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(pair of) compasses  
von cameron-coombe (NZ), Last modified: 2018-10-27, 06:51  like dislike  Spam?  
Following up an argument I've been having with aphoenix on this entry, I'd be interested in having some other opinions to help resolve this issue.:

1. The entry was re-opened by Windfall in order to update it to Br. English. The initial assumption was that Zirkel {m} = compass is general usage (or perhaps American, though the other entry wasn't re-opened for this), whereas Zirkel {m} = pair of compasses = compasses {pl} is excl. Br. usage.
2. I replied and suggested a rare tag was more appropriate, as it was not exclusively Br. usage (this was a compromise as I'm not even sure rare was appropriate. We don't have enough official data to make this call, or at least, it hasn't been collected yet).
3. I changed my vote to accept the esp. Br. tag suggested by Windfall, another compromise, as I had just been outvoted (not a true outvote, however, as we only differed in minor points) by Windfall and aphoenix in a similar post:
4. aphoenix arrives at the current entry in question and suggests a deletion, as they mistake this for a duplicate
5. I explain that it is not a duplicate, as Zirkel {pl} corresponds with compasses {pl}, but in this case Zirkel {m} can correspond with compasses {pl}. I assumed this would resolve the issue as it was a simple misunderstanding.
6. aphoenix responds, writing that the only two options are compass or pair of compasses. =
7. I reply because it does not look like aphoenix has consulted the dictionaries, which allow for this usage:
aph. please consult the dictionaries before saying so!
>>def 7:
>>OED too:
>>III. The mathematical instrument.
>>a. An instrument for taking measurements and describing circles, consisting (in its simplest form) of two straight and equal legs connected at one end by a movable joint. Now gen. in plural; also pair of compasses.
8. aphoenix claims that she did cite the dictionaries, linking to the MW and the light blue Oxford Dictionaries, which do not include this variant
9. By this time I am getting quite frustrated. Just because two dictionaries do not include a variant, does not mean the variant does not exist, as it does in the OED and (based on Random House Am. dictionary). I also point out that the usage is analogous to pair of pants = some pants / pair of scissors = some scissors.
10. aphoenix goes on to cite the light blue Oxford Dictionaries again (perhaps they mistake it for the OED?), which does not have examples of the plural usage of compasses for compass. They then claim that 'no one who has gone to primary school after 1960 would use either "compasses" or "pair of compasses" in place of "compass"'. I am sympathetic to this, as I had never heard of (pair of) compasses being used like this until now. But this is a wholly different argument to that which claims the word is not used like this at all.
11. I reply to aphoenix quite rudely, which in retrospect was a stupid idea and I apologise for doing so. I should have kept my cool and laid out my case soberly. I give my account of the history of this debate (which appears here in more detail) and proceed to note that aphoenix has changed their argument three times, whereas I was simply interested in keeping the word because this usage is attested in the dictionaries. Specifically aphoenix had progressed from: (a) this is a duplicate; to (b) it is not in the dictionary; (c) if it is in the dictionary it should have the label "dated" or the like.
12. aphoenix proceeds to double-down on their position, claiming that her own research is more authoritative than the OED.

* * *
Here are the examples from the OED that have not been discussed yet:
1555   R. Eden tr. Peter Martyr of Angleria Decades of Newe Worlde ii. x. f. 86   We tooke owre compases and beganne to measure the sea coastes.
1594   T. Blundeville Exercises v. f. 277v   How to make with your Compasses, a perpendicular line to fal from any point giuen vpon another right line.
1667   Milton Paradise Lost vii. 225   In his hand He took the golden Compasses, prepar' circumscribe This Universe.  
1831   D. Brewster Treat. Optics iv. 38   Some foot of the compasses is placed.

Here are some 21st C examples, which proves the OED correct, as would be expected:
Google: "foot of the compasses"

* * *
arguments aside, I have a lot of respect for aphoenix and I think they are a valuable contributor to They have also been here a lot longer than me! But I cannot agree with them on this entry, which, as the above shows, they have stuck to their argument in the face of counter-evidence, which is not a good trait for any contributor.
von aphoenix (US), Last modified: 2018-10-27, 06:23  like dislike  Spam?  
4. Whether I am mistaken is a matter of opinion.  
10.  I do know the difference between Oxford online and the OED.  I try to cite Oxford online whenever possible because some people do not have free access and do not want to pay for access to the OED.  The reference to 1960 refers back to an earlier comment that applied only to AE.  No claim was intended that this would be true of any other xE for x not equal to A.
11.  Apology accepted.  However, as I noted in the comments, the fact that someone states three different arguments does not mean that that individual has changed his or her argument unless one or more pair of arguments are contradictory.  In this case, my arguments are not contradictory.  In this particular case, I asserted that under certain conditions, which don't warrant repeating, (b) implies (a) and if the earlier cited conditions are shown by additional research to be invalid, then (c) holds.
12.  There is no way to establish whether my research on a specific term is more or less authoritative than that of the OED because the OED does not document the number of instances of that term that have occurred in total nor during any specific time period.
13.  The bottom line is that contributors are not required to agree.  Anyone can say, "look, here are eight examples, which together prove this assertion."  It is then up to each of the other contributors to decide whether he or she believes the eight examples are applicable and sufficient.  (I'm not claiming the specific examples offered in this case are not applicable.  I do not, however, believe that they are sufficient.  I've explained my reasoning.   If someone provides evidence I consider sufficient, I'll change my vote.  Otherwise, not.
I commented on the other thread...  #899167
von Lllama (GB/AT), 2018-10-27, 11:12  like dislike  Spam?  
...and said that I use compass but have come across the plural in older texts.

There are examples of compasses (to mean a single Instrument) in the online Oxford:

‘Gauss had stated that the problems of duplicating a cube and trisecting an angle could not be solved with ruler and compasses but he gave no proofs.’
‘We can do this using compasses for drawing circles and a set-square for drawing lines at right-angles to other lines, and we don't need a ruler at all for measuring lengths!’
‘A major step forward in proving that the circle could not be squared using ruler and compasses occurred in 1761 when Lambert proved that p was irrational.’

These all look more modern than the examples in the OED.
von cameron-coombe (NZ), 2018-10-28, 01:37  like dislike  Spam?  
Thanks for the reply aphoenix.

In response to:
10. I have not always supplied the full entry from the OED when citing, so will do so from now on so others can see who do not have access.
11. I can see where you were coming from a little better with your line of argument now. To me, it initially appeared disingenuous as you appeared to be changing your argument in order to avoid adapting your opinion in the face of counterevidence.
12. "There is no way to establish whether my research on a specific term is more or less authoritative than that of the OED because the OED does not document the number of instances of that term that have occurred in total nor during any specific time period." I think this remains the weakest part of your position. Individual research is helpful and even necessary in many cases where the dictionaries do not supply sufficient information, or any at all on a particular term. Here, although the OED will not always be right, I am always going to trust it above random people on the Internet, unless they provide sufficient counterevidence. That is, the onus is on you to do so, because you do not hold the same prestige as a dictionary with a long tradition, multiple contributors who are the some of the most experienced people in the world for what they do, and one that is updated monthly too.
13. Good point, I hadn't thought of it like that. It is not the end of the world if we disagree! I suppose I felt like I was pouring in so much energy to something that shouldn't require that much energy and should be obvious.

I will update my vote now.

Thank you Lllama for your contribution. I will add this to the mounting evidence.

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