I see that some puzzles specify that the answers must be findable in a specified dictionary. This seems like an excellent idea.


  1. I've noticed several people specifying dictionary.com Is there something especially good about this dictionary for puzzling purposes?

  2. Online dictionaries that can be accessed as continuous text or are otherwise computer-searchable would be useful. Does anyone have links to such?

  3. What's a good dictionary that has an extensive vocabulary but doesn't have 'weird' words, i.e. things that only specialists or lexicologists know about. For example that has 'incomprehensible' and 'quintessential' but not 'batrachophagous' or 'chirotonsor'.

All suggestions and tips welcome.

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    $\begingroup$ Isn't this a meta question? $\endgroup$ – jarnbjo Aug 25 '15 at 14:02
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    $\begingroup$ @jambo - No, I don't think so. It's a puzzle-creation question which has a recognised tag. My purpose is to improve my word-puzzle-making by knowing which resources other people are using and why. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 25 '15 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ Relevant: unix.stackexchange.com/questions/33488/… $\endgroup$ – A E Aug 25 '15 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty positive this is a meta question, as it talks about questions posted on this site (as opposed to puzzles in general). $\endgroup$ – warspyking Aug 25 '15 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ Personally I strongly dislike dictionary.com because it does not contain many real words: just today I discovered longsword, raincloud, bandpass, timebase, restaff, talantless, rulebook, linefeed, stormtropers, and treeline. However, you can at least easily tell whether a word is in their list: check the response code of http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/<your word>: it's 200 if the word is in the list and 404 otherwise. In my mind these two factors actually make it less useful for non-computer competitors. $\endgroup$ – 2012rcampion Aug 27 '15 at 18:45

A really good resource for dictionary txt files is SCOWL. You can vary spelling variants, uk/us spelling and dictionary size. It can serve you 3rd question as well. You just have to choose appropriate dictionary size. I think size 35 (small) should work.

Dictionary.com is usually preferred because it is the most common dictionary site. (google dictionary, it is the first link) It has a good idea where to draw the line (between acceptable and non-acceptable words). A particular disadvantage is poor navigation ie. lack of alphabetical browsing. The only other frequently used dictionary I have seen is the scrabble dictionary. This, however, has problems because the inclusion of words often depend on their usability in an actual scrabble game.

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  • $\begingroup$ SCOWL in particular looks really interesting. It appears to have been around for years, yet the readme was updated only yesterday! I still haven't worked out what the 'size' numbers actually stand for or how the words in them are chosen. It's definitely worth my going further with this though. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 25 '15 at 12:39
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK A higher size means lots of obsecure words and technical jargons. The lower a size is, the more common its words become. And a smaller size is a subset of higher one. Genarally size 60 would have all dictionary.com words and more. $\endgroup$ – Rohcana Aug 25 '15 at 12:46

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