Semiautomatic

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thiagolb

Senior Member
Brazil, Portuguese
A noun
1 a pistol that is a semiautomatic firearm capable of loading and firing continuously

B adjective
1 (of firearms) capable of automatic loading and firing continuously; "an autoloading rifle"
2 partially automatic

Could semiautomatic be used to qualify electrical appliances such as washing machines?
 
  • xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    It would sound silly to me but apparently it's been used before.
    Personally I'd recommend something like "partially automated" but your idea wouldn't be incorrect.
     

    KenInPDX

    Senior Member
    US English
    In theory, I suppose it could, but it sounds slight funny to me, I think because it is generally only used to describe a weapon. If you were to use it in another context, you run the risk of being unintentionally funny.

    What would a semiautomatic washing machine be as opposed to a fully automatic one? If you could describe more what you are trying to get at, I might be able to come up with another word or phrase that would be better than semiautomatic.
     

    xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Maybe it's a small thing, but it seems much less odd if you hyphenate the word.
    I'd be pretty okay with a "semi-automatic washing machine."
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Could semiautomatic be used to qualify electrical appliances such as washing machines?
    This sounds very odd to me.

    In the world of firearms, technically speaking, "automatic" means that the weapon continues to fire until you release the trigger or it runs out of ammunition.

    "Semiautomatic" means that that shooter has to pull the trigger for each shot, but the weapon ejects the spent cartridge and loads a fresh one into the chamber.

    On the other hand, some people just say "automatic" when referring to a semi-automatic weapon and it's enshrined in some official names, e.g. .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol)

    These are set terms in a particular field and in my opinion should not be applied indiscriminately, particularly when doing so would lack a standard definition of what one is talking about as KenInPDX suggests.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    There are cameras that are semi-automatic, leaving some of the focussing and suchlike to the photographer, but not all the adjustments.

    There are washing machines that don't have a spin cycle or that you have to fill using a hose running from a water faucet; would they be semi-automatic washing machines?
     

    thiagolb

    Senior Member
    Brazil, Portuguese
    There are cameras that are semi-automatic, leaving some of the focussing and suchlike to the photographer, but not all the adjustments.

    There are washing machines that don't have a spin cycle or that you have to fill using a hose running from a water faucet; would they be semi-automatic washing machines?
    I think that is the idea, Nun-Translator.

    Anyway, take a look at this.
     

    PMS-CC

    Senior Member
    That is an interesting ad for a semi-automatic washing machine. It doesn't seem to indicate how the machine is not fully automatic.

    It does however note that the machine has a "magic filter with labyrinth." I assume this is handy for removing minotaurs from your clothes during the spin cycle.
     

    Monkey F B I

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    That is an interesting ad for a semi-automatic washing machine. It doesn't seem to indicate how the machine is not fully automatic.

    It does however note that the machine has a "magic filter with labyrinth." I assume this is handy for removing minotaurs from your clothes during the spin cycle.
    I think it's safe to say we've all had that problem at one time or another.

    After reading the above quote and the rest of this advertisement, I personally would advise against using it as a guide for proper English.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    That is an interesting ad for a semi-automatic washing machine. It doesn't seem to indicate how the machine is not fully automatic.[...]
    For those of us old enough to remember the semi-automatic washing machine ...

    That one is a "twin-tub".
    You put the clothes in one "tub" - at one side of the machine. You probably have to fill the machine with water using a hose.
    The machine then heats the water and does its agitating thing for as long as you let it.
    You decide when it has had enough.
    End of wash cycle.

    You pump the soapy water out.
    You add more water.
    Repeat the preceding two steps until you are content that the clothes have been rinsed adequately.
    End of rinse cycle.

    You lift the sodden clothes form that tub and drop them into the other tub.
    You turn on the spin.
    You let the spin continue until no more water pours from the spout on the side of the machine - where sits the bucket that I hope you remembered to put there before you began the spin process.
    End of spin cycle.

    End of wash.

    As you can see, there are quite a lot of aspects of this process that are not automatic.
     

    Kevman

    Senior Member
    USA English
    For those of us old enough to remember the semi-automatic washing machine ...
    Hmm, were these appliances actually known as "semi-automatic"? It's pretty clear that the site thiagolb referenced wasn't written by a native English speaker. In fact, 9 of the first 10 Google results I got for "semiautomatic washing machine" all led to the sites of Chinese companies (the other one was Indian--when I followed Google's suggestion "Did you mean: semi automatic washing machine" I got more Indian websites, and a couple in the Middle East), which makes me suspect this usage may be more natural in Asian dialects of English (either that or there's simply a bigger market for these types of washers in Asia!).

    For me personally (and I seem to be unanimous with the other AE responders in this thread) the term "semiautomatic" is so closely associated with firearms that it sounds odd in other contexts, and I would prefer to find some other way to phrase it in reference to something like a washing machine. Having said that, context is everything, and the brain quickly accustoms itself to what it initially perceives as a non-standard usage! Naturally, if someone tells me about a "semiautomatic washing machine" I only briefly wonder about what sort of ammunition it uses:D before selecting a more logical interpretation.
     
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