Wikitionary mentions offhand that "q.v." is used to reference material, but the definition it gives is far too sparse for my taste. My question is, what does "q.v." stand for and when should one use it? How does it compare with "cf.", for example?
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q.v. stands for the phrase quod vide : "on this (matter) go see"
Cf. is used chiefly to refer to articles proving or documenting one's point or having authority, not to avoid treating a particular aspect in the course of the writing.
Compared to cf., most authors restrict its use to refer to another part of the same work (usually a book) where they treat with the subject matter. This is also used to advise the reader to read another work they endorse.
In a monograph or a large book there is seldom one perfect way of serially organizing all content. q.v. is a means for the author to help readers learn more at their leisure.
On critical editions, you will sometimes find q.v. in margin comments or apostilles as a quick comment for a quote, giving its source.
To build on the previous answers, the internet has largely replaced usage of the term "q.v." with a hyperlink, which implies that the reader can click it to further inform himself before reading on. It can still be used, however, to encourage the reader to read it, especially if it contains preliminary material.
This is what my NOAD says:
We can say that the meaning is something like "go to see...". Give a look at this book.
Cf. stands for the Latin word confer (not the Italian confronta), and means "bring together", or more loosely translated, "hold what I just said next to this other thing".
Q.v. generally means something more along the lines of, "I talk more about this over here", or "if you don't know what this means, this other book is a good introduction."
In David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest", the deliberately over-academic footnotes (and footnotes to the footnotes) are full of q.v.’s, generally used ironically to emphasize trivial information about the novel's fictional future US/Canada/Mexico super-nation, O.N.A.N. A lengthy footnote (#24) lists all the experimental films made by the protagonist’s father and is frequently referred back to in later footnotes as these films appear in the plot; for example:
Hm, I don't like any of these answers.
q.v. (quod vide) is best translated into Modern English as "see also" and should be used when the reference is a continuation or expansion of the current subject.
c.f. (con ferro) is best translated as "compare with" and should be used when the reference is an analogue to the subject-at-hand, presenting a similar paradigm or otherwise analogous subject matter.
protected by tchrist Feb 22 '15 at 0:30
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