Every word in the English language

You may someday find yourself wishing you had a list of every word in the English language, in plain text. If that sounds far-fetched, suspend your disbelief for a moment and try to imagine where would you find such a list?

A Google search will turn you up some results. One blog decided to paste such a list right into the post, apparently as part of an ambitious SEO strategy to appear in the results of every search query. (Well, at least they appeared in mine.) You could use that list, if you trust its authority.

Another option would be to download The Corncob list of more than 58 000 English words. This conveniently provides all caps and all lowercase versions of the list. However, it favors British spelling over American, which may not be your cup of tea (har har). In this case, if you’re using Mac, Linux or another Unix-like, you have one more compelling option to consider…

Your computer already comes with a list of every word in the English language! It’s in a file called (aptly) “words”, and it’s located at either /usr/share/dict/words or /usr/dict/words, depending on your system.

Sometimes what you’re looking for is right under your obscure Unix path.

About Evan

Works on a sight reading practice tool for musicians and music teachers, and loves making Try Arc better in his spare time.

2 Responses to Every word in the English language

  1. Eric Himmelreich June 16, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    FWIW, when I wrote my blogpost about domain names http://rawsyntax.com/post/4839370351/20337-available-alliterative-com-domain-names /usr/dict/words wasn’t much help. I ended up using a dictionary from http://wordlist.sourceforge.net/12dicts-readme.html and restricting the word length.

    • Evan R. Murphy June 16, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

      Interesting. What problems did you run into with /usr/dict/words?

      Thanks for your comment.

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