The word list of The Klingon Dictionary includes lots of words whose definition are not always very clear, basically because the English word may be used in several ways in English. This starts with the simple question of transitivity (does "drop" mean that the subject is dropping itself, or that the subject drops something - or both? (See ➞ questionable verbs), but many words are also ambiguous in their meaning. Some people thought that pong can be used to "call" someone on the phone, just because the entry said it means "name, call". That's nonsense, of course.

Only clarification or canon examples can make the meaning clear.


Marc Okrand has confirmed several times that he has built up the word list of TKD intentionally with ambiguous definitions, because he wanted to make a parody on existing travel guides, whose definitions are not clear either and are only useful in the described situations.

How to handle

There is no written rule, but based on experience, it's usually the first appearing thing that comes to your mind, the most direct, most simple meaning of a verb that can be the meaning. Of course this is not always the case, and we cannot assume that everyone thinks of the same thing immediately.

Usually, when a word means something else that is more detailed, then the definition has additional information. For instance, if the verb roQ put down would mean something else besides "put down luggage", it would have a definition like "put down a rebellion". Nevertheless, we won't know for sure before getting canon clarification.

It should be noted that Okrand is not consistent in this. He sometimes uses brackets, sometimes commas, and has said that there is really no intentional system.


jab - serve (food)
makes clear that you do not jab (serve) a master. The definition for the latter makes this very clear: toy' - serve (a master).

toch - palm (of hand)
shows we are not talking about a palm tree.

baH - fire (torpedo)
laQ - fire (thrusters)
showing two different meanings for the verb "fire".

Other words have multiple definitions seperated by a comma, to make them clear. One should not pick only one of tem, they always are to be seen as a pair.

ra' - order, command
means that you cannot order your food with the verb ra'.

chIl - lose, misplace
makes clear that one does not chIl (lose) a war, it means forgetting where you put a thing.

pong - name, call
the additional "call" was added to show that this is a verb, which one would not see immediately if it's only "name".
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