In particular, I've been looking into the word strike and all of its noun senses. That led me to look at lightning strike, which seems to be defined only in a metaphorical sense in both the OED and Merriam-Webster's Unabridged (online).

In every dictionary I've looked at, strike has the sense "the act of striking" listed (with minor variations from dictionary to dictionary). But in citations and illustrative quotations the one doing the striking is either a) some kind of intentional agent like a person or animal, or b) a clock.

I seriously doubt that I've sussed out a brand new sense of strike from the very common phrase lightning strike that the editors of major dictionaries have somehow overlooked. I wanted to ask the community if they would consider lightning strike to be covered in the sense of "the act of striking".

I would be more detailed in my actual post than I have been here. But my question is not so much about the use of strike or lightning strike and more about how it is accounted for in monolingual English-language dictionaries like the OED and Merriam-Webster.

  • What is a lightning strike??
    – Pluto
    Apr 4, 2017 at 17:40

1 Answer 1


As usual it depends:

  • yes, questions about lexicography (in general and in particular) are welcome.
  • factual questions about a particular dictionary's editorial policy and how particular entries hold to that policy are most likely on topic
  • questions simply judging the accuracy of dictionary entries are problematic because they are likely to be simply opinionated. As long as they can be supported somehow (probably by scholarship of other dictionaries) they should be OK.

Given all that, I think your question would be on-topic (and welcome).

  • 2
    Different dictionaries have different policies on how and when to add subentries for a word based on figurative usage and semantic drift. To me a 'lightning strike' (Or almost exactly analogously 'thunderclap') is so obvious that it wouldn't need additional definition to explain. But often common collocations will be added to a dictionary entry to show how it is often used (that is, a dictionary may include 'lightning strike' since there is no such thing as the equally reasonable 'lightning hit').
    – Mitch
    Apr 4, 2017 at 13:54
  • 1
    Questions about the lexicography of English are welcome here, questions about lexicography in general belong at Linguistics. Apr 9, 2017 at 6:11
  • @curiousdannii yes
    – Mitch
    Apr 9, 2017 at 13:39

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