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Is there a better way to say "lossily compressed"?

The adverb lossily can not be found in Merriam-Webster, but the adjective lossy can. It also feels a bit unnatural.

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My question would be: in what context? I can think of several different ways to avoid lossily but it depends on whether you're trying to say that something was compressed lossily or not, and if you even need to mention more than it was compressed. – Wayne May 24 '11 at 13:07
@Wayne: The problem arose when writing another SE question, where I wanted to specify that the compression was not lossless. – user4727 May 24 '11 at 13:09
In that context, what's wrong with being specific and stating the images were jpeg compressed? Or if you wanted to emphasize the lossiness: jpeg compressed (lossy) would work. Indeed that wouldn't be necessary, since you emphasize your worry about losing more information later in the paragraph… – ghoppe May 24 '11 at 14:17
@ghoppe: The original question wasn't specific to JPEG. I suspect you're right that I could simply leave the lossily out here, though. – user4727 May 24 '11 at 14:41

It does feel a bit unnatural, because it is a bit of technical jargon. Audiophiles and others who understand compression will recognize it readily, and to them it will probably sound just fine. The only alternative you have is to reconstruct entire phrases, with possibly disappointing results: Is "processed using lossy compression" better than "lossily compressed"? I doubt it.

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Absolutely. I doubt there's any real need for a single word lossily outside of geek-speak. Lossy compression is pretty much useless for anything except video/audio signals anyway, and they're already inherently inaccurate because of limitations in the original recording technology. A lossless audio file is only lossless in the sense that it reproduces the original recording (usually from a CD). It doesn't really mean it's an exact reproduction of the original sound that was recorded in the first place. – FumbleFingers May 24 '11 at 12:42
Let's enforce non-losslessily compressed ;) – mplungjan May 24 '11 at 12:58
@mplungian - is that a triple negative? – mgb May 24 '11 at 12:59
The term "lossy compression" is an industry standard. Here, I'd revise the sentence in question to allow that form. – The Raven May 24 '11 at 13:17
@The Raven: I'm inclined to concur with Robusto that the rephrasing is worse than the (easily comprehensible) original. – user1579 May 24 '11 at 16:25

There's more than one way to compress a cat.

Since lossy refers to a loss of information, you could call it entropising compression, although that is a word I've just made up, but basically it means making more entropic. Probably not your best bet.

Since lossy also means dissipation of energy you could turn that to mean dissipation of information without too much trouble, and then you could use: dissipatingly, dispersively or disintegratorily(sp?).

I would understand you if you said lossily.

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There are gain, gainful, gainfully, so there might be loss, lossful, lossfully. This says "vitually never used" for both the adjective and adverb but points to lossful before 1828.

Despite this, I suspect that lossy and lossily are more popular.

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Looking at Google Ngrams, lossy was not an English word in widespread use until 1940 or so (although The English Dialect Dictionary from 1902 says it means unprofitable in dialect in Scotland, Lancashire, Cheshire). The earliest uses appear to have been technical, in the field of electrical engineering. So if you want to stick with historically authentic English, you wouldn't be using lossy, either. The corresponding adverb, lossily, may not have made it into the dictionaries yet, since it wasn't needed before the widespread use of lossy compression in the 1990's. However, as Robusto says in his answer, I don't believe there is any reasonable alternative.

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The word lossy describes a phenomenon that wasn't relevant until the 1940s. I don't think it makes sense to aim for "historically authentic English" in this context -- I just want it to sound natural. – user4727 May 24 '11 at 12:55
The word lossily describes a phenomenon that wasn't relevant until the 1990s. If electrical engineers hadn't coined lossy in the 1940s, we would currently be describing lossy compression with a longer and more awkward phrase. – Peter Shor May 24 '11 at 13:00

Considering that we are dealing with a fairly narrow audience who would (presumably) be tolerant of neologisms, what about coining a new word?

lossly compressed

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Why use lossly when we already have a perfectly good neologism that follows the rules of English for creating adverbs: lossily. – Peter Shor May 24 '11 at 18:29
1. It just seems easier. 2. Breaking the normal rule for formation of an adverb to save one letter and one syllable adds geek cred. – JeffSahol May 24 '11 at 18:41
@@JeffSahol - or you could just say that "lossly" is "lossily", as reconstructed after undergoing lossy compression? – MT_Head May 25 '11 at 4:38
@MT_Head, you get doubleplus geek cred for achieving self-reference – JeffSahol May 25 '11 at 12:39

Based on your clarification, I'd say that your question should be something like:

"If I am editing a compressed image in the program XYZ and I rotate it a multiple of 90 degrees, will it need to be recompressed? If so, will that rotation and recompression result in noticeable image degradation. I am specifically wondering about images that are compressed with lossy algorithms, such as JPEG and others."

If you're not asking about a 90/180-degree rotation then the rotation itself will degrade the image because pixels have to be interpolated by the rotation, regardless of any compression.

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