Wiktionary:Tea room/2019/August

discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← July 2019 · August 2019 · September 2019 → · (current)


The word pentacosiarch appears in the foreword to the English translation by John Yardley of Quintus Curtius rufus' biography of Alexander the Great.

We don't have an article on it.

Not 2,500, 500. DTLHS (talk) 16:11, 1 August 2019 (UTC)

Why does Proto-Germanic have *sebun instead of *seftunEdit

What happened to the -t- from *septm ? RubixLang (talk) 12:21, 1 August 2019 (UTC)

Ringe reconstructs a pre-Germanic form *sepṃ́t by metathesis of *septṃ́, which becomes *sebun by regular sound change. Benwing2 (talk) 01:09, 2 August 2019 (UTC)

Latin pēdis, pēdĭculus or pĕdis, pĕdīculus?Edit

(Notifying Fay Freak, Brutal Russian, JohnC5): @Lambiam Gaffiot says pēdis, pēdĭculus. L+S says pĕdis, pĕdīculus. Do these words never occur in poetry? That seems unlikely. Benwing2 (talk) 01:00, 2 August 2019 (UTC)

Gaffiot 2016 is always the correct one next to L&S 1879, as well as Elementary Lewis, being a member of the same Forcellini-derived lineage. LaNe is the most reliable. Brutal Russian (talk) 05:58, 3 August 2019 (UTC)

noun adjuncts / possessive case in EnglishEdit

How are we supposed to explain noun adjuncts / possessive case in English to non-native speakers in a way that is easy to understand? To me, it seems totally random. For example, we can say:

He was sentenced to two years in prison; or
He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment; or
He was given a two-year sentence.

... three completely different structures. Any tips? ---> Tooironic (talk) 01:34, 2 August 2019 (UTC)

The possessive form has always made intuitive sense to me because it can be rephrased with of: "bull's horns" = "horns of a bull"; "Bob's car" = "car of Bob"; "week's wages" = "wages of a week"; "two years' imprisonment" = "imprisonment of two years". Equinox 18:49, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
How about noun adjuncts? ---> Tooironic (talk) 21:57, 4 August 2019 (UTC)
At Google NGrams "two years in prison" is much more common that any of four alternatives involving the word prison in plural form and phrase-final position. I didn't look to compare with other expressions involving prison in singular form or in other positions, let alone involving other words like sentence or imprisonment. English provides many closely equivalent options. DCDuring (talk) 22:46, 4 August 2019 (UTC)


What sense of push does this quote go under?

  • 2016, JoAnneh Nagler, How to be an artist without losing your mind, your shirt, or your creative compass, →ISBN, page 91:
    Don't think that if you keep pushing harder and harder, it will make you succeed faster or earn more.

Maybe 7 after a rewrite? I'm not sure how that definition is intransitive. Or a new sense, something like "to exert oneself"? Ultimateria (talk) 18:39, 3 August 2019 (UTC)

MWOnline has, among its intransitive definitions for push:
"to press forward energetically against opposition" and
"to exert oneself continuously, vigorously, or obtrusively to gain an end"
The second of those would fit your usage example. This is not a new sense; something like it appeared in Century 1911. DCDuring (talk) 20:14, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
I've added a sense based on the second one you shared. Ultimateria (talk) 00:01, 5 August 2019 (UTC)


Under verb sense:


I can't make head nor tail of this. Before I delete it, I would just like to check if anyone else can, in case I am missing something. Mihia (talk) 19:30, 4 August 2019 (UTC)

Presumably it relates to definition 2 of the verb, the only one that includes the word game: ("(transitive, intransitive) To perform in (a sport); to participate in (a game)".) But I don't get it either. It's conceivable that they confused "Hypernyms" with "Hyponyms", though I don't see anything specific for that either. DCDuring (talk) 19:41, 4 August 2019 (UTC)
Just too confusing - delete it. SemperBlotto (talk) 19:44, 4 August 2019 (UTC)
OK, thanks, I'll delete it then. Mihia (talk) 20:39, 4 August 2019 (UTC)

lower backEdit

We currently define this as "the lower part of the back". Does anyone know how to improve this definition? Many languages such as Chinese do not have such a term, so it would be great if more detail could be provided. ---> Tooironic (talk) 21:56, 4 August 2019 (UTC)

Two dictionaries, Collins and a medical dictionary have entries. (See lower back at OneLook Dictionary Search.) Judging from a search on WikiCommons, the most important function of the lower back is to be a site for tatoos. DCDuring (talk) 22:34, 4 August 2019 (UTC)
I believe it's an informal synonym of lumbar (spine/vertebrae), which has an unsatisfying definition also: "related to the lower back or loin". There is a noun sense missing there. Ultimateria (talk) 23:56, 4 August 2019 (UTC)
Lumbar is an adjective, so a synonym would be lumbar region ? Leasnam (talk) 04:17, 5 August 2019 (UTC)
Sometmes hyphenated as in "lower-back pain". SemperBlotto (talk) 06:12, 5 August 2019 (UTC)
I've expanded the adjective sense of lumbar to be more specific. I also added two noun senses, two quotes, and an image. At lower back I expanded the definition and added an image of a lower back tattoo to show that it's internal or external. Maybe those should be two different senses, I'm not sure. Ultimateria (talk) 16:36, 5 August 2019 (UTC)
I've added a little to lower back. I think trying to define it using medical terminology actually obfuscates it further. People usually know lumbar refers to "lower back", not the other way around. Leasnam (talk) 03:01, 6 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Thanks a lot guys for your help with this entry! ---> Tooironic (talk) 05:24, 7 August 2019 (UTC)


In this edit, a Georgian IP changed "Abkhazia, a disputed region" to "Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, a region". Abkhazia is a very touchy subject- basically a civil war blown into an international conflict by Russian intervention. From the Abkhazian and Russian view, it's an independent state called Abkhazia which recently won its independence. From the Georgian point of view it's a Georgian territory called the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia taken from Georgia by military (mostly Russian) force. The international community seems to agree more with the Georgian view, but it's not settled by any stretch of the imagination.

Any time someone from one side of a conflict changes things to reflect their side, my POV alarms go off- especially when the edit summary says something innocuous like: " A minor change also in the definition". I'm not sure how to deal with this, so I'm bringing it here. Chuck Entz (talk) 14:02, 5 August 2019 (UTC)

The simplest is to use “# The capital city of [[Abkhazia]].” and confine the thorny issue to a single spot, the entry Abkhazia.  --Lambiam 19:00, 7 August 2019 (UTC)

While I agree it is a touchy topic and Wikipedia should encompass all viewpoints (or at least try to), the label of Abkhazia as an Autonomous Republic is not something cooked up by malevolent propagandists:189 out of 193 UN member states (98% of the entire international community, basically everyone except Nicaragua, Venezuela, Russia and Nauru) agree with this viewpoint.So it is not just agreeing a bit "more" with Georgia, it is an overwhelming, if not absolute, support of Georgian view. Just something to keep in mind. The regional designation of just "Abkhazia" is possible, I guess, but one would ask how precise it is and how well it reflects the situation, from a global perspective.

shinny, shimmyEdit

I am personally aware of the common conflation/confusion of these terms, and have heard "shimmy" when people meant "shinny". To be honest, I think that I heard "shimmy" used for "shinny" before I heard "shinny" used for "shinny".

Lexico (powered by Oxford) indicates this as well:


(also, see definition 2.1 at : https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/shimmy)

Might I suggest having a section like this for "shimmy"?: 

Etymology 2

Corruption of "shinny", by misassociation with definition 5 of the previous.

"The previous" being, of course, the actual word "shimmy".

Or were these identical meanings found for both words formed independently? Tharthan (talk) 18:09, 6 August 2019 (UTC)

BUMP Tharthan (talk) 14:56, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
You might have better luck if you BUMP this etymological question over to the Etymology Scriptorium... Chuck Entz (talk) 15:29, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
Good idea. I don't know why I didn't bring it there in the first place. Tharthan (talk) 17:07, 25 August 2019 (UTC)

safe (verb)Edit

I think this needs context (is it nonstandard?) or usage notes. DTLHS (talk) 21:01, 6 August 2019 (UTC)

look it = look like it?Edit

I've just heard this in the movie Terminator: "it may not look it, but that couch is very comfortable". I guess it's synonymous with "look like it", but I've never seen look used transitively that way. At sense 2 of look, the second quote also gives an example of a direct transitive use, but isn't it a bit archaic?

Also, I don't see how the usex of sense 3 warrants a separate sense; what is the difference with quotes #3 and #4 of sense 2? Canonicalization (talk) 23:13, 6 August 2019 (UTC)

Yes, it's used that way, as in "I looked such a fool". It is copular usage, as with "seem" or "feel". Equinox 00:27, 7 August 2019 (UTC)
I agree senses 2 and 3 could be merged. Equinox 00:28, 7 August 2019 (UTC)
"To look the part" is another common way the word is used transitively. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 02:51, 7 August 2019 (UTC)
Ah yes, I had not thought of that. Canonicalization (talk) 09:03, 7 August 2019 (UTC)

I'm having a little difficulty fully parsing the entry, but it seems that "I looked him in the eye" is labeled obsolete there, but I doubt that it is. The look someone in the eye link lower on the page is a redlink... AnonMoos (talk) 20:51, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

Gender of Latin names of people like Erotium and Auxilium (male), Delphium and Adelphasium (female), from PlautusEdit

(Notifying Fay Freak, Brutal Russian, JohnC5): @Lambiam Do these names follow natural gender or are they neuter? I'm guessing neuter. The complete list of such names that someone recently created is:

At least Auxilium (male), Philematium (female) and Planesium (female) appear in Gaffiot and are listed as neuter, so I assume they're all neuter. Benwing2 (talk) 03:07, 7 August 2019 (UTC)

Well, Gaffiot, this is just absurd now. Names don't have gender (or number, or case, e.g. if you're referring to someone by their patronymic), people do. You do get gender agreement when calling somebody a noun that isn't their name, though, such as scortum, sōl, gaudium or animal. scelus is an exception to this, at least with male referents. Brutal Russian (talk) 13:51, 7 August 2019 (UTC)
In German, the grammatical gender takes precedence over the natural gender (at least “officially”): das Mädchen spielt mit seinem Ball. The phrase Philematium mea shows that, whatever gender G. may assign to the proper noun – Latin Roma is also a proper noun and definitely feminine – the natural gender of its referent prevails for gender agreement. —⁠This unsigned comment was added by Lambiam (talkcontribs) at 19:18, 7 August 2019 (UTC).
So, the Latin phrase and concept of Constructio ad sensum is made up by Germans for German? Fay Freak (talk) 00:52, 8 August 2019 (UTC)
One would indeed be inclined to think so, but here the term is applied to Koine Greek by an American professor. While an unusual term in English, the concept by itself is not (at least in British English). The Wikipedia article on The Cure starts with “The Cure are an English rock band ...” and has a few lines further on “The band are estimated to have sold ...”. The last sentence is also grammatically strange to German ears for another reason, what with the band being the subject of the passive construction instead of the number of sold records.  --Lambiam 06:40, 8 August 2019 (UTC)
I think there is still some confusion over this. Let me deliberately err by making a sweeping generalisation about language not backed by research by stating that in a language where grammatical gender is natural gender-based (M-F at minimum), a personal name having a grammatical gender separate from the natural gender of its owner is impossible and indeed inconceivable. This has nothing at all to do with constrūctiō ad sensum or any Mädchens. A personal name doesn't have any other referent (= denotative content) than its owner. Any semantic content it has is connotative. If this is not so, the reference is done via metonymy, and the lexical item used is not a personal name (eg. "my love, my sun, my dove"). A language can easily have a name that coincides in form with a common noun (Russian Любо́вь (Ljubóvʹ), from любо́вь (ljubóvʹ, love)), and it will obviously tend to be assigned to individuals of the same natural gender as the word's grammatical gender. However, Latin's Cupīdō (masc., Cupid) from cupīdō (fem., desire) is a good counter-example to this. Using the grammatical agreement of the common noun with a personal name is a form of word play, and this is the only case where what looks like a name can have agreement different than its owner's natural gender. To illustrate with grammatical categories that English has, if someone has a possessive patronymic surename: "-Have you seen Jones? -Whose is that? I haven't seen his"; if someone has a surename that looks like a plural: "Scissors cut the conversation short by hitting their metallic leg against a rock". I'd love to know if there are languages, possibly with a non-natural-gender-based GG system where this generalisation doesn't hold, but judging from the lack of replies or even understanding of the question at stackexchange, I'm unlikely to find an example of this. Mädchen, persōna etc are common nouns and, putting aside constrūctiō ad sensum, I would expect them to regularly trigger common noun gender agreement in every language - this is strictly a matter of syntax, while what we're discussing is a matter of semantics.
With that consideration in mind, and in order to avoid confusing readers like Gaffiot confused us, I think every personal name should be marked as Common gender, or at any rate the ones derived from, and thus liable to be confused with, common nouns. Brutal Russian (talk) 12:08, 9 August 2019 (UTC)

quick adverbEdit

"1. Quickly. 2. (colloquial) With speed." What is the difference in meaning? Equinox 16:22, 7 August 2019 (UTC)

I don't see one. DCDuring (talk) 17:35, 7 August 2019 (UTC)
The adverb quickly has two related but different senses; quick used as an adverb has the same two senses:
  1. I was running as quick as I could, but it still took me over an hour to get there.
  2. It was very close by, so I got there quick without a sweat.
 --Lambiam 19:27, 7 August 2019 (UTC)
What about the other senses of adjective quick? Don't some of them also have adverbial application. Which might mean that adverb quick might best be defined as "In a quick manner" (as MWOnline does).
Also, doesn't adjective quick have a sense that fits in a sentence like "He's not fast, but he's quick on turns."? DCDuring (talk) 03:18, 10 August 2019 (UTC)
As to the last, used as in she does what she believes in and is a quick learner, the sense is like a mongrel of our senses 1 and 2 for the adjective quick: the notion of motion of sense 1 is missing; and the subject as a learner has hopefully more permanence than required for sense 2. Mixing the defs into “Performing a task rapidly or in a short time, or capable of doing so” producers a good fit. For the rest, I was merely offering a guess what made an editor make this distinction for the adverb, my hypothesis being that they overlooked the fact that quickly, next to the most common meaning “in a short time”, can also mean “in fast motion”. I did not mean to suggest that it cannot also carry the other meanings of quickly, although it may be difficult to verify that with certitude for all. The easiest fix is probably to remove sense 2 of the adverb quick, since it is one of a spectrum of meanings already covered by definition 1.  --Lambiam 11:35, 11 August 2019 (UTC)
To me the single definition line "Quickly; in a quick manner" seems like a simple solution, that doesn't create the need for attesting all the possible senses that adverbial quick may take on. DCDuring (talk) 21:14, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

permanent contract, open-ended contractEdit

Entry-worthy? Which one of those would serve best as a translation target? We already have fixed-term contract. Canonicalization (talk) 17:41, 8 August 2019 (UTC)

indefinite-term contract?  --Lambiam 10:44, 9 August 2019 (UTC)
And what would you use for Dauerschuldverhältnis (an obligation that has repeated exchange as its content)? Spanish: contrato de ejecución sucesiva, contrato de ejecución periódica, contrato de ejecución continuada. French: contrat successif, contrat à exécution successive. English continuing contract does not seem to be a set term and/or occasionalism and/or translationese. Fay Freak (talk) 17:32, 10 August 2019 (UTC)
continuing obligation?  --Lambiam 05:40, 11 August 2019 (UTC)
Where the French text of the Code civil du Québec has “contrat à exécution successive”, the English text of the Civil Code of Quebec has “contract of successive performance”.  --Lambiam 05:48, 11 August 2019 (UTC)
Almost all hits, and here, for continuing obligation, do not mean that concept, but just a specific one-direction continuing obligation, or duty, in German “dauernde Pflicht”, “dauerhafte Pflicht”, “fortwährende Pflicht”, where with Schuldverhältnis we mean the mutual relation between parties (not only contractual relationship, but if there is successive performance, an origin in statute is rarely thinkable). Technically, the difference between Schuld and Schuldverhältnis is as between obligation and obligationship which latter doesn’t really exist in English (and in Latin, both was obligātiō, sure, but Germans can distinguish).
Contract of successive performance: Interesting. But why so rare? There are just some hits for that and the half translated from French or sometimes Spanish. It seems one of several non-set solutions. Logically it could also be the term for § 2‐309 (2) of the Uniform Commercial Code of the US, which is worded as follows: “If the contract provides for successive performances but is indefinite in duration, it is valid for a reasonable time but unless otherwise agreed may be terminated at any time by either party.” (There is an even rarer successive performance contract.) But instead of settling on a term, the English-language jurists circumscribe it in various ways, as one finds once about this locus in Goldinger v. Boron Oil Company, 375 F. Supp. 400 (W.D. Pa. 1974) agreements calling for successive performance. Fay Freak (talk) 09:37, 11 August 2019 (UTC)


Hi cuties. This is probably my lack of understanding, and not a fault with the entry: however, can someone explain to me the difference between the Preposition and Conjunction at versus? Some examples (or, better, citations) might help to clear this up, but they need to fit the part of speech properly. Equinox 10:27, 10 August 2019 (UTC)

I'm trying to figure it out as well. Perhaps whoever added it reasoned that a sentence like "I like going out versus I like staying home" makes it a Conjunction (?) (instead of the more normal "I like going out versus staying home" which is clearly a preposition (?). I dunno... Leasnam (talk) 15:25, 10 August 2019 (UTC)
I guess the conjunctive sense was meant to be the same as sense 2 under Preposition.  --Lambiam 05:30, 11 August 2019 (UTC)
No major dictionary lists this as a conjunction.   Removed  --Lambiam 00:52, 1 October 2019 (UTC)

empty shell, hollow shellEdit

As in empty shell of a man. Is this entry-worthy? Canonicalization (talk) 18:43, 10 August 2019 (UTC)

No, but we needed another sense or two of shell, which I added (tweaking welcome). The basic concept is of the outward form being a shell, which can contain the essence or substance of something, or can be empty. A "shell of a man" is someone who has nothing but the outward form of a man, and is empty inside. This metaphor can be used for all kinds of things, not just men (or women). One can also speak of something or someone being a mere shell of what they once were, and of the body being nothing but a shell for the soul, etc. Chuck Entz (talk) 21:09, 10 August 2019 (UTC)

free riderEdit

Is this sometimes used as a synonym of stowaway? I'm thinking of French passager clandestin, which has both senses. Canonicalization (talk) 12:16, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

According to Wikipedia it is. I wonder if this is not in fact the original meaning, someone taking a literal ride without paying their dues, with the sense of freeloader arising by extension.  --Lambiam 13:49, 11 August 2019 (UTC)
Yes, that's what occurred to me. Canonicalization (talk) 14:02, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

@Tharthan, maybe you can shed light on this? Canonicalization (talk) 17:15, 25 August 2019 (UTC)

MWOnline makes freeload#Verb the main entry and says first use 1940. A free ride seems SoP except for the trivial metaphorical extension. DCDuring (talk) 18:38, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
I would concur with Lambiam. Now, whether the coinage was meant to mean "one who gets a free (gratis) ride (on a ship, or similar)" or "one who rides (on a ship, or similar) freely (gratis)" doesn't matter at all, as there is, to all intents and purposes, no difference whatsoever between the two.
Or... were you pinging me for some other reason? Tharthan (talk) 18:49, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
I found a use of free ride from 1913 that seems like a transition from SoP free + ride to the "sponging, freeloading" sense. It is from AERA (a publication of the American Electric Railway Assocation:
  • 1913, AERA, volume 2, page 1320:
    Well, the people who advocate free rides forget that somebody has to dig up the real coin of the realm to pay the expenses. Free riding means that somebody who should pay the bill doesn't — and someone who should not pay the bill, does.
By 1936 the term had clearly taken on its modern meaning:
  • 1936, American Sociological Review, volume 61, page 251:
    Thus, according to Olson, free-riding is a problem in all but the smallest groups. ... larger groups, the impact of any individual's participation is negligible, so self-interested, rational individuals will choose to free-ride unless they are restrained.
There have also been specialized uses in the US in the modern sense having to do with the finance of pharmaceutical R&D and the free riding on US R&D by foreign government purchasing monopsonies.
There really doesn't seem to be much need to go beyond the simple idea of free + ride to find the origins of the term. DCDuring (talk) 19:18, 25 August 2019 (UTC)

English abalone pronunciationEdit

I can't read IPA, but I'm pretty sure that the audio clips on the abalone page don't match up with the IPA. I don't know how the word is supposed to be pronounced, but I'm from east coast USA and I've always heard it pronounced "abaloney". Not "abalone" (with the silent e) as the US audio clip has it. Anyway, I'm not going to change anything on that page, but I figured I'd point it out. 2601:49:8400:FB40:1942:EC3D:A0A0:F17F 13:06, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

What I hear in the US audio is /ˈæb.əˌlɤni/ or similar, no diphthong in the audio unlike in the pronunciation written as IPA, and notably the stress is different. Fay Freak (talk) 13:26, 11 August 2019 (UTC)
The first time I listened to the US clip I heard four syllables as in the IPA rendering, but subsequent clicks gave a clipped clip, cut short after the first three syllables with not only the e but also the n vanished into the great void.  --Lambiam 13:39, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

aio - fixing conjungation templateEdit

(Notifying Fay Freak, Brutal Russian, JohnC5): @Lambiam

Hai. aio and its two variants have a declension template that confuses syllable weight for vowel length - the a in the word is in fact always short. I've tried several times to find this template but failed (how does one even find these things??). It should probably have two separate templates, one spelling a single i between vowels and the other double. The variant with j I don't know what to do about - this concerns all spellings with j, tbh - any initial, intervocalic or final i can be spelt with j, or straight every single one if one wishes. The forms in use can be seen here under the table (wait until loads, if it won't show the section, find "aieba"). The two highlighted forms should indeed be aiat and aīn. There shouldn't be a diaeresis in as that vowel combination is not a diphthong in the orthography wiktionary uses - instead the synaeresis should be indicated, eg a͡is. The perfects also should be removed, for they seem to be based on this passage from Valerius Probus in complete contradition to it: "Invenimus tamen tertiam personam praeteriti 'ait' quasi a prima 'ai aisti ait', quae in usu non sunt, neque..perfecti..in hoc verbo declinatio invenitur". This ait is simple present for perfect. Does anybody know where to find that template, and would anyone be so kind as to fix it? Brutal Russian (talk) 13:12, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

The conjugation table is generated by the code of Module:la-verb. It appears that @Benwing2 is the main maintainer.  --Lambiam 00:17, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
@Brutal Russian The way to find the code is this: (1) Look at the source for the page, which refers to the template {{la-conj}}; (2) look at the source of this template at Template:la-conj, and it refers to Module:la-verb (that's what #invoke means); (3) look at the source of the module. The forms for aio begin on line 1728. Feel free to edit this, or I'll try to fix it. Benwing2 (talk) 01:34, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
@Brutal Russian I think the previous ping didn't work because I accidentally stuck in an extra newline. Benwing2 (talk) 01:35, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
BTW can you clarify some of the correct forms? For example, presumably "āībam" should be "aībam" (three syllables)? Or is it meant to be pronounced like ajībam? What happens with the two forms āis and ais? Are these meant to be ajis (two syllables) and ajs (one syllable)? Benwing2 (talk) 01:39, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
@Benwing2 Thanks for pointing to the module, I did manage to find the pronunciation one precisely this way... I've just checked the TLL and this verb seems to be a special mess. For one, even TLL manages to write āio while explaining that the vowel is actually short, and not just in print but also in the online version - while they write maior. Then, it seems that the -jj- was optionally retained before another -i- in the early writers, so that there are aijīn and aijis as well as aijīs - even spelt aiis in a gloss, while Cledonius in the 5th c. states "aio 'aiis' non facit". TLL doesn't mention Lane's aīt, which would be regular for Plautus as longs weren't shortened before -t yet. TLL and Lane mention the disyllabic a͡ibam etc. in Plautus, alternating with trisyllabic aijēbam. Several grammarians mention the absence of the perfect paradigm for this verb, but ait was rather frequently used in the perfect function. De Vaan says "pf. aisti, ait", explaining the former as analogical to the perfect usage of the latter - and TLL has a number of late citations, the earliest two in fact in Ovid's letters. One instance of aisse by Marius Victorinus, the perfect doesn't occur. I suppose aistī and ait are common enough to merit being listed, but is there any way to let the reader know these are post-Classical literary inventions? Still not sure whether to separate single and double-i templates - and we'll still need an explanation in the notes from the looks of it. Oh, and the ping did work. Brutal Russian (talk) 19:04, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
@Brutal Russian Let me know exactly what forms you'd like to see and which footnotes attached to which forms and I'll implement them. Benwing2 (talk) 21:14, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── (Notifying Fay Freak, Brutal Russian, JohnC5, Lambiam): I tried to fix up the table according to Lane's "parts in common use". Remaining older forms used in Plautus are listed in the Usage Notes, along with the fact that aistī and ait are post-Classical, that aiiō is Ciceronian (who also wrote maiior, eiius), etc. Benwing2 (talk) 01:46, 16 September 2019 (UTC)

empty one's balls / empty someone's ballsEdit

Entry-worthy? Canonicalization (talk) 20:04, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

There's also drain one's balls, drop one's load, empty one's clip (THUG LIFE!!!), where does it end ? Leasnam (talk) 03:41, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
Metaphorical phrases that are not set phrases (sensu stricto) are not very good dictionary material, but they do seem to be bait for those wishing to contribute. Combine that with racy subject matter and .... DCDuring (talk) 14:26, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

Swan LakeEdit

Entry-worthy? Canonicalization (talk) 21:31, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

As the name of a ballet? I don't think so. Equinox 21:32, 11 August 2019 (UTC)
I wouldn't be surprised to see it here. SL is certainly an initialism of it. --Pious Eterino (talk) 21:44, 11 August 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox: :sniff: Canonicalization (talk) 10:27, 12 August 2019 (UTC)


This looks like a suffix to me. Does Braille have suffixes per se? --Pious Eterino (talk) 21:44, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

If dance is written “⠙⠨⠑” like e.g. here, it is not a suffix.  --Lambiam 00:08, 12 August 2019 (UTC)


What part of speech would this be? A phrase? --Pious Eterino (talk) 16:05, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

There are quite a few acronyms/initialisms among the 36 members of Category:English mnemonics. Some have been called proper nouns, possibly merely because they are styled to resemble proper nouns (eg, Roy G. Biv). That obviously doesn't apply here.
I don't think anyone brought these up when we decided to deprecate "Abbreviation", "Acronym", and "Initialism" as PoS headers. DCDuring (talk) 18:48, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
Yes, phrase IMO. Equinox 19:00, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
A phrase? spelled solid? pronounced as a word? We should add that definition to phrase or at least Appendix:Glossary if we are going with that. DCDuring (talk) 19:54, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
As far as pronunciation goes: the current (US-glossed) pronunciation doesn't agree with my British maths teachers, who pronounced the first bit like "sock", not "soak". Equinox 04:18, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I'm fascinated by this. That suggests a difference in parsing of the spelling into syllables. As a native speaker of AmE, I parse this as SOH・CAH・TO・A. From what you describe, apparently (some?) BrE speakers parse this instead as SOHC・AH・TO・A. Given the OH in there, which in English spelling usually indicates a long O, I'm confused that someone would adopt this parsing. How interesting. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 17:09, 30 August 2019 (UTC)


Do we have definition 2, as seen here:

https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/crimp Tharthan (talk) 17:15, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

No, IMO. DCDuring (talk) 17:30, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
Do you reckon that we ought to include it? Tharthan (talk) 19:46, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
It's probably attestable and you've got a lemming. DCDuring (talk) 19:55, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
I'm not trying to be difficult; I just don't want to crimp your style. DCDuring (talk) 20:03, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

Adjective women'sEdit

Any academic reference for the treatment of women's as an adjective? --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:55, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

Are we just going to repeatedly delete and recreate this page? DTLHS (talk) 18:02, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
Have we ever deleted it? DCDuring (talk) 19:28, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
Blotto did on 19 June 2019 ("Not dictionary material: please see WT:CFI..."). Equinox 15:31, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
I created the current iteration of women's as a copy-paste-and-adjust of men's, including all the POS headers.
Is the status of men's as an adjective also in question? If not, why not? These two terms are functionally interchangeable, simply indicating different genders. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 17:12, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

BoM pronunciationEdit

Entry states BoM is pronounced like bomb. My assumption is that one of the definitions could well be pronounced thus - most likely the Australian definition. Might one hear "I bought a copy of the /bom/ in Colorado" or "My cousin in Sydney works for the /bom/" or "add the design to the /bom/"? Any ideas? --Pious Eterino (talk) 21:44, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

As an abbreviation for ‘bill of materials’, I’ve always heard it pronounced this way (as /bɑm/, that is, though bomb isn’t homophonous in my idiolect). — Vorziblix (talk · contribs) 02:58, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

out of rangeEdit

"Microsoft® Encarta® 2009" offers the example out of range of the radar, from which I infer that out of range is idiomatic enough to dispense with the definite article (otherwise it'd be out of THE range of the/a...). Is my reasoning linguistically correct?

Otherwise, with range meaning "area of effective operation", what is the difference between the versions with and without the article the?: out of (the) range of something --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:42, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

Quite common pattern: out of reach, out of sight, out of hearing, etc. I would say "out of range" sounds a bit more idiomatic for transmitted signals (radio, etc.); in other cases (the range of someone's flailing fists?) there is no real difference. Equinox 15:30, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

incel vs incelibacyEdit

The incel and fuckstration pages both use incelibacy to mean the state of not being sexually active despite wishing to be, but the incelibacy page only gives one definition, and it's basically the opposite: Sexual activity by one who is supposed to remain celibate.

Sometimes words can be their own opposites (strike often means hit, but in baseball strike means miss). Sometimes words look like opposites, but are not (flammable and inflammable). Which is incelibacy? Maybe both, with different etymologies?

Another thing i just realized: If incelibacy is involuntary celibacy, it may cause fuckstration, in which case fuckstration is an effect of involuntary celibacy--but a cause and effect are not synonymous, as the incel page currently has incelibacy and fuckstration (implying that fuckstration may be defined as Sexual frustration deriving from Sexual frustration deriving from Sexual frustration deriving from...)

Falling asleep, sorry 12:04, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

Are you now an insom (involuntarily somnolent)? The one definition currently given is the original sense, but the term is being repurposed to mean “incelhood” (as also mentioned in the Wikipedia article Incel). I do not know if there are enough uses for this sense to merit inclusion. In the meantime it is better to remove the synonym from the incel entry and to replace the use at fuckstration by “involuntary celibacy”. I have put up the corresponding sense of incelibate for verification; see Wiktionary:Requests for verification/English#incelibate.  --Lambiam 18:30, 13 August 2019 (UTC)


Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 offers it as a common noun, without capitalizing its first letter

plains, plural noun :

large expanses of level, almost treeless country in some central states of the United States --Backinstadiums (talk) 14:42, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

Plural of plain ety 3 sense 1. Equinox 15:28, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

"en-ing form of" templateEdit

Never seen this before; just saw it at stretching (Verb header) where it generates "Present participle and gerund of stretch." If anywhere, shouldn't a gerund come under the Noun heading (which we already have separately) rather than the Verb? Equinox 15:28, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

Often when we add things that are arguably replacements, we have both the old and its replacement. Perhaps this result from a late-developing sympathetic understanding of the needs of normal users. An example would be duplication of definitions under the newer Determiner and older Pronoun and Adjective PoS headings. In this case it would be easy to argue that we should only have the Verb heading, unless the -ing-form has developed independent meanings, as many common ones do. DCDuring (talk) 18:50, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
Or a plural. "Stretchings" is not a verb. Equinox 18:56, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
I've corrected it, as the Noun above is the gerund, so labelling it under the verb is redundant. Leasnam (talk) 05:03, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
Why is an English "present participle", often used as an adjective, to be placed under the verb PoS, while a gerund, indistinguishable in form from the "present participle" somehow requires a noun PoS? -Ing-forms are used as nouns, as adjectives, and as components of certain tense-aspects of English verbs. What unifies these diverse functions is that the all use the same word, which is deverbal in derivation.
@Leasnam This is not an idle concern, as stretching would seem to be in use as an adjective, attestable modified by very. Under which Etymology section should the adjective be placed? DCDuring (talk) 06:39, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
The adjective derives from the present participle (verb), and it shares the same etymology with it; it rightly belongs under Etymology 2 Leasnam (talk) 07:28, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
Ah, I see that a 3rd Etym was added. I hope you don't mind but I moved the Adj down and grouped it with the Verb. Feel free to adjust or revert as needed. Leasnam (talk) 07:34, 15 August 2019 (UTC)

request for nautical termEdit

I'm trying to add a nautical sense to Catalan mort and Spanish muerto / cuerpo muerto based on images I found on a Catalan website: mort at the end. Is there an English term for this? (I suspect that googling "anchor dead body" will put me on a watchlist somewhere...) It appears to be any concrete block on the ocean floor used alongside a buoy as an anchor. This website and this website in English just describe them as "concrete blocks". Ultimateria (talk) 16:32, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

Is it a mooring block? Equinox 17:58, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
deadweight anchor?  --Lambiam 19:38, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
Based on Google Images, I believe they're probably the same thing, but mooring block seems more common. Thank you for your research. Ultimateria (talk) 16:06, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

毀 compositionEdit

Hi, it seems to me that the composition for should be ⿰⿱臼土殳 rather than ⿹⿰臼殳土 as is currently listed. I am not confident enough to make the edit, however. I don't really see a "⿹" in this character. Bhbuehler (talk) 19:11, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

@Bumm13, KevinUp, Justinrleung – It does look strange to me. Note though that we see the same at = ⿹⿰⿱ and = ⿹⿰⿱. Though this be madness, yet there seems to be a method in’t. On the other hand, 㱿 = ⿰⿱𠔼, and the composition of is given as a range of possibilities of the form ⿰⿱XX, e.g. ⿰⿱.  --Lambiam 10:49, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
Also, the composition of , initially given as ⿰⿹𡈼𢛳, was changed to ⿹⿰𡈼𢛳 by an IP located in Thailand.  --Lambiam 11:32, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
@Bhbuehler, Lambiam: Thank you for informing about these mistakes. I have fixed the anomalies. KevinUp (talk) 09:48, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

Usage note at cis-Edit

The usage note at cis- reads: "In particular, it is now sometimes considered offensive to write cisman or cis-man, the preferred spelling being cis man (cis man)." Is there any evidence that cisgender people are in any significant number offended by those spelling variants? It looks that this part has just been copied from the usage note at trans-, but there is no reason that the offensiveness would be symmetrical. Note that neither cisman nor ciswoman have been tagged as offensive. That a lot of cis people with conservative views on gender object to being called "cis/cisgender/cissexual" is probably more worthy of mention than this. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:03, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

Actually, I think that very few cispeople have any idea of what this means. I bet that if you ask random people on the street if they are cisgender (without offering a definition), very few would answer this in the affirmative. They are more likely to deny it. Who are the spelling buff(oon)s that might be offended by a spacefree spelling? Are they cissies?  --Lambiam 09:10, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
I seriously doubt that the spacing carries the same weight that it does with trans. That sentence should be removed because it was copied from a term with very different connotations. Ultimateria (talk) 15:47, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam, Ultimateria The quoted sentence has been removed now. Do you think it useful to mention that some cisgender people object to the term? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 11:11, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
There is no end to what some people find offensive. Also cis women is unacceptable to some. To others cisgender is offensive. People can also be offended by being called “young” or “old”. Unless we have evidence that a significant group of people find it offensive, we shouldn’t mention it.  --Lambiam 12:19, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I also don't believe it's worth mentioning. Ultimateria (talk) 03:36, 31 August 2019 (UTC)
I have seen separate groups be offended by 1. coloured people, 2. people of colour, 3. transwoman (no space), 4. trans woman (with space). Eventually you realise that they start off offended and then look for reasons to justify it, and then you stop caring. Equinox 23:33, 1 September 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam Okay, so no mention of it in the usage note, but note the actual query was about objections (relatively common whenever a dominant position gets labelled), not offence. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 08:40, 3 September 2019 (UTC)


Two senses of verb clear presently read:

  • (transitive) To obtain approval or authorisation in respect of.
I've cleared the press release with the marketing department, so go ahead and publish it.
  • (transitive) To obtain permission to use (a sample of copyrighted audio) in another track.

It seems to me that the second of these may just be a special case of the first, but since I am not specially familiar with the second sense, I would like a second opinion on whether it justifies a separate entry. Mihia (talk) 17:53, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

My impression is that the meaning is sufficiently different (permission to use without fear of a copyright-infringement suit versus just approval) to warrant a separate sense.  --Lambiam 08:58, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
"Copyright clearance" is a common collocation; "management/marketing/legal clearance" are not. There does seem to be something different about copyright, though it could be shown as a subsense. DCDuring (talk) 09:32, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
Do you think that this copyright (sub)sense should refer to copyright in general, or is there something special about reusing copyrighted audio in another track that requires a sense all of its own? Mihia (talk) 10:17, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
In the sense of “copyright clearance” I see uses like “clear copyright permissions for the illustrations”, “clear licenses for songs”, and “clear rights with the artist”. The object of the verb is the licence. In “clearing a sample”, the object is the content covered by the licence, something we also see in the subtitle of the book Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyright Materials Online & Off. Uses in this book are mixed; what is being cleared can be sampling rights, but also music for films and performances of compositions.  --Lambiam 11:18, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
I'm not keen on having separate numbered definitions just on account of these different types of object. I think it would be overkill. I used the wording "in respect of" in the broad definition in an attempt to cover all possibilities, and if we need a separate subsense for copyright-related matters generally, as opposed to the one very specific sample-related sense that presently exists, I would prefer a similar approach. Mihia (talk) 20:06, 15 August 2019 (UTC)


I was pleased to find that you have counted the numbers of times particular suffixes appear in English. But when I found that there were ten times as many mentions of "-ology" as there were of "ologist", it caused me to doubt your figures. Otherwise, there are roughly 90% of "ologies" that no one is apparently studying. Perhaps a typo is the best explanation?

Scott MacStravic SCotch35@gmail.com

It's worth considering that there are synchronic and diachronic ways of approaching suffixes and that the etymology sections are, or should be, diachronic. If the word aretalogy is appreciably older than aretalogist, the etymology is likely going to be aretalogy + -ist because editors are going to assume that it is a regular derivation from the older root.←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 07:09, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
This is kind of like a reposting of Wiktionary:Information desk/2019/August#Suffixes.  --Lambiam 08:25, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
Scott never reads replies to his posts, and often posts the same question several times over a period of weeks. I have tried to help him but I don't think he can get his head around the wiki format. (Also for some reason he has two different accounts with different forms of his name, and posts from both.) Equinox 13:29, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

This sucker is about to blow!Edit

How to define the sense of sucker in the sentence, “This sucker is about to blow!”? Methinks none of the current senses fits. It reminds me of this sense of guy: “(colloquial, figuratively) Thing, unit”, but is it synonymous?  --Lambiam 08:22, 15 August 2019 (UTC)

I think your analogy is good. There are a lot of words that would fit the sentence, eg fucker, puppy, baby, and NPs, eg, little sucker. Each probably derives some meaning from its most common sense in this kind of use. DCDuring (talk) 09:01, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
One notable aspect is that these lazy terms are often (usually?) combined with a demonstrative pronoun (“when this guy wants to talk to this guy, he has to get permission from this guy”). I can’t hear the word “baby” in its nonspecific sense without thinking of this Far Side cartoon.  --Lambiam 11:57, 15 August 2019 (UTC)

comparative/superlative of adjectives in -iusEdit

(Notifying Fay Freak, Brutal Russian, JohnC5): @Lambiam I was taught that adjectives in -ius can only form comparatives/superlatives using magis and maximē but we have ānxiior and ānxiissimus listed for ānxius, industrior/industriior listed for industrius, medior and medissimus listed for medius, necessārior and necessārissimus listed for necessārius, piissimus (but magis pius) listed for pius, and saucior and sauciissimus listed for saucius. Are they correct? Benwing2 (talk) 14:45, 15 August 2019 (UTC)

In the hymn Rerum Deus Tenax Vigor we find the vocative Pater piissime. It is traditionally thought to have been written in the 4th century CE. I suspect (but have not checked) that most if not all other forms can also be found in Late Latin.  --Lambiam 15:38, 15 August 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam piissimus may be a special case. I looked for anxiior and anxiissimus and got no hits. Benwing2 (talk) 01:12, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
Searching is hard because there are so many forms that can be used as search terms. I found anxiissima in a footnote on p.225 of this 19th century book, where it is apparently a quote from a 17th treatise by Juan de Lugo; curiously, though, this 17th-century edition containing the treatise, which appeared during de Lugo’s lifetime, has quanta instead of anxiissima. See also this discussion.  --Lambiam 10:58, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam OK, I left them all as-is (with some misgivings). Note that if you search for 'industriior', you find links to books that specifically discuss this and related forms in -iior. Benwing2 (talk) 01:20, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
Lewis & Short writes at industrĭus for the comparative: “industrior or industriior (ante-class.)” with a quote from Cato using the form industriiorem. So it is indeed not only Late Latin. We have no qualifier for Old Latin, but perhaps you can distill what you see in books discussing this into usage notes where applicable.  --Lambiam 08:08, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

profile pictureEdit

Entry-worthy? Canonicalization (talk) 17:14, 15 August 2019 (UTC)

It seems a SoP of sense 4 of profile + sense 1 of picture.  --Lambiam 11:04, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
Definitely SoP. More than one meaning of profile is imaginable, eg, picture of someone/thing in profile; photo of the end of a piece of molding. I could imagine a use for almost every sense of profile. DCDuring (talk) 12:36, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
And profiles may have other things beyond pictures, e.g. a "profile signature". Equinox 13:28, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

Ultimate Etymology of وطنEdit

Hello, I have been recently wondering whether there are any Semitic cognates to the Arabic word and consonantal root "و ط ن". I've not been able to find any resources whatsoever on this subject. I suspect that it either was a loanword from a pre-Semitic language in Arabia, or its cognates were lost in all of the closest relatives of Arabic. Could these assumptions be correct? 02:01, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

On the face of it, either of these two theories could be correct. Since loss in all other Semitic languages than Arabic seems somewhat unlikely, a complete absence of any cognates in other Semitic languages would suggest, though, that the root does not go back on Central Semitic or even Proto-Semitic, making the second of these theories appear somewhat implausible.  --Lambiam 11:43, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
One finds Sabaean 𐩣𐩥𐩷𐩬(mwṭn, battle field). In the Ethiosemitic languages the root has a meaning different at the first glance: Ge'ez ወጠነ (wäṭänä, wäṭṭänä), Tigrinya ወጠነ (wäṭṭänä), Amharic ወጠነ (wäṭṭänä), Gurage ወጠነ (wäṭṭänä) mean “to commence, to set forth”. From this the meaning “to stay, to abide” found in Arabic وَطَنَ(waṭana), or “to adjust, to prepare as abode” in Arabic وَطَّنَ(waṭṭana) may have developed. In the opposite direction it developed in some other Ethiopian languages, so in Tigre wäṭṭäna meaning “to test, to try”, and in Gafat wäṭṭänä to “to taste”. That’s almost enough to justify a Proto-Semitic entry. Fay Freak (talk) 22:35, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
Possibly it can derive from Batan which means body.Al-khataei (talk) 22:07, 19 September 2019 (UTC)


In words such as guileless, -less makes the adjective not only merely state the neutral "lack of", but rather adds the semantic opposite, in this case naïveté, ingenuousness --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:49, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

Do you know of any words that would reflect the neutral state? DCDuring (talk) 22:17, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
In a somewhat analogous case using "un-", a person can be armed or unarmed. But I am not aware of any simple term for a neutral, in-between state. I suppose the unarmed has two meanings then: "without weapons" and "defenseless". Or is there a third: "likely to use the weapons with which armed." DCDuring (talk) 22:25, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
Sure. And unhappy doesn't just mean "neutral mood without happiness"; so on for unkind, uncool, etc. etc. Equinox 23:06, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

@DCDuring: I do not understand the phrase "the weapons with which armed" --Backinstadiums (talk) 22:57, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

"The weapons with which (s/he is) armed". DCDuring (talk) 03:16, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: Is that style kind of headlinese? --Backinstadiums (talk) 09:37, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
It was my quick effort to write a definition of an adjective. DCDuring (talk) 11:54, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

pied piperEdit

Is it appropriate for Pied Piper to redirect to pied piper? The Language Learner (talk) 15:51, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

No.  --Lambiam 22:29, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
It's fine. The "hard" redirect takes the user to a dictionary entry which, among other things contains the link to WP's encyclopedic content, ie, content beyond the scope of Wiktionary. An alternative would be to have a pseudo-entry with a soft redirect to WP. But this wouldn't allow the user to benefits of the dictionary material, like translations, usage examples, etc. A full entry for Pied Piper would inevitably have a lot of duplicate content or require periodic editing to coordinate the entries. If you would like to volunteer for such maintenance .... DCDuring (talk) 22:34, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
But “Pied Piper” can also mean (1) the folk tale or legend; and (2) the main character of that legend. Examples: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]. Substituting the definition of pied piper (viz. “That which draws many in its wake”) in such uses makes no sense. Compare the definitions of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Rumpelstiltskin.  --Lambiam 09:46, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

What is the etymology of the adjective pied? --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:16, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

From magpie. DCDuring (talk) 12:55, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

Proper etymology for barbequeEdit

I have taken the liberty of moving this thread to Wiktionary:Etymology scriptorium/2019/August#Proper etymology for barbeque.  --Lambiam 17:44, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

Sinking a cess, or raising one perhapsEdit

Discussion moved from Wiktionary:Requests for verification/English#Sinking a cess, or raising one perhaps.

I have found a lot of extra material on the word cess and am working on it, but am having a lot of trouble with what looks to me as though it might mean an area of ground or a distance: At Bar Chara near the sea, 5 or 6 cess of ground immediately sunk, and out of 4 or 5 hundred people, above 200 were lost [The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London|https://books.google.co.za/books?id=3S5WAAAAYAAJ]

Apart from some other versions of the same report, I fail to find any similar use of the word, or any explanation of what it definitely means. I'd be grateful if anyone could produce any material on the matter, bad cess to it! JonRichfield (talk) 19:14, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

This isn't really the right place for this, but earlier in the same work it says "8 cess distance" (meaning at least it's probably not a typo). Note also that this is referring to an earthquake in Islamabad, so may be a transliteration of a local term. DTLHS (talk) 19:42, 16 August 2019 (UTC)
Apologies for the wrong page; I would be grateful for a hint at which would be the right one; I did look around a bit first and made a stab at this one. As for the comment, yes, that was my feeling exactly, leaving me much frustrated: it seems to me that if this is the only hit I can find, then I am not justified in documenting it, but seeing the period and the source I would include the definition all the same, except that there is no coherent hint as to its exact meaning, source etc. (Area or length for example) I am left wondering whether the risk of creating one of Skeat's ghost words is not too great, for the sake of such a vague definition. Can anyone suggest where I can leave a standing request for comments or citations? Thanks for attention. JonRichfield (talk) 08:41, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
I agree with DTLHS: it’s most likely a term used in Pakistan. Perhaps an Urdu speaker might be able to shed light on the matter. It seems like a unit of length, given the reference in the work to “8 cess distance”. I wondered if it was a variant of kos, but a kos is 3 km which would make the sinking of land by 5 or 6 kos a truly phenomenal event. — SGconlaw (talk) 11:49, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
I had similar thoughts. I went googling and have located a Pakistani legal firm with property interests. I emailed them and have received a courteous return to the effect that they would pass it on to their data archival staff on Monday and let me know. I'll hold thumbs and cross fingers. 😁 JonRichfield (talk) 12:31, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
By the way, this is a more appropriate place for the discussion. We might also find an Urdu speaker here. — SGconlaw (talk) 12:51, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
Thank you! JonRichfield (talk) 14:14, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
In this version of the report the term coss is used, which is defined there as being one-and-a-half mile. Are all these cesses just misprints?  --Lambiam 14:27, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
Hmmm, so maybe it is a variant of or misprint for kos after all. However, why does the English Wikipedia article say it is 3 km (1.91 mi)? — SGconlaw (talk) 15:02, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
We define the term as “A measure of distance in India, varying from one and a quarter to two and a half English miles”. Both 1.5 mile and 1.91 mile are within that range. A contemporaneous version of the report in the The London Magazine has “cess”; it undoubtedly served as the source of the other London versions. It seems more likely to me that this is a misreading (of, perhaps, a handwritten letter) than a variant, what with the difference in pronunciation. Interestingly, the version in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal that has “coss”, linked to above, identifies it as a translation of a Persian paper. While substantially identical to the London versions, there are some significant differences in spelling and punctuation.  --Lambiam 16:09, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
I wonder if the Islamabad referred to is present-day Chittagong in Bangladesh, in the area formerly known as Bengal. It would explain the Bengali connection (Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal), and it fits with the dates and location of the 1762 Arakan earthquake.  --Lambiam 16:22, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
Actually, the contemporaneous report that I linked to above by Mr. Verelst (who ruled Chittagong from 1761 to 1765) to Governor Vansittart (Governor of Bengal from 1759 to 1764) serves as one of the references of the Wikipedia article on the 1762 Arakan earthquake. It says, “Translated from the Persian”.  --Lambiam 16:41, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
Pinging User:AryamanA, who knows Urdu, and User:Lbdñk, who knows Bengali: can either of you offer any insight or confirmation about what this term might be, or what (potentially Urdu or Bengali) term it might be translating? Is it the "kos" unit of measure referred to above? - -sche (discuss) 18:16, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: It is almost definitely referring to कोस (kos) / کوس(kos), which is a unit of distance (not area). The kos was a standard unit throughout India, including in Bangladesh. The Mughals used it in their land surveys and the British probably picked it up from them. —AryamanA (मुझसे बात करेंयोगदान) 18:31, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
As for this quotation "5 or 6 cess of ground immediately sunk" I think this means (if we assume cess is distance) a fault of length 5-6 kos appeared, not that the ground sunk to a depth of 5-6 kos. The wording is pretty strange though, since it sounds like "cess" is being used as a measure of area. —AryamanA (मुझसे बात करेंयोगदान) 18:33, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
Ah, that makes sense. — SGconlaw (talk) 02:34, 18 August 2019 (UTC)
@-sche: User:AryamanA has already given the explanation. In Bengali, it is ক্রোশ (kroś) and কোশ (koś). At least in administration and formal literature, I find the former to be exclusively used, though the latter is the more popular form in colloquial (especially rural) speech. It is also to be marked that Sanskritization of modern Bengali started at the beginning of the 19th century, so the usage of কোশ may have been more widespread before that. —Lbdñk (talk) 20:00, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
@JonRichfield: may I suggest that you investigate whether cess occurs frequently? If so, an entry could be created for it as a variant or frequent misspelling of coss. If not, then I suggest you add the version of the article in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal found by Lambiam to our coss entry, and ignore the cess citations as an uncommon mistake. We may also want to consider whether the form kos appears in English enough to justify an English entry. — SGconlaw (talk) 16:54, 18 August 2019 (UTC)
@Sgconlaw: I agree. I had already done some pretty comprehensive searching, and found no other references other than copies of the Philo Soc report, and would independently have decided to ignore that one as a possible error or idiosyncratic spelling of "koss", except that as @AryamanA pointed out, "The wording is pretty strange though, since it sounds like "cess" is being used as a measure of area". That was exactly what moved me to extend the query. Subject to anything my new friends in Pakistan might come up with, I now conditionally suspend this aspect of my search. (There still are a couple of dialect "cess"es to deal with, some of which seem to have been very sparsely documented.) Thanks to all for the very helpful contributions. JonRichfield (talk) 09:12, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

shrimpy examplesEdit

The definition at shrimpy implies to me that it's only referring to the literal sense. The first example is using the figurative sense and is jarring to me.

  1. Resembling shrimp; shrimplike.
    • 2010, Jordan Sonnenblick, Zen and the Art of Faking It
      I looked up, and there was a shrimpy little kid standing next to the rock, carrying a backpack that might have weighed more than he did.

Can this be improved to make it clearer it's the figurative sense? Danielklein (talk) 14:10, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

  Done Equinox 14:16, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

halfway there, almost there, not quite there yetEdit

I think none of the current senses of there adequately explains the meaning of those expressions.

Also, Macmillan and Longman have an entry for be halfway there:

And The Free Dictionary for almost there:

  • almost there” in thefreedictionary.com, Copyright 2010 Farlex, Inc.

Thoughts? Canonicalization (talk) 15:12, 18 August 2019 (UTC)

Perhaps we are missing a sense like "in a state of completion". (If you create one for halfway there, please don't include be, since phrases like seemed halfway there also occur.) Equinox 16:48, 18 August 2019 (UTC)
Or perhaps not. Our second definition of there#Adverb is "(figuratively} In that matter, relation, etc.; at that point, stage, etc., regarded as a distinct place."
The wording could use improvement, eg, by dropping or radically revising the parts that aren't underlined. DCDuring (talk) 16:56, 18 August 2019 (UTC)

snap election, snap (adjective)Edit

Isn't snap election SOP? And is snap in snap election, snap decision, snap judgment, snap political convention really an adjective? Canonicalization (talk) 17:17, 18 August 2019 (UTC)

The adjective definition is "Done, performed, made, etc. quickly and without deliberation." I doubt that any snap election is called without deliberation by the party calling it. What noun sense is semantically equivalent to that definition? DCDuring (talk) 18:32, 18 August 2019 (UTC)
The closest noun definition IMO is "A very short period of time (figuratively, the time taken to snap one's fingers), or a task that can be accomplished in such a period."
MWOnline has a definition "called or taken without warning". That seems like a better fit with snap election. It might indeed make [[snap election]] SoP. Also no OneLook reference except WP has an entry for snap election. DCDuring (talk) 18:41, 18 August 2019 (UTC)
But a snap election is usually called or taken WITH warning. It is definitely close to SOP, but lacks the spur-of-the-moment connotation of snap. Kiwima (talk) 19:23, 8 February 2020 (UTC)

like a trooper, swear like a trooperEdit

We currently only have an entry for swear like a trooper, but there are other things you can do like a trooper:

  • lie like a trooper: "to lie often and barefacedly";
  • work like a trooper;
  • drink like a trooper;
  • swallow like a trooper (yes, I've got interesting reads).

The Free Dictionary has an entry for this, with the following definition: "with energy, endurance, or enthusiasm".

Does that make swear like a trooper SOP, though? I don't think so; this one seems lexicalised. Canonicalization (talk) 17:59, 18 August 2019 (UTC)

The swear guy is a frequency leader: swear like a trooper, lie like a trooper, work like a trooper, drink like a trooper, swallow like a trooper at Google Ngram Viewer. Next comes lie like a trooper, and the rest are far beyond. --Dan Polansky (talk) 18:28, 18 August 2019 (UTC)
Does one of the terms significantly predate the others? There might be a WT:JIFFY argument to be made for one of the "[verb] like a trooper" variants (in addition to a WT:LEMMING argument), if the basic simile is deemed includable. (I am not expressing an opinion right now on that last question.) - -sche (discuss) 09:39, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

none other thanEdit

Would this term be worthy of its own entry? Or does it not mean more than the sum of its parts? ---> Tooironic (talk) 21:31, 18 August 2019 (UTC)

Examples of literal use: “by the Watermen's Act none other than licensed watermen could be employed on those river steamers”; “the Rule of Justice is none other than Natural Law”; “none other than the best are good enough”. The meaning when used in a passage like “Guess who was at the door... None other than our esteemed mayor” is sufficiently different that I feel it is idiomatic. In German one would probably say kein Geringere(r) als – “no lesser one than” (e.g. here and here); for the first two examples of literal use this would not do.  --Lambiam 23:43, 18 August 2019 (UTC)
none other than at OneLook Dictionary Search ⇒ Lemmings agree. DCDuring (talk) 02:49, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
google books:"none other but" is also attested, but is considerably less common. If none other than is created as the lemma, I guess none other should be created as a soft redirect and/or none other but should be created as an uncommon synonym. - -sche (discuss) 03:53, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
MWOnline has a non-gloss definition for none other than, which fits my experience. I think it would be SoP otherwise. Looking at cites for none other but, I don't think the same definition fits. It also seems dated. It also seems to possibly be NISoP. DCDuring (talk) 10:22, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
There are several SOP cites, but the various citations of the form "there is [someone or something fitting a certain description] and it is none other but [name or pronoun]" seem as non-SOP as identical citations with "...and it is none other than...", to me. - -sche (discuss) 16:34, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
  • I made en entry for it with a citation - just needs to be defined. Something like the defn at one and only should do the trick. --Mélange a trois (talk) 09:43, 1 September 2019 (UTC)

enscribe and exuseEdit

I note these two spellings for inscribe and excuse respectively are very common on Google Books. Are they misspellings or alternative spellings? ---> Tooironic (talk) 01:57, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

Exuse would have to be a misspelling, I would think (what with the missing consonant which would affect pronunciation), but it's not common: it's like 1/15,000th as frequent as excuse (likewise exuses). Enscribe also seems to be a misspelling, with many books it occurs in being by non-native speakers, but has a better claim to maybe being common enough to include. - -sche (discuss) 04:01, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
Most of the hits for exuse are scannos or typos (like for cause, exube-rant, excise).  --Lambiam 09:03, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

exercise, nounEdit

  • 2018, Timothy R. Jennings, The Aging Brain, →ISBN, page 107:
    Regular mental exercise keeps the circuits of the brain active and healthy and reduces the risk of dementia.

Does this quote go under the first definition of exercise? The current wording doesn't seem to accommodate the countable and uncountable senses of "activity designed to hone a skill". Ultimateria (talk) 17:18, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

@Ultimateria: No, I don't think so. I think it's akin to the second definition. I made some changes to accommodate your example. Please make any further changes you see fit. Mihia (talk) 20:05, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
I suspect that all senses of this can be both countable and uncountable. DCDuring (talk) 21:33, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
I don't see an uncountable sense of definition #1, at least not in ordinary modern English. Do you? Mihia (talk) 21:49, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
"Merely writing an essay is too little exercise of one's ability to engage a reader's extended attention." DCDuring (talk) 01:48, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I see that as definition #3, not #1. I think the whole point of definition #1 is meant to be (or should be) that it is countable, like a textbook exercise, or something like that. I don't find the archaic quotations attached to definition #1 very helpful. Mihia (talk) 11:21, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

Additional Category pagesEdit

If you take a look at specifying, you'll notice in the Category tray at the bottom that there is a red-lettered 'English nouns suffixed with -ing' and another 'English participles suffixed with -ing'. One could also add that there is also the possibility of an 'English adjectives suffixed with -ing'. My question, is the creation of such pages warranted or necessary ? I kind of like the idea of separating them out (we do this for adverbial -ly and adjectival -ly), but just wanted to test the waters before doing so. Leasnam (talk) 21:53, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

Would English nouns suffixed with -ing be populated from a template? Which one? Would all gerunds be in the category? DCDuring (talk) 23:41, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
I'm thinking at present it would only be categorised via the etymology param "pos=noun". I'm open to a better solution than that. Categorising as 'gerunds' rather than by 'nouns' would be preferred, since a small number of nouns ending in -ing might not be gerunds, but diminutives, etc. Leasnam (talk) 23:51, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
Aren't the diminutives usually suffixed in English by -ling? Are there some suffixed in English by -ing, not -ling? You can't be asking us to do this for "equivalent-to" synchronic pseudo-derivations. DCDuring (talk) 00:57, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
There are a few diminutives still around, like shilling, farthing, gelding, whiting, bunting, etc. The terms are already being categorised under Category:English words suffixed with -ing, but the situation with this is that it is not distinguishing between the various -ing suffixes; rather it's lumping them all together as though there were only one suffix. Leasnam (talk) 03:47, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
The words are around, but the suffix joined the noun stem in Middle English or earlier. It would seem that the handfuls of terms might warrant hard categorization. What would be a meaningful name for such a category? Are they all Middle English in origin? If we solve this, then we can move on to Category:English words suffixed with -er, which has had an RfC tag since 2016 July 15. DCDuring (talk) 13:14, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
I won't create a new category then until the issues with existing ones, like -er above are cared for first. Leasnam (talk) 20:37, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
That might be a long wait. I don't know that it was ever put in the RfC page. It is a conceptual-technical issue that is shared with other affixes and combining terms that have multiple etymologies or very different definitions in the same Etymology. (One could generalize further, beyond such morphemes to polysemic morphemes in general.)
If the conceptual issues were clear, then small, well-defined categories could be hand-populated and might show the way for the larger categories. DCDuring (talk) 20:52, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
I'm sorry. I was mistaken. The cleanup of Category:English words suffixed with -er is just a matter of putting in the time to move items to the semantic subcategories and then create additional subcategories for those that don't fit into the siz current subcategories. There are no major conceptual issues, just a fair amount of labor. There are 6,253 items in the top category. At least some of the subcategorized terms are not in the top category. DCDuring (talk) 21:07, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
It's down to only 6,223 members. There are plenty of agent nouns to subcategorize. I'm guessing 1/3 to 1/2 of the 6,000 are agent nouns.


The page ٽي belongs to the category "Hindi cardinal numerals" even though it's a Sindhi word, not a Hindi word. I don't know how to fix that as there's nothing in the source code of the page that seems to be trying to put that to the "Hindi cardinal numerals" category. Mölli-Möllerö (talk) 09:24, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

Fixed it, the issue was in Template:sd-num-card. — surjection?〉 09:41, 20 August 2019 (UTC)


This entry has as "alternative forms":

I would have thought that hag and haglin, at least, would be synonyms and likely cognates, but not alternative forms. Is this just a matter of contributor discretion or do we have (or want to have) some uniformity, at least within languages or language families? DCDuring (talk) 15:42, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

I think we should only mark orthographic variants as alternative forms (including cases in which one orthographic variant is not used to represent all pronunciations of a word). Everything else should either be labelled a synonym or perhaps a "variation of" the word in question. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 01:51, 23 August 2019 (UTC)

awake, awakenEdit

Outside of the command "awake!" (which itself has a synonym "awaken!"), I doubt that most average people do not conflate these verbs in some way. There may be a small number of exceptions, such as the rarer "I/we/he/she/they will awake" or something like that, but I think that many people confuse these.

In my personal experience, it tends to be something like:

"He will awaken!"

"He awakens!"

"He awoke."

"He has awoken."

On the other hand, many will simply use "awaken", "awakened", "awakened". Some mistake this as being "incorrect", and others are otherwise quite confused as to exactly what is going on here.

Has anyone else experienced this? Tharthan (talk) 17:42, 21 August 2019 (UTC)

I would agree with your analysis. They seem to be almost completely merged into one verb at this point. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 20:47, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
Off the top of my head, I think of awake as archaic and awaken as becoming so, being replaced by wake, awaken waken, and wake up. DCDuring (talk) 21:50, 21 August 2019 (UTC) [correction]DCDuring (talk) 03:15, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring I'm assuming that you didn't intend to say that awaken is being replaced by awaken, heh! I'm not sure how that works.
Regarding awaken versus wake up, would you argue more that awaken is becoming archaic, or that they are simply being used largely interchangeably, with awaken becoming slightly more formal? In my experience, it tends to be the latter, although perhaps very young people are not using awaken at all. I don't know. Tharthan (talk) 22:19, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
I haven't done research, so it is just a hypothesis and not all that well formed. DCDuring (talk) 12:12, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

awakening vs awaking could be mentioned --Backinstadiums (talk) 12:05, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

Might usage notes be warranted, perhaps something saying that the verbs are often conflated? Tharthan (talk) 18:57, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
I don't think a usage note is needed, tbh. There are many pairs like this: the verb to dark vs. darken is one example. One word simply replaces the other gradually over time. It seems to be the same here with awake and awaken, but I don't think it's progressed as far as to dark and darken yet. Dark as a verb today would strike a hearer as sounding very odd. Awake is certainly more older sounding, but not to the extent of archaic. Hearing it reminds me of the time around the American Revolution, which in my opinion is not far enough back to be archaic, archaic would be more like Shakespeare's time. Usage notes should be provided when users are making repeated mistakes with how a word is used. I don't think people are improperly using awake and awaken. Listing them as synonyms of one another is sufficient. A usage note might just end up causing confusion and uncertainty. Leasnam (talk) 23:32, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
The reason why I suggest having usage notes is because it is more than simply "awaken" replacing the verb "awake", it is "awaken" adopting (partially) conjugation from "awake". I gave my analysis in my initial comments. One of two things tends to happen: either a. "awaken" is retained as the bare form (and "awakens" and "awakening" as well), but "awoke" and "awoken" (from the verb "awake") become its simple past and past participle respectively, or b. it is conjugated as it was previously, with "awakened" as the simple past and past participle.
Some information that might help confused readers would be quite useful here, I'd think. Tharthan (talk) 00:49, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
True, that would be helpful. I wonder if any other verbs are also being merged in, like wake up. One might be inclined to say "He is waking up" in lieu of "He is awakening"...wow how lazy we have become in our speaking ! Leasnam (talk) 00:58, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
It is quite interesting. I'll add the usage notes.
Regarding laziness in speech, I'd reckon that (at least in certain English-speaking countries) in fifty years or so a very significant percentage of pretty usual English words will have become archaic or obsolete (at least in most people's minds) due to the degradation of the vocabulary and understanding of one's language by huge swaths of English speakers. It's quite sad, but that's what happens when people have little to no interest in speaking or writing well. Tharthan (talk) 01:20, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
Well, according to some ppl I will have everyone speaking Anglo-Saxon by then so it won't matter anyway :p Leasnam (talk) 01:23, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
Semantic change isn't equivalent to laziness or losing understanding of one's language (language is constantly evolving, not some kind of static Platonic ideal; failure to understand this is lacking a "understanding of one's language", inasmuch as one language can be took as representative of general linguistic trends). I would have hoped for a better understanding of language change/historical linguistics from a fellow editor, especially one who's done some great work. --Hazarasp (parlement · werkis) 01:06, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
I was trained as an economist. What is laziness other than being economical with one's efforts, time, money, tongue movement, memory, mental effort generally, etc? I would assume that economy/laziness is one of the motivating forces for language change. DCDuring (talk) 14:37, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
I would note, Hazarasp, that "language evolves" is oftentimes the last refuge of a lingual scoundrel. You would not believe the number of people who know absolutely naught about language who resort to saying "language evolves" to excuse the poor grasp that they have of their own mother tongue.
That doesn't mean that "language evolves' isn't a truism. Of course language evolves. That does not excuse the stark general usage of poor grammar, vocabulary, or spelling, however, for a form of a language that is currently still spoken. It is perfectly reasonable for speakers of a language to expect that fellow speakers of that language (at the very least, after those speakers have reached a certain education level) will be at least fairly proficient in that language. And yet, that is not what we see today.
If such speakers wish to speak something else (such as some other form of that language), then they ought to be up front about that. Tharthan (talk) 14:54, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
People who know a little more than absolutely naught about language know that people of normal intelligence have a fluent grasp of their own mother tongue and that their grammar will be nigh perfect. I question whether your expectations are indeed "perfectly reasonable"; I rather suspect that in any time and any place you would have the same complaints.
Language negotiation among humans is implicit. What form of a language a speaker is using should be evident from their writing or speech.--Prosfilaes (talk) 18:54, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
If, hypothetically, I were in some other time period, and (in this hypothetical scenario) a speaker of Middle English, and Middle English had come to have a level of standardisation that gave it a much, much smoother consistency (much nearer to the sort of consistency that we see in contemporary Modern English) than the kind that Middle English actually had (Not that that's the fault of Middle English speakers. The consistency that we have today is, in part, due to prescriptive actions taken in the past [which were not, by any means, necessarily just]), I might very well have desired for other speakers of Middle English to speak Middle English properly. In such a case, I would have especially desired for them to do so if they were esteemed scholars, or were of some similar ilk.
Now, (in that scenario) if they had wanted to speak, say, what we would now classify as Early Modern English, I would have simply asked that they not pretend that it is the selfsame tongue that Middle English speakers were speaking. English, perhaps, but not the same English that [GROUP X], [GROUP Y] or [GROUP Z] are speaking. In other words, I would be asking for some qualifiers.
There is radical prescriptivism, and then there is radical descriptivism. I don't think that either is particularly helpful. Rather than a "choice" between descriptivism and prescriptivism, I would argue that it all depends upon the situation. For something like Wiktionary, descriptivism is what needs to be striven for, because of what Wiktionary is meant to be. Noting that, for instance, a particular word or usage is widely proscribed by such legendary authorities as Herr von Ver Boten's Guide to a Learnèd Man's English or what have you is sufficient enough mention of such things here.
On the other hand, if one is teaching a small child how to speak English, I would not suggest throwing out everything of prior reference and giving no instruction to said child, letting the child's experience with the language that they are expected to learn be 100% organic; no influence from their parents or from anyone else that the child's parents holds sway over [the appearance of said person appearing in the child's life].
So, again: this is a matter that is situational, in my opinion. Tharthan (talk) 00:26, 26 August 2019 (UTC)

I think we should check out some of the classics before getting too creative. There is some Good Stuff at
There is a particularly good discussion at:
You might like to try Usage and abusage:
FWIW JonRichfield (talk) 06:41, 23 August 2019 (UTC)

new sense of clutch?Edit

I've recently heard some gaming Youtubers use the word "clutch" as an adjective, as in the phrase "clutch win". I think it has the meaning of "surprisingly successful" or "successful despite seemingly bad odds". I'm guessing it derives from the phrase "clutch victory from the jaws of defeat". What do you think, is this a new sense of clutch, too rare, or already covered?

-- Woops, this is already covered by adj. "Performing or tending to perform well in difficult, high-pressure situations". My mistake, I didn't see that in the page. Hopefully someone can delete this section. --19:58, 21 August 2019

Where this sense of clutch#Adjective comes from is interesting. Maybe someone has some ideas. DCDuring (talk) 21:13, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
Originally the noun “An important or critical situation” comes from an idiom, apparently “to come to the clutch”, which is apparently an alteration of, or formation analogous to “to come to the crunch” (or a malapropism?), which Wiktionarians have failed to list at clutch while there is “clinch, pinch” claimed to have similar senses (which? For pinch “An awkward situation of some kind”? For clinch ”I do not see anything similar in the entry). Maybe there is yet another term that has such a usage. For the way from noun to adjective it is easy to see how from a usage like “It doesn't get more clutch than that!” we derive such an adjective sense. Fay Freak (talk) 23:16, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
When I earlier today extracted the noun and verb senses of clutch from the other etymologies, I mentioned (in the new etymology section) pinch (as in in a pinch) and clinch (as in in the clinches, in a close-in struggle), not because they were ancestors or synonyms, but rather because they seemed like possible analogs and because of the similarity of sound elements. Crunch would have been another good analog of the same kind. I'd never heard of the idiom come to the clutch, but it might well be the missing link the etymology needs. I often wonder at how senses such as this evolve, but such matters don't seem to normally interest those at WT:ES.
Do you have any references to the idiom come to the clutch? I haven't seen any use at Google Books. DCDuring (talk) 01:48, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
We do have crunch time, but not when it comes to the crunch/if it comes to the crunch/come to the crunch/down to the crunch/in a crunch, which sound like expressions I've heard used. They may be SoP with the proper sense of crunch. DCDuring (talk) 02:04, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
I can’t recommend creating these, the simplex entry should satisfy. Fay Freak (talk) 02:34, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
The Online Etymology Dictionary puts the earliest use of the definition in question of clutch as "in the 1920s". I'm not getting any use at Google Books of "come|comes|coming|came to the crunch" before 1964. DCDuring (talk) 02:16, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring Why do you ask me this? Every single quote of the five at the noun contains come + clutch. I have just argued from this. One might find more uses of this “clutch”; but the key, methinks, will be other words with similar use. Fay Freak (talk) 02:34, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
Because I hadn't looked at cites in the entry and I thought my Google books search would have caught any cites that could be in the entry. I think Google has different coverage in different regions. I need to get sleep. DCDuring (talk) 03:24, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
"Come through in the clutch" is something I have often heard; "when/if it comes to the clutch" no so much. Our cites are split between those two.
I have yet to find any attestation for the sense of clutch in question as far back as the 1920s to confirm the Online Etymology Dictionary's assertion. It would be useful to see if it showed the evolutionary path of the sense. Did the wrestling term clutch have enough currency to be the basis for a metaphor? DCDuring (talk) 11:44, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

clutch is polish for key and the gaming scene could have picked up a few Polish words (kurwa being internationally known), so clutch player = key player and by extension clutch win = important win, key to success makes sense in my mind. Alas I wasnt there when clutch became used by gamers. 17:22, 20 September 2019 (UTC)

departmental storeEdit

This seems a synonym of department store in most contexts. Google Books and Google News suggest it is most common in India and South East Asia, but I have also seen it occasionally used by British and Australian authors. Does anybody have specific data on the word's range and how it compares in register and connotation to department store? Identical? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 12:43, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

Personally, never heard of it in BrE (in fact I've never seen it anywhere). Equinox 13:05, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
Yes, the term seems exceedingly rare in British media,[6] [7] so the attestations are more likely just flukes, perhaps influenced by Indian English, rather than a regional/dialectal variant in British English. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 07:49, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
The term has entries on the Kannada and Tamil Wiktionaries.  --Lambiam 19:19, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
I reckon that is more evidence that the term is mostly Indian English. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 07:49, 23 August 2019 (UTC)

The name has a nice ring to itEdit

How should users look up the meaning of to it in setences such as the following? The name has a nice ring to it --Backinstadiums (talk) 18:48, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

Anyone could do this job; there's nothing to it: just look up the preposition to until you hit sense 10.  --Lambiam 19:12, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
This one rather bothers me; there is nothing essential to it, by which I mean there is nothing essential to constructions like "to it", as opposed to "to 'some other noun phrase'". Consider "That is up to maggots?" "I shall go to supper" "I shall go to pieces", "Very well, I shall go to it (or that, him, trouble, great lengths etc)" Surely "to it" does not especially deserve head-word status? JonRichfield (talk) 18:25, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
I have just read the item below, on to lay it down that, etc and this seems to me a similar case. JonRichfield (talk) 18:28, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
More to the point, one could paraphrase this as "there's a nice ring to the name". The use of "it" as a placeholder is part of a deeper phenomenon in English syntactic structure that linguists have spent a lot of effort over the years to explain properly. You wouldn't expect to find explanations for countability, word order, or the different uses of possession here, so why this? It's not the sort of thing that dictionaries are good at addressing- it's important for learners, but Wiktionary just isn't the right tool for the job. Chuck Entz (talk) 18:59, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
I don’t think it has anything to do with using it as a dummy pronoun. It is sense numero uno. In this case it is the pronoun of choice simply because its referent (the noun phrase “the name”) is inanimate. Compare with a similarly constructed sentence with a preposition + pronoun in which the referent is animate: ”The passenger had a dog with him”.  --Lambiam 09:37, 24 August 2019 (UTC)
Agreed; in such examples it is not a dummy pronoun at all, but a referential pronoun. JonRichfield (talk) 11:48, 24 August 2019 (UTC)

Hydro MarkerEdit

Type of pencil; brand name; not very common. Should we keep the entry? Equinox 19:54, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

We have WT:BRAND, don't we? DCDuring (talk) 21:19, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

to lay it down that, we should much appreciate it ifEdit

How can users look up the meaning of it in setences such as to lay it down that... or we should much appreciate it if... --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:37, 23 August 2019 (UTC)

Pronoun sense 6. Equinox 17:43, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox: thanks. Can a useful usage note be added regarding the verbs which allow/require it? --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:59, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
Too many to list. Equinox 18:16, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
I don't know that there are too many, but they are a bit hard for a native speaker to characterize in the abstract, so non-native speakers and professional grammarians should probably be the ones to find the cases, determine the characteristics, and decide on the lexical presentation, if any. Usage examples seem to be how dictionaries for learners like Longman DCD and Collins COBUILD handle it.
There are plenty of expressions that have a dummy object it that can have a following that clause that is apposite to it.
For the it if expressions what seems to be required is an expression that does not permit that clauses, so it if is a substitute for that.
"I'd think nothing of it if you'd stay out all night."
"It would be worth it if I could see the eclipse."
"I wouldn't believe it if he got reelected."
"He can't help it if he is good-looking."
There are also expressions like:
"It would be wonderful if you could visit."
Right now I can't tell if what I have laid out above are part of more general grammatical patterns. For example, in three of the examples for that if, the main clause is conditional. I suspect that any attempt at lexicalizing would lay a false trail for a language learner. DCDuring (talk) 16:06, 24 August 2019 (UTC)
I don't see anything in that list that seems to urge a need for a dictionary entry. It might be appropriate for a course in writing style, or even a grammar, as @Equinox remarked. JonRichfield (talk) 17:26, 24 August 2019 (UTC)
They can go to a grammar and read about it. Chuck Entz (talk) 19:03, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
Fowler's Modern English Usage from the 1920s is still good. Maybe WikiGrammar will be created in the 2020s. Equinox 16:32, 24 August 2019 (UTC)
Not a bad idea. Not that I expect to do anything constructive about it. JonRichfield (talk) 17:26, 24 August 2019 (UTC)
Put me on that mailing-list (or holocube, or whatever we have by then, as long as it's free). But when we have people occasionally blasting us with a drive-by about how color without a U is magically prescriptively WRONG, imagine what we'll get on grammar. There is/was some academic who had a bunch of pages with concise points of grammar explained (I think the name was Brian or Bryan, and it might have been on some US .edu site, but I can't find it now); that would be a good model. Equinox 19:27, 24 August 2019 (UTC)
Fowler is more a style guide than a true grammar. Otto Jespersen wrote a comprehensive descriptive grammar of English published in English from 1909 to 1949. The early volumes must be out of copyright. Unfortunately, his concepts and vocabulary are dated and sometimes quirky. Hendrik Poutsma published one 1904-1929, Etsko Kruisinga 1909-1932, and George Curme 1931-5. All predate Chomsky, so they probably don't read as at all contemporary. Certainly, Jespersen and Curme, whose works I have sampled, don't. Google Books doesn't have any of Jespersen available even in preview. DCDuring (talk) 21:56, 24 August 2019 (UTC)
The Cambridge grammar of 2002 [8] looks pretty good and thoroughly up to date with Chomsky in proper context. Any project that includes the substance of such a work would certainly be comprehensive enough if it still is up to date at the end of the development period! JonRichfield (talk) 05:33, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
There are many grammars in various forms online, some of them quite recent, eg at [9] and [10] There are also many online resources, some of them free (and mostly worth it). Anyone contemplating such a project had better begin by studying the need and the available resources before taking the matter further. It sounds like a ^&*#$% of a job! JonRichfield (talk) 05:07, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
Hahah put JR on the list too. Equinox 05:26, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
It might be worth recalling that were it not for copying MW 1913, Century 1911, and some editions of Chambers, Wiktionary would not have coverage of many words and many of the definitions of common words, let alone various older technical and other specialized terms, etymologies, etc. I can't imagine anyone starting a grammar project without massive copying, which means they would need some out-of-copyright source comparable in completeness and authority to the dictionaries we've legally copied from. If they were focused on helping language learners with current English, they would need contemporary works, which would be in copyright. The ones that we might be able to legally copy are unlikely to be the authoritative, complete ones. From this I conclude that there will be no WikiGrammar project in the foreseeable future. If we had the talent we could add long usage notes and grammar appendices without fear of viable competition from WikiGrammar, if we had the inclination. DCDuring (talk) 14:55, 25 August 2019 (UTC)

I have a true pdf copy of the Cambridge grammar of 2002, if somebody needs a copy let me know --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:40, 25 August 2019 (UTC)


This Russian verb is listed as conjugation 1a, but in ru.wiktionary (ru:соревноваться) it is 2a just like its component ревновать. Which is right? --LA2 (talk) 21:52, 23 August 2019 (UTC)

It looks like a careless mistake; Wanjuscha (a native speaker) originally hardcoded it as a 2a, then switched to the 1a template. @Atitarev, Benwing2? Canonicalization (talk) 22:06, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
@LA2, Canonicalization, Benwing2, Wanjuscha: Thank you, fixed. The incorrect inflected forms need to be moved. Benwing2 has a way of doing it with a program but I’ll do it later if nobody does. —Anatoli T. (обсудить/вклад) 03:01, 24 August 2019 (UTC)
@LA2, Canonicalization, Atitarev, Wanjuscha The non-lemma forms should be fixed. Benwing2 (talk) 03:14, 24 August 2019 (UTC)


Under Statistics:

According to the 2010 United States Census, Wesson is the 6505th most common surname in the United States, belonging to 5217 individuals. Wesson is most common among White (67.28%) and Black/African American (26.18%) individuals.

Can't this kind of thing be worded better, if we want this kind of thing at all?

In the 2010 United States Census, Wesson was the 6505th most common surname in the United States, belonging to 5217 individuals.

And wouldn't we be more interested in the relative commonness of the name among ethnicities or races? Eg, 8,000th most common among whites, 5,000th among blacks, 40,000th among Serbian-Americans, etc. I would rather that we didn't cover black/white and ethnic differences at all, especially given that the categories are not well-defined, despite the diligent efforts of the US Census Bureau. DCDuring (talk) 17:06, 24 August 2019 (UTC)

I find the ethnic information quite useful. If someone was writing a piece of fiction, this sort of information can be a useful guide to picking a typical/atypical name for a given character. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 02:53, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
It doesn't specifically hurt. Why the US focus? Of course because those statistics are more easily available (?) and it is one of the major English-speaking countries. Bit weird though. (Related?? we did vote ages ago, I think, to remove "trivia" sections like spelling bees.) Equinox 05:24, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
It is completely useless and uninteresting information.  --Lambiam 10:43, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam Are you talking about the entry, the entire Statistics section, or just the ethnic/racial information? DCDuring (talk) 15:50, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
The entire Statistics section. It has no lexicographic relevance. That the surname Smith is number 1 may be interesting, but is encyclopedic information. This is not even interesting.  --Lambiam 22:48, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
I wouldn't mind deleting such Statistics sections altogether. Maybe we should just find the WikiData identifier for the surname and be done with it. DCDuring (talk) 15:38, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
Which header does a WikiData link go under: Further Reading or References? DCDuring (talk) 15:44, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
Definitely further reading. I also support moving this info away. Ultimateria (talk) 01:45, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
@Ultimateria: Do you mean deleting the entire Statistics section or putting it after Anagrams? DCDuring (talk) 01:59, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I take it the deletion would apply to all 20,000 such name entries in all languages. DCDuring (talk) 01:56, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I don't know anything about Wikidata but if we can outsource it there, that's great and I wouldn't mind us linking to it. I support deleting the entire Statistics section for names. Just because there are 20,000 doesn't mean they belong here. Ultimateria (talk) 03:14, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

inventory of fixtures (or schedule of fixtures?)Edit

Worth an entry? Canonicalization (talk) 17:14, 25 August 2019 (UTC)

No, IMO. DCDuring (talk) 18:29, 25 August 2019 (UTC)

two birds with one stoneEdit

Why is this a separate entry from kill two birds with one stone? It's not clear to me how it's supposed to be used. Canonicalization (talk) 17:16, 25 August 2019 (UTC)

I see what you mean. You can't really use it outside of a destructive or terminal context, I mean, you can't say raise two birds with one stone (i.e. raise two children at the same time), or feed two birds with one stone; but you can injure two birds with one stone, finish off two birds with one stone, etc...I think outside of kill two birds with one stone the phrase is pretty useless. Leasnam (talk) 19:48, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
It's used elliptically in all kinds of situations that don't involve killing or destruction (except figuratively, say, getting rid of two items on a to-do list with one action). DCDuring (talk) 19:53, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
Didn't anyone read the entry? DCDuring (talk) 19:54, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
I did, but my question is: how do you use it in a sentence? There are no usexes or quotes. Canonicalization (talk) 19:55, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
Okay, I've found some occurrences of "a matter of two birds with one stone". Canonicalization (talk) 19:58, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
"a sort of 'two birds with one stone' situation". Canonicalization (talk) 20:01, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
Two birds with one stone. DCDuring (talk) 21:57, 25 August 2019 (UTC)
Did you see what I did there? I both gave an example and answered your question: two birds with one stone. DCDuring (talk) 21:58, 25 August 2019 (UTC)

transitivity of take hostageEdit

Is take hostage also intransitive? --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:50, 26 August 2019 (UTC)

I don’t think so. A sentence like *“a hostage-taker is a person who takes hostage” is ungrammatical, at least to me.  --Lambiam 11:56, 26 August 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam: Shouldn't it be then take somebody hostage, or at least its entry should mention it's transitive --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:58, 26 August 2019 (UTC)
That is probably a better title – except that we prefer the placeholder “someone“ – just like we have do someone dirty, do someone proud, follow someone off a cliff, have someone by the balls, hit someone for six, keep someone company, keep someone in the loop, leave someone cold, leave someone in the lurch, leave someone on read, play someone like a fiddle, put someone in their place, put someone on blast, put someone under, read someone to filth, spoil someone rotten, stop someone in their tracks, ... The same should apply to hold hostage. Even better is to also show the transitivity through some well-chosen usage examples.  --Lambiam 13:52, 26 August 2019 (UTC)
I'd be surprised not to find attestation for intransitive take hostage. The usage would be something like. Taking hostage was an inevitable outgrowth of taking as slave soldiers who surrendered. One might prefer The taking of hostages, but the shorter formulation has probably had its supporters. DCDuring (talk) 14:22, 26 August 2019 (UTC)
@DCDuring: Isn't there agreement between the singular slave and the plural soldiers in your sentence? Wouldn't that hint at some idiomaticity? What about "take as hostages" --Backinstadiums (talk) 14:32, 26 August 2019 (UTC)
"Because kidnapping requires a forcible movement of the victim “some distance” or a “substantial distance,” some states have created the crime of “taking hostage” to eliminate those requirements."
"Japan’s criminal justice system, which has a conviction rate of over 99 per cent, has come under the spotlight with the prolonged detention – a manoeuvre that defence lawyers have criticised as a “way of taking hostage”."
"The new wave of kidnapping in exchange for ransom has gone beyond the normal practice of taking hostage to make political statement and/or negotiate a better condition of living for the region."
I told you so. There are more on Google Scholar. DCDuring (talk) 14:40, 26 August 2019 (UTC)
I think you can do the same with the gerunds of the other VERB someone COMPLEMENT lemmas – although for the slangy ones this may be hard to attest. But take, for instance, “a way of keeping in the loop” and “Keeping in the loop requires transparency”. But is intransitive “they will keep in the loop” grammatical?  --Lambiam 15:26, 26 August 2019 (UTC)
How about imperative: "Even when you are on leave, keep in the loop to ease your return." I could transform this example to infinitive: "Try to keep in the loop."; simple past: "He kept in the loop." etc. "if he had kept in the loop, then ..." DCDuring (talk) 16:47, 26 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Sure, we can say take someone hostage, but in take / taking / taken / took hostage ... isn't hostage the direct object of take? Making this verb phrase always and necessarily transitive? ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 16:33, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
    @Eirikr: We can perhaps view take as having two objects in take someone hostage. But when we view take hostage (or hold hostage) as an idiom, we generally ignore the internal grammar of the expression, which is in any event not obvious. (Is the idiom an ellipsis of take (as/for a) hostage?) Then we find there is usually an NP that seems to behave as an object of the verbal idiom. DCDuring (talk) 17:58, 28 August 2019 (UTC)


Inflection/emphasis of Russian noun фон does not agree with Russian and Finnish Wiktionary. --LA2 (talk) 22:58, 26 August 2019 (UTC)

Dutch de/-de- in profanitiesEdit

@Rua, Mnemosientje, DrJos, Lambiam In Netherlands Dutch certain (chiefly bisyllabic, trochaic?) profanities are often lengthened in spoken language with de: like tering de tering (de tering) or a connected spelling, or alternatives with kanker or tyfus. I am not convinced that any of these lengthened phrases are themselves sufficiently attestable to include, but is it okay to include de or -de- as a separate sense if that alone is attested rather than the longer phrases? [11] [12] (It isn't sufficiently cited for an entry yet, but it might be citable on TV or radio shows.) And if so, should it be considered as a derivation from the article de? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 09:52, 27 August 2019 (UTC) ←₰-→

I would consider it identical to the article. Diseases are commonly used with an article, after all. —Rua (mew) 10:14, 27 August 2019 (UTC)
I agree, the disease has an article in this case. I cannot remember hearing the word "kanker" used in this way; quite commom is "de pleuris", Dutch voor pleurisy. --DrJos (talk) 10:23, 27 August 2019 (UTC)
The Wikipedia article Dutch profanity mentions the phrase “Krijg de kanker”. The article “Recursing in Dutch” (paywall; JSTOR link) (the title is a pun) mentions these iterative forms:
  • godver de godver de godver domme
  • sakker de sakker de sakker de ju
  • potver de potver de potver (domme)
  • non de non de non de ju
  • non de ju de ju de ju
while observing that the “curse atoms” may also be mixed:
  • godver de non de ju
  • godver de sakker de non de ju
  • non de sakker de non de ju
  • sakker de non de godver
  • godver de mieljaar de non de ju
There is no attempt to classify de; it is called a “linking element”. (In “non de ju”, its etymon is the French preposition de, but the recursing Dutch may be unaware of the French connection.)  --Lambiam 02:47, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
I guess we also find this use of de in jemig de pemig. The use in godver de godver (which has plenty of attestations) shows decisively (IMO) that this is not simply the Dutch definite article. You can hardly have a standalone de godver, although something can go naar de godver, short for naar de godverdommenis. I also find just one instance of standalone de sakker. We can label it a particle.  --Lambiam 10:56, 29 August 2019 (UTC)

forgetful: neglectfulEdit

not giving due attention to somebody or something (formal) forgetful of his contractual obligations 
Microsoft® Encarta® 2009

should this "heedless" meaning be added too? --Backinstadiums (talk) 08:53, 28 August 2019 (UTC)

One of the senses given for forgetful is “liable to forget”, and we give neglect as one of the senses of forget, so combining this we get “liable to neglect” – in other words, “neglectful”. Rather than adding an additional sense, we can add a well-chosen usex, like for instance found here or here.  --Lambiam 09:57, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam: Thanks. The problem of linking definitions is choosing between which meaning(s) do apply to form a final one suh as "liable to forget", and I like best the second usex (btw, what does usex mean?) --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:36, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
Take the adverb lightly, defined as “in a light manner”. Which of the umpteen senses of the adjective light is this? Well, it can be basically any, depending on the context. One’s rights must not be tossed away lightly, but the salad should be tossed lightly, with a handful of lightly toasted pecans. Did I mention the salad bowl is coloured a lightly blue? This derivative form of polysemy is common to most productive suffixes. It would be pointless to have a separate sense of lightly for every sense of light. For “usex“, see WT:USEX.  --Lambiam 15:49, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam: what parts of speech are lightly and blue in your phrase a lightly blue? --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:52, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, I guess that should have been “is coloured lightly blue” or “has a lightly blue colour” – although you can find “a lightly pink” in print here.  --Lambiam 18:09, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
The fuller context (emphasis mine):


They both give a sullen nod. Brax and Private Jardon Maddox sit across from one another, while Commander Zavis Jaxon stands between them. Brax looks over at Private Jardon

Maddox, Private Jardon Maddox wipes blood leaking from his nose and spits saliva colored a lightly pink with blood.

Private Jardon Maddox then looks up to meet Brax's stare.

For the first time in their relationship they understand each other, they finally see that their is something in the other beyond their preconceptions.

Given the generally poor writing quality, I conclude that this use of the adverb lightly is a grammatical error. I believe the author intended either colored a lightly pink or colored a lightly pink. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 18:30, 29 August 2019 (UTC)

@Eirikr: Thanks. --Backinstadiums (talk) 18:53, 29 August 2019 (UTC)

to goEdit

How is this an adjective? Equinox 16:10, 28 August 2019 (UTC)

@Equinox: the increasing demand for “to-go” food and beverages --Backinstadiums (talk) 16:29, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
Yes, we lack an entry for to-go. I'm talking about the to go entry with its citations. Equinox 16:37, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox: Well the hyphen is added when in prenominal position as usual, but prenominal modification is one charateristic feature of adjectives, but for postnominative ones (or even uses) such Please ensure we receive the amount owing by Friday --

Backinstadiums (talk) 16:50, 28 August 2019 (UTC)

@Backinstadiums:, "amount owing" is an ellipsis of "amount that's owing (i.e. outstanding/owed)". It's only by happenstance that it occurs immediately following the noun and looks like [noun] + [adjective/modifier]. Leasnam (talk) 21:53, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
Remember that the hyphen is in English an easy-to-deploy tool to convert phrases to easy-to-understand adjectives and, sometimes, nouns. We wouldn't want to memorialize every such thrice-attested expression. DCDuring (talk) 18:34, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
I would just call it a phrase. In some of its uses it does not seem to behave much like an adjective grammatically, though it has similar semantics: The hamburger was bagged to go.. There are lots of common collocations of the form to + [bare form of verb], but I find it hard to come up with one of the form [NP] + to + [bare form of intransitive verb]. This one seems to have become fossilized in the two idiomatic meanings. DCDuring (talk) 18:29, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
An archaic way of saying this (provided we pretend we have hamburgers back then) would be The hamburger was bagged for to go, making it the equivalent to The hamburger was bagged for going (i.e. "transport out or away"), where "to go" = "going". If it's a phrase then it's a noun phrase. Leasnam (talk) 21:33, 28 August 2019 (UTC)

spoil(ed) for a fight, spoiling to fightEdit

We have be spoiling for a fight, but google books:"spoil for a fight" and google books:"spoiled for a fight" also exist, which suggests there should either be another sense added to spoil, or an entry spoil for a fight (which currently just redirects, wrongly IMO, to the 'be...' version). google books:"spoiling to fight" and google books:"spoiling to battle" also exist, further suggesting we need a sense at either spoil or at least spoiling. - -sche (discuss) 21:28, 28 August 2019 (UTC)

Online Etymology Dictionary has: "To be spoiling for (a fight, etc.) is from 1865, from notion that one will "spoil" if he doesn't get it." DCDuring (talk) 23:36, 28 August 2019 (UTC)


I am surprised to see no mention in the entry of the quite common juvenile connotations that this term tends to have.

One cannot really use "meanie" as a perfect synonym for (a usage of) "jerk" (for instance), because of these connotations. Tharthan (talk) 07:23, 29 August 2019 (UTC)

Out of curiosity, what juvenile connotations are those? I don't think I know any meaning beyond the present definition. Mihia (talk) 19:32, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
Usage examples might help with the connotations.
Collins, Macmillan, and Oxford (all UK) have a definition something like "a stingy person" as well as one for "a mean person". It seems to be UK.
I don't see other dictionaries with a definition "villain", which we now have. DCDuring (talk) 19:48, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
Sorry, I think I misunderstood. I thought Tharthan meant that there was a different juvenile meaning, not just that the word in the defined meaning tended to seem juvenile. Anyway, I added the "miserly" definition that definitely exists, at least in the UK, and also some usage examples including a schoolchild one. Mihia (talk) 20:45, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
Yes, a bit of a playground word. "He pushed me! What a meanie!" (pout). Far less likely: a working adult saying "my boss is a meanie". Equinox 19:56, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
For the nouns doggy, horsy and tummy we use the label (childish). My main connotation are the Blue Meanies made immemorial by the film Yellow Submarine.  --Lambiam 20:00, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
It is not exclusively childish, though. It is informal. To me it evokes childhood even when used in non-fiction, say, political writings, in which conservative or budget-conscious politicians are referred to as meanies. DCDuring (talk) 21:30, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
  • I don't personally know the "killjoy" and "villain" meanings as distinct from the general "mean person" definition at sense #1. Ideally it would be nice to have usage examples to show how these are distinct, or merit separate mention. Mihia (talk) 01:13, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
It is as Equinox said. One cannot really picture a grown man or woman calling their boss, for instance, a "meanie".
If it is not clear enough as it is, let us stop for a moment and try an exercise:
Imagine, say, Tom Magnum talking to a disgruntled pal and saying the following to them:

"Yeah, man. I get your drift. Your boss is a real meanie! You really ought to consider another job."

...I only mention Tom Magnum because of how the character always came off to millions of people, mind you. In other words, it's a good reference point that we can compare to. You can obviously insert pretty much anyone else there instead of him, but when talking off of the top of one's head I think that it might be better to use (as a reference point) an established fictional character who we can picture rather than some nonexistent, utterly nebulous hypothetical "Person A".
In any case, I think that you get what I'm saying. So if we truly cannot add a "childish" descriptor tag to it, perhaps we can (at the very least) add an "often childish" descriptor tag. However it ought to be gone about, there really does need to be some mention that it has childish connotations. If a non-native English speaker were reading our entry as it is, they would not have any reason to think that it was anything other than a synonym for "jerk". Tharthan (talk) 01:45, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
It would be particularly good if we had actual citations illustrating the usage registers. DCDuring (talk) 02:27, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
For example:
  • 2016 May 12, “'Meanie' Prince goaded Michael Jackson at concert, will.i.am says”, in Irish Independent:
    "When I said he was just being nice, Michael said 'No, he's always been a meanie'."
  • 2019 August 27, Kwame Anthony Appiah, “My Layabout Stepdaughter and Her Boyfriend Live With Me. Can I Kick Them Out?”, in New York Times:
    (In this scenario, you’re a big old meanie.) In the second scenario, you’re the patient, long-suffering breadwinner being taken advantage of by listless ingrates.
  • 2011 March 30, Daniel Bates and Mark Duell, “When billionaire geeks fall out: Bill, was the big meanie of Microsoft, claims co-founder who says Gates 'tried to cut him out when he got sick with cancer'”, in Daily Mail:
Childish? DCDuring (talk) 03:17, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I would put forth that there is a fair possibility that most "non-childish" usages of the word that you see are playing off of the well-known childish usage. That's hardly an uncommon phenomenon, I'm sure that you would agree.
But even if one were to accept the possibility that it is not always childish (or even that it might not have originally been pretty exclusively childish), it is still often childish. The Farlex Idioms and Slang Dictionary supports Equinox and me on this, if you won't take his word and my word for it. Specifically, it defines "meanie" as "A childish name for someone who is mean or unpleasant", and also in one of its examples has "A 'meanie'? What are you, five years old?".
So, again, some descriptor tags or the like are important to have here. Tharthan (talk) 03:41, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I'm not sure exactly which usage contexts DCDuring was trying to support there, but we have "big old meanie" and "big meanie", which IMO do sound very childish. Sticking "big" on an insult to accentuate it isn't a typical adult habit, is it? Equinox 03:46, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
Do I really have to produce all the hard evidence for both sides of the argument?
Here's something from usenet: "Re: It's All Too Hard" Group: alt.fan.scarecrow
I knew it! well thats it, you;re not getting your hands on me Fruit an Nut > then. Don't be such a fucking meanie!!!
Whatever the origins, I think it has gone beyond the "childish" label. Perhaps our culture has become more childish in the eyes of the older generation. DCDuring (talk) 04:56, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
Dude, we are the older generation. And you can produce whatever evidence you want, but since this is Tea Room and not the entry itself, you might help us by indicating what you think it means. But it's up to you, daddy-oh! Equinox 05:05, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I'm also refusing to look up Thartan's "Tom Magnum", whom I've never heard of. (Keep listening to your radio... mine is the last voice you will ever hear, saying "whom".) Hopefully some sort of Avengers spy character. Equinox 05:07, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
What about a label like {{lb|en|informal|childish}} or {{lb|en|chiefly|childish}}, that would recognise that it has spread into more general language but that it can still sound childish in many contexts? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 08:42, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
"Sticking "big" on an insult to accentuate it isn't a typical adult habit, is it?" Outside political discourse (and some idiomatic fixed phrases) generally not, I think. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 08:42, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I would support labelling it "informal or childish" rather than "informal, childish". Mihia (talk) 11:37, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I have added fair descriptor tags based upon those suggested here. Tharthan (talk) 17:36, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

whole adverb - wrong?Edit

It says: "(colloquial) In entirety; entirely; wholly. I ate a fish whole!" But this isn't the same as saying "I wholly ate a fish!". It means "the fish was whole when I ate it". Therefore I think "whole" here may be an adjective, not an adverb. Opinions? If the fish example is bogus, are there better, legitimate examples we could use? Equinox 04:14, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

It may be instructive to compare the old nursery rhyme "...four, five, once I caught a fish alive": again, it's the fish that is alive, not me. (I happen to be a skeleton who just likes fishing. Don't judge.) Equinox 04:16, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I agree the usage example isn't wholly convincing. But "I ate the fish whole" is not the same as "I ate the whole fish." We don't have an adjective sense for "I ate the fish whole", meaning "all in one swallow", though we don't have the dozen definitions that MWOnline has. "The waiter presented the fish whole" gives me a different picture than "The waiter presented the whole fish."
I'm not sure how to discriminate with certainty between adjective and adjective usage in this case. DCDuring (talk) 04:35, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
MWOnline does have an adverb PoS for whole with two definitions:
1 : wholly, entirely
a whole new age group — Henry Chauncey
2 : as a complete entity
The second def. seems to fit our usage examples. DCDuring (talk) 04:39, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
Hmm, "whole new age group" as evidence for "whole" adverb? I suppose so. Similar to "a whole other issue". You can't flip it and say "a new whole age group", "another whole issue", so apparently "whole" is modifying the adjective. Equinox 04:55, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
Is this grammatically different from “I like my steak rare”?  --Lambiam 08:41, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I come to a conclusion without authority or cites rare, but this time I agree about the lack of surface grammatical distinction, but still hold that whole is an adverb in "I ate/swallowed the fish whole", though rare in your example seems to be an adjective.
Also Tom Magnum is the role played by Tom Selleck in Magnum PI. Very popular in US, still in syndication. DCDuring (talk) 12:00, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I agree that "whole" is an adverb in "I ate a fish whole!". "whole" relates to "ate", not to the fish. As mentioned, it is different from "I ate a whole fish", where "whole" does relate to the fish. Mihia (talk) 12:41, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
This looks like yet another way of detecting whether someone learned their English from a book. Do other languages have as many little minefields as English? DCDuring (talk) 13:12, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
Mihia, why is it an adverb? Generally I feel that "I Xed a Y Z-ly" means that I performed verb X on object Y and I did it in the Z style. "I ate a fish whole" or "ate a fish alive" doesn't match this pattern, since Z is a property of the object Y (it was whole, it was alive) and not a descriptor of how X performed Y ("I ate it quickly"). Probably my pattern is wrong, then, but you have provided no evidence. What am I missing? Equinox 13:45, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
The following usage examples make it seem that, at least sometimes, swallowing is what is being modified by whole rather than what is being swallowed:
  • 2000, Dale Peterson, Jane Goodall, Visions of Caliban, page 40:
    chimpanzees in the Kibale Forest of Uganda swallow whole the leaves from two different plant species
  • 2003, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, David McDuff, transl., The Brothers Karamazov:
    In the morning I would get up more vicious than a dog, and would gladly have swallowed whole the entire world
  • 2000, A Easson, “Don Pickwick: Dickens and the Transformations of Cervantes”, in Rereading Victorian Fiction, Springer:
    While not denying the originality of The Pickwick Papers, there is no need to swallow whole the parthenogenical spontaneity of Pickwick springing fully clothed, in tights and gaiters, from his father's head.
  • 1951, Allan H. Chaney, “The food habits of the salamander Amphiuma tridactylum”, in Copeia:
    Most of the food was easily identified as it had been swallowed whole.
HTH. DCDuring (talk) 14:46, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
You say that "I ate a fish whole" means the fish was whole, but I don't personally think it does mean that, even though that would also be true. I think "whole" describes the manner in which you ate it, i.e. in one gulp, without breaking it into parts, or taking off any parts. Mihia (talk) 15:45, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

subject merge noun 5 & 6?Edit

Should we merge subject noun 5 and 6? 5. "A citizen in a monarchy. I am a British subject." 6. "A person ruled over by another, especially a monarch or state authority." Can one be a "subject" of a republic? I've never thought about it. Maybe at least we should use the subsense indentation...? (maybe we should subject one sense to the other AHHHAAAAA KILL ME) Equinox 04:44, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

Quash missing figurative sense?Edit

An article in The Guardian today is headlined by “Scientists quash idea of single 'gay gene'”.

I haven't seen quash used in this figurative sense before, but it doesn't seem out of place. Its use here doesn't match the two literal senses of the definition on Wiktionary (To defeat forcibly and To crush or dash to pieces), and this falls outside of the third definition as well (pertaining to law).

Is a fourth figurative sense lacking?


4. (figurative) To convincingly discredit or disprove (a theory, idea, etc.)

--JeroenHoek (talk) 07:35, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

This word is used figuratively very often (more than literally!). Our entry could already explain it ("to defeat forcibly") as long as you accept strong arguments as "force" or "forcible". Equinox 07:39, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
Perhaps decisively is an apter choice for the adverb.  --Lambiam 09:31, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

Assure: convinceEdit

Is assure really used to mean convince as Webster's points out? The entry of the adjective assured has no meaning equivalent to convinced though, so the meaning of assure would rather be "try to convince" --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:10, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

Here we read: “Have we assured you that your investment will not be the only one dedicated to this project?” And here: “Really I find it quite good—quite, I assure you.” In these cases the meaning is “convince” rather than “try to convince”.  --Lambiam 13:03, 30 August 2019 (UTC)


Adjective sense:

  1. Having common characteristics; being of the same kind, or in the same group
    Roger and his fellow workers are to go on strike.

Is this a true adjective? Some other dictionaries also have it as an adjective, but I'm not really convinced. Mihia (talk) 15:39, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

It's a noun. It was used to form compounds, like fellow-bishop, fellow-Christian, fellow-servant, etc., largely replacing earlier constructs using even-, and from this it seems to have gotten its attributive meaning. I'm not surprised that from this pseudo-prefix type usage that it has broken off to become stand-alone and near adjective-like. Leasnam (talk) 23:06, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I don't think it would be found to meet the usual tests for adjectivity. DCDuring (talk) 02:29, 31 August 2019 (UTC)
@Mihia, Leasnam, DCDuring: Shouldn't the CFI or some other official page have a section on the issue? It's been popping up again and again for months now. Canonicalization (talk) 09:47, 1 September 2019 (UTC)
We have Wiktionary:English adjectives. DCDuring (talk) 13:46, 1 September 2019 (UTC)
  • OK, I have moved it to the Noun section. Mihia (talk) 17:47, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

copyedit or copy edit as a nounEdit

I often use the word "copyedit" as a noun (e.g., at Wikipedia: "why did you revert my copyedit?" [this is a made-up example]). I'm sure I've seen others doing the same, possibly also with the two-word form, "copy edit". And yet, neither copy edit nor copyedit currently acknowledges this usage. Is this a neologism peculiar to wikis? Can it be attested in the Real World? (Note that edit, of course, contains both noun and verb senses. The noun form of "copyedit" would be analogous to noun senses 1 and 2 of "edit".) - dcljr (talk) 15:17, 31 August 2019 (UTC)

It is fairly easy to find usage of copyedit and copy edit by searching Google Books for "the|those|these|our|your|my|their|his|her copyedits" and "a|the|etc copyedit". (The determiners are added to the search terms to reduce hits that are not relevant such as for the 3rd person indicative singular form of the verb.) It's relatively new term as a noun: I didn't find a hit at Google Books before 1980.
Most of the usage and all of the early usage is with a definition like "the process of copy editing" or "an instance of copy editing a(n entire) work (such as an article or a book or chapter)". The use to refer to a specific edit does seem newer and would seem more likely in a wiki-like environment.
  • 2012, Constance Steinkuehler, ‎Kurt Squire, ‎Sasha Barab, Games, Learning, and Society: Learning and Meaning in the Digital Age, page 418:
    The copyedits in science.net — a game designed for middle school students — were somewhat less blunt, but they were supposed to retain the other salient features of the original.
  • 2017, Peter Ginna, What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing:
    Once the copyedits are completed, the copyedited text will be sent to the author — again, usually electronically.
  • 2006, Bernard Bloch, Language, volume 82, page 482:
    A good part of this reworking is done in the copyediting stage, with a further step — that of proofreading — ensuring, among other things, that the copyedits are incorporated properly into the text.
HTH. DCDuring (talk) 19:46, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
Done. Thanks. I used one of your cites and provided some others that I found, illustrating what seem to be distinct senses. I kinda suck at writing dictionary entries, though, so you (and others) might want to check what I've done. - dcljr (talk) 07:08, 5 September 2019 (UTC)

intramarriage vs. intermarriageEdit

I tried looking for intramarriage in OneLook but drew a blank. As I understand it intermarriage has two meanings, including that given at intramarriage. This is borne out at intermarry. @Equinox, did you have a source for intramarriage? DonnanZ (talk) 15:30, 31 August 2019 (UTC)

Looks like DCDuring has added a couple of citations. RFV is the place if you doubt it. Equinox 23:35, 1 September 2019 (UTC)
@Equinox: It looks like some sources regard intramarriage as an antonym of intermarriage, whereas others such as Oxford don't. So it could be dangerous to regard them as antonyms, and I wonder if there is a verb such as intramarry (um, there is here, but not in Oxford online). DonnanZ (talk) 13:56, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
It's not dangerous where both are used, in explicit opposition. I would consider the use of intramarriage ("endogamy") to mean "intermarriage" ("exogamy") to be a mistake. DCDuring (talk) 20:34, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
No OneLook Dictionary has intramarriage and yet writers use it, evidently because they think it communicates better than endogamy (or they think endo- + -gamy is more sexist or heteronormative). DCDuring (talk) 20:38, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
I've added cites for intramarry, which is abundantly in use in scholarly works. DCDuring (talk) 20:56, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
The OneLook reference added to intramarry doesn't have any usable content, maybe it should be removed. DonnanZ (talk) 09:37, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
I won't be using intramarry and intramarriage, it is usually clear from the context whether intermarriage within families or between peoples is meant. In the passage "Fra 1760-tallet foregikk det et visst inngifte med innvandrende skotter, ..." (From the 1760s a certain [amount of] intermarriage with immigrant Scots took place) this is clear. Yet inngifte also means marriage within a family. DonnanZ (talk) 09:57, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
"I won't be using" etc. is always a poor argument. We have "flammable" so we don't need the frankly confusing "inflammable", which (for those not knowing the etymology) sounds like an opposite. But nevertheless it's a word, however much we hate it. Equinox 04:51, 5 September 2019 (UTC)

Pronunciation of 走踔 and entry for 走傱Edit

I just stumbled upon 走踔, a Min Nan word for "rush", and it has no pronunciation info. Based on the single characters, it's either tsáu-tshėt, tsóo-tshėt, or tsó-tshėt (using Tai-lo with overdots instead of vertical lines above). Which is it?

Is it perhaps a variant spelling of 走傱, documented on 台湾闽南语常用词辞典 as a synonym of 奔走, just like 走踔 is here? If so, should we change the entry to reflect that spelling, or at least add it as an alternate form? And if not, should we not add an entry for 走傱?

MGorrone (talk) 23:06, 31 August 2019 (UTC)