I've been trying to figure out what specific meaning could have and I'm just not sure. Could it be "elementary" in the U.S. education sense of kindergarden (or pre-k) through 4th, 5th, or 6th grade (or perhaps 7th or 8th or 9th grade)? What about elementary as in "Elementary, my dear Watson"?

Beyond that, does it have any meaning when used on its own? What should I expect to see in a question that is tagged only ?

  • $\begingroup$ Based on the usage it roughly seems to mean "pre-calculus" or something like that. $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2011 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Qiaochu Yuan: If that's the case, then it should be merged into (algebra-precalculus) and added as a synonym. $\endgroup$
    – Isaac
    Feb 18, 2011 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not a fan of this tag either, but I'll wait to see if anyone has anything to say in its defense. $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2011 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Qiaochu Yuan: Certainly. I really am not sure what it's supposed to mean and I meant the If in my above comment. $\endgroup$
    – Isaac
    Feb 18, 2011 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ It is for Sherlock Holmes :-) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Feb 18, 2011 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ Holmes and Watson are on a camping trip. In the middle of the night Holmes wakes up and gives Dr. Watson a nudge. “Watson,” he says, “look up in the sky and tell me what you see.” “I see millions of stars, Holmes,” says Watson. “And what do you conclude from that, Watson?” Watson thinks for a moment, “Well,” he says, “astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. [...] $\endgroup$
    – Isaac
    Feb 18, 2011 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ [...] Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and we are small and insignificant. Uh, what does that tell you, Holmes?” “Watson, you idiot! Someone has stolen our tent!” $\endgroup$
    – Isaac
    Feb 18, 2011 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ I would definitely be in favor of removing this tag. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2011 at 2:12
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe it's just me; I think of [algebra-precalculus] for material usually covered in a precalculus course, [elementary] for K-12 material. (Of course, as more universities engage in covering pre-requisites like so-called "College Algebra" and the like, the distinction may be unclear or even a moving target...) $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2011 at 5:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Arturo: The original intent of the [algebra-precalculus] tag was to include material from algebra 1, algebra 2, precalculus, and college algebra courses (basically anything that might get labeled algebra or precalculus in a U.S. high school setting), in contrast to "algebra" (from my perspective, preferably the [abstract-algebra] tag) in reference to group theory, etc. I don't typically think of "elementary" in an educational sense as extending beyond 6th or 7th grade ("secondary" is typically 6th or 7th through 12th grade) $\endgroup$
    – Isaac
    Feb 19, 2011 at 8:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Isaac: So, maybe it is just me. (-: My pre-grad school education was all outside the U.S., and the lowest level course I'm familiar with is precalculus, so I only have a vague idea of what material is covered where (and how; my students used to stare at me when I refered to the "rule of three", which is covered extensively in grades 4-6 in Mexico and eveeryone has heard of there; or when I performed rational function arithmetic without first converting every fraction into a common denominator...) $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2011 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


Sounds like a classic meta-tag to me ...


  1. If the tag can’t work as the only tag on a question, it’s probably a meta-tag.
  2. If the tag commonly means different things to different people, it’s probably a meta-tag.

The tag's been removed. The questions tagged with [elementary] didn't have enough features in common for any tag other than [tag-removed] to feel reasonable as a replacement. Unfortunately a few of them didn't have any other tags...

  • $\begingroup$ And here I was, this close to getting the bronze badge for it. (-: Seems like a reasonable decision, all things considered. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2011 at 22:33

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