Comments by pterodactyl

  • I came here to comment on how "destruct" isn't a verb, only to find that my fellow Wordniks already cleared up this issue, five years ago. I love this site and the people on it!

    October 30, 2014

  • This is an open list. Please feel free to add words!

    August 19, 2014

  • Oh, good catch, bilby, and thanks for teaching me a new word! I'll remove zigzag.

    August 19, 2014

  • Also, with two-syllable words, sometimes the accent is on the last syllable (a "masculine rhyme") and sometimes the accent is on the first syllable (a "feminine rhyme"). The latter category has quite a lot of rhymeless words, because any potential rhyme would have to match both syllables, not just the last syllable.

    August 19, 2014

  • It's easier to find rhymeless words of two syllables than it is to find rhymeless words of one syllable.

    August 19, 2014

  • So, it's two syllables you want, bilby? Then it's two syllables you'll get!

    August 19, 2014

  • qms, I think you've found another dialectical difference. "Orange" is only one syllable in my dialect.

    Also, your limerick made me grin from ear to ear. :-)

    August 18, 2014

  • qms, are "heart" and "hat" homophones in your native dialect?

    August 16, 2014

  • (Note that I am not advocating that anyone name their daughter "Zorange"!)

    August 16, 2014

  • "Garth" and "Darth" definitely do rhyme with "hearth", but they're both proper nouns, so I feel like they don't count. It's like how "orange" is still a rhymeless word even if I name my daughter "Zorange".

    August 16, 2014

  • In my dialect, "dearth" does not rhyme with "hearth". "Dearth" rhymes with "earth", but "hearth" is like "heart" with a TH on the end.

    August 15, 2014

  • Found another one today: hearth!

    August 15, 2014

  • Thanks, erinmckean! I do see the little grey X, but only for words that I added. Words that other people added do not have the X.

    Also, I changed the title of the list, but the URL did not change. Is the URL supposed to change when the title of the list changes And if not, is there any way for me to change the URL manually to match the new title?

    July 2, 2014

  • Hey erinmckean, as I write this there are two pieces of spam on this list (both having to do with "cougars"). I tried to delete them, but I don't know how. Am I able to delete them, or is that something only an admin can do?

    June 30, 2014

  • Thanks, ruzuzu! That comment is the kind of confession that I would only make to trusted friends. (And, uh, any other denizen of the Internet who happens to wander by that page. But mostly to you, my trusted friends.)

    June 4, 2014

  • I wonder why you can say "I'm watching a video" but not "I'm listening to an audio".

    May 30, 2014

  • Hey ruzuzu, do you know where I could get a leaf from a palm tree? I'm asking for a frond.

    October 24, 2013

  • Right back atcha, ruzuzu! :-)

    October 24, 2013

  • Americans will say that someone is "in school" or "in prison", but not "in hospital". Instead, the usual phrasing is "in the hospital".

    I'm American, but I don't understand this. Britons say "in hospital" -- why don't we?

    I'd also be curious to learn which phrasing Canadians and Australians and New Zealanders use.

    October 16, 2013

  • As if I didn't already have enough pet peeves about language, I seem to have developed a new peeve: People using "vegetarian" to mean "herbivore". For example: "That buffalo looks scary, but don't worry, he's a vegetarian!" or "Scientists have announced that the newly-discovered dinosaur was vegetarian".

    Here's my rant: It's impossible for an herbivore to be a vegetarian! An herbivore is a creature that cannot eat meat. A vegetarian is someone who could eat meat, but chooses not to. Therefore, herbivores can't be vegetarians -- only omnivores can!

    Grumble grumble grumble. Stupid people with their stupid words.


    September 4, 2013

  • Spotted in a headline on FactCheck.org: GOP Mistweets Obamacare Survey Results.

    July 27, 2013

  • As I was browsing the Interwebs yesterday, I came across a list of advice to young people. It was titled "What I Wish I Would Have Known", and every item on the list began with "I wish I would have known that..."

    After I stopped banging my head against my keyboard, something occurred to me. The reason why this phrasing bothers me so much is that it combines two different indicators of the subjunctive mood: "I wish that I had" and "I would have", which is redundant. You don't need the extra indicator. You can just say "I wish I had known", and that's enough to establish the subjunctive. So, why do so many people feel the need to add "would have"?

    Well, maybe it's a similar phenomenon to the double negative. As I mentioned in another thread, many languages, and some dialects of English, use double negatives as negatives. ("I ain't no fool", for example.) The double negatives don't cancel each other out, and they aren't considered to be redundant. They just emphasize the negativity of the statement.

    By analogy, if "I ain't no fool" is a double negative, then maybe "I wish I would have known..." is a "double subjunctive"? Maybe it's not redundant... maybe the second subjunctive is for emphasis?

    I don't know. It's an interesting theory to think about, though.

    July 11, 2013

  • List of the Day, 6/27/23! Thank you, Wordnik!

    June 28, 2013

  • Reesetee made a list of words like this: http://www.wordnik.com/lists/it-has-a-name

    May 30, 2013

  • Hi Ru2013! Some of these words have the "y" sound in some dialects but not in others. In my American dialect, "duke" does not have the "y" sound, but in a British dialect, it does. See the comments below for more. :-)

    May 17, 2013

  • Just spotted this article on the Wordnik Twitter feed: http://mentalfloss.com/article/30810/why-are-there-different-names-same-country

    April 11, 2013

  • I opted for "exclamation mark" over "exclamation point" on the grounds that the symbol in question is more than just a point -- it's a point with a vertical line over it. But that's just me being fussy. Is there some more reasonable reason to choose "exclamation mark"?

    April 4, 2013

  • *sigh* If only it were spelled "livver" -- then I could put it on this list

    April 3, 2013

  • I don't usually use more than one exclamation mark, but when I do, I use an odd number of them!!! For example, three exclamation marks, or five!!!!! Or even seven, if I'm feeling particularly maniacal!!!!!!!

    For some reason, an even number of exclamation marks just looks wrong!!

    April 3, 2013

  • http://www.googlefight.com/index.php?lang=en_GB&word1;="my+breaks+failed"&word2;="my+brakes+failed"

    Quotes added.

    April 2, 2013

  • Holy cow, yarb! I didn't intentionally steal your list idea. I guess great minds think alike. And every potential Wordnik list is an existing Wordnik list. :-)

    March 25, 2013

  • I'm not familiar with the phrase, 'zuzu, but then again, I'm not familiar with most cookery terms. I trust your judgment. Go for it. :-)

    March 22, 2013

  • I've opened this list up to everyone. Any suggestions?

    March 22, 2013

  • It's 3/22/13, and Wordnik just picked this list as List of the Day! Thanks, Wordnik! A hat tip to you guys and the good work you do!

    March 22, 2013

  • Seanahan made a very good point, earlier in this thread. (Uh, six years earlier, actually. I'm kind of late to this discussion.) In some languages, double negatives are interpreted as negatives. In fact, some dialects of English do the same thing. You could say, for example, "That ain't no moon!" and it would mean the same thing as "That's no moon!"

    There's a larger question, which is whether it's better for a language to interpret double negatives as positives or as negatives. The former is more logical; the latter is more natural. I wish we could come up with a rule that's both logical AND natural, but I don't know what that would be.

    February 10, 2013

  • Great ideas, everyone! I opened the list up, so feel free to add to your heart's content.

    (Hi bilby!)

    January 31, 2013

  • There's a poster in my workplace that says "The important thing is not to stop questioning". I agree with the sentiment, but the grammar drives me crazy. My brain parses it as "X is not Y", or "(The important thing) is not (to stop questioning)", and so every time I see it, I think "Well, then what is the important thing? Tell me! Don't leave me in suspense, you wretched poster!"

    This is why it's important to give people the freedom to split infinitives. Using a split infinitive, you can reword the sentence as "The important thing is to not stop questioning", which is nice and tidy and clear.

    January 10, 2013

  • Hi Jody -- you may be looking for inviolable, with the I and the O the other way around.

    December 18, 2012

  • Ruzuzu -- I read this as "cornball" at first, too. I had to read it over several times before I could see the actual spelling.

    December 18, 2012

  • According to one theory, the phrase comes from the TV series Gunsmoke.

    December 18, 2012

  • 6:30 a.m.: Polls open in Ohio. Expect a floodgate of attention to surround this battleground state where the presidential candidates have invested enormous resources into winning its 18 electoral votes. --NPR

    A "floodgate of attention"? I don't think that metaphor works.

    November 7, 2012

  • I am older and wiser now, and I've realized that saying "p as in pterodactyl" exposes a person to relentless mockery. Thus, the penguin. :-)

    October 25, 2012

  • kalayzich, I wasn't originally thinking of monys inside of words, but I'm just so darned impressed with your suggestion that I'm changing the rules. Please, add to your heart's content! :-)

    September 13, 2012

  • Mony itself? Sure!

    September 13, 2012

  • A quick informal poll: Do you pronounce this OH-gul, OGG-ul, or OO-gul? Or some fourth way?

    I've always said OGG-ul. Today I heard OO-gul for the first time, and OO-gul made me giggle.

    August 19, 2012

  • If someone called me an "unimportant astringent", I would be sad. And also confused.

    August 18, 2012

  • The Century Dictionary says that jinrikishas are "provided with springs". How thoughtful! I wonder who provided them?

    August 18, 2012

  • Time for me to put on a pair of inexpressibles and start my day!

    August 11, 2012

  • And toddle.

    August 11, 2012

  • "While in London, Torres, 45, will make appearances as a global ambassador for McDonald's "Champions of Play" program."

    Dara Torres is 45? I thought she was 42. She must have built up some momentum.

    July 28, 2012

  • Glad you like it! :-)

    July 28, 2012

  • Can anyone help add to this list?

    July 21, 2012

  • OncoMouse does electronica. Berzerk Llama Syndrome is a jam band that does twenty-minute improvisations. Cat Scratch Fever is a retro swing band. Duck Plague is one guy in a basement with a cheap synthesizer.

    July 17, 2012

  • invalid, unsound

    July 13, 2012

  • You're not just talking to yourself, 'zuzu! :-)

    Of course, I don't speak Latvian, so my attentiveness doesn't help you. But maybe it's the thought that counts?

    July 13, 2012

  • Nonsense. You don't need formaldehyde to cook up a big ol' jar of marsupial preserves.

    July 11, 2012

  • When I pronounce this word, my instinct is to leave out the C, and say"ant-AR-ti-cuh". But I know that that's not correct, so I have a little mental reminder that tells me to insert the C. Unfortunately, though, I tend to overcorrect and say "anct-ARC-ti-cuh", with an extra C before the first T.

    Interestingly, the C that gives me so much trouble is a relatively recent addition. I figure that some priggish linguist in the 17th century decided that the word had to conform to its ancient Greek roots, and now we're stuck with the C. It's a shame, really. "Antartica" would be much more simple to pronounce and spell.

    July 8, 2012

  • I find myself getting angry whenever I hear someone use the word "podium" to refer to a lectern. We already have a perfectly good word for lecterns, so why not just use it? Calling a lectern a podium seems so gratuitous and pointless.

    But, on reflection, it's not gratuitous. In all likelihood, people just don't know the word "lectern", and so they're using the only word they do know that describes the object in question. We can't fault them for that, can we?

    And I suppose I needn't worry that "podium" will soon have two meanings, because the original meaning of "podium" (an elevated platform for a public speaker to stand on) appears to be dead. Ask a typical English speaker what a "podium" is, and he or she will probably describe a lectern, not an elevated platform. And we have the word "dais" to describe elevated platforms, so I needn't worry that that particular concept will become nameless.

    It all makes logical sense when I type it out like this, but nevertheless, I know I'm still going to fret about it. :-/

    July 8, 2012

  • I don't see why not. As best as I can tell, in order to be avuncular, all you have to do is behave like a stereotypical uncle. Anyone can do that, whether they're male or female.

    July 4, 2012

  • For a word that means chaos and violence, "mayhem" is actually a rather tidy and dignified pair of syllables. With a capital M, Mayhem looks to me like the name of a small village in the English countryside, the kind of place that where you'd find carefully-trimmed window boxes and an interesting selection of doilies.

    June 9, 2012

  • Ruzuzu, I've have that song stuck in my head for three days now, thanks to you! I hope you're happy! *mock glare*

    June 6, 2012

  • Thanks, ruzuzu! This was actually one of the first lists I ever created!

    June 6, 2012

  • Thanks, ruzuzu! I adore the fact that bilby was able to think of additional cities for this list!

    May 28, 2012

  • Yes, it's wight next to it.

    April 27, 2012

  • Yep! "Pterodactyl" literally means "wing-finger". (Or "finger-wing". Latin is not my strong suit.)

    April 26, 2012

  • Is this a grammatical error?

    "What time should I pick you up?"

    Prescriptive grammarians would probably say yes, it is an error, because it's missing the word "at". It should be "What time should I pick you up at?" or "At what time should I pick you up?"

    If these grammarians are also copy editors, they might suggest the phrasing "When should I pick you up?", which avoids the "what time" construction entirely. After all, English already has a perfectly good word for asking questions about time ("when"), so, the editors might say, why not just use it?

    Actually, I think there's a jolly good reason to use "what time" instead of "when". I don't think they mean the same thing.

    My idea is that people use "what time" to refer to time on a clock, as opposed to time on a calendar. For example, if you ask someone "When did you arrive in London?", they might answer "Last Thursday", which isn't helpful if what you're really inquiring about is the arrival time of their train. So, instead, you can ask "What time did you arrive in London?", a question to which "Last Thursday" is not a sensible response.

    If I'm right about this, then "what time" is a two-word idiom that functions as one word, rather like "how much" or "how many" or the Spanish "por qué".

    Huh. So, if it is an idiom, does this explain the absence of "at"?

    April 14, 2012

  • Good point. Yeah, that would probably explain the spelling. But it wouldn't explain the pronunciation. Why don't we pronounce the glottal stop?

    April 14, 2012

  • Great, thanks! I had been stricken with indecision about which pronunciation to use (they're both equally prevalent in American English), but this decides the issue. From now on, I shall emulate the elocutions of the emu experts.

    April 11, 2012

  • Then our work here is done. *evil laugh*

    April 10, 2012

  • This page is amazing. How did I not know about this before?

    *laughing out loud*

    April 10, 2012

  • How is this pronounced in Australian English? "ee-moo" or "ee-myoo"?

    April 10, 2012

  • Interesting! If I heard someone say "second rug test", and pronounce the D, I would almost certainly mishear it as "second drug test". I'm so used to not hearing a D in "second" that my brain would automatically assume that the D is part of the following word.

    April 8, 2012

  • I've been saying this word for years, but I've only just now realized how bizarre its pronunciation is.

    The issue is the final consonant. The word is spelled with a final D, but it's not pronounced with a final [d]. If you try pronouncing the word with a final [d], it sounds wrong.

    At first I assumed that the final consonant was a [t], as part of a "-NT" ending. But Ts are articulated with the tip of the tongue, and when I say "second", my tongue only articulates the N. I mean, [n] and [t] are both alveolar consonants, but when I say "second", my tongue goes up to the alveolar ridge just once, for the [n], and just kinda stops there.

    So, then I started thinking that maybe the "d" was just totally silent, and that the word is pronounced to end on the [n]. But that's clearly wrong, because if you try pronouncing "secon", it sounds different, and easily distinguishable from "second".

    I hesitate to even suggest this, because it sounds so weird, but I'm starting to think that the final consonant in "second" is an [n] and a [ʔ] (a glottal stop) pronounced simultaneously.

    What do you guys think?

    April 7, 2012

  • "A trice" is nice! Feel free to add it to the list!

    March 8, 2012

  • You're welcome! Glad you like it!

    This is, honestly, one of the most beautiful songs I know. It's sad, and pensive, and the lyrics are just exquisite. I highly recommend listening to it.

    March 2, 2012

  • Ooh, thanks, ruzuzu, for bringing this useful phrase to our attention!

    This would be a good candidate for reesetee's "It has a name?!" list.

    February 29, 2012

  • Wordnik's "Visuals" feature really comes in handy here.

    February 17, 2012

  • I keep hearing "spit" used as its own past tense (e.g. "Yesterday I spit a watermelon seed nearly twelve yards") and I think to myself What's wrong with "spat"? We have a perfectly good past tense form available to us -- why aren't we using it?

    It can't just be because "spat" is an irregular past tense. If that were the problem, then we'd be seeing an equivalent drop-off in other irregular past tenses, like "taught" or "wept", but nobody is going around saying "I weep last Saturday, because my girlfriend teach me the meaning of the word 'dump'." It sounds ridiculous, right? So why doesn't it sound equally ridiculous to say "Yesterday I spit a watermelon seed"?

    January 26, 2012

  • Excellent point about the cross-pollination from tragedy!

    I'd argue that most people who use "travesty" as a short form of "travesty of justice" aren't aware that that's what they're doing. I figure it started with a bunch of people who DID intentionally shorten "travesty of justice", and then a second bunch of people who didn't know the meaning of the word "travesty" (i.e. "mockery") heard the word being used by the first bunch, and inferred from context that it meant "disgusting state of affairs".

    Does that sound like a plausible sequence of events?

    January 19, 2012

  • This word seems to be dying out, in favor of "loan" (as a verb). This could be because "lend" is an irregular verb, or because people prefer to use the same word ("loan") as both the noun and the verb. Or, most likely, for both reasons.

    I'm sad about this. I Iike the word "lend", and I'd hate to see its demise. Why should we make "loan" do double duty, when we already have a lovely little verb to do the job?

    January 18, 2012

  • I think this is one of those words whose dictionary meaning doesn't match its common meaning. The dictionary meaning is "mockery" or "grotesque parody", but when I hear it, it usually means something like "disaster" or "disgusting state of affairs" or "offensively bad situation". The tweets on the right side of this page all support this latter definition.

    My best guess is that travesty used to mean "mockery", but the meaning has drifted over time. I wonder how long it will be before the major dictionaries update their definitions?

    January 18, 2012

  • What's all the fuss about <3' secret messages? Ah! I see! Can it really be as simple as hiding messages behind' hearts?

    January 14, 2012

  • *giant reptilian hug* I missed you too, ruzuzu!

    (Thinks: Oooh! I just typed five syllables in a row that have the same vowel sound!)

    January 8, 2012

  • Love the title, love the list!

    January 8, 2012

  • I feel sad when I see "museum pieces" like this word which would be gorgeous words if anyone actually used them. I feel that we ought to smash the glass of the museum display case, snatch the word, and absquatulate with it, then slowly introduce it into the wild and work to establish a breeding population.

    January 8, 2012



  • Examples here.

    I love, love, love this word!

    January 8, 2012

  • After several months of rejecting my password and giving me an error message, Wordnik has finally decided to allow me back in. Hurrah! Let the listing recommence!

    January 8, 2012

  • Why do we still use the word actress when most -ess words (e.g. stewardess, authoress, shepherdess, waitress) are considered improper or quaint? My guess is that it's because the sex of a steward, author, shepherd, or waiter is irrelevant, but an actor's sex actually matters, because it determines which roles he or she will be hired to play.

    The same explanation also works for goddess. In religious studies and mythology, the fact that a goddess is female is actually quite relevant to her character, so it's not sexist to draw attention to the fact.

    That's my theory, anyway. I could be wrong.

    January 8, 2012

  • Thanks, Erin! :-)

    August 4, 2011

  • I noticed the same thing on some of my lists, dontcry, and at first I was horrified. All our beautiful comments, gone! But then I spotted a comment from Erin on the Feedback page, saying that the comments feature is in "drydock" right now for repairs and revamping. I figure that means that our comments will be returning soon.

    Incidentally, I just checked the Feedback page right now and found it completely comment-less, but I presume that's just another symptom of the "drydocking".

    August 1, 2011

  • Heh... you can tell that this list dates back to the Wordie days. The names of meteor showers are supposed to be capitalized (e.g. "the Perseids", "the Leonids", "the Geminids") but Wordie didn't support capitalization.

    Ah, memories of Wordie...

    July 19, 2011

  • Sounds like it. If you'd seen the Fervids, you'd remember them. :-)

    July 19, 2011

  • "People — people like me — love the serial comma. They rely on it. They feel like society's abandonment of it is a sign that all has gone haywire. They feel about it the way other people feel about newspapers, green spaces, or virtue."

    --"Going, Going, And Gone?: No, The Oxford Comma Is Safe ... For Now", by Linda Holmes, from NPR's Monkey See blog

    July 1, 2011

  • I'm usually quite mild-mannered, but this phrase makes me grind my teeth together.

    "Good to go!" Ugh! It's just so... so... smarmy.

    June 30, 2011

  • Looks like the new Wordnik font is not kind to IPA symbols. :-(

    June 30, 2011

  • A quick unscientific survey: Do you say /ækwədʌkt/ or /ɑkwədʌkt/? In other words, does the first vowel rhyme with "yeah" or with "blah"?

    I just realized that I use /æ/ for "aqueduct" but /ɑ/ for "aqua", which seems terribly inconsistent of me.

    June 30, 2011

  • Serial ruthlessness is certainly an option (albeit a terrible one). But there's something very final about "fatal" and "deadly".

    June 29, 2011

  • They're giving out free bilbys? Hooray! I'll take three!

    June 22, 2011

  • Do we still have a master list of Tunies? If so, here's another one for it.

    June 22, 2011

  • I want to thank Mr. Helster, and Wordnik, for providing this service. I love being able to get pronunciations on demand, and I'm amazed that we get this service for free. Thank you! I really appreciate it!

    June 21, 2011

  • Bug: When I click on a tag, I'm taken to the corresponding word page, not the corresponding tag page. For example, the word "robin" is tagged "bird", but when I click on "bird", it takes me to bird.

    June 21, 2011

  • I see what you guys are saying about the images, and I think you're right to say that we old Wordie regulars don't come to Wordnik to find images. Still, I quite like the position of the images in the new interface, and I hope they stay there.

    Print dictionaries usually have illustrations, and each illustration is usually positioned right next to its corresponding definition. Seeing these two things side by side helps you grok what the word means. I like the idea of having the same thing in Wordnik.

    I also like the potential for serendipity. For example, earlier today, I looked up the word "afterglow". I had been thinking of it as an emotion, but then I stumbled into the images section of the page, which got me thinking about the connection between the metaphorical and literal meanings of the word. It was a pleasant rumination, and a serendipitous moment, and it wouldn't have happened if I'd been using the old interface.

    Just my two cents. Feel free to disagree with me.

    June 21, 2011

  • I agree with sionnach and bilby about the Feedback page. Maybe put a link to it on the home page?

    Also, I just tried to create my first new list since the rollout of the new interface, and I see what bilby was saying about the content of the add box not autoclearing. I have to delete my last word from the box before I can add a new word. It makes me sad. :-(

    June 20, 2011

  • I second ruzuzu's comment on the Feedback page. The reverse dictionary is teh alsome.

    June 18, 2011

  • Would it be helpful if we collected all of our comments about the new interface on one page? I'm worried that we'll clutter up the Feedback page at the rate we're going.

    I've left some comments at new interface. Y'all are welcome to join me over there.

    June 18, 2011

  • I posted my previous comment about twenty seconds ago, and yet Wordnik says I posted the comment "about 9 hours ago". Perhaps this bug is associated with the new interface?

    June 18, 2011

  • As soon as I saw that there was a new Wordnik interface, I was ready to hate it. I loved the old interface so much, I just assumed that any change would be bad.

    Turns out I was wrong. Now that I've had a chance to play around with the new interface, I find I quite like it. The colors, especially, are a welcome addition. And I'm pleased to see that you kept the most important part of Wordnik's visual layout: lots and lots of white space. Bravo, Wordnik gnomes! Well done!

    I do have one minor complaint. Across the top of each word page is a navigation menu, consisting of the words "Love", "Define", "Relate", "List", "Discuss", "See", "Hear", and "Share". I'm glad that these navigation links are present, but I think the words that were chosen to represent each link are cryptic and confusing. (Why all verbs?) When I first saw them, I had no idea what they did, and so I was afraid to click on them.

    My suggestion is that you get rid of these verbs and replace them with the names of the sections that they link to. Thus, the words across the top would read "Love", "Definitions", "Related Words", "Lists", "Comments", "Visuals", "Audio", and "Share". That way, people could tell what they do.

    June 18, 2011

  • Thanks, Erin! Whatever you guys did, it worked. All the links are working just fine for me now.

    EDIT: ...except for "you don't beep at a polar bear match". I still can't get to that one.

    June 18, 2011

  • Oh dear! I can't view any word pages! I want to see the new interface, but no matter which word I try, I just get the "Trouble delivering that page" message.

    I can view list pages just fine, though.

    I'm using Firefox on a Mac, if that helps.

    EDIT: Okay, seems I can view word pages if I get to them by clicking on a link in a list, or by using the search box. I just can't get to them from the links on the Community page.

    June 18, 2011

  • No, ruzuzu, I don't -- would you care to do the honors? :-)

    June 9, 2011

  • Yeah.

    June 5, 2011

  • Well, more ampersands for the rest of us, then!

    *hands out ampersands to everyone but frogapplause*

    June 5, 2011

  • I still think there's metathesis going on, even for a non-rhotic speaker. In non-rhotic dialects, the "r" is not spoken, but it's still present in the speaker's mind, as an unspoken phoneme... right? (I could be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure that's how it works.) And if that's so, then it seems plausible that a group of RP speakers might experience metathesis with those two phonemes, the /t/ and the /r/, even though one of them is never spoken.

    June 5, 2011

  • I looked up metathesis on Wikipedia, and found that "comfortable" is one of the examples they give to demonstrate metathesis in English. Wikipedia isn't all-knowing, but it's usually right, so I think this provides some fairly strong support for rolig's first hypothesis. Well done, rolig!

    Anyone have any alternative hypotheses to contribute?

    June 4, 2011

  • Given the name of the genus, I imagine that these bivalves evolved specifically to provide percussive rimshots whenever someone tells a lousy joke.

    Let's test it out!

    "Man, when I found out I was the only one who could see the tags on 'pedum', I sure felt sheepish!!!"

    *pedum-tshhh*

    June 4, 2011

  • No tags, blafferty? Huh. On my computer, I see three tags ("ecclesiastical", "latin", and "sheep").

    June 4, 2011

  • Who put the "ter" in "comf-ter-bull"?

    Given the spelling, you'd expect this word to be pronounced like "comfort" with the "-able" suffix on the end, but it's not even close to that. The T and the R aren't even in the proper order.

    I'd be interested to hear whether there's a particular rule of linguistics that explains this shift in pronunciation. Rolig? Qroqqa? Anyone?

    June 4, 2011

  • Would you use the word "blog" to mean "blog entry"?

    For a while now, I've seen people using the word in this way. For example, they might say "I wrote a blog this morning, and I'll probably write another one after dinner". This usage makes me cringe. It's the kind of thing you'd hear from people who might also talk about "watching a YouTube" or "reading the Wikipedia" -- i.e. people who aren't tech-savvy.

    But now, more and more, I'm seeing people who ARE tech-savvy using "blog" to mean "blog entry". I still hate it, but I recognize that in a living language, words' meanings can change. Do you think that's what's happening with "blog"?

    June 1, 2011

  • Perhaps we should coin "tastealike", by analogy to "lookalike"?

    May 25, 2011

  • Excellent list, blafferty! Bravo!

    May 24, 2011

  • Well done, sionnach!

    *raises glass in recognition of the Fox's outstanding skills*

    May 24, 2011

  • Excellent point, rolig. And bilby, I think you're absolutely right -- the phenomenon that rolig describes is definitely related to phonesthemes.

    I have some phonestheme lists, in case anyone's interested.

    May 24, 2011

  • I recently tagged a bunch of words with "pterodactyl is a windbag", to indicate pages on which I blather on at great length. (There are rather a lot of them.) After I finished tagging, I realized that this tag would actually work better as a list, so I created a new list titled "pterodactyl is a windbag" and added all the appropriate words to the list. Then I went through them one-by-one to remove the tag.

    However, I can't remove the tag from the word "Hawai'i". I click the little X next to the tag, but nothing happens. I've tried it in both Firefox and Chrome, on my Mac computer. Can you help?

    May 22, 2011

  • There's an unwritten rule in English that when you insert an expletive into another word, it must precede a stressed syllable. So, for example, you can talk about "Phila-fuckin'-delphia", because "del" is a stressed syllable, but you cannot talk about "Philadel-fuckin'-phia", because "phi" is not a stressed syllable.

    So "Per-fuckin'-fect" is out. I think the closest permissible equivalent is "Fuckin' perfect!", which I do hear occasionally.

    May 22, 2011

  • And still my longest!

    May 19, 2011

  • :-)

    May 19, 2011

  • Thanks, rolig! I'm glad you like it!

    It's funny how Wordnik works. This was one of the first lists I ever created, way back in the Wordie days, and it's been sitting quietly unnoticed since then. Then suddenly it receives a flurry of attention... attention that comes out of the blue... like clouds...

    May 19, 2011

  • Thanks! :-)

    May 18, 2011

  • I just had my first Tim Tam. It made me want to hug an Australian.

    May 18, 2011

  • Rereading my comments from two years ago, I wonder why I restricted this list to short pages. Long stuff can be amusing, too.

    I'm going to celebrate this epiphany by adding "teeth" to this list.

    May 18, 2011

  • I agree with the conventional wisdom that "very" is a sign of poor writing, but until today, if you had asked me why I felt that way, I couldn't have told you. "It just looks wrong," I would have said, wringing my hands anxiously. "Stop asking me difficult questions!"

    Now, though, I have a theory. I will explain my theory with an example. Let's say I'm trying to communicate to you the information that reesetee's desk is large. I want you to picture, in your mind, a standard office desk, and I want you to contrast reesetee's desk with that prototypical desk, and I want you to realize that reesetee's desk is by far the larger.

    How can I make this happen? Well, I could just say "reesetee's desk is large" -- but this doesn't go far enough. You hear me say "reesetee's desk is large", and you understand that reesetee's desk is at least somewhat larger than the average desk, but you don't grasp the elephantine immensity of this particular piece of office furniture. I mean, really, you could land a fighter jet on this thing. Merely saying "reesetee's desk is large" is woefully inadequate.

    Aha!, I think. Perhaps I can increase the size of your mental image by specifying that it's a "very large" desk, instead of just a "large" desk. And indeed, when you contrast the two terms, you find that "very large" is, in fact, larger than just plain "large".

    But that's the problem. Before, when I talked about a merely "large" desk, you contrasted this concept of a large desk with your mental image of a typical desk. But the word "very" invites a different kind of contrast. When I talk about a "very large" desk, I'm saying "Hey, it's not just large, it's very large!", and so you don't contrast "very large" with "typical", you contrast "very large" with "large".

    That's my theory. That's why "very large" is bad writing. When I say "very large", I'm suggesting a contrast to large things, instead of a contrast to typically-sized things. That's a much weaker contrast. It's not going to grab anyone's attention.

    The solution, as I see it, is to use a different word that's inherently stronger. For example, when chained_bear brought up the subject of reesetee's desk, reesetee said "I mean, it's enormous." It works. You read the word "enormous", and you contrast this enormous desk to a typically-sized desk, and you go "Whoa".

    Alternatively, instead of using a stronger word, you could use a descriptive phrase. So, for example, I could tell you that when you look at reesetee working at his desk, he seems to have a lovely reddish tinge, because the light that reaches your eyes has to climb out of the desk's gravity well.

    It works. You get what I'm saying.

    It's a big desk.

    May 18, 2011

  • See "whilst", where bilby accused frogapplause of inciting the public to this.

    May 15, 2011

  • See also strev's excellent list set phasers to..., from which some of these were pilfered.

    May 15, 2011

  • See the tag. And then back away slowly.

    May 15, 2011

  • As an American, let me just stand up and say that I hate the American style. It seems dishonest to place anything inside quotation marks that isn't actually part of the quote.

    I suspect that this skulduggery has its origins in colonial times, when the king imposed a tax on periods and commas, and so the Americans had to smuggle them into the colonies wrapped inside innocent-looking quotation marks.

    May 15, 2011

  • It's too late, bilby. I listened to frogapplause, and now I feel a need to do something frivolous with Australians.

    May 15, 2011

  • Oh dear. Whilst we're standing around talking about words, dontcry is eating all the cookies!

    May 14, 2011

  • "Whilst" is definitely more common in the UK than in the US, but would you go as far as to call it "standard"? I read a lot of British books and listen to a lot of British radio, and I don't hear "whilst" very often.

    Any Brits around who might give us an insider's perspective?

    (I'm also curious to hear what the Aussies think!)

    May 14, 2011

  • This word makes me giggle.

    May 13, 2011

  • Isn't it great? I've probably watched the video several dozen times now.

    May 12, 2011

  • Wiktionary (1 definition)

    –verb
    simple past tense and past participle of "google".
    Should this be capitalized? Genericized trademarks typically retain their capitalization, and by that rule we should write"I Googled it" instead of "I googled it". But, unlike most genericized trademarks, this one's a verb, and I just can't bring myself to capitalize a verb.

    Thoughts?


    May 11, 2011

  • Hip hip...

    May 7, 2011

  • Hip hip...

    May 7, 2011

  • Three cheers for gangerh and his hard work! Hip hip...

    May 7, 2011

  • *passes the gold tiara to yarb*

    May 7, 2011

  • *hugs ruzuzu* I'm happy to share second place with you, ruzuzu! Let's get matching silver tiaras!

    May 7, 2011

  • "'Meh' is the schwa of emotions." --Jonathan Coulton

    May 7, 2011

  • In case anyone's curious, I chose "distingue" for my word not because it describes me (it doesn't), but because I'm the only ITW player who lists it (in this list, based on this song from my childhood).

    May 4, 2011

  • Wooooooo! Third place!

    *does the Dance of the Happy Pterodactyl*

    Can I have a bronze tiara?

    May 4, 2011

  • Shall we now share our secret words, and our reasons for choosing them, or shall we wait for gangerh to divulge them all simultaneously in one big wodge?

    May 4, 2011

  • Yarb, I saw the same connection as you did, and I came very close to guessing "boggy" for sionnach, but then I changed my mind at the last minute and guessed "sinistral". Turns out he's "boggy" after all, which means I was wrong for the right reason, which is the inverse of being right for the wrong reason, which is much more satisfying than being wrong for the wrong reason.

    May 4, 2011

  • Brilliant list! How about nostalgia, malaise, or dysphoria?

    May 3, 2011

  • "assess" sounds like it means a female donkey.

    April 30, 2011

  • I love the title of this list!

    April 30, 2011

  • Ooh, this is perfect for one of my lists...

    April 27, 2011

  • I read it. It's good!

    April 27, 2011

  • My guesses:

    bilby -- harlequin
    blafferty -- ascian
    chained_bear -- wodge
    dontcry -- tear-resistant
    erinmckean -- calepinerienne
    fbharjo -- playful
    frindley -- mediæval
    frogapplause -- alexis
    gangerh -- emordnilap
    hernesheir -- heartstringsplucker
    mollusque -- systematic
    oroboros -- protean
    PossibleUnderscore -- chrestomathic
    Prolagus -- prodigal
    pterodactyl -- esquivalience
    reesetee -- slopseller
    ruzuzu -- lunette
    seanahan -- hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophile
    sionnach -- sinistral
    Wordnicolina -- greenhorn
    Wordplayer -- queasy
    yarb -- aaaaaaargh!

    I started out methodically, using the spreadsheets, looking up words, and generally being systematic*. That didn't last long. Most of these are wild, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey stabs in the dark.

    *Not a hint regarding the word "systematic".

    April 27, 2011

  • *applauds frindley's knowledge of Andrew Clement books*

    April 27, 2011

  • "Cock-a-doodle-doo" makes me smile, but it is, at best, a false rhyme. Is that okay, elgiad007?

    April 26, 2011

  • I love the definition of this word. So poetic and beautiful!

    But I do have to agree with yarb about "literally".

    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." --The Princess Bride

    April 26, 2011

  • *coughs politely* Erm... we can still see your profile.

    April 20, 2011

  • The fetch is an attendant spirit that is bound to someone through the process of their naming until their death. The fetch is held "to appear as an animal resembling one's disposition or as a member of the opposite sex".
    Does this remind anyone else of the "daemons" from Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy?

    April 20, 2011

  • I'm an AmE speaker, and I've never heard the phrase "front the money".

    April 19, 2011

  • What a perspicacious observation.

    April 19, 2011

  • I just came across an interesting sentence in an article I was reading:

    "The problem with library data are that it is not as robust as other data to which users have become accustomed."

    Would this be an example of hypercorrection?

    A lot of people instinctually write"the data is", rather than "the data are". If you're one of those people, and if you think that "the data is" is incorrect, you have to train yourself to replace every instance of "the data is" with "the data are".

    In this case, though, that automatic replacement rule gets it wrong, because the singular "is" that you're replacing actually refers to the singular noun "problem". If you want to treat "data" as a plural, it'd be better to write"The problem with library data is that they are not as robust..."

    Or, you could just do as I do and treat "data" as a singular mass noun.

    April 19, 2011

  • I've run across the word "jumper" before in British novels, and I was able to infer from the context that it was some kind of article of clothing, but I could never figure out exactly what kind of article of clothing. If you had told me that a "jumper" was a kangaroo costume, I might very well have believed you.

    April 16, 2011

  • Fascinating list. Thank you!

    April 16, 2011

  • Oooooooooooooh...

    April 16, 2011

  • Just sent my email to you, gangerh! Let me know if you didn't get it.

    April 15, 2011

  • So this would be the segment after the last commercial break but before the start of the next crustacean?

    April 14, 2011

  • Heavens, no, I don't mind at all!

    (sorry for the tardy reply)

    April 14, 2011

  • And now, Wordnik has comments dated "over 3 years ago".

    April 14, 2011

  • I'm delighted to see the love for Connie Willis, one of my favorite authors. Bellwether is an excellent book. For the word-lovers in the crowd (i.e. all of you), I recommend Willis's short story "Blued Moon". I even made a list to go with it.

    April 13, 2011

  • *applauds wildly*

    April 9, 2011

  • I'm starting to see a pattern emerging. In many of these words, the "soft C" comes immediately after the "hard C", forming "cc" that sounds like "ks" (or "x", if you prefer).

    accelerate, accent, vaccine, flaccid, eccentric, coccyx... I think this calls for another list.

    Can anyone think of more words that would go on such a list?

    April 5, 2011

  • Also... "Lots of words"? You're right, it's not as ambitious as "All the words", but I think ambition is a feature, not a bug. Go for the gusto!

    April 2, 2011

  • Thumbs up for the current arrangement: "All the words" in the page title, and "A dictionary, thesaurus, word community, and more" as the tagline. It makes sense that the slogan and the tagline don't have to be the same. Well done!

    April 2, 2011

  • I'm with Prolagus and mollusque. The new tagline may be more technically accurate, but it has none of the pizzazz of the old tagline. Please bring back "All the words"!

    April 2, 2011

  • Some positive feedback for the Wordnik team: I used to use the website of one of your competitors (coughcoughwww.m-w.comcoughcough) to look up words, but now I've switched almost entirely over to Wordnik for my dictionary needs. Why? Well, I discovered that my preferred browser, Firefox, has a feature called "Smart Keywords" that makes web searches twice as easy. It's so amazing, I don't know how I've lived without it. And your competitor's website is not compatible with it.

    Using Wordnik with Firefox's Smart Keywords means that now, if I want to look up the word "wodge", all I do is type "wk wodge" in my address bar, and bang, I'm there.

    Thanks, Wordnik, for having such a compatible interface!

    April 1, 2011

  • "The lens's focal length is 50 millimeters." What do you guys think of this construction? "Lens" is another singular word that ends in S, but unlike "species", its has a plural that's different from the singular.

    March 30, 2011

  • I was under the impression that you can only use the s' construction on possessive plurals, and indeed, that the whole point of s' is to indicate a possessive plural. For example, consider "The cat's eyes glinted in the dark" and "The cats' eyes glinted in the dark". The placement of the apostrophe tells you how many cats there are.

    I could easily be wrong, though. Anyone care to find an authoritative source?

    March 30, 2011

  • Does anyone here put emphasis on different syllables for "harassed" and "harassment"?

    March 24, 2011

  • For me, it's "huh-RAST". The first vowel is a schwa, and it's not even close to the vowel in "hat".

    March 24, 2011

  • Oroboros, were you by any chance referencing this study?

    March 21, 2011

  • Ewwwwwww.

    March 21, 2011

  • Also, I'm pretty sure that "jream" is the standard American pronunciation. Here's an example, courtesy of the Everly Brothers. They sing those J's loud and clear.

    March 21, 2011

  • Hi yarb! Yup, I'm male, and I have the receding hairline to prove it. As ruzuzu would say, if she were not a she: I'm a buoy, not a gull.

    March 21, 2011

  • Here, ruzuzu, try this link. I guarantee you will never hear the word "chaparral" the same way again. :-)

    March 19, 2011

  • "Royalty, lord it looked good on me / Buried in silk in the royal boudoir or going nuclear free / Or playing crokinole with the Princess of Monaco / Telling my jokes to the OPEC leaders, getting it all on video"
    -- "King of Spain", by Moxy Früvous

    March 19, 2011

  • "All alone by the table of food in my wrinkled suit and my borrowed tie / Only thinking of something to say in the moment after the girl walks by / Everyone else is having fun or else pretending to/ I eat another crudité..."
    -- "Big Bad World One", by Jonathan Coulton

    March 19, 2011

  • Many years ago, I noticed that I pronounced "dr" ([dɹ]) as "jr" ([dʒɹ]). For example, I pronounced "dream", "dribble", "drunk", and "drive" as if they were spelled "jream", "jribble", "jrunk", and "jrive".

    I didn't like this. It seemed unnecessarily complicated. So, I stopped. Ever since then, I've pronounced "dr" as [dɹ]. I suppose I thought I was being terribly clever, and that everyone else was bound to admire me, and join me, and give me the keys to the city and a ticker-tape parade. What's actually happened is that no one's noticed I'm doing it. In that regard, it's rather like crossing my 7's. I've been crossing handwritten 7's since I was a small boy, and nobody seems to care one way or the the other.

    Now, as I type this, I realize that my smug linguistic superiority has a crack in it. All these years, while I was scrupulously pronouncing "dr" as "dr", I blithely continued pronouncing "tr" as "chr" ([tʃɹ], e.g. "chricycle", "chrilobyte", "The Chrubble with Chribbles"). It's the just the unvoiced version of the same thing, and for consistency's sake, ought to be handled the same way. I feel a bit foolish, and I'm not sure how to proceed. Should I extend my solitary crusade to "tr"? Should I revert to the common pronunciation for "dr"? Or should I just stop overthinking this?

    March 18, 2011

  • I'm in.

    March 18, 2011

  • Hi jennarenn and frindley! Wonderful to see you again!

    March 14, 2011

  • I've opened the list to everyone. Have fun!

    (This is my new Wordnik philosophy: Open lists are more fun than closed lists. I intend to go through my old closed lists and open 'em up someday soon.)

    March 12, 2011

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