z


Is yay as an adverb really comparable? Thryduulf 22:19, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't think so. A pain to get confirmation, though. Other pointing adverbs seem to be: "Did he do it the way I do?" "No, more thusly." But not the closer parallel so ("He was about so high"), AFAIcT. DCDuring TALK 22:48, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't think so. (And shouldn't it be {{misspelling of|yea}}, anyway?) —RuakhTALK 02:48, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
It is possible, but this pointing sense is not clearly in any OneLook dictionary def or "yea", except possibly something from compact Oxford. I have heard "so" and "yo" with the same meaning. This needs a slang dictionary and/or OED. DCDuring TALK 03:07, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
Huh, whaddaya know? the OED Online has it only under "yay", and only in the phrases "yay big" and "yay high". (It considers it U.S. slang, and gives "yea" only as a probable etymology.) *is shocked* —RuakhTALK 17:12, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
It's interesting; a b.g.c. search for "about yea high" vs. "about yay high" (precise enough to filter out most of the gunk) goes 2:1 for "yea"; but the same search on the Web goes about 2:1 for "yay." I find the "yay" spelling bizarre for this sense, but I guess people are using it... {{alternative spelling of|yea}} (keeping the main entry at "yea") seems most plausible, at least until the world of print begins to follow the example of the illiterate online multitudes -- which I fear is just a matter of time. -- Visviva 15:40, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
I would have thought so too, but NOAD has “yay2 (also yea)” for this sense. It has a separate etymology “1960s: probably a variant of the adverb YEA1.”
To me it sounds quaint and old, so it should be spelled yea, but it turns out to be relatively new and probably seldom written, so the phonetic yay is a more common form. Michael Z. 2008-10-30 16:08 z
The truly illiterate just say it. Most dictionaries don't have it defined in this sense at either yea or yay. In the US aye is more common for voting than yea; we have yes-men (and nay-sayers, but not so many yea-sayers. Yea may already be archaic, yea, obsolete. DCDuring TALK 16:18, 30 October 2008 (UTC)


Is there a scientific word for liquidy - for example the consistency of custard or maybe jello or possibly half-melted butter - which is kinda liquid and kinda solid. --Borganised 11:33, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

I think this will do as I remember it from Junior Cert Science. To the best of my knowledge a solid that i "sloppy" or "liquidy" like custard or yoghurt is said to be non-crystalline (not sure about the hyphenation though, you'd need to search b.g.c. or something to find whether a hyphen is often used or not.--50 Xylophone Players talk 11:40, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
I found amorphous as a result of a non-crystalline search, which might be what I want, but it has a complicated definition - even w:simple:amorphous solid wasn't simple enough for me - I did the Junior Cert Science too, and I remember the teacher saying how glass wasn't really a solid (What? of course it is solid!!) and we mentioned custard too, and maybe treacle or something like that.

Anyway, I also found gloopy and slushy and mushy (all great words in their own right) for non-scientific terms which seem to be synonyms. --Borganised 12:07, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

  • The word you are looking for is semiliquid. Custard, I seem to remember, is a thixotropic liquid - if you add just a little milk to the Bird's custard powder and mix it, then it becomes almost solid when you pause the mixing. SemperBlotto 12:16, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Viscous? Ƿidsiþ 12:17, 30 October 2008 (UTC)



  • Yes. (and you don't need to ask the same question in two different places) SemperBlotto 17:19, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

meaning of French verb "borner"?

See above. I found the word "bornee" (with accent on 1st e) in a mathematical text and don't know what it means.-- 17:50, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

  • bornée is the feminine of the adjective borné - I think it means having a limit (in a mathematical context). SemperBlotto 17:54, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Thanks. However, the context is "sur toute partie bornée" - so what could this mean? "On each bounded part"? "On each closed part"?-- 18:02, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
      • It means "bounded on each side" (or each part? something of the kind). Equinox 18:04, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

correct use of the word: feral

can you use the word feral to describe wind...(it may also be relevant that this is in reference to a poem)

Poet's are licensed to push the limits of the language. Natural phenomena have long been viewed as like animals or even as animals (or people or Gods). To call a wind feral is to remind us of the feeling of being at the mercy of a powerful, unlistening beast. DCDuring TALK 20:23, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Citations:if, as and when

What would be the best POS header for this? -- Visviva 04:00, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

I'd go with "Phrase". -- WikiPedant 05:48, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
In its main use it looks like a conjunction to me. I've just included it as an alternative form when, as, and if you pull the trigger and enter it. DCDuring TALK 11:38, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
Actually, Visiva's citations look, in the main, like adverbial usages to me. But each of these terms can serve as multiple parts of speech, so in combination who knows exactly what the official POS is. I still say the only circumspect way out is "Phrase." (BTW, Visviva -- I'd be inclined to put these quotations on the main entry page, not in one of those separate "Citations" gulag subpages. It is still permissible and desirable to include one or two or three telling quotations on the main page, to support the definition. After all, the meaning is the use, and hence good usage examples belong in the definition directly illuminating the meaning, especially in the case of oddball expressions like this.) -- WikiPedant 23:53, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

Washingtonian proper

Is Washingtonian a proper noun or a common one? (As usual properness confuses me). RJFJR 16:38, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

A common noun. The issue is a bit thorny, but [[Appendix:English proper nouns]] gives some guidance. —RuakhTALK 18:19, 31 October 2008 (UTC)


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

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

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

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

The no-second-"f" pronunciation is common in most places I've spent a lot of time (mostly US). More commonly, I think, there is a vestige remaining among many speakers. If someone were asked to repeat the word, they might well articulate the second "f". DCDuring TALK 15:46, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Re: vestige, repetition, etc.: Yeah, I agree. —RuakhTALK 17:29, 2 November 2008 (UTC)


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

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


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

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

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

Consider it a proposal. I request that attention be paid to Google News hits as well: These are edited works. I also suggest that one's personal reaction to a regional difference is something that can work against the stated objectives of Wiktionary. I have an impression that non-standard tags are applied more generously to "Americanisms" than to expressions from other regions. Could that be the effect or the cause of our low share among US users? Is the reaction a sign that there would need to be a separate wikt for American English? I don't know about the needs of the other colonies. DCDuring TALK 12:11, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
As an American myself, I am horrified to discover that you seem to be right about this being an Americanism. Data points:
  • [50] However, I think this may be partially an artifact of the fact that very few non-US archives are included in Google's archive search.
  • On the other hand, there are at least occasional non-US native-speaker uses (or rather "useses"), like this one from the Guardian: [51]. However, they don't seem very numerous.
  • The COCA corpus yields 6 hits for "bacterias," [52] as against 0 for the BNC (probably not statistically significant).
Bleh. What a travesty. But what's done is done; this appears to be a valid, intentional use that is largely localized in the US. Could we perhaps tag it (Template loop detected: Template:context 1) or some such? -- Visviva 12:52, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree. —RuakhTALK 12:13, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I've sent e-mails to the NY Times asking about the usage. I will let you know what I find. I might to the same for Merriam-Webster. DCDuring TALK 01:43, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
FWIW, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (1999 edition) has this to say on page 35:
bacteria is plural. The singular is bacterium.
... so the NYT itself would consider these uses nonstandard? Or maybe their MOS isn't actually respected by the proofreaders. -- Visviva 02:56, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree there is just one etymology here. Also I'm fairly sure the current Etymology 1 is incorrect -- bacteria is the regular plural of bacterium (NL) from bakterion (grc), which is the neuter diminutive of bakteria (please forgive the sloppy romanization). The singular sense is derived from the Latin neuter plural, not directly from the Greek singular feminine. OTOH, if there are any uses of "bacteria" (or "bakteria"?) to actually mean "a (large) rod," that would merit a separate etymology. -- Visviva 02:56, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Whoops! [53] Looks like "bacteria" (plural "bacteriae") is a valid obsolete synonym for "bacterium." That would be a separate etymology IMO (from the Greek feminine singular, presumably via NL). Now, is this completely separate from the modern singular use, or not? -- Visviva 03:12, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I wouldn't consider that a wholly separate etymology. Latin doesn't make as big a deal or the -um / -a difference in ending, since they'd be considered just different gender forms of the same word (with the complication that the -a form could also be a plural nominative of the -um form). A different inflectional ending does not mean there is an entirley separate etymology; there are just two results from the same Ancient Greek rooting via Latin. If you want to get as technical as your preceding comments suggest, then we should start adding separate etymologies to all plural forms, since the plural forms in English often don't derive from the same root form as the singular. And nearly each and every conjugated form of every French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, etc. verb can be traced back to a particular inflected form of a Latin verb. Does that mean that every one of those gets a separate and different etymology? --EncycloPetey 15:50, 4 November 2008 (UTC)


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

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


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

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

Looking for a word...

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

Any help with this would be greatly appreciated!

—This comment was unsigned.

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

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

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


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

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

modus operandi

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

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

I'd like to help, but I'm suffering from infection by bacterias. DCDuring TALK 17:05, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
I would rate those as common errors, and create them as {{misspelling of}} entries. Unlike the situation in bacteria/bacterium discussion, these alternative forms aren't remotely plausible in Latin. --EncycloPetey 18:25, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

petrol blue

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

compound word

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

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

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


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

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

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

Mathematical symbols

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

shelter dog

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

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

Some sort of mediaeval palace thing

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

"Great hall" seems to be the term of preference. [54] [55] The interwikis at w:Great hall may need fixing. -- Visviva 14:01, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

pevná linka

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

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

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

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

a friend in need is a friend indeed

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

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


  • 1909, William Shepard Walsh, Handy-book of Literary Curiosities, page 400
    Prosperity makes friends," says Publius Syrus, "adversity tries them." To the same effect is Ecclesiasticus, " A friend cannot be known in prosperity, and an enemy cannot be hidden in adversity." Therefore all nations have the proverb " A friend in need is a friend indeed," an expression found in Plautus's " Epidicus," — "Nothing is there more friendly to a man than a friend in need.'1 (Act iii., Sc. 3). Yet he seems to be a rarity : In aught that tries the heart, how few withstand the proof! BVRON : Ckildt Harold, Canto ii., St. 66.
    DCDuring TALK 18:01, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
  • In a volume edited by The great scholar of proverbs, Wolfgang Mieder, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett says that ambiguity is of the essence for this proverb here, pages 113-4. Heris students produced four senses. DCDuring TALK 18:08, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
  • At the risk of nitpicking, the page you link to is actually by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. (Mieder is one of the editors of the book it's in.) But, that's really helpful, a specific source discussing the ambiguity (instead of our having to infer the ambiguity from mutually contradictory sources). This proverb gives new meaning to the proverb that proverbs hunt in pairs. :-)   —RuakhTALK 21:05, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

jacuzzi caps?

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

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


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

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

have a lot on one's plate

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

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

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


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

Christmas and Passover Proper nouns?

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

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

part and parcel

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

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

put off

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

Yes, but it seems to be hyphenated: [56] -- Visviva 14:24, 12 November 2008 (UTC)