Wiktionary:Tea room/2011/May

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discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← April 2011 · May 2011 · June 2011 → · (current)

May 2011

pay off

"I finally paid off my new car." Is this sense includeable at pay off or is it sum of parts? ---> Tooironic 13:18, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

Inclusible AFAICT; I've added it; thanks.​—msh210 (talk) 20:13, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

hapax and nonce word

Hi. An IP has just put the Spanish form of hapax as a translation in nonce word. Would this be correct? What is the relationship between these two concepts? How far do they overlap? -- ALGRIF talk 11:37, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

A hapax can be a regular, even common, word that is used only once in a work (such as the Bible), or only once in the surviving body of writing (such as Mayan glyphs), or it can be the result of a misspelling or typo, or it can be a nonce word. Hapax is the hypernym, nonce word is a hyponym. —Stephen (Talk) 22:20, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
I agree with your explanation of "hapax", but I disagree with your statement that every nonce-word is a hapax. The OED defines it as “[one of a number of terms coined by James Murray especially for use in the N.E.D.] a word apparently used only ‘for the nonce’, i.e. on one specific occasion or in one specific text or writer's works”, and one imagines that they would know. (And I'm pretty sure I've seen the term used even more broadly, to describe a word each of whose uses has been an independent coinage.) —RuakhTALK 23:19, 4 May 2011 (UTC)


There's a comment at WT:FEED#scoring saying that our 'noun' definitions are in fact verb form definitions. --Mglovesfun (talk) 16:34, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

The comment seems to be correct. The noun definitions are repetitious of the score#Verb lemma definitions. But we should probably RfV (RfD ?) the "noun" and "adjective". DCDuring TALK 21:43, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
The definitions could possibly be reworded to be clearly nouns. If we can find usage such as "the scoring of the game", "the scoring of the rocks", "much/little scoring", "many/few scorings", etc. we would be justified in including the senses as nouns. DCDuring TALK 09:45, 5 May 2011 (UTC)


I have added two senses to permit#Verb. They have pronunciation like that of the noun, not like that of the other verb senses. Should they have a separate pronunciation section? A separate etymology section (together with the noun)? DCDuring TALK 20:22, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

against: expressing odds

It seems to me that phrases like "ten to one against" are not covered in against. That meaning (let alone the word order) is not obvious unless you are familiar with this way of expressing odds. Thoughts? Rl 07:28, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

One question raised by your example is whether "against" is a preposition (probably covered by one of the senses given or possibly requiring rewording) or an adverb, which does not appear in the entry.
We can look at the usage you point out at least two ways, one justifying inclusion of an adverb section, the other not. If someone says "The odds were ten to one against", the proposition that the odds were "against" is usually obvious. In writing it would already have been mentioned. In speech it might have been mentioned or might have been pointed to in some way. If all usage of "against" has such an object understood in context, then we need not have an adverb section. I have not found another dictionary that shows this as an adverb.
In any event, the wordings of our definitions of the preposition does not seem to include a sense of "opposed to", which arguably includes the betting sense. I have added such a sense with two usage examples. Is that adequate? DCDuring TALK 10:10, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't see the need for an adverb section, either. The more specific meaning that I was (rather vaguely) referring to is described in w:Odds (search for the word "against"). I think that is what you are discussing above, just from a different perspective. To me, it seems that "against" in this context is used in an idiomatic, formal way to express math (i.e. odds). "Against" is sometimes omitted, but implied (unless it's "odds on" rather than "odds against"). I don't think that is really SoP, but maybe the information belongs somewhere else? Maybe link to the Wikipedia article? Rl 12:11, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't think "on" is an antonym for "against". "For" is closer, but is not a real antonym, not being commonly used in the same way grammatically. We have odds-on and odds on as entries. DCDuring TALK 12:55, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

I agree, "on" is not an antonym for "against" in this context. As the Wikipedia article says, "an event with m to n 'odds against' would have probability n/(m + n), while an event with m to n 'odds on' would have probability m/(m + n)." "On" indicates that the odds are better than even (as odds-on mentions), while "against" indicates that the odds are worse than even (in bookmaking, for instance, this is the usual case and implied if the word "against" is omitted). The existence of the odds-on article seems to suggest that we should have odds-against. Anyhow, if you think the current articles are sufficient, I won't argue. Thanks! Rl 13:39, 5 May 2011 (UTC)


I'm trying to find a word that represents the definition: the left over materials from an act of creation. Generally speaking, people use the word detritus, but it's always irked me because detritus refers to the left over materials from destructive acts and it always seemed misleading to me. I can't use the word with good conscience even though American Heritage dictionary claims: 1. Loose fragments or grains that have been worn away from rock. 2. a. Disintegrated or eroded matter: the detritus of past civilizations. b. Accumulated material; debris: "Poems, engravings, press releaseshe eagerly scrutinizes the detritus of fame" (Carlin Romano).

Their example use seems counter or at least diluting of the original definition and use, especially when you take into account the original latin source.

Anyone know of a word? I've been using entritus in my head and around the house, but I also feel uncomfortable doing so knowing there might actually be a word out there that works (entritus is just entropy and tritus merged together). Example use: 'The xxxx of making bread this morning had left the baker's arms white [with flour].' Or, 'The carpenter burned the xxxx left over from his latest chair.'—This unsigned comment was added by Cgainsley (talkcontribs).


According to Wikipedia, there are two possible definitions: one is medical, the other environmental. We have the former, but not the latter. I would write the latter but it's too technical for me. ---> Tooironic 00:33, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

  • I've expanded it a bit. SemperBlotto 07:21, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

five pillars

The five basic ritual or devotional duties of Sunni Islam, namely: a declaration of faith in God (shahada); five daily prayers (salat); fasting (saum); almsgiving (zakat); and pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj).

This looks encyclopedic to me. Also, is it not a proper noun in this sense? Shouldn't each of the five pillars be a meronym. Why are there all the transliterations? DCDuring TALK 16:23, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Small point, they're not actually translations, but English words derived from Arabic. --Mglovesfun (talk) 16:29, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
Small point, the comment pretty clearly says "transliterations". -- 12:04, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

at the earliest


How should we present this kind of usage of the superlative. Generally almost any superlative of an adjective can be fused with an understood head. Other dictionaries sometime present such terms as if they were real nouns (See latest#Noun).

Are "at the earliest"/"at the latest" includable idioms or merely examples of such fused-head construction? DCDuring TALK 17:29, 7 May 2011 (UTC)


Rhyming slang for "drunk". Claims to be an adjective. No usage example. How is this used? DCDuring TALK 17:48, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Omitting the apostrophe, "he|she was elephants" gives 4 hits, one just a mention. — Pingkudimmi 01:06, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
A couple of those hits are for "elephants drunk", which might be a mishearing of "elephant's trunk", for which "elephant's"/"elephants" is the purported shortening. Otherwise "elephants" would seem to be an adverb intensifying "drunk". DCDuring TALK 03:09, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Cockney rhyming slang, rather than "mishearing", not heard of this one before, mind you, but I'm from the North. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:26, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

look forward & look forward to

Is the "to" compulsory in "look forward to"? I always thought it was, but then I realised, "I look forward meeting you" is correct (the infinitive can be bare). On the other hand, "Are you looking forward?" is not right. ---> Tooironic 00:27, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

I don't think "look forward [present participle]" is a standard English equivalent of "look forward to [bare infinitive]". I don't find it at COCA. The only instances of "look forward [bare infinitive]" at COCA are from transcriptions of speech, which often faithfully record speech errors. IOW, I think the "to" is obligatory. DCDuring TALK 02:18, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Hmm, looking at hits on Google Books it would appear that, whilst "look forward meeting you" does have some uses, it is not actually standard. In that case, shouldn't we get rid of look forward, or at least provide a redirect of sorts? ---> Tooironic 04:03, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Some dictionaries have "look forward"; others have "look forward to". COCA shows mostly look forward followed by "to", but also prepositional phrases (mostly mere adjuncts) headed by various prepositions. If we only are to have one of these, it would be "look forward", which seems to be the "expect" sense of look#Verb. DCDuring TALK 04:49, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Even "look forward to [bare infinitive]" sounds weird to me — I would say "look forward to [gerund phrase]". (For example, I would say "I look forward to meeting you", not ?"I look forward to meet you".) Is that just me? —RuakhTALK 12:24, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes. I erred above (editing too close to bedtime). DCDuring TALK 12:29, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
While "look forward meeting you" is grammatically possible, it would be an entirely different construction and express a different meaning. The participial phrase, "meeting you", would function adverbially, modifying "look forward", probably with temporal significance -- i.e., it would mean roughly the same thing as "Meeting you, I look forward"; i.e., now that I've met you, the experience has made me a more forward-looking person or given me a more future-oriented (and likely more positive) outlook on life. That's not at all the same idea as "I look forward to meeting you."


the act of creating a visual pattern?

(I'm new member, don't know correct procedure for submitting a word for discussion?) Any help would be appreciated. —This unsigned comment was added by Mistercomp (talkcontribs) at 15:36, 10 May 2011.

The single best way to work on a new word (or new use as a different part of speech or a new sense) is to find some citations for it. (See WT:CFI#Attestation.) That gives Wiktionary a few advantages:

  1. the entry or sense is less likely to be deleted speedily, even if poorly formatted.
  2. the entry or sense is less likely to be submitted to a more formal RfV or RfD which can lead to deletion.
  3. it is easier to define the word if there is evidence as to how it is used.

If you don't want to make an entry, you can add the citations to the associated citations page.

You can also enter the word in WT:REE (a shortcut to Requested entries: English).

If you have a lot of patience, you can start a discussion at the talk page for the proposed or existing entry. The Tea Room gets more attention. DCDuring TALK 16:34, 10 May 2011 (UTC)


Called an adverb. It is eye-dialect for reduced "kinds of". I don't see how this can be construed as an adverb. It is more like an adjective or determiner. DCDuring TALK 23:09, 10 May 2011 (UTC)


Same for "sorts of". DCDuring TALK 23:12, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

I don't think either one is a constituent. I'm not sure there's any sensible way to assign them to a part of speech. One option, no worse than any other, might be "noun": "of" is a preposition construing the (optional) complement of "kinds" or "sorts", so "kindsa" and "sortsa" are variants of "kinds" and "sorts" that simply construe their (obligatory) complements directly. —RuakhTALK 23:57, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. I'll make it so, but I am open to reconsideration of the question if anyone has other ideas. DCDuring TALK 00:16, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
If nouns, perhaps they should be considered plural forms? — Pingkudimmi 06:05, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
That would mean adding a noun section for the singulars kinda and sorta. DCDuring TALK 10:38, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
Exactly. Surely the same logic applies to usages that are similar to the problematic ones of 'kindsa' and 'sortsa.' E.g., "What Kinda Boat Ya Got?" (Plural: What kindsa boats ya got?) — Pingkudimmi 12:13, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
This seems to be going down a path that will probably bring us to a reductio ad absurdum about declaring these to be nouns. Should they instead by contractions? sorta#Adverb and kinda#Adverb don't have the same problem as they seem to be constituents, though they too are contractions. DCDuring TALK 13:18, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
It certainly seems natural (to me, for one) to think of them as contractions. That's how I read them and would use them. If they behave like nouns (or adverbs) sometimes, that reflects how the expanded term/phrase behaves. Does CGEL have a comment on the matter? — Pingkudimmi 14:42, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
CGEL has no entry in its lexical index for kinda and sorta, let alone "kindsa and sortsa. They don't waste a lot of ink on lexical categorization so far out on the margins. They do mention that kind of, sort of, and as good as "are best regarded as having been reanalysed as adverbs modifying the following verb or adjective."
Contraction is a bit like abbreviation of initialism; it doesn't tell you how the word functions, just how it was formed. That said, in some circumstances these terms can't be replaced with another term like adverb or preposition, which is why I favor limiting the use of abbreviation, initialism and contraction as level 3 headers, but not deprecating them entirely. In this case, yes, contraction please. --Mglovesfun (talk) 14:47, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
For a number of our entries, some of which are in Category:English non-constituents, we have no good syntactic category because there is none, by the very definition of syntactic category. For multi-word entries of this type, we use the L3 header "phrase", though phrases too are supposed to be constituents. For single-word entries of this type "contraction" could include all of them by the very fact of their not being constituents, at least under an expansive sense of "contraction". Most normal folks' definitions of "contraction" does not include words that don't have apostrophes. "Phrase" and "contraction" are good L3 headers from a user perspective because they are less misleading than a true syntactic category header. DCDuring TALK 15:42, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
That is the logic behind my statement, and also why I replace ===Phrase=== on occasion when it is reasonable to do so. --Mglovesfun (talk) 15:36, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

defaecate’ and others: still in use?

¶ A while back, I noticed that user:SemperBlotto creäted this entry, which inspired me to look for alternative spellings related to defecate: [1] [2] [3] [4]. I included both ‘defaecate’ and ‘defæcate’ as alternative forms listed here, but I think those forms should be tagged with some sort of qualifiers. ¶ I know ‘faeces’ is a word still used throughout the United Kingdom and else‐where, but is defaecate still used today? --Pilcrow 19:32, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

As I stated on my talk page - though not backed up with any 'evidence' - ligatures aren't used in contemporary, 20th or 21st century English so they should have some sort of tag. Defaecate doesn't look like standard contemporary English to me either. Of course I don't think they should be exclude - far from it, in fact - but I do favor some sort of context label for the reason I stated in my first sentence. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:34, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

are you deaf

This doesn't seem accurate to me... or at least, there must be another possible meaning for this. Also, we need to add that "literally" tag. ---> Tooironic 04:44, 13 May 2011 (UTC)


I'd like to allow recreation of this particular term/symbol/whatever. It's meaning has now gone beyond the usual definition of "one dollar"; you can see on the Wikipedia article for it that it is also included in a few programming languages as a parameter. TeleComNasSprVen 04:59, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

Computer languages don't meet CFI. What are you proposing, Translingual? In regular expressions I think it'd be sum of parts; $ + 1. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:33, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Actually, come to think of it, why do we even have entries like colspan or cellpadding which is clearly related to computer language or programming? Surely there must be some previous discussion about the inclusion of such so-called "languages". TeleComNasSprVen 19:39, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Quite a few of the Category:HTML have been tagged with rfv but never listed... since 2007! Mglovesfun (talk) 23:36, 13 May 2011 (UTC)


Missing definitions, for example w:Submission (combat sport). Our two definitions seems correct and quite broad, but I think we can break them down a bit by using the definitions as submit#Verb. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:05, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

[[submit]] needs more than the definitions we have. MWOnline has 4 transitive (sub)senses and 3 intransitive (sub)senses. DCDuring TALK 15:21, 13 May 2011 (UTC)


Why is this in Category:Death, as opposed to Category:Medicine? DCDuring TALK 20:31, 13 May 2011 (UTC)


Why are there (ɹ)'s in the pronunciation? Is it a mistake? --Vahag 22:12, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

See w:Linking and intrusive R#Intrusive R. I don't know that I'd call it a "mistake", but I also don't know that I'd call it a good idea . . . —RuakhTALK 22:30, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
I'd call it a mistake to include intrusive Rs in dictionary pronunciations, especially those at the end of a word. I've removed them. —Angr 09:11, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, definitely a mistake. Thanks for removing them. Dbfirs 20:37, 11 June 2011 (UTC)


From Category:Lexicons and Category:All lexicons and their sub categories, I surmise, that lexicon is used in a sense meaning something like a "lexical unit". Could we have this sense in lexicon, if it is appropriate?--Leo Laursen – (talk · contribs) 18:46, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

I see why you would surmise that, but no. The idea is that (for example) Category:Archaic itself is a lexicon — a lexicon of English archaisms — rather than that the entries it contains are lexicons. I'm not sure if this is a weakness in the MediaWiki category system (the inability to distinguish between the concepts "category X is a member of category Y" and "category X is a subcategory of category Y") or a weakness of our use of it (that we try to use the concept "category X is a member of category Y" despite MediaWiki's lack of support for it), but either way, I think it's a problem. But it's hardly the biggest problem with our category system, so I don't let it keep me up at night. :-P   —RuakhTALK 19:00, 14 May 2011 (UTC)
OK, that makes sense. Thanks. I guess if I mentally say "A lexicon of Danish terms with a colloquial sense", then Category:Danish colloquialisms will annoy me a little less.--Leo Laursen – (talk · contribs) 19:30, 14 May 2011 (UTC)
Category:English lexicons already has a short and appropriate description that clarifies that the subcategories, not the entries, are lexicons. --Daniel. 08:39, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
That description may seem to clarify things, but I for one didn't get it (still don't really). But I'm probably biased by my dislike for those categories.--Leo Laursen – (talk · contribs) 09:39, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

mop the floor with someone

This ought to be just "mop the floor" as one may "mop the floor" with a something just as well as with a someone. —This comment was unsigned.

I've never heard of the defined sense being applied to things rather than persons or teams/groups of persons. I guess that could include fictional human-like beings. Could "The Earhart car mop the floor with the Jimmy Johnson car"? Or would "Team Earhart mop the floor with Team Johnson"? DCDuring TALK 01:55, 16 May 2011 (UTC)


How would we go about including the sense as in "contents insurance"? Should a separate sense be at contents? ---> Tooironic 09:15, 16 May 2011 (UTC)

But it is just sense 2 ("that which is contained"). That it depends on context is illustrated by the fact that it took me a few minutes to grasp what the phrase meant from your mentioning it out of context. It might make a good usage example, though. DCDuring TALK 11:47, 16 May 2011 (UTC)


Is this attestable lowercase and uppercase? Note that frenchify is a redirect. Can we cite both capitalizations? Mglovesfun (talk) 19:20, 16 May 2011 (UTC)

Here are some results on Google‐books. The lower‐case variänt is much more common, though. --Pilcrow 22:47, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

"bún bò Huế"

It's occurred to me that this might be a sum of parts, but I'd like a second opinion on whether or not it should be created. This is basically a dish comprised of bún bò + Huế (bún bò itself being a sum of parts, bún = noodle [soup] and bò = beef), which is a special type of soup originating from the city of Huế with the name of the city attached to the term to distinguish it from similar soups. But it's not to say that it is more important an entry or dish than, say, "bún bò + Ho Chi Minh City", but that it appears to be one of the most popular dishes, and you could argue that its popularity might warrant inclusion here. What do you say? TeleComNasSprVen 05:51, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

down to

As a "compound preposition" meaning due to. I am not familiar with it in US English, though it is fairly readily intelligible. It's a little hard to find this usage among all the other occurrences of "down to". Is this used in the US? Was it used in the US before the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb"? DCDuring TALK 15:12, 17 May 2011 (UTC)


I've seen the word derp in the English language on the Internet and my humorous physics teacher (not to mention a table in the art class room). It might either be nonsensical or it can mean something stupid was done. Any opinions? --Lo Ximiendo 23:01, 22 May 2011 (UTC)

Derp (and its companion word herp) usually refer to awkward or stupid-looking facial expressions[5]. I haven't checked yet to see if it's attestable, but at least herp and derp probably are. — lexicógrafa | háblame — 23:28, 22 May 2011 (UTC)


The current revision of "Citations:Wiktionary" contains a number of citations.

I believe the first four of them (just the first four!) are enough for the entry Wiktionary to be attested according to the rules of WT:BRAND. (In fact, one of these citations is listed at Citations:Wikipedia too, presumably to attest "Wikipedia".) --Daniel. 01:01, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

The first and fourth cites in that revision do IMO count as good. In the second and third, the context that makes clear that Wiktionary's a source of a definition. Now, that doesn't imply it's a dictionary (math books have definitions, for example), so I'd like to say those are good w.r.t. BRAND, too, but I seek others' opinions. Note further that the second and third cites are of self-published books (possibly available only online??), the use of which as citations for RFV purposes I know some people object to.​—msh210 (talk) 20:22, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

Singular or plural

Jamesjiao and I had a bit of a discussion happening on my talkpage about whether or not this recent edit was appropriate or not. The controversy is whether or not the sentence should read "An individual...his or her" or "An individual...their"; and I believed the former to be grammatically correct whilst Jamesjiao believed in the latter. TeleComNasSprVen 05:20, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

Both are correct. See w:Singular they. --Daniel. 05:32, 23 May 2011 (UTC)


my name is humphrey; it also means policeman from the old english

Doesn't look very Old English to me. Maybe it is; what does Humphrey say? --Mglovesfun (talk) 10:38, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

piss-poor, piss-elegance, piss-proud, etc

Could these be categorised by the suffix piss- I wonder? ---> Tooironic 23:00, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

I think you mean prefix? :) I think these words are similar in structure to crystal-clear. The first part gives an intensifying meaning by noting something that is known to be particularly clear. "as clear as crystal" in other words. I think the words above might have originated in a similar way, but over time the word "piss" might have become a general intensifier even if it didn't make any sense. There are similar cases in Dutch too, like keihard (rock-hard), which gave rise to keigoed (rock-good) where "rock" is just used to mean "very". —CodeCat 23:15, 23 May 2011 (UTC)
But piss isn't a general intensifier. In piss-elegance its sense is something like "fake" or "superficial", and in piss-proud its sense is "urine"! —RuakhTALK 22:06, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

beyond reproach

What does it mean? There are hits on OneLook. ---> Tooironic 00:37, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

Something is beyond what can be reproached. Simple SoP to me.--Prosfilaes 03:31, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't know . . . "X is beyond reproach" means "X is blameless; there is nothing to reproach X for", but "X is beyond criticism" frequently means "X cannot be criticized even for the things X has done wrong" (perhaps because, for example, there is no one qualified to do the criticizing). Admittedly, there are other versions of this idiom, such as "above reproach", "beyond reproof", and "above reproof"; but I think a [[beyond reproach]] or a [[reproach#Usage notes]] might be useful anyway. —RuakhTALK 12:56, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
Incidentally, we currently don't have a non-count sense of reproach in the sense of "criticism".​—msh210 (talk) 15:04, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

Is there a word for...

I apologize for this, but I'm at a loss for what search terms to use. Is there a specific word for the act of merging a phrase at a matching syllable to create a neologism (or a word for the result)? For instance, shortening "Velvet Elvis" into "Velvis" or "Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda" into "Lamorinda". Thanks! - Richfife 17:14, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

I think that is called a blend. We have some examples of blends in Category:English blends. —CodeCat 17:24, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! - Richfife 23:55, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
Also a portmanteau word. Ƿidsiþ 07:40, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Category:Spanish words with ze or zi

Just came across this with two entries in it. I'm not sure what to do with it. Rename it? Fil it up? RFD it? --Mglovesfun (talk) 10:36, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Seems like a good idea and a good name to me. Fill it up! —RuakhTALK 16:35, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
Normally we'd have something like Category:Spanish terms spelled with ze or zi, perhaps two different categories with a link between the two (namely, Category:Spanish terms spelled with ze and Category:Spanish terms spelled with zi). --Mglovesfun (talk) 16:39, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Nadando 17:10, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

I support the existence of Category:Spanish terms spelled with ze and Category:Spanish terms spelled with zi. --Daniel 20:08, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
Just as a matter of curiosity, why are ze and zi so unusual in Spanish? —CodeCat 20:46, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
Normally <z> and <c> are in alternation, with the latter being used before <e> and <i>. For example, the plural of luz (a light) is luces, and the verb empezar (to start) has forms such as empecé; and conversely, the verb convencer (to convince) has forms such as convenzo. —RuakhTALK 21:08, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
Oh I see, it's like ç and c in Catalan! :) —CodeCat 22:06, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
Yup! Though a closer comparison might be Catalan <g> and <j> (which alternation exists in Spanish as well, as in dirigir (to direct) ~ dirijo). I believe (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that Catalan <c> and <ç> are considered a single letter, such that *<çe> and *<çi> literally never occur, whereas in Spanish, <c> and <z> are considered separate letters, just with fairly regular alternation. —RuakhTALK 22:17, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
By the way, the similarity of Spanish <z> to Catalan <ç> is not coincidental: the cedilla originated in Spanish as a sort of partial <z> written under a <c>. Later Spanish switched to just using <z> both for etymological <z> and for etymological <ç> (except in some forms such as Barça that are really just borderline-Spanish), the latter being much more frequent. (I think etymological <z> only occurs in loanwords from Greek and English and such.) —RuakhTALK 22:28, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
In Catalan ç is called c trencada which means broken c, it's not considered a separate letter as far as I know, but just a way of writing c when it has the s-sound but is not followed by e or i. There is also c and qu for the k-sound and qu and qü for the kw-sound. And also three pairs j and g, g and gu, gu and gü for voiced sounds. I just didn't know z was pronounced as c in Spanish, I always read it as English z! —CodeCat 22:48, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

"compared to"

What is it called when you use the past participle at the beginning of a sentence, e.g., in "Compared to A, B is blah blah."? What are the rules that govern it? Why can't we say, "Comparing to A..." or "Compare to A..."? ---> Tooironic 10:54, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Re: your third question: We can't say "comparing to A ..." or "compare to A ..." because originally "compared to A" was modifying "B": "B, [when] compared to A, is blah blah." Current usage is more flexible — Google finds examples such as "Cars and trucks are cheap compared to the US", where what's being compared to the U.S. is provided by the context (it's the Philippines, if you're curious) — but its form has stayed the same. —RuakhTALK 15:03, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
It seems to me that you could say "Comparing A to B, B is blah blah.", "Compare A to B. B is blah blah.", or "To compare A to B, B is blah blah.", though only "Compared to A, B is blah blah" seems adequate for a typical writing situation. Even it can be clarified by expanding it to "(When/If B is) [c]ompared to A, B is blah blah.". Each of the others seems like a shortening of one or more other possible canonical sentences.
I have no knowledge of a specific name that may have been given to the structure as a whole. DCDuring TALK 15:10, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
I think it's called an w:Absolute construction, or maybe a w:Participial phrase. —CodeCat 16:42, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
"Compared to A" is not an absolute, as it modifies B, thus not being syntactically isolated from the rest of the sentence. An example of an absolute would be "A having been compared to B, we proceeded to consider C." The absolute contrasts grammatically with the nearly semantically identical "After we compared A to B, we considered C." DCDuring TALK 19:46, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Traditionally it would be a participial phrase. The CGEL would call it a non-finite clause functioning as a predicate adjunct, I think.--Brett 18:50, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Actually, the CGEL might admit compared into the preposition category based on sentences like Compared to the ideas of previous generations, there is a shift in the theory, where compared is not the predicate of the subject there. I give more evidence here.--Brett 19:02, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

category words?

Hi everyone. What do you call words like "phenomenon", "situation", "state", "matter", "affair", etc.? I know they are kind of like abstract nouns but I was wondering if there was an established term for these ones in particular, something along the lines of "category words" or "words of conceptual category". Thanks. ---> Tooironic 06:39, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

We have Category:English abstract nouns since 2004, but it is apparently abandoned since then. It has merely 29 members.
If you are looking for words that name classes, Wikisaurus has plenty of them. You can simply try this search: [6]. --Daniel 07:27, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
And Category:Concrete nouns, its counterpart. --Mglovesfun (talk) 10:29, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
Which doesn't exist. --Daniel 10:04, 28 May 2011 (UTC)


Do we cover the sense as in, "With so many alternatives to Google, why should we use it?" I think it might be distinct from the meanings we currently cover. ---> Tooironic 04:31, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

I think it is an extension of sense 7. But Encarta, for example, treats it as a separate sense "because of". Encarta also has a sense "in light of", which may seem a better fit. This latter sense doesn't seem different in one views inference from facts as "causing" the conclusion, but perhaps it is different. Encarta and other dictionaries have 15-20 senses for with. Our entry closely corresponds to Webster 1913. DCDuring TALK 05:15, 29 May 2011 (UTC)


Isn't this is the past participle? ---> Tooironic 05:21, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

It is sometimes gradable and is used after forms of "become". It is used as a predicate as well, but that is less clear-cut. Also the sense is a bit different, but that is also less clear cut. DCDuring TALK 06:01, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Verb entry changed from "present particle of" to "past of". SemperBlotto 06:57, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Prohibited doesn't mean illegal as it doesn't refer solely to laws. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:20, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

adjectives which derive from famous people

I'm trying to find a list of adjectives which derive from famous people. Strangely enough I'm not having much luck despite numerous Google searches. I'm talking about words like Freudian, Elizabethan, Shakespearean, Orwellian, platonic, etc. ---> Tooironic 10:47, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Nevermind, I found a really good resource for eponyms here [7] ---> Tooironic 10:51, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

We have Category:English eponyms. Equinox 12:22, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

illness and illness

Aren't these both countable and uncountable nouns? I mean you could say "This is a new story about mental illness." or "This kind of sickness is horrible." ---> Tooironic 12:00, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Do you mean both collocations "much illness" and "many illnesses" are common? Yes. The applicable senses are distinguishable and worth distinct definitions, IMHO. DCDuring TALK 17:01, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

outcome plural quotation

Currently, sense 2 is:
"(education) The results or evidence of students' learning experience. Often used in place of desired outcomes.
The outcomes of this course are outlined in your syllabus."
My question is, doesn't this belong under "outcomes" (plural)?
Thanks --Person12 14:36, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

I don't think so. The restriction to positive results is not limited to the education context. Finally, the supposed separate education sense seems not worth an entry line as it is merely a context-specific application of the general (positive-restricted) sense. If you could produce evidence that the term is only used in the plural in the education context, perhaps you could convince me (and others). DCDuring TALK 17:38, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
My question is really only about the plural vs the singular. Would the quotation work with the word in the singular (i.e. "The outcome of this course is outlined in your syllabus.")? If not, wouldn't it make more sense to move it to the plural listing?--Person12 03:24, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes it works. For me, it's not a plural only sense. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:15, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

definition of humor

The first definition of humor is "Something funny, e.g. a joke, satire, or parody." This seems completely wrong to me. For example, to me, it's wrong to say "That's humor" to mean "That's a joke." It seems that this should be quality of being funny, not something that is funny. Can others confirm my understanding of this word? Chimodori 23:28, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I agree, Chimodori. Sense 1 sounds quite clumsy to me too. It's more of a quality.--Person12 03:33, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
(The quotation, "He treated the sensitive subject with enough humor that no one was offended" is a bit off the mark, too. It suggests that the more humor one applies to a sensitive subject the less offended people are likely to be, when it's really a question of quality & application of the humor - when it comes to sensitive subjects & likelihood of offending people - rather than quantity.)--Person12 03:45, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
I too agree, I've never heard someone say "that joke is a humor"! Mglovesfun (talk) 12:14, 30 May 2011 (UTC)


We have three biblical senses; these just seems to be specific examples of covenants rather than definitions of a covenant. I also wonder whether they should be at Covenant, and as proper nouns you could probably justify them as entries. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:13, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

I think those are usually called "the covenant" (which one is surmised from context). They're not The Covenant and aren't usually capitalized, in my limited experience. Are there any neutral third part sources which suggest that it should go either way? Banaticus 22:48, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
I'm not familiar with the use of just "the covenant" for any of those; are they Christian-only? The third one certainly must be, and I'm inclined to assume the second one is as well. Also, the tag (Biblical) seems wrong, unless "the covenant" is used in the Bible to refer to them? —RuakhTALK 23:02, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
The word appears numerous times in KJV. It looks like it means nothing more than "binding agreement," of which, per MG, there are more than one. — Pingkudimmi 07:29, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Gonna take this to RFD but leave this discussion open (no conflict in my opinion). --Mglovesfun (talk) 14:02, 2 June 2011 (UTC)


The CFI stuff is wiki jargon. we're supposed to be writing for a general audience. Could someone rephrase the examples to be about rain and going on a picnic, or something generic like that? Equinox 18:25, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

I think I've fixed it very nicely. See what you think.​—msh210 (talk) 16:18, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
I've added an example that doesn't use P and Q. Feel free to change it to a better one. SemperBlotto 07:36, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

as much as

Should we be covering this? It doesn't seem intuitive to me. Two meanings I can think of off the top of my head:

a) As much as I agree with this proposal, I'm not willing to support it.
b) Consumer goods have increased as much as 3 per cent this year.

---> Tooironic 09:58, 31 May 2011 (UTC)

I think (b) is sum-of-parts: "As many as ten thousand Americans visit it each year, coming from as far away as Kansas." (It may or may not be worth including anyway.) (a) does seem idiomatic, though; its meaning there seems to be "despite how much". —RuakhTALK 13:46, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
No, it means "considering how much" or "with how much", not "despite how much", with the "despite" implied by the context. And "considering how much" as the meaning of as much as makes it SOP: it's like other as [adjective] as uses, as in As tall as he is, he won't be to walk through that doorway or As short as he is, he still won't be able to walk through that door way.​—msh210 (talk) 16:16, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
Most OneLook references don't cover "as much as" at all. One idiom dictionary covers the senses Tooironic suggests. Cambridge Advanced Learner's has it meaning "almost" with a usage example "He as much as admitted that it was his fault.". DCDuring TALK 18:54, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
Oh, I'd forgotten about that sense. That'd be inclusible AFAICT.​—msh210 (talk) 20:38, 31 May 2011 (UTC)


Somehow I don't think we're fully conveying this word's connotations - i.e. its common attribution to gay men. Are usage notes in order? ---> Tooironic 13:34, 31 May 2011 (UTC)

  • Good citations are probably a better starting point. Ƿidsiþ 07:36, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Isn't that just an association (possibly prejudiced?) rather than a genuine connotation of the word (or is there a common usage that I've not heard used?) Dbfirs 20:24, 11 June 2011 (UTC)


Is this plural real? I cannot find it in dictionaries. Google Books just turns up a lot of instances of Clostridium tetani, which doesn't count. Equinox 17:19, 31 May 2011 (UTC)