• wiki •
wi-kee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A collaborative website that allows users to add to, delete, or edit its content. 2. The software for operating such a website.
Notes: Today's Good Word gained popularity with the rise of Wikipedia, a wiki encyclopedia. It has gained notoriety more recently with the appearance of WikiLeaks, a website on which state secrets are being posted. This word is very popular in compound nonce words which may or may not survive: wikiholic, wikihow, wikiinfo, wikicomic, wiktionary, wikiculture, wikidata, wikifiddler. It also sports a new verb, wikify, whose chances of survival are much greater, given the fact that it has already produced a noun, wikification.
In Play: Since today's word began its life on the Web, we still associate it most closely with the Web: "Life had Lucinda Head so confused, she created a wiki where anyone who drops by can tell her how to live and argue with others who disagree." However, if it hopes to survive, it must eventually move away from the Web: "Lil Abner lives in a wiki house built by those who happened by, contributing ideas and labor during the building process."
Word History: This word originated in the name of the original wiki, WikiWikiWeb, created by Ward Cunningham in 1995. Mr. Cunningham's intention was to write software that would allow websites to be created in the quickest possible way. Rather than call his invention QuickWeb, he used the Hawaiian word for "quick", wiki, after riding a wiki-wiki bus at the Honolulu airport. As in most languages, repeating this Hawaiian word intensifies its meaning, hence wiki wiki means "really quick", just like quick quick in English. Still, the quickest way to say "quick" in Hawaiian is with one wiki, so half the original term was rubbed away by subsequent history.
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