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User:Pathoschild/Wiktionary:Style guide (entries)

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Style guide Style guide (entries)
A definition page provides dictionary information, translations, and data such as etymology and derived terms. A variety of information in all languages are displayed together on the same pages; a very specific layout has been standardised to maintain useability and aesthetics.

As explained on the Style guide index page, these are flexible guidelines rather than hard rules.



The page should be named after the words it defines, in the exact case and style (for example, i.e., ie, and IE are different pages). The {{see}} template should be placed at the top of the page linking to definition pages with very similar names, as well as under language sections for similar words in that language.


A category is a group of related articles which are automatically listed on a category page. Several templates exist to automate categorization, as described in the sections below. Note that effort is being made to standardise usage and placement, so they should be less complex in the future. For help creating and using categories, see the category style guide.

Categories automatically categorise pages by the title in case-sensitive alphabetical order; this means that Aspirin and aspirin will be probably be on different pages. If the title starts with an uppercase letter, it should be forced to categorise with the lowercase words by "piping" the category link (for example, by placing [[Category:Drugs|aspirin]] on Aspirin).

Interwiki linksEdit

An Interwiki link is a link to an article of the same spelling in another Wiktionary. There is usually no need to add interwiki links, as that is done automatically by a bot. These links use the syntax <code>[[lc:ForeignPageTitle]]</code>. Interwiki links should be placed at the very bottom of an article in alphabetical order. For help adding interwiki links, see m:Help:Interwiki linking.

Interwiki links in translation sections that are intended to be clickable must be prefixed with a colon (ie, [[:lc:title]] instead of [[lc:title]]). This forces it to output a normal wikilink.

Basic contentEdit


A second-level language header notes the language of the word in question. The first header is "Translingual", for terms that are the same in all languages. The second header is "English", since this is the English Wiktionary. Any other languages are sorted after that in alphabetical order.


The word definitions are divided by part of speech, the key descriptor of lexical function (noun, verb, preposition, et cetera). In addition to traditional parts of speech, there are headers for initialisms and suffixes, idioms, phrases, and proverbs.

English definitions should use the appropriate templates (see below). Documentation can be found on the template talk pages for unusual cases.


# Blah.

===Proper noun===
{{en-proper noun}}

# Blah.


All definitions should be backed by reliable sources, preferably using a reference template (a simple link is good enough for uncommonly-referenced sites). These should be placed in list form under a "References" template.

* {{R:American Heritage 2000|{{subst:PAGENAME}}}}
* {{|{{subst:PAGENAME}}}}

Basic layoutEdit

The example below shows the main headers from mother-of-pearl. Note the text passed to template:en-adj and template:en-noun ("-"); this means that the word is not comparable (ie, one cannot be 'more mother-of-pearl') and not countable (one can't have two mother-of-pearls). It's a good idea to read the documentation for the template if the simple template ("{{en-adj}}") doesn't output what you expect. You can also ask a question on the template talk pages if you don't understand.

English template documentation and discussion:

# of or like mother-of-pearl; [[iridescent]] or [[pearly]].

# The hard pearly inner layer of certain [[mollusk]] shells; [[nacre]].

* {{R:American Heritage 2000|mother-of-pearl}}
* {{|mother-of-pearl}}
* {{R:CancerWEB|mother-of-pearl}}
* {{R:WordNet 2003|mother-of-pearl}}

Non-English definitionsEdit

Entries for terms in other language should follow the standard format as closely as possible regardless of the language of the word. However, a translation into English should normally be given instead of a definition, including a brief note to indicate which meaning of the English translation is intended. There should not be a translation subsection.

Some languages do have characteristics that require variation from the standard format. For discussions of these variations, see Wiktionary:Language considerations.

Additional contentEdit

There is additional content that is useful on Wiktionary beyond the basic information. You can ignore these if you don't have the necessary expertise, resources or time.


The following order and format is recommended, but variations in that order are allowable. In general, information about the word itself goes first; about the meaning second, and about other words, usage notes, or references third.

Alternative spellings
Pronunciation (including hyphenation, rhymes, homophones, and audio files)
Proper noun
Usage notes
Derived terms
Related terms
External links


Etymology (which shows the origins of the word) should be written in readable English, with no abbreviations or shorthand. Languages should be linked, words linked and italicized. Sometimes the same word has different etymologies for different meanings; they should be distinguished with a paranthetical italicized note about the context.

For example, the following etymology from poopy shows two origins of the word. If there was only one origin, the list and paranthetical note could be left out.

* (''noun'') [[baby talk]] [[variant]] of [[poop]] ([[excrement]]).
* (''adjective'') Originated 1957, perhaps by shortening ''[[nincompoop]]'' or as a [[euphemism]] for ''[[shitty]]''; see ''[[poop]]''.


The pronunciation section provides information related to pronunciation, hyphenation, rhymes, et cetera. The country [(UK), (US), (Australia), et al.] is first if there is regional variation, followed by the pronunciation system (such as SAMPA or IPA), a colon, then the pronunciation. (See Wiktionary:Pronunciation key for an outline of these two systems.) The phonetic transcriptions are normally placed between diagonal strokes. While there is a natural bias in favour of established systems of pronunciation, it is not wrong to use an arbitrary representation if that’s all you know and there is an important point to be made. For the word reject, one could have /RE-ject/ and /re-JECT/ to make the important distinction between the pronunciations of the the noun and verb forms. It may not be standard, but neither is it wrong. Whenever possible, however, such ad hoc pronunciations should be replaced with one in an unambiguous system, such as IPA.

Ideally, every entry should have a pronunciation section, and perhaps a sound sample to accompany it. However, pronunciations vary widely between dialects, and non-linguists often have trouble writing down pronunciations properly. UK English pronunciations should give the Received Pronunciation of the entry.

For audio pronunciations, upload the Ogg file to Commons and link here using Template:Audio.

A typical pronunciation section may look like the following example based on the word portmanteau:

* (''UK'') IPA: /pɔːtˈmantəʊ/, SAMPA: /pO:t"m{nt@U/
* (''US'') SAMPA: /pOrt"m{ntoU/.
* {{audio|en-us-Portmanteau.ogg|Audio (US)}}

Lists of other wordsEdit

Lists of other words include alternative spellings, derived and related terms, and synonyms and antonyms. These should be in list form. If there are multiple lists for different parts of speech or meaning, these should be noted with one bullet and the list below as second-level bullets.

For example, see this text from awake.

* ''adj.'' conscious
** [[asleep]]
** [[unconscious]]

* ''v.'' to gain consciousness
** [[awaken]]
** [[wake up]]

List any homophones of the word in alphabetical order, wikifying each one. For example, the Pronunciation section of the English word "right" contains the line

* Homophones: [[rite]], [[wright]], [[write]]

which results in

which are the English words that sound identical to "right".

If a word is a homophone in a particular dialect of English, it may be added provided the dialect is referred to (for example, ride is a homophone of right in accents with flapping, and beater is a homophone of beta in non-rhotic accents). Examples (for "beater" and "right", respectively):

The following must not be added to the homophones section:

  • Words that are "nearly" homophones or rhymes (for example, for "right", the words "white" or "light");
  • Words that are homophones if they are mispronounced in some way (eg, for "miss", the word "myth" when pronounced with a lisp);
  • Foreign words. These are unlikely to be true homophones (eg, Italian tipi (meaning "types") is not a homophone of English tepee; the sounds of the vowels and consonants are similar but different).

(Note that the term used here is homophone; the term homonym used by some is ambiguous as it can mean either "homophone" or "homograph".)


Add a link to the page in the "Rhymes" namespace that lists the rhymes for the word. So, for example, on the entry for "hat", add the line

* Rhymes: [[Rhymes:English:-æt|-æt]]

to the code. This displays as

Do not list the rhymes themselves on the page you are editing.

The article coreEdit

The part of speech or other descriptorEdit

This is basically a level 3 header but may be a level 4 or higher when multiple etymologies or pronunciations are a factor. This header most often shows the part of speech, but is not restricted to "parts of speech" in the traditional sense. Many other descriptors like "Proper noun", "Idiom", "Abbreviation", "Phrasal noun", "Prefix", etc.


We give a word's inflections without indentation in the line below the "Part of speech" header. There is no separate header for this. For uninflected words it is enough to repeat the entry word in boldface. Further forms can be given in parentheses. For a noun this will simply be word (words). For an adjective this will appear as hard (harder, hardest). For a verb you may use end (ends, ending, ended). Templates are available at inflection templates for those who prefer this technique.


The definitions are the most fundamental piece of dictionary information but do not have their own header. They are simply added in one big block, line after line, each beginning with a number sign (#). Each definition may be treated as a sentence: beginning with a capital letter and ending with a full stop. The key terms of a definition should be wikified.

Headings after the definitionsEdit

These headings generally derive from knowing the meaning of the word.


Main article: Wiktionary:Quotations

Quotations are generally placed under the definition which they illustrate. If there is more than one being provided, or where this is not possible (e.g., a very early usage that does not clearly relate to a specific sense of the word), a separate section should be used. Quotations here are formatted normally but without definition numbers.

  • 1561: Platypus, Odes
    The hrunk it hrunketh every day.


It is increasingly important to the credibility of Wiktionary to be able to add references that substantiate what we say. In due course, every article should have at least one reference which a reader can use to verify what has been said. The need to balance respect for copyrights with definitions that are so inventive as to be inaccurate has a profound effect on the usefulness of Wiktionary.

References here may be given in a normal bibliographic format showing author, title, place of publication, publisher and year of publication. Reference templates (beginning with “R:”) are being devised for some of the most commonly used sources. Thus, for the 1913 Webster, we have {{R:Webster 1913}}, which gives:

Pathoschild/Wiktionary:Style guide (entries) in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913

Usage notesEdit

This section, whether identified by a heading or indent level may come anywhere. It should follow as closely as possible after the point that needs explaining. Curb the tendency to be long winded in this section; brief explicit notes tend to be more effective. These notes should not take the place of restrictive labels when those are adequate for the job. Be prepared to document these notes with references. Remember to describe how a term is used, rather than try to dictate how it should be used from your point of view.


This is a list of words that have similar meanings as the word being defined. They are often very inexact.

Where several definitions of the English word exist, synonyms should be given in a separate list for each meaning.

The following approach is suggested:

  1. Summarise the definition for which synonyms are being given, putting it in italics between parentheses, followed by a colon.
  2. List the synonyms for this definition, in alphabetical order and separated by commas, wikifying each synonym.
  3. Use one line for each synonym, beginning each line with a bullet.

The synonyms section for “hrunk” might look like this (the synonyms are also made up):

An experimental alternative is offered by WikiSaurus entries. Instead of listing many synonyms in each of several synonymous articles, a single reference can be made in each to a common WikiSaurus page. See corpse, body, WikiSsurus:corpse, Wikisaurus:body for examples.

Further semantic relationsEdit

The following headers are available to define sections containing semantically related words other than synonyms: Antonyms, Hypernyms, Hyponyms, Meronyms, Holonyms, Troponyms, Coordinate terms, See also.

Each of these sections is formatted exactly like the Synonyms section (see above). More detailed information can be found on Wiktionary:Semantic relations.


(See Wiktionary:Translations for more)

  • ONLY add translations that you are CERTAIN of. If you aren't familiar with a language, or aren't sure of a particular translation, it is far better not to add it than to risk adding an incorrect translation.
  • NEVER use automatic translation software to generate translations from English into a language you don't speak. Automatic translations into English are likewise problematic. Translation software rarely gives accurate results.
  • DO NOT COPY from translating dictionaries (bilingual or multilingual) as this may constitute copyright violation. This applies to dictionaries both in print form and online. Dictionaries that are out of copyright may be used.

Translations are to be given for English words only. In entries for foreign words, only the English translation is given, instead of a definition. Any translation between two foreign languages is best handled on the Wiktionaries in those languages.

The translation section is separated into a number of divisions that are keyed to the various meanings of the English word. Each division begins with a summary of the translated meaning in bold letters.

In each division, the languages for which translations exist are listed in two columns by their English names in alphabetical order. The language name is preceded by a bullet (generated by *) followed by a colon and the translations into that language. The language names of regional languages, dialects and recognised artificial languages may be wikified. The two columns are obtained by adding the {{top}} template just before the first language, {{mid}} halfway down (which is typically, but not always, between the languages beginning with A-I and those beginning with J-Z), and {{bottom}} at after the last translation.

Wikify each translation by enclosing it in double square brackets. This will create a link to that word in this Wiktionary. Links to the Wiktionary for that language, and references for the translation should be on that other page rather than in the translation list. If the translation is exactly the same as the English word one should link to the appropriate language section of the page by using an anchor (#) as demonstrated in the French translations in the example below.

If a word is translated into a language that does not use the Roman alphabet, it is helpful to add a transliteration or romanization. Note however that only widespread romanization systems may be used. See Wiktionary:Transliteration.

If appropriate, follow the translations of nouns by their grammatical gender using the templates {{m}}, {{f}}, {{n}} and {{c}} for "masculine", "feminine", "neuter" and "common" respectively. Similarly for adjectives.

Do not add the pronunciation of the translation or detailed grammatical information: such information should be provided on the page for the translation itself.

If there are multiple translations, give each of them in full. For example, for the German for "ankle", which is Knöchel or Fußknöchel, write:

rather than just combining the two as "(Fuß-) Knöchel" or similar, which is liable to be misunderstood.

Now an example (a shortened version of the entry for orange) illustrating some of the conventions:

# The [[fruit]] of the [[orange tree]].
# The [[reddish]]-[[yellow]] [[colour]] of an orange.

'''fruit of the orange tree'''
*French: [[orange#French|orange]] {{f}}
*German: [[Orange]] {{f}}
*Japanese: [[オレンジ]] (orenji)
*Russian: [[апельсин]] (apelsin) {{m}}
:Cyrillic: [[наранџа]] {{f}}, [[поморанџа]] {{{f}}
:Roman: [[narandža]] {{f}}, [[pomorandža]] {{f}}

'''colour of an orange'''
*German: [[Orange]] {{n}}
*Hebrew: [[כתום]] (katom)
*Latvian: [[oranžs]]

Take care when translating idioms and phrases. Most idioms do not translate word for word. Ensure that your translation is an expression that is actually used in the target language. For example, the idiom "none of your bee's wax" cannot be translated into German literally as "nicht mein Bienenwachs." An idiomatic translation is "nicht dein Bier" (literally, "none of your beer," which is not idiomatic in English). Do not give literal translations back into English after the translation. While this information may be of interest to the reader, it belongs on the page for the translation itself.


List terms in other languages that have borrowed or inherited the word. The etymology of these terms should then link back to the page.

Derived termsEdit

List terms in the same language that are morphological derivatives. For example, the noun driver is derived, by addition of the suffix -er, from the verb to drive. If it is not known from which part of speech a certain derivative was formed it is necessary to have a "Derived terms" header on the same level as the part of speech headings.

Related termsEdit

List words in the same language that have strong etymological connections but aren't derived terms. Each such term should be wikified. For example, datum and data should point to each other in this section since the latter is the plural of the former, and the plural form is not obtained by morphological derivation but was taken directly from Latin (where it is a morphological derivation). Another example is the pair of nouns pendant and pennant. These should cross-reference each other as they have very similar (arguably identical) etymologies in some subsenses.

Anagrams and other triviaEdit

Main article: Wiktionary:Anagrams

Anagrams may be entered in alphabetical order under a level 3 header ===Anagrams===. Only list anagrams that are words in the same language. You may include the alphagram which is not wikied unless it is itself a word. For post, the anagrams section would look like this:

* opst - (alphagram)
* [[opts]]
* [[pots]]
* [[spot]]
* [[stop]]
* [[tops]]

Other sections with other trivia and observations may be added, either under the heading "Trivia" or some other suitably explanatory heading. Because of the unlimited range of possibilities, no formatting details can be provided.