A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Fiery Diamond's Avatar

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    Default When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    I'm feeling bewildered right now, because a simple word that I've used my entire life is apparently not even recognized as having the definition I've used for it, even as slang, according to the internet and its dictionaries, at least with my Googling skills.

    That word? Poky/Pokey.

    Now, I was familiar with the definition referring to slowness (though not the other definitions I've found). What astonished me was the apparent complete lack of "the property of an object with has pointy protrusions which can poke you" as a definition of poky. Such as, say, a sea urchin being poky. This has been in my lexicon since my childhood (I'm almost 33), and the apparent lack of this definition being even a nonstandard one is mind-blowing.

    1. Can anyone validate my use of this word with their own experience?
    2. Does anyone have any other examples of words they have suddenly found out nobody else uses the way they always have?
    3. How in the world is the most straightforward and obvious meaning of the word not one of its definitions?!

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    Colossus in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    I just looked on urbandictionary.com and in the second page of definitions for "pokey" I found:

    "When something pokes you repeatedly in the mouth or other area"

    Is that not close enough to your meaning? There are five pages of definitions there so I'm not going to go through them all, I leave that as an exercise for the reader!

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Where yinz from?

    I get a lot of mileage out of that term and its variants, including the synonym for prickly, with flippant disregard for what the dictionaries may say. It's just one of those words that comes to English from everywhere with a web of derivatives. "My poky uncle is in the pokey for poking around the poker club. Cops caught him with a poke full of cash poking out of his jacket after he poked a waiter with the poky end of a fireplace poker over some bad poke."
    “Rule is what lies between what is said and what is understood.”

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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Dictionaries are just books, they can't control us!
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    Dragon in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Quote Originally Posted by KillianHawkeye View Post
    Dictionaries are just books, they can't control us!
    And they also don't want to. Dictionaries openly admit that they reflect current word usage and do not mandate definitions.
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    And they also don't want to. Dictionaries openly admit that they reflect current word usage and do not mandate definitions.
    Well, the good ones do.
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    I had been led by context to believe that the term virulent meant "fast-spreading and quick to take effect" when instead it means "particularly harmful."
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    Dragon in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    Well, the good ones do.
    Maybe in France.

    Dictionaries document usage, and are not gatekeepers of language. French academies are gatekeepers of language.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Maybe in France.

    Dictionaries document usage, and are not gatekeepers of language. French academies are gatekeepers of language.
    I think by "do" he meant "openly admit to yadda yadda yadda" not "mandate blibbity blabbity"

    That is, he was pointing out that some dictionaries (like the earliest Webster's editions) do, in fact, try to mandate blibbity blabbity... and they suck, but still should be acknowledged as existing.
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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Fyraltari's Avatar

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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Actually I was pointing out that the Académie publishes (or pretends to, at any rate) a dictionnary that claims to set definitions. And that's bad.

    So you were both right!
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    I just looked on urbandictionary.com and in the second page of definitions for "pokey" I found:

    "When something pokes you repeatedly in the mouth or other area"

    Is that not close enough to your meaning? There are five pages of definitions there so I'm not going to go through them all, I leave that as an exercise for the reader!
    I don't think UD is talking about sea urchins...
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbalance View Post
    Where yinz from?
    Originally about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh, and have absolutely heard and used "pokey" like that too.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    On the tangental questions: I would generally think "has pointy parts" from "pokey"/"poky", but I just heard the slowness definition recently.
    I knew the story The Pokey Little Puppy, but I thought "pokey" meant "spotted" when I read it as a kid. It wasn't until someone was reading it to my kids and they explained the definition that I realized I had just miscomprehended it as a kid and carried that definition forward.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    It's just derived from a productive suffix. Adding -y onto a word is one of the ways to generate an adjectival form. It's likely not found in the dictionary because dictionaries rarely list each and every way the word can be altered.

    Here, check this: does your dictionary have a listing for "spotty"?
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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Languages are in a sense living constructs, and just as they play a role in forming us individually, we have the chance to leave our own marks on them reciprocally. So in most cases, when you ask if [x] is a word and someone answers "no," it's completely valid to reply, "well, now it is."

    Protip: Get one of those official-looking badge-wallets and every time someone calls you on a neologism, just flip it open to a badge that has your name and "WORDSMITH" on it.

    (Bonus points: Use comic sans with really bad kerning.)

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    Dragon in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Quote Originally Posted by aeolegion View Post
    (Bonus points: Use comic sans with really bad kerning.)
    What's keming?

    That joke is hilarious and I WILL DIE ON THIS HILL.
    Cuthalion's art is the prettiest art of all the art. Like my avatar.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    What's keming?
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: When the definition you've always used for a word isn't there

    Quote Originally Posted by Caledonian View Post
    It's just derived from a productive suffix. Adding -y onto a word is one of the ways to generate an adjectival form. It's likely not found in the dictionary because dictionaries rarely list each and every way the word can be altered.

    Here, check this: does your dictionary have a listing for "spotty"?
    Came here to say this. The reason you're unlikely to find "pokey" or "poky" as a stand-alone entry is because the word is inflection of "poke". Most languages some way to turn nouns and verbs into adjectives, in English typically by adding -y or -ish. Listing these separately is only worth the effort when significant morphological or semantic drift happens.

    Some languages have more inflections and allow for fancier constructions, which is why various word games accept base forms of words only.

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