Help:WildWords Style Guide

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Hello! Welcome to the Northwestern WildWords. This dictionary is a collaborative effort by students in Linguistics 363 to catalogue and define the unique slang, jargon, colloquialisms and phrases used in this speech community as a whole and within its many and varied subcommunities. As language is a continually evolving human tool, WildWords is in no way trying to prescribe or dictate how Northwestern individuals should speak. Rather, our goal is to describe the language currently in use as we see it. Due to the size and scope of the Northwestern Speech Community, WildWords also does not presume to include every word or connotation of a word that is used here. We also do not presume that every word will be familiar to every Northwestern student, given the scope of activities and communities on campus. There are far more words on the Northwestern campus than one group students could hope to fit into any dictionary. We have certainly tried to include the most information that we can, but if you feel that a particular sub-community has been particularly ignored, please let us know! We also encourage active participation on the discussion pages for each entry. In keeping with our descriptive and collective mission, entries can be added and edited by any Northwestern user with a NetID . To maintain uniformity and clarity of information, we ask that every entry follow both the WildWords Style Guide. As a group of students in Linguistics 363 we reserve the right to reformat or remove any such entries that do not comply to these standards. These style guides and entry layout forms were adapted from the foundations of guides made by previous classes. Thank you to the previous classes for starting these guides. This style guide was made as a revision and addition to the previous style guides made by previous classes. We have done our best to include every section necessary to make entries easier on students. Questions and concerns should be directed to Enjoy WildWords !

General considerations

In general, WildWords favors a minimalistic approach. Entries should not be more complex than necessary. Content should not be added unless it adds value for some identifiable group of users. Avoiding unnecessary clutter and complication aids in the portability of our data, and helps to ensure that our entries will be usable to as wide a community of users as possible. For the same reasons, it is expected that entries will maintain as high a level of consistency as is possible to do while still respecting the complexity of the lexicon.

New Entries

Please include categories in the following order. If you skip a category, still include the title, but leave the content blank.


Entry titles should be sized with = Category titles should be sized with ==

Entry Title/Spelling

Spelling of the term as commonly used in speech communities. If there are multiple spellings, please put entry title as the most common.

If necessary, include Alternative Spellings as the first category. Spellings should be listed in a comma separated list. This will allow any searches using these spellings to reach the appropriate page.

Trigger Warning/Content Warning

If the term or definition is related to sensitive content, please feel free to include a large “TW” or “CW” between the entry title and/or alternate spellings and the respelling.


The WildWords respelling system is found here. Please rewrite the dominant pronunciation using this respelling system. If there are multiple pronunciations, include them in a numbered list (vertical).

Part of Speech

This is the first information directly after the headword. This header always shows the part of speech. Parts of speech include: noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, conjunction, preposition, and interjection. Some entries can also be categorized as prefixes or idioms. For example, “Ch-” is often added to words associated with Chapin Residential College.

Pronunciation Example

WildWords uses a custom MediaWiki SoundCloud [widget] to play sound clips, which means the easiest method of uploading sound samples is to save the sound clip on the SoundCloud website and then display an audio file on the WildWords page. WikiMarkup code for audio files can be found on the WildWords Entry Layout page.


Definitions should be as concise and objective as possible.. That being said, if necessary, definitions may need to have more than two or three definitions as different student groups can understand words differently. In this situation, make sure to include the context for each definition (following the context guide below)

Definitions should be listed as 1., 2., 3. etc. in a list (vertical).

Types of definitions

Full definitions, which are preferred for English terms, explain the meaning a particular sense in detail. Glosses, which are preferred for non-English terms, simply point the user to one or more English translations of the term. For defining non-English words, glosses are strongly preferred. In general, a full definition should be provided only where a foreign-language term has no satisfactory English equivalent.

For English words, full definitions are strongly preferred. Even in the rare case of true synonymy, a gloss for an English term should be formatted as a definition.

A full definition should start with a capital letter, and should end with a period.

Example of a definition:

  • cat:

1. A domesticated species (Felis silvestris) of feline animal, commonly kept as a house pet.A simple gloss, though, should not be capitalized and should not end with a period.

Example of a gloss:

  • C’est la vie: (French) That’s life

Definition Formatting by Part of Speech

The key information should be placed as close to the beginning of the definition as grammar and elegance permit.

Verbs: Definitions of verbs should begin with "to".

  • Rush - To walk briskly.

Nouns: Definitions of nouns should begin with a definite or indefinite article.

  • Dog - A domesticated species of canine animal, commonly kept as a house pet.
  • Air - the invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth, a mixture mainly of oxygen and nitrogen.

Adjectives and Adverbs: Description starting with a gerund, participle or article/noun*Yellowish - Having a yellow color

  • Bright - A student with a sunny disposition
  • Early - Arrived before a set time

Metalanguage Formatting

Make sure to link any existing terms in Wildwords to the appropiate page. When referring to multiple definitions, use the format “In definition (1).” When referring to the entry title within the entry, use italics. This applies to example sentences.


The definitions of entries that are abbreviations should be the expanded forms of the abbreviations in gloss form. Where there is more than one expansion of the abbreviation these should be listed alphabetically to prevent the expanded forms being duplicated. The case used in the expanded form should be the usual one — do not capitalise words unless that is how the expanded form is usually written.

Where the expanded forms are entries that appear (or should appear) in WildWords , link them. Expanded forms that are encyclopedic entries should also be wikified and linked to the appropriate Wikipedia entry. When the expanded form does not merit an entry of its own link any appropriate component words and give a gloss (italicised, in parentheses) after the expansion explaining what the term means.

Who kNUw?

Formerly “Why It’s Wild” and “Usage”. If the definition of a particular entry does not fully encapsulate how the term exists within the context of NU, indicate that here. This section is your opportunity to indicate if a particular NU community uses the term, detail if a term has changed context/no longer serves its original purpose and overall include context, based on student experiences and in-crowd knowledge, that enriches one's understanding of the entry. Additionally, if there are multiple definitions and certain groups are associated with certain definitions, please indicate that here.

In order to provide contextual information that is representative of the larger NU community, or the group within which a particular term is used, initial fieldwork and/or follow-up research (in the instance of already existing terms) should be conducted to gauge this context. Shifts in usage/context should be documented via additions, not replacements.

Example sentences

Generally, every definition should be accompanied by a quotation illustrating the definition. If no quotation can be found, it is strongly encouraged to create an example sentence. Example sentences should:

  • be grammatically complete sentences, beginning with a capital letter and ending with a period, question mark, or exclamation point.
  • be placed immediately after the applicable numbered definition, and before any quotations associated with that specific definition.
  • be indented using the “#:” command placed at the start of the line.
  • not contain wikilinks (the words should be easy enough to understand without additional lookup)

Related Terms

Entries that include related WildWords terms should list the wikilink to the WildWords page for that page. This heading is meant for words that are either already entered in WildWords. Words should be listed under this heading in a bulleted list.


References are not necessary, but encouraged (when applicable) to help make a term more official. If a term can be found in Northwestern websites, magazines, or other sources, it is helpful to include them. References should be added in a separate header.

Any other websites that are connected to the word should be linked under the heading External Links, below the related terms.


For every entry going forward, there should be an electronic signature added at the bottom of the entry. For the signature, please input your name, year in school and the date the entry was created.


Quotation marks

WildWords favors the use of double quotation marks (" " or “ ”) rather than single ones (' ' or ‘ ’). Single quotes are normally used only when one quotation is enclosed within another. WildWords usage places any terminal punctuation outside of the quotation marks, unless it is actually part of the quote.


Parentheses should be used in definitions only for the purpose of identifying restrictions of the headword in the current sense, such as transitive verbs that require an object.


Please use the Oxford comma.

Interwiki Links

Please input an interwiki link if you think it will enhance the entry. If the entry would not be complete without the interwiki link, please include it.

Right hand side

Most content elements should be in the main (center) section of the page. Accepted items that may appear on the right-hand side:

  • Images
  • Video Examples
  • Usage Polls

When possible the width of right-hand side elements should be uniform so as to provide a "virtual" right-hand side column. Example wikimarkup can be found on the Entry Layout page.

Editing an Entry

To an edit an entry written by someone other than yourself, simply reorganize information to adhere to the current style guide as appropriate.

If information is included that is not dictated by the style guide, and cannot be reorganized to existing categories, consider its necessity. If it is completely necessary to understand the word, edit the style guide to create a new category. If it is not necessary, delete it.

Simple organization and spelling changes should be made without hesitation.

Deleting an Entry

If a word is redundant, delete it.

If a word is captured under another spelling, redirect it to the complete entry under the dominant spelling. Note: Differences in capitalization do not count as a different spelling.These are redundant.

Adding to an Entry

If you feel that there is a definition or category missing under an entry, feel free to add to it! Remember to follow the style guide in terms of what you add to the entry, following each section. Please do not delete any part of the entry during your addition. We do not want to erase history; we simply want to add to it.

Archiving an Entry

In the occasion when an entry no longer applies to any voice community on campus, the class can take a vote on archiving the entry. To pass, the class must vote over 50% to archive the entry and there should be a clear reason for doing so. Before archiving the entry into a different section, there must be a description at the bottom under the category Archived as to why the archive is being made.