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Historical discussion (before Wiktionary existed)

Wiktionary was an idea proposed by Daniel Alston for a sister project to Wikipedia to set up and create a wikiwiki dictionary (see also Fonzy's idea for wiktionary)

Whilst Wikipedia is not a dictionary, Daniel Alston(aka Fonzy) has made the excellent suggestion that the overall Wikipedia project might be enlarged to include a Wiki dictionary in the spirit of Wikipedia, as a companion volume to Wikipedia.

I like his suggestion for a name: Wiki + dictionary = Wiktionary. It's natural, and works.

What should the Wiktionary be?

  • a serious dictionary based on the simplest possible w: defining dictionary in English
  • a basic idiom dictionary, but necessarily leaving explanation of difficult metaphor and stock phrases in English to wikipedia, which will continue to function as a sort of 'advanced idiom dictionary'
  • with a version for every language - translating the w: core glossary first.
  • group authored under the GFDL using a version of the Phase III software
  • not an encyclopedia, and avoiding historical connotations of words (which could be in a separate meta-wiktionary space)

...but every Wikitionary entry that has an encyclopedia entry in the Wikipedia should have a link to the Wikipedia encyclopedia article on the Wiktionary dictionary page.

See also:

Possibly of interest... I have had this domain name for a long time now. I can get .org and we should use that, if this idea really gets off the ground. I support the idea fully.

     Created on..............: Tue, Apr 17, 2001
     Expires on..............: Thu, Apr 17, 2003
     Record last updated on..: Thu, Apr 18, 2002
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     Bomis, Inc.
     Jimmy Wales
     3585 Hancock St., Suite A
     San Diego, CA 92110
     Phone: 619-296-1732
     Fax..: 619-296-1754
     Email: jwales@bomis.com
  Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
     Domain Registrar
     575 8th Avenue - 11th Floor
     New York, NY 10018
     Phone: 902-749-2701
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     Email: domain-registrar@register.com

I doubt anyone will believe me but there's been an amazing case of telepathy :))) Being new to Wikipedia, during recent days I started wondering why there wasn't something called 'Wiktionary' and today I come here to find this very recent discussion here. Amazing... I must have been receiving some brainwave messages from the inventor of the topic :) (or the other way ;)

Actually, we could be really clever here with Wiktionary: we could have a defintion of a word followed by an ISO identifier and we could have links to the corresponding entry for another language's word for it, i.e. we end up with a genuinely cross-linked multilingual dictionary. We could do the same for non-extant languages as well e.g. Latin & Old English. Now that would be a god-send. user:sjc

Some good ideas. One thing about cross-language referencing is there may not always be a clear match--a long word in German might equal a phrase in English. Or you might have to choose between two words, depending on context. Also, it is common, and very useful for a dictionary to list synonyms and antonyms for a word. I think we should include these as a standard section for every word (or possibly each unique definition of a word?). Other things to include: word origin/roots, pronunciation, examples in sentences, usage guidelines (when the word is appropriate or not), phrases that use the word (run that by me, run into, run down, run up, etc.) Also, we'd have to be extra careful with copyright, since users will be tempted to pull out a dictionary and copy material from it. 15:05 Nov 29, 2002 (UTC)

You make some useful points 198. I particularly thought your observation about problems with language parallelism was an interesting one. I actually see this as a big win with a non-print based medium such as a WikiWiki. We can fully explain exactly what the ramifications and implications of particular interpretations are, and if we can get this off the ground it means that people who translate will be able to translate far more exactly than they presently are able to. The synonyms and antonyms are conceptually key, and will help considerably in the amplification of meaning. You are right to be worried about copyright, but I think that we have already been over this bridge in Wikipedia enough times to be able to handle this with care and professionalism. user:sjc

Lets get it started now! - fonzy

For an easy start i think we should have this tempoary url: http://wiktionary.wikipedia.org/

OK. I'll have a shot at the Wiktionary Main Page at some point. We will need a nice logo, which reinforces our own anti-corporate brand (of course). user:sjc

Unfortunately I can't do anything with it just yet. If I try and log in as myself it just throws me into Wikipedia which means I can't unprotect the page to change it... user:sjc

ok, could i become a sysop for this wiktionary project once started?

- fonzy

Note: the Main Goal for the moment once it's started should just be to create a free dictionary (in every language once it has its own domain). But Translation/Thesaurus should be discussed later.

One idea I have had about translation is that the article page would be:


and a translation/nearest translaton could be:



So what do you want me to put at wiktionary.wikipedia.org? Just a blank regular wiki? --Brion VIBBER 00:36 Dec 12, 2002 (UTC)
Unless you've got a better idea. If you build it, they will come; if you give us space, we'll build it for you ;) -- Merphant
Well, enjoy. --Brion VIBBER 06:41 Dec 12, 2002 (UTC)

Thanks for doing this, Brion. Would this be much of a hassle for one of the developers to point this at the correct Wiktionary spaces and change the Wikipedia references on the frameset to Wiktionary ones? We'll probably be pretty dependant on you guys until we get a dev team of our own, i.e. until we generate a bit of momentum and gravitas. user:sjc

Thanks for the logo, Brion. That will certainly do for the time being imho. user:sjc

Ideas and observations:

  • If there are multiple languages, how about a multiple-language interface, so it could be a translation aid? English-Spanish, etc.
  • Since it is online, make it a Thesaurus too.
  • Preferences include regional variations, English v. American, Bergen v. Oslo.
  • Tne Wiktionary could respond to changes in language faster than any dictionary in history.
  • The Wiktionary could propagate errors faster than any dictionary in history.
  • There is still a place for discussing the meaning of words in the Wikipedia, but linking to the Wiktionary would be nice.


Polish Wikipedia already features fair amount of dictionary data, mostly Japanese and English, plus some small amounts of Spanish, Latin and for other languages.

"Wikipedia isn't a dictionary" was just meant not to create articles that only contain definition of word. It doesn't mean that dictionaries shouldn't exist in articles like "Japanese Computer Science terminology" or "Latin names of trees".

They should exist. They just have to. Without them encyclopedia would be very incomplete.

Taw 20:02 Nov 25, 2002 (UTC)

I have been in recent contact with the project leader of Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) which is hosted at http://dict.org. He seems to be interested in collaboration although I think he is a bit warry about wiki. --Either way we could get a huge head-start by using the 1913 dictionary. --Maveric149 03:04 Nov 26, 2002 (UTC)

Yes it can be a dictionary and thesarus. Maybe the urls could go like this:

  • en.wiktionary.org/WikiD/Sun - Dictionary
  • en.wiktionary.org/WikiT/Sun - Thesaurus


Is it just me, or does Wiktionary just not work? I came across the listing for Irish, and it read, "1. A board game of the tables family." That was it. Worse yet, others had alt-lang linked it to the Catalan and Dutch translations meaning 'pertaining to Ireland'. A dictionary project, with a list of entries potentially in the millions, and with links in between like this, is too fiddly to work successfully. -- Kwekubo