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Five thousand, in various nroff troff extended versions of the Roman numerals. See also Z.

Italian abbreviation for Evviva! Evviva means `Long live.' An auspicious first entry (which this once was) for a glossary file.

In Spanish, Italian and various other languages, the letter w is called by a name that translates `double vee.' It seems to make more sense than double-yoo, but yoo and vee developed from different glyphs of the same Latin character.

The letter w was invented by Anglo-Saxon scribes and adopted on the continent. Later English scribes revived the wyn and started to use that instead of the w. Eventually, the w was reborrowed from the continent. In continental Europe, the letter had in fact been adopted primarily by speakers of Germanic languages and by the Normans (close). Romance-speakers often used gu, especially for words borrowed from Germanic. The different practices of Norman and non-Norman French scribes gave rise to English word pairs like warranty/guarantee. An alternate French practice, particularly with words of Latin origin, was to continue with the u/v, but to insert a silent intial h when necessary to indicate that an initial u represented a vowel.

Because of these practices, the letter w is somewhat exotic in many Romance languages (including French, Spanish, and Italian). In the Braille alphabet, the dot patterns are ordered systematically as one goes from a to v and then x, y, z. Braille was French.

Waste. An inauspicious first entry for a glossary file, which this was for a while.

Water. This comes in handy even in chemistry, particularly when space limitations occur (in a table, graph, or adscript, say). It costs nothing to use lower case, and avoid confusion with the symbol for tungsten (W).

Abbreviation and symbol for watt, a unit of power equal to one joule per second (1 J/s). Named in honor of James Watt (1736-1819), who made a number of improvements and inventions in steam engine design. Watt himself defined the power unit of horsepower (HP).

In electricity and electronics, one watt = 1 volt × 1 ampere (W = VA) as a unit. See, however, the KVA entry for a subtlety.


White. A personals abbreviation (part of a compact self-description) used in print ads. It doesn't normally refer to hair color. My local paper (The South Bend Tribune) still has a classification code (for the classified ads, y'know?) for personals (I imagine this is for lonely hearts, romance, I lost your phone number, please call, and I hate you ads), but I don't think anybody is placing any ads under that classification lately. Cf. WW [it doesn't indicate porcelain skin or pearly teeth].

Hey -- did you ever notice that W written upside-down looks like an M? Wow, mom! For more amazing insights, see the 4 magic M's entry.


W/, w/
With. (Without is W/O.)

Chemical element abbreviation for tungsten, after the name Wolfram. Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Washington (state). USPS abbreviation.

The Villanova Center for Information Law and Policy serves a page of Washington state government links. USACityLink.com has a page with quite a few city and town links for the state.

The jpeg archive of Washington University of St. Louis Missouri (MO) has an aerial view of Tacoma.

Washington is a community property state.

Western Australia.

A suffix on vacuum tube designations, indicating ``ruggedization.''

Japanese, `harmony.' (There's also the particle -wa, semantically related to -ga, which I don't dare attempt to explain.)

A Japanese particle that functions as a case marker for the nominative (subject case). It alternates with -ga (there must be a particle; any subject not marked by -wa must be marked by -ga).

The wa/ga distinction is approximately like the the/a distinction in English. In particular, -wa tends to mark subjects that have been introduced before -- possibly long before. Japanese also uses -wa demonstratively, like the English word this.

It is also used to mark abstractions or types. This is much like saying ``the brain'' in English to mean brains in general, construed singular. ``Any brain'' or ``every brain'' might work as well depending on context. In English, the pattern in this use of the is irregular (or perhaps its regularities are obscure and complicated). The Japanese use of -wa in this particular sense seems to be more like Spanish in its regularity.

Japanese nouns don't have grammatical number, and so far as I know there's is no distinction drawn between countable and uncountable, so these are not issues in Japanese as they are with English determiners.

The wa/ga distinction is not made in objects. The standard direct-object marker is just -o. [The different treatment of definiteness between subjects and objects is not so unusual. In Hebrew, the definite article ha gives less information for subjects than the form et ha that must be used with objects. (There's a famous example; I'm trying to remember it.)]

In transliteration to romaji, a particle like wa is sometimes written as a suffix, sometimes connected to the preceding word by a hyphen, and sometimes separated by a space. WAKE UP! One minor complication when discussing the particle -wa is that it's spelled with the hiragana character for ha, even though it is pronounced ``wa'' (and sometimes just ``a'').

The ha/wa sound difference is not as great as it would seem to speakers of English. The general reason can be traced to the fact that Japanese has fewer phonemes than English. One consequence of this (and of the far fewer consonant clusters, and of the mostly CV syllable structure) is that average word in Japanese has many more syllables than in English. The Japanese seem to compensate for this by speaking more syllables per minute. Another consequence of the fewer sounds is that one can vary the pronunciation more without creating ambiguity. (Just as well if you're going to talk faster.) The Japanese do seem to take advantage of this liberty.

For example, intervocalic g can be nasalized into ng. In particular, some Japanese pronounce onegai as onengai, and this is considered an acceptable variant, if it is noticed at all. (I refer to the single consonant ng: the ng of song or singer, not the ng of finger.) You can take advantage of this even where the Japanese do not. Specifically, Japanese has a single liquid phoneme, transcribed r, which Japanese-speakers pronounce fairly consistently like the Spanish single-r consonant. However, you can substitute a similar liquid -- English l, for example -- and many Japanese will have difficulty even detecting a difference, let alone detecting an error.

More relevant is the broad range of fricatives acceptable for the consonant in ha, hi, fu, he, and ho. You can say ``huton'' or ``hune'' with an English aitch for ``futon'' or ``fune,'' and only a purist might object. (Though this, at least, is a distinction that Japanese actually tend to be conscious of. There's a bit more on this at the tsu entry.) The essential point is that the place of articulation of the consonant is vague, and may be bilabial. This is reinforced by the fact that kana symbols for syllables beginning in b or p (voiced and unvoiced bilabial plosives) are created by adding diacritical marks to the kana for the corresponding h (or f) syllables. (For example, ba is ha with the usual voicing mark top right; pa is ha with a tiny circle top right.)

In summary, the h of ha can be bilabial. The w of wa, on the other hand, is a voiced bilabial. (Or labio-velar -- please let's not get into that.) Hence, the only essential difference between ha and wa is one of voicing. (And as long as you're asking: no, I don't think I've heard -wa ever pronounced -hwa, but my exposure is limited.)

Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. See discussion at WAC.

Women's Army Auxiliary CorpS. Original official abbreviation. See discussion at WAC.

Woman's Auxiliary to the AIME. Founded in 1916 (or 1917 or 1919, according to different official pages). It is still in existence under the same name, though now membership is ``open to all spouses or family members of AIME members, science teachers, or anyone affiliated with support industries of AIME.'' (AIME is a bit conservative about organizational renaming.)

WAAIME does education-related charitable or promotional work -- funding book and library resources, and giving educational financial aid. It annually ``awards scholarships totaling more than $100,000 to students pursuing mining, metallurgical, or petroleum professions.'' The thing they do that has the highest humor coefficient, however, is sponsor an ``essay/poem contest ... to encourage students and teachers to read, think and write about useful minerals in their everyday lives.'' It's open to students in elementary and secondary schools. The theme for the 2001-2002 contest was ``My Most Useful Mineral.'' More than 10% of submitted entries won. ``Salt encompasses many things, / The oceans, relaxation aides, and chicken wings.'' ``Amazonite gives stamina, faith and compassion, / Comes in green to blue-green, the latest in fashion....'' The 2003-2004 contest has been cancelled. Darn, I was going to submit the poem I copied into the I (Iodine) entry.

WAshington (State) Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Wide-Area Augmentation System.

Western (Canada) Association of Broadcast Engineers.

Japanese, `quiet dignity.'

Wabi, WABI
Windows Application Binary Interface. A Microsoft Windows emulator (PWI) running in a Unix Windows environment. From Sun Microsystems; licensed by IBM for AiX.

Waste Acceptance Criteria. Term in environmental assessment reports.

Oh, you know who runs that racket. The fix is in. It's all based on SAT (Sludge Aptitude Test) scores.

Western Athletic Conference.

Women's Army Corps. A WWII organization that served as a kind of ``Ladies' Auxiliary'' of the US Army before women were allowed to join on a more equal basis. WAC was pronounced ``whack,'' and the term was also used to refer to the conscripts, so WAC was also ``the WACs.'' (For an example of this usage, recall these lines from the Cheap Trick song ``Surrender'':
Father says "Your mother's right, she's really up on things.
Before we married, mommy served in the WACs in the Philippines."
Now I had heard the WACs recruited old maids for the war.
But mommy isn't one of those, I've known her all these years.
Better yet, don't recall it.)

In fact, the corps was originally designated the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps and apparently abbreviated WAACs, but eventually the ``Auxiliary'' was dropped and WAC (no ess) became the official acronym, possibly following popular usage. I'd have to do a little work to track down the precise chronology, but that's my best understanding as of now.

The World Archaeological Congress. It ``is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization and is the only archaeological organisation with elected global representation. Its programs are run by members who give their time in a voluntary capacity. Membership is open to archaeologists, heritage managers, students and members of the public.'' The World Archaeological Congress holds an International Congress every Julian leap year. The WAC was founded at the instigation of Prof. Peter J. Ucko, who died in June 2007.

Writing Across the Curriculum. It's something you do with a broad summary of the curriculum and a can of spray paint. It's ``a practical and theoretical stance that views writing as both a means of communicating and a way of making knowledge, thus implicitly acknowledging the need to help students improve their writing and to become active learners and makers of knowledge within their own disciplines.'' Uh, much obliged, thank you.

``One way to facilitate critical thinking [whatever that is]. ... [A m]ovement to broaden the scope of student writing beyond the confines of the English Department. [It's b]ased on the notion that writing increases subject area knowledge. [It's also b]ased on the notion that the subject area provides a necessary context for writing instruction.''

This reminds me of my experience trying to find out what ``AL'' (action learning) might be. At the time, I thought the circumstantial, almost evasive description was a symptom of business journalism.

Okay, after poking around some more, I've concluded that WAC is the practice of including inappropriate writing assignments in courses outside the English department, and the justification of this malpractice. WAC will take inches off your waistline and perform other wonders. Most of the people who advocate WAC sincerely believe that the process of writing is so intrinsically educational that adding writing assignments to a course is not an onerous distraction. (See WTL.) If I seriously believed this, I wouldn't assign any calculations. I'd assign homeworks like ``Think critically about the electronic eigenstates of the hydrogen atom. Consider alternative opinions. Present arguments for and against. Remember that in the real world there are no `right answers'.''

As long as we're going to have WAC, however, I think it'd only be fair to also have ``calculating across the curriculum.'' Students would be assigned calculations to back up the airy claims in their essays.

[Chicken in 19c.-tech truss]

West Australian Centre for Rural and Remote Medicine.

Wacky Patent of the Month
Recognized at this site.

Wireless Access Communication[s] System.

Women's Army CorpS, let's call it. Vide WAC supra.

World Anti-Doping Agency. Drug testing was the responsibility of the International Olympic Committee's Medical Commission starting in 1967. Widespread feeling that the commission's work was insufficient to the mounting scale of the doping problems led to international pressure on the IOC, which created WADA in 1999.

Since that time it's been headed by Dick Pound. Doping is detected by means of urinalysis.

West African Development Bank.

Western Air Express. Western Air Express was formed in July 1925 with six Douglas M-2 mailplanes and 20 employees. It provided mail and passenger service in 1926 between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City via Las Vegas. In 1930, WAE reached agreement with Transcontinental Air Transport to merge and form Transcontinental and Western Air Inc. (TWA). Although the deal fell apart (or something; I still haven't sorted out the company history), TAT kept its new name.

Widely Accessible Enterprise Management Solution. A ``complete ERP solution'' from Maxema Technologies.

West African Economic and Monetary Union.

ICAO designator for Flamenco Airways Inc.

Women in the (US) Air Force. Name for organization and for a member. Organized after WWII (see USAF), and since disbanded.

Work Approval Form.

The ``Palestine News Agency.'' (I haven't tracked down what it's supposed to mean yet.)

[Image of wafer]

A slice of single-crystal semiconductor with electronic circuits fabricated onto it. In anything less than wafer-scale integration (WSI), the circuits are repeated in multiple locations, and each segment of the wafer, after dicing, will be a distinct chip. The only reason I've bothered to state the obvious here is that it gives me an excuse to illustrate with a pretty gif at left depicting a wafer with circuit segments before dicing. (Gif is courtesy of Siemens, <http://www.siemens.de/Semiconductor/02_Products/PRODGIFS/WAFER.GIF> .)

Warm And Fuzzy Feeling. The usual implication is that this emotion cannot be experienced without a suspension of intellection.

Scottish: wave or flutter (intr. v. and n.).

Western Australian Farmers Federation.

German, 'weapon' (masculine noun).

Pejorative adjective from first acronym WAFF above.

Elmer Fudd's pronunciation of raft.

To drift gently on air or water currents, or to cause to do so.

Wild-Ass Guess. Cf. SWAG.

Washington [state] Academy of General Dentistry. A constituent of the AGD.

Wageningen UR
`Wageningen Universiteit en Researchcentrum. `Wageningen University and Research Center.' Its main strengths are in the Life Sciences. Wageningen is in the Netherlands, on the Lower Rhine.

Wageningen University (Wageningen Universiteit) was founded in 1918 as the Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen (literally `Wageningen Agricultural High School'), continuing the earlier Rijksland- en tuinbouwschool Wageningen (something like `Wageningen Royal Country and Horticulture School'). It was called the Landbouwuniversiteit Wageningen (`Wageningen Agricultural University'; you should be getting the hang of this by now) between 1986 and 2000, when it assumed its current name.

wages of sin
It's not a union scale. Different sins receive a different compensation or dispensation or whatever it is. There seem to be a lot of specializations; we'll be adding to this entry as our research team reports in new findings.

  1. Hypocrisy:
    Regular pay: the admiration of those you despise.
    Benefits: your real friends doubt your sincerity.
  2. Bank robbery:
    Regular pay: money.
    Benefits: If you do it right, you can contemn the amateurs mentioned at the invisible ink and future cell-phone-related entries.

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. They had to come up with a name that unavoidably suggests dogs?

West Anglia Great Northern Railway.

Western Association of Graduate Schools.

``The members of WAGS are accredited institutions of high education in the western United States and Canada that offer Master's and Doctoral degrees. WAGS is a regional association affiliated with the U.S. Council of Graduate Schools.''

WAGs, Wags
Wives And GirlfriendS. Implicitly, the WAGs of British soccer players, who were skewered viciously in the press for going out and having a little fun during the 2006 World Cup.

German, 'choice, election.' The verb wählen is to `vote, elect, choose.' A verb wele is attested in English manuscripts of the fourteenth century. That word, possibly borrowed from Old Norse, is used in the sense of `select.' A cognate wale (noun and verb) with similar meanings still survives in Scotland and northern England. The words are more distantly related to English will, German wollen, etc.

Washington Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. An affiliate of NAICU.

Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. An affiliate of NAICU. Offices on W. Washington Avenue. Look, would it have been that hard to come up with an acronym that wasn't already taken? All the big vowel states managed to avoid NAICU namespace collisions. (Alabama has AAICU, ... Alaska has no NAICU members, alas. See the NSF entry for a hypothetical reason. There's ``The Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities,'' ICI for Indiana, and IAICU for Iowa. Idaho has only two NAICU member schools as of fall 2003. There's AICUO for Ohio, OICU for Oklahoma, oh don't you cry for me, OICA for Oregon.)

World Association for Infant Mental Health. ``WAIMH's mission involves promoting ...'' the obvious, pretty much. It's not a profound defect, but it is a fault: WAIMH and some associated organizations have a little difficulty with the concept of a mission statement. A mission statement states a mission. Statements of what the mission ``involves'' or what the members are ``concerned with'' (in ``Purpose of KAIMH'') are of interest, and may illuminate the motivations behind the mission, but they do not belong in the mission statement. The problem is not just formal and logical. If ``mission involves promoting'' can be replaced by ``mission is to promote,'' failure to do so is a sign that the author or authors of the statement were inattentive.

The organization has official names in Spanish, French, and German: Asociación Mundial Para La Salud Mental Infantil, Association Mondiale de Santé Mentale du Nourrison, Internationale Gesellschaft für Seelische Gesundheit in der frühen Kindheit.

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. An IQ test originally devised by David Wechsler in the 1950's. [Pronounced ``wayce.''] The original tests were also called the Wechsler-Bellevue Scale, after Wechsler and his affiliation, Bellevue Hospital. 1996 was the centennial of David Wechsler's birth, and advances in IQ testing stand as a continuing rebuke to the notion that, with intelligence, things improve over time.

The scores on Wechsler subtests are scaled to a mean of 10 and a standard deviation of 3. They combine (and evidently rescale by a factor of 1/2) to get an overall IQ score with a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15.

This test is not used as widely, but it's faster. This one takes longer.


West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Cf. EAIS.

Wide-Area Information Server. Refers to a particular protocol that has essentially been superseded (overwhelmed, actually) by the WWW.

It was invented by Brewster Kahle, who eventually sold it to America OnLine (AOL) for $15 million. I really can hardly believe this -- I can't figure out what part of WAIS is sellable. (But more power to him!) Oh, well. This according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 March 1998, in an article by Jeffrey Selingo on Kahle's subsequent venture, a nonprofit archiving of the web (the Internet Archive), and a suite of search tools, Alexa, that evolved out of that effort. Alexa has since been sold to Amazon, but still donates its archiving crawls (two months apiece) to the Internet Archive, with a six-month delay. Since the beginning of 1999, only text has been archived, and no images.

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, III. Current (1999) version of WAIS. Most commonly used IQ test for US adults.

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Revised (WAIS tests after substantial revision of 1981). [Pronounced ``wayce-are.'']

Certain terms are used to characterize the scores, of population fractions computed on the assumption that the distribution is normal (the mean and standard deviation are adjusted to maintain mean 100, standard deviation 15, despite changing raw scores that depend on questions selected).

WAIS-R Score Interpretation
Designation IQ range population fraction so designated
Very Superior >130 2.2%
Superior 120-129 6.7%
Bright average 110-119 16.1%
Average 90-109 50.0%
Low average 80-89 16.1%
Borderline intellectual functioning 70-79 6.7%
Mild retardation 50-69 2.2%
Moderate retardation 35-49
Severe retardation 20-34
Profound retardation <20

The verb wait is intransitive, although there is an established idiom ``wait your turn.'' There's a perfectly serviceable transitive verb await, but with some exceptions (like ``await further developments''), it seems to be regarded as stiff or formal. Thus, what would be the direct object of await is normally drafted into a prepositional phrase, to function as an adverbial modifying wait. As recently as the 1990's, the standard preposition was for. To await clearance was to wait for clearance, for example. One waits for an event, and the object of the preposition for is either the event, or an object (person or thing) whose arrival, availability, readiness or whatever is the awaited event.

Alternatively, the verb wait often takes a prepositional phrase in on. Traditionally, this construction had a different meaning and the preposition on took a different kind of object. To wait on a person is to serve that person. (See Waiting. Or read it; I don't think it's been made into a movie yet. Sorry.)

Sometime in the mid-1990's, I began to hear people in fast-food restaurants (you know -- hot food-item retailers) saying things like ``I'm waiting on the fries.'' Under the old rules, the ``on'' should have been ``for.'' I don't know if fast-food workers were the vectors that transmitted this language disorder to the wider public, but wherever it broke out originally, it's epidemic now.

Waiting: the true confessions of a waitress, by Debra Ginsberg, copyright 2000. (It was a bestseller; the paperback came out with an epilogue, © 2001.)

One topic not discussed in the book is cigarette smoking (she does discuss cigars), even though it is an important seating issue. My impression is that most waiters and waitresses smoke, though rarely do they reek. More at the non entry. (I mean the entry for non.)

Other entries of this glossary that cite Waiting:

  1. black bra
  2. BO
  3. Hold the onions.
  4. LBI
  5. paddy wagon
  6. restaurant virgin
  7. wait
  8. wait staff
  9. WANT

wait staff, waitstaff
Yeah, it's an ugly locution. It occurs primarily in help-wanted ads and signs. Some restaurants probably use it to cover their legal ass, but certainly not all. At Panorama, the last time it was still in business, I noticed a paper sign in the traying area that warned the ``ladies'' to do or not do something or other. After they hired a waiter, a little caret and the text ``and gentlemen'' was scrawled in. FWIW, the proprietor at the time was a former waiter. At Nick's, Richard now works some hours as a host and some as a waiter. When there are no men working as waiters, he refers to the waitstaff as the ``girls,'' just as the girls themselves do. (The term is not used in the strictest sense. Some of these ``girls'' are white-haired grandmothers.) I guess the take-away here is that restaurant people have too many real problems to deal with, to spend too much time worrying about the finest niceties of political correctness.

Some restaurants might use ``waitstaff'' because it's shorter than ``waiter or waitress'' or ``waiters and waitresses'' or whatever. Many probably use it because elegant language is not a specialty of the house. It wouldn't be a problem if the sexually marked (``gendered'') term waitress were not so common, because then waiter might be confidently regarded as an unmarked term. Just be glad that such gendered occupational terms are the exception rather than the rule in English. We have but a sample, a taste, of the problems and awkwardness that are widespread in languages like French, Spanish, and German.

The obvious word server, although indifferently male or female, has some problems of its own: some people dislike the associations of serve, particularly the word servant. Also, serving food is only one part of waiting table, and server is the natural word for the those who, in some restaurants, do a part of the serving that waiters and waitresses don't do. (And in small restaurants that are not dysfunctional, anybody in the ``front of the house'' will water tables and do similar stuff to take some of the pressure off any waiters or waitresses who are headed for the weeds.)

There are subtle indications, moreover (I seem to recall a suggestion in that direction in Waiting), of a semantic distinction that would make the term wait staff somewhat useful and hence not so ugly. That is, ``wait staff'' can be taken to comprise not just waiters and waitresses but other restaurant employees in the front of the house, particularly busboys, bartenders, and hosts (hosts and hostesses, maîtres d', seaters, greeters, choose your term).

Once past the want ads, in any case, one does not yet find the restaurant business to be roiled by sexual correctness. Managers at most restaurants do seem to be genuinely indifferent to whether they hire waiters or waitresses -- their problem is usually finding enough. (Certainly the ancient complaint about women not making a career of it doesn't matter: waiting is highly transient work.) On the other hand, most of the waiters and waitresses in the local restaurants are in fact waitresses (or waiters in convincing drag, I suppose). It seems that all of the front of the house is becoming increasingly feminized, with busgirls tending to replace busboys, and hostesses replacing hosts even on the night shift. The usual collective term for waiters and waitresses is ``the girls'' (as noted earlier). The last maps I saw of table assignments were labeled ``two-girl assignments, three-girl assignments'' and so forth.

In Plainville, USA, an anthropological study of a small, isolated farming town in the Midwest, there's a discussion of occupations, and naturally for the era (pre-WWII), the available options were more restricted for women than for men. Those options were further narrowed by societal pressures.

... ``Working out'' (housework) is considered undignified. It is not thought good for a girl to train herself for secretarial or office work in a large city. A few girls do get jobs ``outside,'' [out of the Plainville area] in factories and offices, or as waitresses, housemaids, and hotel maids, but with much difficulty because their families (and in a sense the whole community) must know much about the job in advance before feeling that their daughters will be ``safe.'' Parents of a girl doing housework for a city family sometimes boast about how ``rich'' the family is and how well they ``treat'' the girl, so that people at home will not think of her as simply ``working out.'' When a girl becomes a ``hasher'' (waitress) or hotel maid in Largetown or elsewhere, as some lower-class girls do, she is generally assumed to have become a prostitute also.

I was reminded of this when I read about a case study by the psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley, of a 20-year-old woman he referred to as ``Roberta.'' It was published in The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt To Clarify Some Issues About the So-Called Psychopathic Personality (St. Louis: C.V. Mosby Co., 2/e 1950), as the second of twelve chapters, one per person, in a subsection illustrating ``The Disorder in Full Clinical Manifestation.''

Roberta became his patient in the early 1940's, so her experiences coincide closely with the period of the first Plainville study. She left her parents' home one day without a word, going off to a distant town to visit a boyfriend who turned out to be away. Perhaps there was nothing in her behavior (before she became a petty thief and forger) that would have been strange if she'd been a girl from a poor family and had no home to go to, except that she hardly cared what anyone thought. She bumped around briefly, then took a bus to Charlotte, North Carolina. ``Reaching Charlotte, she had little trouble finding small jobs in restaurants and stores. She supported herself for several days by working but found her funds barely provided for room and food. She thereupon began to spend the nights with various tipsy soldiers, travelling salesmen, and other men who showed inclination to pick her up. With all these she had sexual intercourse.''

Wait! You've got ads!
A more accurate AOL greeting than the usual ``Welcome! You've got mail!''

Informative variant:

Wait, sucker! Your welcome screen and email inbox are infested with AOL ads!

Wallpaper of Sound
Disco Rocks!   DISCO Rocks!   Disco ROCKS!   DISCO ROCKS!   Disco 
Rocks!   DISCO Rocks!   Disco ROCKS!   DISCO ROCKS!   Disco Rocks!
   DISCO Rocks!   Disco ROCKS!   DISCO ROCKS!   Disco Rocks!   DIS
CO Rocks!   Disco ROCKS!   DISCO ROCKS!   Disco Rocks!   DISCO Roc
ks!   Disco ROCKS!   DISCO ROCKS!   Disco Rocks!   DISCO Rocks!   
Disco ROCKS!   DISCO ROCKS!   Disco Rocks!   DISCO Rocks!   Disco 
ROCKS!   DISCO ROCKS!   Disco Rocks!   DISCO Rocks!   Disco ROCKS!
   DISCO ROCKS!   Disco Rocks!   DISCO Rocks!   Disco ROCKS!   DIS
CO ROCKS!   Disco Rocks!   DISCO Rocks!   Disco ROCKS!   DISCO ROC
KS!   Disco Rocks!   DISCO Rocks!   Disco ROCKS!   DISCO ROCKS!   

In 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 minute lengths. Volume and academic discounts also available. FM 95.9 in Youngstown, Ohio, claims to be the home of ``ALL THE HITS!'' I find this conceptually challenging.

Not me!

Wide-Angle Large Reflective Unobscured System. At this point in the glossary, I should probably point out that this entry is entirely serious. At least, I am completely serious. If there's a joke here it was someone else's.

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been. Famous line from the Grateful Dead song ``Truckin'.''

World Association for Laser Therapy. Such a jaunty, out-patient sort of name!

Workload Assessment Monitor. A strain gauge of sorts.

Wroclawska Akademia Medyczna. I suppose this expansion may have been the official name at one time, since it accounts for the abbreviation, but U never know. It is now Akademia Medyczna we Wroclawiu. It traces its history back to August 1945, when it was constituted primarily by faculty displaced from Jan Kazimierz University in L'vov.

Web Application Meets Bricks And Mortar. Cf. DOTBAM.

Hey, suffragette!

World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

Wide Area Network. May cover a region as wide as a nation. Usually has point-to-point links.

World Animal Network.

White Anglo-Norman Gendarme. A personals-ad abbreviation. Well, ``wang'' occasionally occurs in personal ads; I imagine that this is usually what it means.

I just received some unsolicited email offering electronic devices, and the sender's company name included ``Wangma.'' I thought that was kind of funny, so I've decided to share.

wan smile
Duffer's victory jig.

Wages And Not Tips. A defunct extremist group ``whose members leave business cards with their checks stating that they don't believe in tipping. According to this group, employers should pay their employees fairly and spare the customer the agony of trying to calculate and then fork over a tip. Get a life, I [Debra Ginsberg, in Waiting] say. And watch your back on the way out of the restaurant...'' (p. 32 in the paperback edition).

I have to admit that I was slightly skeptical when I read this, particularly after a Google search turned up only one mention of the group, and that one was in a review of Ginsberg's book. It's nonfiction, but it's published by HarperCollins. (I did run across a clearly nonfictional Anti-Tipping Society of America that flourished in the first quarter of the 20th century.)

So you can imagine my surprise a few years ago when I received an email complaining that this entry was ``seriously misleading,'' and confirming all the details of Debra Ginsberg's description quoted above. My correspondent also judged that the ``members of W.A.N.T. were [praise the tense] certainly not extremists in any sense of the word.'' Well, I didn't call them terrorists. They were more like people who steal things for themselves not because they want to break the law but because they don't believe in private property. The group certainly never represented more than an extreme minority of diners, and in this sense its extremeness was a welcome thing. All one could ask was that they had become a more extreme minority more quickly.

According to my helpful informant, the group was founded by Richard Busemeyer in December 1987. Here is the text on the card (bifold, business size) that members of his organization distributed:

   About Your Tip
Please do not be offended because you have not received a monetary tip. It has nothing to do with your service.

I am a member of WANT (Wages And Not Tips). We are against the antiquated practice of tipping because:

   It is unfair to employees who are underpaid and, therefore, must depend on degrading themselves for tips.
   It is unfair to consumers who are made to feel that tipping is a necessary part of certain businesses, even though the service provided is due the customer at the posted prices.
   Unfair to the government (all of us) because taxes are often not paid on tips received.

It is unfortunate that you must suffer until the practice is changed and you are paid fair wages.

Please show this to your employer. Tell him you don't want handouts, you want a paycheck.

Thank you.
W.A.N.T. Wages and not tips

(There was a Cincinnati post office box address.)

In 1988, the US minimum wage for restaurant staff ``eligible for tips'' was $2.01 an hour. By 2010 it had soared to $2.13 an hour. (I double checked: Kellie showed me her pay statement.) At the local (Northern Indiana) family restaurants, the de jure minimum wage is also the de facto maximum wage. The IRS assumes that waiters earn tips equal to 12.5% of sales billed to their patrons. (Before you do the arithmetic, you may want to read the tipout entry.)

I remember once after a long afternoon at a Tempe pub, my Mancunian friend S. tossed a clearly inadequate quantity of change on the table and it dawned on me that he had performed no calculation. Some people seem to leap from the correct proposition that tipping is an approximate science to the fantasy that it is nonquantitative. (His wife, who once worked as a waitress, was there at the time; I'm pretty sure that his poor tipping habits weren't the main cause of their eventual divorce, but it probably didn't help.)

Ginsberg reports: ``I've actually seen fights break out over which country, France or Germany, has the cheapest diners.'' (Page 40; she considers and dismisses the ignorance alibi.)

For the first couple of years after Bernard Shaw moved to London, he managed to avoid holding a job. His first regular employment there was in 1879, when he spent some months working for the Edison Telephone Company. In the preface to his second novel, The Irrational Knot, he explains that he derived some enjoyment from the discomfiture of visitors, who were uncertain whether they ought to tip him after he demonstrated the operation of the telephone for them.

One suspects that he enjoyed their discomfiture in part because of his own severe shyness, described in the preface to Immaturity. (If you've never seen a GBS play between covers, you may not realize that most of his works were written as excuses for prefaces.)

(Before you judge all this discomfiture and shyness too harshly, recognize that the events and circumstances under discussion took place in the Victorian era, the high point in concern for propriety. By ``concern'' I mean that propriety was understood to be the larger part of morality.)

Returning home for the Summer at the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, as the Hogwarts Express pulls into the station, Harry gives his best friends his phone number. To Ron, a pureblood wizard, he has to give some clarifying information (is it okay if I call it a ``tip''?): ``This is called a telephone number. I told your dad how to use a telephone last summer -- he'll know.''

Wire ANTenna.

Weak Anthropic Principle. See Martin Gardner: ``WAP, SAP, FAP, and PAP,'' New York Review of Books, May 8, 1987.

Wireless Application Protocol. Used for passing nonvoice data between a (digital) mobile phone and the internet. Enables browsing on a small screen (of downloaded maps, say), remote device control, and other spiffy stuff. Documents downloaded via WAP have formatting indicated using WML tags, much as documents retrieved via HTTP use HTML.

A search engine adapted for ease of use via WAP is WapItOut.

Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Western (US) Association of Pre-Law Advisors. Are you supposed to think of ``whiplash'' and ambulance chasers? For other US regional pre-law advising organizations, see the list at SWAPLA.

WAshington POst. One of the most important newspapers in the US. Back in 1984, the Washington Post Company bought Stanley Kaplan's test-prep company (for pennies -- a paltry 4.5 billion pennies). Kaplan, Inc., had revenues of 2.3 billion dollars in 2008, and the Washington Post is one of the most financially secure newspapers in the country. There's some more information on the newspaper at the entry for WP.

World Administrative Radio Conference.

In my limited experience, it seems that the dominant sense of this word shifted over the second half of the twentieth century, from an item of furniture to a collectivity of clothing. Anyway, here are various meanings:
  1. A piece of furniture for hanging clothes. A free-standing closet with one or two doors and a rail or hooks. It's usually tall enough to hang an ankle-length dress.
  2. A piece of furniture for holding a TV set, with a door or two, tall enough so things placed on top will be forgotten when you check out, with a rail and problematical hangers, and enough clearance so that at least a tank top can hang free. Please fill out the dry-cleaning form.
  3. A collection of clothing. When a woman says ``I have nothing to wear,'' it's this wardrobe that gets to say ``so what am I, chopped liver?'' Yeah, I had the same kinky thought.

Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. A nonprofit entity founded in 1925 to ``promote, encourage, and aid scientific investigation and research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison'' (UW). It's located inland.

The old WARF page is still accessible.

Japanese: `disposable chopstick[s].' The general word for chopsticks is hashi, and wari means `break.' Disposable chopsticks are made of wood. Plastic chopsticks are considered reusable. I feel better now about washing my plastic cutlery sometimes.

Until the 1980's, about half the disposable chopsticks used in Japan were produced domestically. I'm not sure, but I imagine the rest came mostly from Korea or North America. Then China started supplying them at a much lower price: one to two yen -- less than one or two US cents -- per pair. Does that include a neat paper wrapper that you can fold into a chopstick rest?

Either way, by 2006, Japanese were using 25 billion pairs per year -- about 200 pair per capita per annum -- over 90% from China. In 2005, Chinese producers started raising prices in response to increased wood supply prices. The PRC government imposed a 5% tax on wooden chopstick exports, and warned that it would eventually ban waribashi exports altogether. (The Japanese newspapers Mainichi and Nihon Keizai reported that the cut-off might occur as early as 2008.)

I suppose that fractionally, 50% price increases are more shocking than the gas-price increases we've seen in the same period, but this still seems like a sandstorm in a ricebowl to me. If this were a news article, a few more lines would write themselves -- search for alternate suppliers (Russia, Vietnam, Indonesia), shift to bamboo, blah blah blah. Elementary economics isn't a required high-school subject, so the newspapers teach it on a daily basis. Plastic chopsticks cost about 100 yen a pair, and can be reused about 130 times, according to a spokesman for the Osaka-based restaurant-chain operator Marche Corp., which switched its 760 outlets to plastic in February 2006 after testing various after testing various alternatives. Don't soap and water cost too?

War is not the answer.
It isn't? Oh -- you were thinking of a different question!

warm body
A person employed primarily for his or her unskilled presence. A baby-sitter for equipment. The first time I encountered this term it was in connection with a tandem Van de Graaff accelerator. For some reason the building that housed it had to be occupied at all times. I've also heard the term used to describe students during their early presence in a research lab. Although they're not immediately useful, the hope and sometimes even the design is that they will learn something and eventually become useful.

Sorry, this one doesn't work with the daily mirror.

War of the Words
The twilight struggle of the sciences and would-be sciences.

The word war, like the cold war, began during the last stages of the last world war. Large parts of the German lexical apparatus were dismantled and reassembled in the new enemy camps, recruited willy-nilly into the new war effort. Members of the Frankfurt school were given American citizenship, and many frankfurters were bought outright by the CIA (q.v.). Grievous two-page-long extended adjective constructions were quietly ``forgotten,'' though the authors had shown no signs of remorse.

The infusion of German word technology had varied but deep effects. For example, ``characteristic vector'' was definitively replaced by the superior ``eigenvector,'' and the clumsy, incomprehensible ``social sciences'' has begun to be superseded by the graceful, selbstverständliche ``Geisteswissenschaften.'' This is the kind of word that can make you proud of your work, no matter how humble the work really ought to make you feel. Words like Heideggerian, Freudian, and Schadenfreudian have enriched technical vocabulary by providing synonyms for obscurantist, sexual and nyah-nyah that are precise and dignified. The metric system has been introduced, and now the measure of words is taken accurately in gleaming modern meters, instead of stinky feet. (Similarly, weighty literary output is reckoned in kilograms, instead of the board-feet used in an earlier, more superficial time.)

Eventually, word warriors came to the startling realization that foreign words are unknown in the languages of adoption. It was realized that this is not a disadvantage but an opportunity: a foreign word can be regarded as a tabula rasa [Latin term, pronounced ``tucker,'' meaning `dry bucket']. That is, an authentic sequence of letters that constitute a foreign word, just as they are not (indeed, generally cannot be) pronounced as in the original language, also can be assigned fanciful meanings and nuances that did not exist in the original language. This idea was put most famously into practice with Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, reinvented by C. P. Loomis in his translation Community and Society (Lansing: Michigan St. U. P., 1957) of Ferdinand Tönnies's Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (1887). (Tönnies is spelled Toennies in German when ö is unavailable. ``Tonnies'' is a misspelling.)

(You know, I don't want to interrupt the careful logic of this intricate argument, but right around now I'm hoping that you've visited the floating signifier entry.)

[column] Today, the war consumes ever-increasing quantities of precious national intellectual resources, in a never-ending race for the illusory security of the ``respectability high ground.'' For example, after organic chemistry revolutionized table-talk with the cis-trans buzz-dichotomy, sociological word wizards working without sleep rigged up etic-emic to reëstablish parity. Similarly, when Comte, knowing the proverbial small Latin and less Greek, combined the two in the transgenic coinage ``sociology,'' he established a standard of etymologic mischief unequaled until Electrical Engineering answered: first with electrocute and, finally and definitively, with television--whose language-destructive megatonnage is unquestioned and unrivaled.

It has been computed that current stockpiles of hot air and smoke are enough to toast the literate world's remaining gray matter to a cinder six and a half times over, and impose a mental ``nuclear winter'' longer than Andy Warhol's movie ``Empire.'' Nevertheless, terrifying new words continue to be mass-produced. In this balance of terrible words, there is not an exact parity, but the opponent sides have different weaknesses. For example, physics has a near monopoly on whimsy, while sociology edges out electrical engineering for acronyms -- well-named ``the concussion grenades of semiotics'' in the popular expression. This balance of terrible is well-characterized as ``MAD,'' to borrow the expression of war historian Robert Strange McNamara.

As the word race continues to escalate, still more dangerous locutions are invented and quickly put into the field. Sometimes, in the rush to keep up, corners are cut in the certification process. The tragic incident involving [CENSORED], which was quickly withdrawn from journals, has been a sobering lesson to us all. (Do not attempt to speak this word in your own mouth! A trained CPR specialist must be present!) Accomplished polyglot linguists have been known to bite themselves badly during alpha testing of powerful neologisms. Even now, not all details of the SartreMañanaWeltanschauungshello,world particle project debacle have yet been revealed. Maybe we don't want to know.

If you've read this far, you may need stronger insomnia medicine. Try Husserl's contemptibly ignorant, condemnably stentorian, and widely admired The Crisis of European Sciences. If you want to know the etymology of Geisteswissenschaften, see the calque entry.

War of the Worlds
A festival for W alliterators. The original story was a novel by H. G. Wells, and adapted for radio by Orson Welles (on Mischief Night 1938) [ftnt. 36]. The setting was changed from England to New Jersey, and a lot of people got very scared when it was broadcast. It's considered a classic of mass hysteria. Every few minutes, an announcer would break in to mention that the news-like reporting was actually part of a fictional radio program, but there were a lot of people with whom this didn't register.

To be fair, I think it was confusing because the story started out as a series of intermittent news flash interruptions in a music format entertainment. The whole thing had the authentic feel of the disorder surrounding a mounting disaster.

For a better account, try Hadley Cantril's The invasion from Mars: a study in the psychology of panic: with the complete script of the famous Orson Welles broadcast.

Although press accounts at the time suggested widespread hysteria, more recent research suggests that press reports were exaggerated.

The multiple threads in a loom, transverse to which the shuttle is passed (the thread on the shuttle is the weave). I'm tired right now. If anyone has the energy, let me know if that's right.

warp speed
The cube root of beta, the dimensionless velocity in natural units. In other words, warp 8 is 512 × c.

Workplace ARrogance Scale. It's an instrument developed by Stan Silverman, dean of The University of Akron's Summit College, Aarti Shyamsunder of Kronos, Inc., and Russell Johnson of the University of South Florida. (Considering the subject, I figured that listing the affiliations is de rigeur.) It was for a study of that they presented in New York City at the 22nd annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, in a paper entitled ``Arrogance: A Formula for Failure.'' I guess that kinda gives away the big secret. It's almost a definition: arrogance is bad pride. They also discovered that ``the more arrogant you are, the more self-centered and the less agreeable you're likely to be.'' Wow, how did they ever figure that out? WARS.

Writing Apprehension Scale. A questionaire created by J.A. Daly and M.D. Miller to measure ``writing apprehension.'' Here apprehension means fear. I suppose that's clear enough in the precise context of writing; ``reading apprehension,'' I fear, could be understood as the understanding of what is read.

WAS was first described in this pair of articles by Daly and Miller in volume 9 of Research in the Teaching of English:

  1. ``The empirical development of an instrument to measure writing apprehension,'' pp. 242-249.
  2. ``Further studies on writing apprehension: SAT scores, success expectations, willingness to take advanced courses and sex difference,'' pp. 250-256.

There's also something related, called the ``Writer's Block Questionnaire'' created by M. Rose and detailed in Appendix A of his Writers Block: The Cognitive Dimension, (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984). However, there is an evident reluctance to abbreviate this by WBQ. I don't know why, but I can't bring myself to write an entry for it in this acronym glossary.

West African Science Association. Publishes the West African Journal of Science.

Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. As they say on the homepage,
Welcome to The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates. Generated by the USDA, used by the USTR to set TRQ's.

wasei eigo
Japanese for `Homemade English.' E.g.: ``salaryman'' [ftnt. 6] (white-collar worker), OP (overhead projector). Similar things happen in other languages. For example, in France the British terms pull-over (Amer. sweater, Span. pulóver), bulldog, and water closet (WC; Amer.: bathroom) have been shortened to ``pull,'' ``bull,'' and ``water,'' while sports terminology like ``recordman,'' ``Rugbyman,'' and ``supercrack'' has been invented. These are old and have gone somewhat out of use, but the emergence of English as the international lingua franca of science and commerce has expanded the scope of the phenomenon beyond historical extrapolation. [In fact, each of the non-sports terms was unfamiliar to at least one Frenchman interviewed for this entry, but all terms were familiar to at least one. There are substantial regional variations in usage.] The world is taking its revenge for the promiscuous miscegenation that the English language has been for centuries.

I should note that although eigo means `English,' it is not a derived from the word English. It's not a simplified pronunciation, just a coincidence. (On g for ng, see this ng entry.)

A town in about two thirds of the states. There is no town of Washington in the state of Washington; that would be confusing. Originally, only a part of the District of Columbia was called Washington.

When the Moonies tried to recruit me in San Francisco, they accosted me with the line ``Haven't we met before?'' (This works on men, maybe that's why we expect it to work on women.) ``Have you ever been in Washington?'' Sure I'd been in Washington... the District of Columbia. Being from the East, I didn't think of Washington State. That's all I wanted to say.

Washington (state) Assessment of Student Learning.

A superannuated ism.

White Anglo-Saxon Male. An acronym constructed on the model of WASP. Happily, it is not so widely used.

World Association for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME's).

Was it me, or wasn't it? Only my hairdresser knows for sure.

This joke is really very funny, and you should have laughed your head off. Seriously, you should be experiencing severe intestinal pain, and there should be dirt from the floor adhering to the clothing on your outer thighs. (I assume you are dressed, formally, as you read this. This is a decent glossary.) Let me explain: there was once an ad campaign for some hair product, sold to dissimulate youth and beauty, that had the catch phrase ``Does she, or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.'' This was a cultural reference. No longer at sea, you have your bearings in alphabet soup.

What color was Ronald Reagan's hair?

A flying insect with a sting.

White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. An acronym explicated and given currency by E. Digby Baltzell in his The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America (Yale U. P., 1964). E. B. Palmore defined and used it in a 1962 journal article.

Women's Auxiliary Service Pilot. Women pilots in the USAAF/USAAC, assigned to noncombat duties that included ferrying bombers to Britain and towing targets for gunnery practice. More than a thousand served. Cf. WAC. (I don't want you to get the idea that I'm in any way bothered about this, really, but a common term of disparagement for women -- before we all became enlightened in 1970, I mean -- has been waspish, meaning highly irritable or easily irritated. YOU'D THINK SOMEONE MIGHT HAVE GIVEN THAT FACT A MOMENT'S THOUGHT, WOULDN'T YOU??!!)

Wide-Angle Search for Planets. The WASP Consortium is a UK-based international group that is conducting a kind of star-magnitude monitoring program. They detect exoplanets (planets beyond the solar system) by regularly photographing large chunks of sky (hence the ``wide-angle''), something made possible by CCD cameras. Every morning, a small army of graduate students pores over the results (up to 50,000 stars per image) to see if anyone notices any transitory decrease in light intensity that would indicate the transit of a planet. Oh wait-- they use computers instead. Whatever.

The consortium has used the WASP acronym productively, as in WASP0 (for a prototype instrument) and SuperWASP (for the current stage of projects. The acronym was originally used with the expansion Wide Angle Survey Patrol in an unsuccessful funding proposal by astronomers at Leicester University. This shows that it's not enough just to have a good acronym; there has to be a good expansion backing it up.

German adjective meaning `bleached blond' or `peroxide blond.' (Literally `hydrogen blond.' Also verbed: wasserstoffblondieren.)

Was soll...?
Start of a common German idiomatic form. Sollen is a modal verb corresponding approximately to English `should.' In English and German indicative sentences, an omitted verb after this modal is understood to be do or machen, respectively, with the same meaning. The notion of intentionality is stretched a little further with sollen, however. When the subject of the verb is inanimate, then sollen essentially means `has the purpose of' or `means.' (This is probably a good moment to contemplate the English expressions `I mean to' and `I purpose.' Yes: ``purpose'', not ``propose''; the expression is a little out of use.) This is perhaps not so distant from English usage, but in questions it can look decidedly odd to an Anglophone. My grandfather used to say ``Was soll das schlechte Leben?'' This meant roughly, `Why suffer?' (Das schlechte Leben is `the bad life.')

In the tenth of his ten Duino Elegies, Rilke wrote (ll. 44-48):

                                        Wo? Und der Jüngling
folgt. Ihn rührt ihre Haltung. Die Schulter, der Hals--, vielleicht
ist sie von herrlicher Herkunft. Aber er läßt sie, kehrt um,
wendet sich, winkt . . . Was solls? Sie ist eine Klage.

From a translation published in 1939 (by J.B. Leishman, in collaboration with Stephen Spender)

                                        Where? And the youth
follows. He's touched by her manner. Her shoulder, her neck,--perhaps
she comes of a famous stock? But he leaves her, turns back,
looks round, nods . . . What's the use? She's just a Lament.

Wafer Acceptance Test.

WATerloo coBOL. A COBOL compiler developed at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.


Writing Across The Curriculum. A less common initialism than WAC. Why should I tell you what it is? No one told me. I'll tell you about it instead. It's a program intended to compensate for the fact that illiterates are admitted to college.

Working group on the Assessment of Toxic CHemicals. Ahh, for the good old days when people arranged their organization names to yield felicitous acronyms.

Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders. ``[A] database containing primarily the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for authors and artists whose archives are housed, in whole or in part, in libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom. The objective in making the database available is to provide information to scholars about whom to contact for permission to publish text and images that still enjoy copyright protection. WATCH is a joint project of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Reading Library, Reading, England (what a great address for a university library!).

watching TV
Making an investment of time in an information tedium.

A fascinating fluid. Lethal if taken in sufficient quantities. I don't mean sufficient quantities in the wrong places (drowning). I refer instead to the fact that sometimes, people attempt to pass urine drug tests (with emphasis on the word pass, I suppose) by drinking a lot of water, and they can suffer seizures as a result. I don't know if Gatorade would be any better, but at least Pocari Sweat is amusing. For further amusement, see this, if the link ever comes up again.

We have local entries for DHMO, dry water, hard water, and heavy water.

In other languages, the English word water has sometimes been borrowed with the meaning of `flush toilet,' as a shortened form of water closet (W.C.).

water hammer
Shock wave in a closed channel (vide open channel). A serious problem when a water pipe is abruptly closed, or when water filling an empty pipe suddenly meets an obstruction. Because water is substantially incompressible, either of these events creates a shock wave traveling back through the column of water whose flow has been impeded. The resultant stresses at bends or other irregularities in the pipe (joins, constrictions) can far exceed the nominal hydrostatic pressure or ordinary inertial stresses. (The only silver lining is that yield strength of materials is generally greater for stresses applied suddenly and briefly than for those applied continuously.)

Shock absorbers for this effect are called ``water-hammer arrestors'' (``...arresters'' is a common enough variant).

WATER Information Sharing and Analysis Center. ``[T]he most comprehensive and up-to-the-minute online resource of security information for America's drinking and wastewater utilities. It provides a unique link between the water sector and federal environmental, homeland security, law enforcement, intelligence and public health agencies.''

WATER Security Channel. ``[A] free service of WaterISAC designed to disseminate security information [by email] to the broadest wastewater and drinking water community.''

WATerloo Fortran IV. Another FORTRAN-IV compiler developed at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Successor to WATFOR infra. See also WATBOL.

WATerloo FORtran. A FORTRAN compiler developed at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Succeeded by WATFIV supra.

Wireless ATM. Technology for interfacing wireless communication and ATM.

Wide-Area Telephone Service. Those 800-numbers are WATS lines.

Wireless Access Telecommunication[s] Service.

Watts' Dictionary of Chemistry
This isn't an entry; it's a footnote, okay? If respected publishers can put footnotes at the end of a book or at the end of a chapter or in some other unlikely place, I can put them in the middle of the glossary. If this bothers you, please scroll this entry down to the foot of the window.

When I refer to Watts' Dictionary of Chemistry in this glossary, if I should ever happen to do so, I will mean the edition revised and entirely rewritten by H. Forster Morley, M.A., D.Sc. (Fellow of University College, London, and Professor of Chemistry at Queen's College, London) and M.M. Pattison Muir, M.A. (Fellow, and Prælector in Chemistry, of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge), assisted by eminent contributors, in four volumes, published in 1892 (London and New York: Longmans, Green, and Co.). Each volume is about 800 or 900 pages long and each page is loaded down with long cellulose fibers and words. Don't pick a fight with a chemistry librarian.

On second thought, maybe I'll just pop all that interesting text into every entry that mentions the work, making this entry, err, footnote, entirely superfluous.

Writing Across The University. Same as WATC.

Wireless Access for Vehicular Environments.

wave motion
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse:
All that in idea seemed simple became in practice immediately complex; as the waves shape themselves symmetrically from the cliff top, but to the swimmer among them are divided by steep gulfs, and foaming crests.

Another thing you probably didn't have in mind was the action of waves on surfboards.

Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (in the US Navy). WWII organization that served as a kind of ``Ladies' Auxiliary'' of the Navy before women were allowed to join on a more equal basis. The British equivalent was WRNS.

Wide-Area Wireless.

Women in the Ancient World: The Arethusa Papers, edited by John P. Peradotto and J. P. Sullivan (Albany, 1984).

Wide-Angle X-Ray Diffraction. Contrasted with SAXD.

Wigner-Araki-Yanase (theorem). John Baez gives a description.

What Are You Doing?


World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Wazoo, Wazu
WAshington State University. These friendly nicknames are extremely rare on wsu.edu webpages, suggesting that it might be regarded as pejorative or disrespectful by Cougar fans. Too bad.

Waiver Business. A travel status in the US equivalent to a B-1 visa. Nationals of certain countries can visit the US for up to ninety (90) days under the conditions that hold for the B-1 visa, but instead of applying for a B-1 visa from a US consulate before traveling, they just get an I-94 card with the notation ``WB.'' (``WT'' works the same way for the same term, but under the conditions of a B-2 visa.)

As of this writing (January 2001), these are the twenty-nine countries in the visa waiver program:

Brunei? For now, I guess. When the oil runs out in another decade and they're poorer than Indonesians, maybe things'll be different. Interestingly, there's been no change in the list of participating countries in the five years since I put this list in.

Canadians don't get I-94 cards unless they request them, and are assumed to be in B-visa status.

Warner Brothers. Now just a piece of Time Warner (the former AOL Time Warner). There was a network of television stations that calls itself ``the double-yoo be.'' (I think that's right; I probably never watched it.) In 2006, the WB network as such ceased operations and its content was absorbed into a new network called The CW.

Welcome Back. Chatese.

West Bank. Territory between the Jordan River and the 1949 cease-fire boundary (the ``green line'') between Israel and Jordan (i.e., the Jordanian-occupied part of the UN-envisioned Palestinian Arab state).

West Bengal.


WheelBase. Distance between front and rear axles on a two-axle vehicle.

Note that, in principle, this is ambiguous: if front and rear wheels are of different diameter, horizontal separation is not equal to axle-center separation. In practice, this only matters on dragsters. The reason is that the difference is what one calls a ``second-order correction.'' Suppose that the total centerline-to-centerline separation between axles is C, the horizontal separation between wheel centers on level ground is W, and the difference in wheel radii (under whatever load) is h. Then W and h are the legs of a right triangle with hypotenuse C, and

C2 = W2 + h2
by the Pythagorean theorem. We can rewrite this as
C = SQRT( W2 + h2 )
By Taylor's theorem or by the binomial theorem, when h << W, this can be approximated
C = W + h2/(2W) + W * O[ (h/W)4 ] .
That is C is W at lowest order, and the leading correction for the difference between C and W is of second order in h/W.

On a truck with two rear axles, WB is conventionally taken as the distance between the front axle and the midline between the two rear axles.

Wide Band.

World Bank. The initialism occurs but rarely, possibly because ``World Bank'' was originally only the common but informal name of an institution officially called the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). In 1960, an International Development Association (IDA) was created, and these two together are now (officially, I think) known as the World Bank. These two, plus the IFC, MIGA, and ICSID, together constitute the World Bank Group.

The World Bank sends a lot of money and stern, well-intentioned advice to a place called Africa. It's pretty certain that the well-intentioned advice is not diverted to Swiss bank accounts. In Africa as everywhere else, the World Bank is hated. There: three sentences to establish a transition to a tenuously (okay, gratuitously) connected issue. The issue was #92 of the quarterly magazine Granta. This was a special issue on Africa, with an article by Binyavanga Wainaina in the how-to-cook-a-potboiler genre: ``How to write about Africa'' (fiction or reportage -- but I repeat myself). A sample of the detailed instructions: ``Bad Western characters may include children of Tory cabinet ministers, Afrikaners, employees of the World Bank.''


Wörterbuch. Full title Wörterbuch der griechischen Papyrusurkunden mit Einschluss der griechischen Inschriften Aufschriften Ostraka Mumienschilder usw. aus Ägypten. `Dictionary of papyrus documents with an introduction to Greek inscriptions, labels, ostraca, mummy signs, etc. from Egypt.' First compiled by F. Preisigke.

World Boxing Association. Decades-old boxing organization. There are a few; see IBF.

World Boxing Council. Decades-old boxing organization. There are a few; see IBF.

White Blood {Cell | (cell) Count}. Also, for latter, WCC.

Women's Basketball Coaches Association.

Wide-Band Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA).

World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Wide-Band Data.

Web-Based Enterprise Management.

World Bridge Federation.

In the 1990's the International Olympic Committee was moving cautiously but steadily towards making bridge a medal sport. (Yes, a sport: In 1995, the International Olympic Committee designated bridge, along with chess, as a ``mind sport.'') Anyway, to make a long story short so I can publish this webpage already, the effort was a house of cards, and it collapsed in 2002.

WideBand Frequency Modulation.

UB's FM radio station, an NPR affiliate broadcasting at 88.7 MHz. Like most university FM stations, its programming is informed by the great insight that news junkies like jazz and any music that is noncommercial (because it's better than it sounds). (http://wings.buffalo.edu/services/wbfo/ and http://www.wbfo.buffalo.edu/ work as well.)

Wheaties! Bananas! Gorilla Milk! Bazooka!
Back when I was in Boy Scout camp, the troops in mess were divided up into four competing shouting sections.

Westfield Baseball League of Westfield, NJ. In a town of under 29,000 (1990 US census), over 1000 children participated in 1998. That's the little league. I don't have a link for the adult amateur league. When Dennis played in the adult league, one of the players was a coinventor of astroturf. The team had all-new uniforms. Chuck's team went undefeated, a couple 'years later.

WbN, WbS
West by North, West by South. Vide compass directions.

World Boxing Organization. A sort of imposter boxing organization, used to sanction fights too shameful for the big three. See IBF.

Warner Brothers Records.

World Baton Twirling Federation. First WBTF championshps were held in 1980. It seems that major national baton twirling assocations line up either with the WBTF or with the GA.

World Blind Union. Regards itself as ``the only organisation entitled to speak on behalf of blind and partially sighted persons of the world, representing 180 million blind and visually impaired persons from about 600 different organisations in 158 countries.'' Given the forward arrogation of authority, you won't be surprised to learn that ``WBU has consultative status within the UN Agencies and ECOSOC.'' (ECOSOC is sort of like the ``Earth Shoe (TM)'' company -- they make environmentally friendly socks that biodegrade right in your shoes and do not harm foot fungus and other biodiverse creatures. Unagencies are, well, you can guess.) ``The hallmarks of WBU are openness and democracy. All countries fulfilling the conditions laid down in the WBU Constitution are welcomed as members with the right to express their opinions and points of view freely and without fear of recrimination.''

World Boxing Union. A sort of imposter boxing organization, used to sanction fights too shameful for the big three. See IBF.

World Broadcasting Unions. The eight members are the North American Broadcasting Association (NABA), the Asia-Pacific (ABU), Arab States (ASBU), Caribbean (CBU), and European Broadcasting Unions (EBU), the International Association of Broadcasting (IAB, based in Uruguay), la Organización de la Televisión Iberoamericana (OTI), and la Union des radiodiffusions et télévisions nationales d'Afrique (URTNA).

World Birthday Web.

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