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Wiktionary:Entry layout explained

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Image:Application-certificate_Gion.svg This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. It should not be modified without a VOTE.
Policies: CFI - ELE - BLOCK - REDIR - BOTS - QUOTE - DELETE - NPOV Language-specific: AR - CA - ZH - CZ - FR - EL - HE - HU - JA - LA - RO - ES



While the information below may represent some kind of "standard" form, it is not a set of rigid rules. You may experiment with deviations, but other editors may find those deviations unacceptable, and revert those changes. They have just as much right to do that as you have to make them. Be ready to discuss those changes. If you want your way accepted, you have to make the case for that. Unless there is a good reason for deviating, the standard should be presumed correct. Refusing to discuss, or engaging in edit wars may also affect your credibility in other unrelated areas.


Entry name

The name of the entry is that of the word or phrase that you are defining. For languages with two cases of script, the entry name will usually begin with a lowercase letter. Exceptions include proper nouns, German nouns, and many abbreviations.

The essentials

  1. Language lets you know the language of the word in question. It is almost always in a level two heading (See Wiktionary:How to edit a page for some basic terminology we use). In most cases the language header contains a language in its traditional meaning. Priority is given to ==Translingual==; this heading includes terms that remain the same in all languages. The symbols for the chemical elements and the abbreviations for international units of measurement are but two examples of translingual terms. English comes next because this is the English Wiktionary. After that come the other languages in alphabetical order.
  2. Part of Speech may be a misnomer, but it seemed to make sense when it was first chosen. It is the key descriptor for the lexical function of the term in question (such as 'noun', 'verb', etc). The definitions themselves come within its scope. In addition to the traditional “parts of speech” it has come to include entities that are less than words, such as initialisms and suffixes, and items that are more than words, such as idiomatic expressions, phrases and proverbs. This heading is nestable. It is most frequently in a level three heading, but may have a lower level for terms that have multiple etymologies or pronunciations.
  3. References are becoming more important as we strive to improve the reliability of Wiktionary. While we may be lax in demanding references for words that are easily found in most paper dictionaries, references for more obscure words are essential. References may be added in a separate header of adequately chosen level or added directly to specific senses.

A very simple example

This is a simple entry for the word bed, and shows the most fundamental elements of an article:

  1. a word’s language (as a level 2 heading),
  2. its part of speech or "type" (as a level 3 heading),
  3. the inflection word itself (using the correct Part of Speech template or the word in bold letters),
  4. a definition (preceded by "#", which causes automatic numbering),
  5. links in the definition for key words,
  6. "References" (as a level 3 heading), and
  7. a verifiable place where you found the word

This example can be copied and used to start an article or section of an article.



# A piece of [[furniture]] to [[sleep]] on.

* ''The Oxford Paperback Dictionary'' 	 

Variations for languages other than English

Entries for terms in other languages should follow the standard format as closely as possible regardless of the language of the word. However, a translation into English should normally be given instead of a definition, including a gloss to indicate which meaning of the English translation is intended. Also, the translations section should be omitted.

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

Additional headings

There are additional headings which you should include if possible, but if you don’t have the necessary expertise, resources or time, you have no obligation to add them, with the possible exception of “References”. The list below is not an exclusive list; other headings may be essential in some circumstances. An order for these headings is recommended, but variations in that order are also allowable.

A typical article that uses many of these additional headings could be formatted thus:

===Alternative spellings===
*Audio files in any relevant dialects
#Meaning 1
#Meaning 2
====Usage notes====
====Derived terms====
====Related terms====
====External links====
#Meaning 1
====Usage notes====
====Derived terms====
====Related terms====
====External links====
---- (Dividing line between languages)
#Meaning 1 in English
#*Quotation in Finnish
#**Quotation translated into English
#Meaning 2 in English
#*Quotation in Finnish
#**Quotation translated into English
====Derived terms====
====Related terms====

A key principle in ordering the headings and indentation levels is nesting. The order shown above accomplishes this most of the time. A heading placed at one level includes everything that follows until an equivalent level is encountered. If a word can be a noun and a verb, everything that derives from its being the first chosen part of speech should be put before the second one is started. Nesting is a key principle to the organization of Wiktionary, but the concept suffers from being difficult to describe with verbal economy. If you have problems with this, examine existing articles, or ask questions of a more senior person.

Headings before the definitions

In general, headings in this group do not depend on the meaning of the word. They give an environment that leads up to the word and its relation to other words, and allow us to distinguish it from others that may be similar in some respects.


Main article: Wiktionary:Etymology

The first header below the language heading is usually the level 3 "Etymology" header. The etymology is given right below the header without indentation. Etymology essentially shows where the word comes from. This may show the forms in other languages that underlie the word. For many modern words it may show who coined the word. If a word is derived from an other English word by a regular rule such as formation of an adverb by adding "ly", it is not necessary to repeat the complete details of the word's origin on the page for the adverb.

Sometimes two words with different etymologies belong in the same article because they are spelled the same (they are homographs). In such a case there will be more than one "Etymology" header, which we number. Hence for a word like lead the basic header skeleton looks like this:

===Etymology 1===
===Etymology 2===

Note that in the case of multiple etymologies, all subordinate headers need to have their levels increased by 1 in order to comply with the fundamental concept of showing dependence through nesting.


Main article: Wiktionary:Pronunciation

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

* {{a|UK}} {{IPA|/pɔːtˈmantəʊ/}}, {{SAMPA|/pO:t"m{nt@U/}}
* {{a|US}} {{SAMPA|/pOrt"m{ntoU/}}
* {{audio|en-us-portmanteau.ogg|Audio (US)}}

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

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

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


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

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

which results in

which are the English words that sound identical to right.

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

The following must not be added to the homophones section:

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

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


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

:* {{rhymes|æt}}

to the code. This displays as

To see the usage instructions for {{rhymes}}. See template talk:rhymes

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

The article core

The part of speech or other descriptor

Main article: Wiktionary:Entry layout explained/POS headers

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


We give a word's inflections without indentation in the line below the "Part of speech" header. There is no separate header for this. For uninflected words it is enough to repeat the entry word in boldface. Further forms can be given in parentheses.

For a noun this will simply be one of...
word (plural words)
word (uncountable)
word (plurale tantum)
...depending whether the noun has a plural, is uncountable, or is itself a plural with no singular form, respectively. For an adjective this will appear as one of...
hard (comparative harder, superlative hardest)
growling (not comparable)
...depending whether the adjective is comparable or not, respectively. For a verb you may use
to end (third-person singular simple present ends, present participle ending, simple past ended, past participle ended)

Templates are available at inflection templates for those who prefer this technique.


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

See Wiktionary:Entry layout explained/POS headers for discussion of the appropriate part of speech for different types of abbreviation

The "definitions" of entries that are abbreviations should be the expanded forms of the abbreviations. Where there is more than one expansion of the abbreviation, ideally these should be listed alphabetically to prevent the expanded forms being duplicated. The case used in the expanded form should be the usual one — do not capitalise words in the expanded form of an abbreviation that is made up of capital letters unless that is how the expanded form is usually written.

Where the expanded forms are entries that appear (or should appear) in Wiktionary, wikify them. Expanded forms that are encyclopedic entries should also be wikified and linked to the appropriate Wikipedia entry. When the expanded form does not merit an entry of its own, either in Wiktionary or Wikipedia material, wikify its component words and give a gloss (italicised, in parentheses) after the expansion explaining what the term means (see SNAFU for an example).

See PC for an example entry.

Example sentences

Generally, every definition should be accompanied by a quotation illustrating the definition. If no quotation can be found, it is strongly encouraged to create an example sentence. Example sentences should:

  • be grammatically complete sentences, beginning with a capital letter and ending with a period, question mark, or exclamation point.
  • be placed immediately after the applicable numbered definition, and before any quotations associated with that specific definition.
  • be italicized, with the defined term boldfaced.
  • be as brief as possible while still clarifying the sense of the term. (In rare cases, examples consisting of two brief sentences may work best.)
  • be indented using the "#:" command placed at the start of the line.
  • for languages in non-Latin scripts, a transcription is to be given in the line below, with an additional level of indentation: "#::".
  • for languages other than English, a translation is to be given in the line below (i.e. below the sentence or below the transcription), with an additional level of indentation: "#::".
  • not contain wikilinks (the words should be easy enough to understand without additional lookup)

The goal of the example sentences is the following, which is to be kept in mind when making one up:

  1. To place the term in a context in which it is likely to appear, addressing level of formality, dialect, etc.
  2. To provide notable collocations, particularly those that are not idiomatic.
  3. To select scenarios in which the meaning of the example itself is clear.
  4. To illustrate the meaning of the term to the extent that a definition is obtuse.
  5. To exemplify varying grammatical frames that are well understood, especially those that may not be obvious, for instance relying on collocation with a preposition.

Headings after the definitions

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

Order of headings

  • Usage notes (can be placed anywhere appropriate)
  • Inflection, or Conjugation for verbs, or Declension for nouns and adjectives, only present in non-English entries
  • Quotations (when not given under a particular sense)
  • Synonyms
  • Antonyms
  • Other allowable -nyms
  • Derived terms
  • Related terms
  • Coordinate terms
  • Descendants
  • Translations (only present in English entries)
  • See also
  • References
  • External links

Usage notes

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


Main article: Wiktionary:Quotations

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

  • 1561, Flat Footed (translator), Platypus (author), Odes, chapter 3, line 12,
    The hrunk it hrunketh every day.


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

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

The following approach is suggested:

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

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

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

Find this word in Wikisaurus

The link to a Wikisaurus entry can now be made by using the Template {{Wikisaurus-link|headword}}. This throws up a banner with a link to the Wikisaurus entry. For example, {{Wikisaurus-link|money}}

Further semantic relations

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

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

Definition from Wiktionary
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