Oops -- I'll fix that tonight, p&r. I tidied up the profile sub-pages the other day (adding sort options for lists & favorites, things like that), and must have forgotten the comment links in the process.
“A Metro-North spokesman said the problem was caused when the devices on top of several trains that pull electricity from the overhead lines tore down the wires just west of the Greenwich, Conn., station.
Railroad officials were unsure on Saturday how the devices — known as pantographs — were able to bring down the power lines, but they suspected the recent heat wave might have played a role.”
It's been a long time coming, but comments are finally pageable, so you can now scroll back through all comments on words, lists, and people, including words like features with a large number of comments. Just scroll to the bottom of the page and hit the 'more' link.
“Some sleepwalkers will go jogging on the freeway and be killed in traffic, or stroll off the deck of a cruise ship, unaware of their surroundings, he said. He and colleagues even coined the term parasomnia pseudo-suicide, in part because the fatalities are frequently misinterpreted.”
“Hence, Rees’s First Law of Quotation: ‘When in doubt, ascribe all quotations to George Bernard Shaw.’ The law’s first qualification is: ‘Except when they obviously derive from Shakespeare, the Bible or Kipling.’ The corollary is: ‘In time, all humorous remarks will be ascribed to Shaw whether he said them or not.’
Why should this be? People are notoriously lax about quoting and attributing remarks correctly, as witness an analogous process I shall call Churchillian Drift. The Drift is almost indistinguishable from the First Law, but there is a subtle difference. Whereas quotations with an apothegmatic feel are normally ascribed to Shaw, those with a more grandiose or belligerent tone are almost automatically credited to Churchill. All quotations in translation, on the other hand, should be attributed to Goethe (with ‘I think’ obligatory).”
The Vagueness Is All, From Volume 2, Number 2, April 1993 issue of The “Quote... Unquote” Newsletters
“A random list of stuff that the spring 2011 men’s wear shows in Milan suggest that style guys should be on the alert for: pencil thighs shrink-wrapped in jeggings (jeans so tight they look like leggings); scruffy bed head (Bottega Veneta); lug-soled shoes with inset espadrille rope soles (Prada); paper-bag waists (ditto Prada); boat-neck sweaters (ditto ditto); colors from the sorbet bin at the ice cream counter, like watermelon, mango, pistachio (Dsquared) or aqua, mint, almond (Calvin Klein); unlined short-sleeved safari jackets (Gucci); slave chains (Emporio Armani — shout out to Pauly from “Jersey Shore”!); Balenciaga butterfly sunglasses, designed for women but worn by guys, as Snoop Dogg did at the MTV movie awards; Birkenstock style sandals with gladiator straps (Burberry.)”
According to this dictionary, it's the adverbial form of electrophotomicrography, which means "photographing by electric light objects magnified by the microscope". Apparently it was once considered the longest word in the English language, until pushed aside by pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
“Instead, scientists will try to determine whether the whale had been swimming through oil by using a method known as hindcasting, which looks at how bloated an animal’s body is to calculate how long it has been dead, then retraces patterns in water currents to tell where the body might have drifted from.”
“You can see the imprints of the big toe,” said another team leader, Ron Pinhasi, an archaeologist at University College Cork in Ireland, who said the shoe resembled old Irish pampooties, rawhide slippers.
“Americans have long been fascinated by disaster scenarios, from the population explosion to the cold war to global warming. These days the doomers, as Mrs. Wilkerson jokingly calls herself and likeminded others, have a new focus: peak oil.”
Every comment ever made on Wordie or Wordnik is in the database. I've been slowly increasing the number of comments shown, but obviously still haven't hit the number where they're all visible on heavily commented pages.
The reason we don't just grab everything is that Wordnik gets well over an order of magnitude more traffic than Wordie ever did, and it contains vastly more data. Doing a SELECT * or equivalent on a table containing many billions of rows could bring the whole thing crashing down. It's not that it's hard, it's that the potential implications are different, so we've intentionally made it hard.
But you're right, all the old comments should be exposed--I want to see them too--and I'll roll back the limit again. Another reason I've been slow about it is that I keep meaning to page the comments, so they can be viewed in batches. Haven't gotten to that either though, so for the time being we'll up the limit again, probably early next week, when I'll be pushing some other new code.
Sionnach, part of why I didn't respond to your earlier email is that you accused me, again, of betraying you, and I didn't know what to say to that. I understand preferring Wordie, it was a special thing. I love Wordnik, but I know things were lost in the transition. Not just nuts and bolts features, but a secret-garden spirit that changed when it was added to something larger and different.
So while I understand anger or disagreement about how I managed things, "betrayal" implies some kind of malevolence that I don't think I've shown, and I know I don't feel. I'm not trying to dissuade you though--it upsets me, but you're free to call it what you will. But you wanted me to acknowledge your request, so I'm doing that, and letting you know the reason I didn't earlier.
“The childish, romantic story of “Ondine” is about a West Cork fisherman named Syracuse (Colin Farrell) who one day snags a lovely, breathing young woman in his net. This comely catch, who gives her name as Ondine (Alicja Bachleda), isn’t a mermaid, but might be another, more locally familiar sort of mythic beast, a selkie: a woman who is also a seal.”
Just checked out 'Let go the painters' (which I lerve), and I think it might not show up until you open up the permissions some more. Right now they're CC for non-commercial use; we are, theoretically, a commercial enterprise.
The site only grabs photos where the owner has explicitly granted permissions, so my guess is that if, on Flickr, you click the 'edit' link next to 'Some rights reserved' in the right column, and set it to 'Attribution Creative Commons', it'll show up on Wordnik not too long thereafter (I'm not sure how soon Flickr updates make it into their API, but I know it's not instantaneous.)
Hi jwj, there are bookmarklets and plugins for looking up words from any web page, and a bookmarklet for adding a word to a list from any page (they're all linked to on the tools page). Something similar that let you highlight text and feed it straight into the comment form is a fine idea.
If anyone wants to whip up a bookmarklet or plugin, we'd happily feature it on the tools page :-)
“When the photographer Philippe Halsman said, “Jump,” no one asked how high. People simply pushed off or leapt up to the extent that physical ability and personal decorum allowed. In that airborne instant Mr. Halsman clicked the shutter. He called his method jumpology.”
“At first glance, it does not look much like garbage. More than 20,000 tons of it have been shrink-wrapped into green bales that are neatly stacked, ready to ship about 2,300 miles across the Pacific to the mainland as an another export — “opala,” as garbage is called in Hawaiian.”
“And so this week, as they do every spring in a process called hazing, state workers and livestock agents used helicopters, horses and trucks to chase back the wild bison that had wandered out of Yellowstone to give birth or find fresh grass.”
Yeah, Facebook is pushing it a little these days, but that said, I rather like the 'Like' functionality. It's less of a commitment than 'sharing' (which you can still do--if you click the 'Like' button you then get the option to share it as well, which lets you add a comment.
When you 'Like' something, only people you're friends with on Facebook see your name. More details on Facebook's blog.
Whitespace weirdness when editing comments should be fixed now--please let me know if that's not your case. A handful of other bugs were also fixed, and a few other changes pushed, including tweaks to the Facebook/Twitter share buttons.
“Tomato varieties are labeled as either indeterminate or determinate, and horticulture experts recommend choosing indeterminate ones for upside-down gardens. Determinate tomato plants are stubbier, with somewhat rigid stalks that issue all their fruit at once, which could weigh down and break the stems if hanging upside down. Indeterminate types, by contrast, have more flexible, sprawling stems that produce fruit throughout the season and are less likely to be harmed by gravity. ”
Yeah, we're experimenting with the 'like' bandwagon (pro, it is tied to facebook, you can read one take on it here). So far it's not doing all that much for us, frankly, though we'll probably give it some more time, and maybe tweak it a little.
I like to think we're a sort of a Reese's peanut butter cup mixture of the sacred and the profane.
“A bird prodigy of evil and hybrid character is the despair of a Norfolk farmer. It rejoices in the name of the “swoose”, a portmanteau word indicating its origin, for its father was a swan and its mother a goose. This ill-assorted pair had three children — three “sweese”.
“Officials with BP and other companies involved in the effort, who discussed the plans in detail at some of the operations rooms, said the best of several options included a “junk shot,” which could be tried within the week. The method involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope, even golf balls — Titleists or whatever, BP isn’t saying — into the blowout preventer, the safety device atop the well.”
Another update today: the twitter search on the word summary pages just got a little less aggressive. Rather than automatically load new tweets, it alerts you that new tweets are available, and gives you the option to load them yourself. You can see it in action on any oft-tweeted word, like iPad, which people talk about far too much. (And which some genius tagged oleophobic. Best tag ever.)
Hi rich, the sort order bug when adding words to lists should be fixed. I also added better feedback when adding and removing words. Thanks for the bug report, and please let me know if you see any issues with it.
You're not alone either of you—this song always gets me choked up, and I sang it to Z a hundred times when she was tiny and couldn't sleep. Poor kid's bad luck to have a dad who only knows the words to murder ballads, drinking songs, and heartbreakers like this.
“The Marcoses’ only son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., 52, known as Bongbong, said ‘immediately that got our attention. It doesn’t frighten us, but it certainly defined what could happen should he become president.’”
We usually frown on people posting links prior to having contributed in any other way—99.9% of the time it's spam—but I think we can make an exception for speculative grammar. Welcome to Wordnik, spec.
Hi telofy, glad you like the corpus additions and the translation feature. Those are provided by the Google Language API—who I intended to credit with a little logo link, like Flickr, but Google is very restrictive about the use of their logo.
Just fixed the Century definitions too—thanks much for pointing that out.
“Ms. Hunter first told the tale of her campaign coup de foudre (“a magnetic force”) and the resulting daughter, now 2, in an interview in the April issue of GQ that was illustrated with sexy pin-up shots of Ms. Hunter lying on a bed in pearls, a white shirt and no pants.”
I'm so glad you like it! Please let me know if you have any suggestions or comments about how it's implemented. The translations themselves come from the Google Language API.
If you don't know what we're talking about, we recently added a 'translate' option to every word, but initially rolled it out to half of Wordnki's visitors (chosen randomly), so we could test it and make sure it didn't screw up anything else. It's looking pretty good though, so we'll probably be rolling it out to everyone very soon.
If you can't wait, clear your cookies and reload. Repeat until you see a translate option to the right of the links below each word :-)
“One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted. (How do you know they’re liberal? Well, they disagree with the conservative media!) ”
Hi focalist, wanted to let you know we tightened up the random word rules considerably this morning.
It might be worth noting that Wordnik follows David Weinberger's injunction to filter on the way out. Which is to say we collect literally all the text we can, warts and all, and then use a variety of methods to try and decide what's worth making available.
Clearly we don't always get it right. But we've gotten much better over time, and have some changes on deck that will further improve our interestingness quotient, I think. Another great Weinberger quote is that "the solution to too much information is more information." The way that manifests on Wordnik is that we have a plethora of fantastic content providers whose text just entered the corpus, or is about to. As we get more and better data, the lower-quality material gets shoved out of sight, algorithmically speaking.
Thanks much for your feedback—hope that helps explain some of the quirks you noticed, and some of the ways we differ from a traditional dictionary. And welcome to Wordnik :-)
Hi pro, the 'did you mean' suggester is new and we're actively improving the algorithm. As you see, it doesn't handle multi-word phrases well, but I'll move that up on the list of improvements it needs.
We've tweaked the random word rules over time—it's better than it used to be, I think—but I agree, too many of the responses are not satisfying. Requiring words to have been looked up before is a good suggestion. I have some other rules I'm lobbying for that will hopefully up the interestingness quotient.
Good eyes rz :-) Just tonight we made a change where comments show up on the main word page if there are no definitions or examples. We might twiddle with it and show a selection of comments regardless of the other data available, but if a word has defintions and examples, it's both harder to squeeze the comments in, and maybe less necessary--you can kind of assume they might be there. But the big wall o' nuthin on some of the madeupical words wasn't doing justice to the brilliant banter in the backroom.
We just added a few updates to pronunciation recording. You can now add a description to your pronunciation ("This is an example of a Louisiana accent..."), and you can also say if you've recorded a pronunciation ("cat") or a sound ("meow").
I'm with bilby. There's etymology, and then there's metaphor, poetic license, and sanctification through usage. And the OED, which you name drop but must not have referenced, lists "to destroy or remove a large proportion of" as a valid rhetorical use. As does the venerable Century.
If you were the guy with the short straw, it was probably a major catastrophe.
Agreed, janetjetson--I would be off-put by this, were I not able to imagine the smirk with which I'm sure it was delivered, and to appreciate the intentional effort to get a rise out of her audience. Bit dicey though, using loaded terms like this out of context.
Fantastic. I had the pleasure of hearing Merrill talk a few times when I was at the NYTimes, she's great. Though if she says this about other dictionaries, I hesitate to imagine what she thinks of Wordnik.
Hi tigermouse, thanks a million for the pronunciation on Eyjafjallajökull. I've been mildly obsessed with the whole event since seeing this photo. It's probably due in part to pixelization, but it looks almost biblical.
That sounds much better than the what I've heard called a banana boat, which are those very small, very tight speedo-style bathing suits for men. I believe they're more common in Europe than America. Also known as a banana hammock.
If you're still feeling lost shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I'm happy to help orient you. But it's pretty much words and people and lists, swirled to together, with an occasional sprinkling of tags and pronunciations :-)
He's not a manpage. It's short for "manual page." They're the built-in documentation on Unix computers. To see them you use the "man" command: "man awk" shows the manpage for the awk command, for instance.
Freak not, as an old friend of mine used to say. The survey questions were canned--we didn't write them. We're not going anywhere. And the survey will come down shortly--we just wanted to try and gather info from a broader swath of visitors. You folks, but also drop-ins from searches, people who use the site but don't register, those not inclined to chat.
Over the past week we've closed some holes that let people surreptitiously put spam in little-seen corners of the site. In particular, accounts that were never used to create lists or leave comments could contain spam links that weren't immediately visible. Shutting those down reduced overall spam, but had the perverse effect of increasing its visibility, as the spammers shifted tactics and started using comments again.
Today we started requiring new accounts to be activated by email for the first time, which will hopefully help. This is a constant battle though, and we have further steps in the wings if necessary. Thanks again for your patience.
Great list! Haven't heard 'pogy' in years. How about 'moxie'?
Missed this earlier—I was born in Brunswick, lived in Portland on and off, did indeed go to Bowdoin. But I've moved far too much; by any reasonable local standard I'm from away (another good phrase for this list).
“The classical example of thermionic emission is the emission of electrons from a hot metal cathode into a vacuum (archaically known as the Edison effect) in a vacuum tube. However, the term "thermionic emission" is now used to refer to any thermally excited charge emission process, even when the charge is emitted from one solid-state region into another.”
Hi t, as you noticed, I had to clamp down on links in profiles earlier this week, necessitated by another massive spam attack. We are at this very moment writing code to better address this, but in the meanwhile I've been whitelisting people to let them use links in profiles. Just added you to the list.
“A spoon pie (more like a fruit stew with dumplings), in which biscuit dough is dropped onto the fruit before baking. The consensus is that the dish got its name because the lumps of cooked dough resembled cobblestones.”
Hi indioman. None of the four dictionaries from which we offer definitions includes 'listeth'. When a word is looked up that we have examples for, but not definitions, we display the examples up top--look up a word with definitions, like petulant, and you'll see that the definitions come first.
We decided to still display the dictionary links for words with no definitions, but grayed-out and disabled, because we thought it would be useful to know that we do indeed offer definitions when available. Otherwise people might thin we were just an examples site. Perhaps we should be more explicit, and say "no definitions available?"
“As miner after miner was carried out of the mine’s mouth, rescuers hugged each other and wept for joy. Scenes of the rescue were broadcast repeatedly on national television on Tomb-Sweeping Day, China’s national holiday to commemorate the dead.”
Pro, we're testing that layout for the word-related commands--half of our visitors see what you're seeing, half see the old style. The concern was that people unfamiliar with the site wouldn't even know those options were available if they were buried in a drop-down menu. Bit early to say definitively, but it seems like more people use the new style.
If you have suggestions about how to better implement it, though, I'd love to hear them, either here or in an email.
I can see why you wouldn't like all these word, except for 'cobbler,' which just makes me think of shoes and peaches--both of which I like. Does it have a meaning I don't know about, or do just not like the sound of it?
“The center of that Creole culture — a Cuban and Italian mix, is Ybor City. That’s where Cuban immigrants set up cigar rolling shops in the late 1800s, and where Jill Wax opened La France in 1974. She started with the one store, then expanded to two. She has four streetfront windows with constantly rotating displays: colorful Victorian corsets and feathered hats for Gasparilla, Tampa’s annual pirate festival parade; a 1920s safari scene with palm fronds hung across the wall as backdrop to a mannequin wedding couple.”
“Obama preempts the other side's most resonant arguments, which forces them to come up with more and more extreme claims in order to differentiate themselves. In the end, he occupies the reasonable middle ground and his opponents are Palinized.”
Washington Monthly, Political Animal, by Steve Benen, March 23, 2010 (quoting a "Hill staffer")