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NWL2018 editorial process

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The NWL2018 word list is edited according to the following editorial process.


Broadly speaking, there are four steps in editing the word list, each of which is described in greater detail below.

  1. Choose candidate words
  2. Research candidate words
  3. Validate candidate words
  4. Publish word list

Choose candidate words

Words found in the previous work, OTCWL2016, may be nominated for deletion by any concerned party. Such words will be reviewed according to validation criteria below as time permits.

Words that should have been included in OTCWL2016 according to contemporary criteria, but may have been erroneously omitted, may be nominated for addition by any concerned party. Such words will be reviewed according to validation criteria below as time permits.

Words that have been newly added to OSPD or MWCD since OTCWL2016 (and which are not found in OTCWL2016) will be added to the candidate word list. Since they have already been extensively vetted by Merriam-Webster, they will be considered to be validated unless a concerned party requests a review.

Words (both boldface main entries and their implicit inflections) found in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2nd edition) (COD2) will be considered candidates if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • they have no more than 10 letters, or are an inflection or base form of a COD2 word with no more than 10 letters
  • they meet the usual requirements for Scrabble words: do not require punctuation or capitalization, not always tagged as foreign, not always appearing as part of a phrase
  • they have not been previously ruled invalid

Research candidate words

All words being added from COD2 should have their COD2 definition recorded in the NASPA Word Database to guide further discussion. A separate document describes procedures for doing this.

Words whose validity is uncertain (typically because the form or existence of an inflection is unclear) should have additional citations added to the word database to help support validation.

Validate candidate words

The following is an overview of the procedure that Dictionary Committee members follow when validating candidate words. There is a separate document for committee members that describes each step in further detail, with examples.

  1. Check to see if the word is listed explicitly and unambiguously in the source lexicon, omitting any diacritical marks present in the source. It must appear in at least one sense without punctuation, capitalisation or an "abbreviation" or "foreign" tag. If so, accept the word. If not, and the word was entered only as a main word (not inflection), reject the word. If the word was entered as an inflection of an acceptable main word but does not explicitly appear in the source, proceed to step 2.
  2. If there is a question regarding the acceptability of a word, try each of the following in turn. If a use of the word in the same sense defined in the source lexicon is found, the word is accepted.
    1. Search in Google Books to see if a reputably edited publication uses the word.
    2. Search in Google to see if native English speakers with a specific subject interest are using the word.
    3. Search any other appropriate subject-specific resources.
  3. If there are comparable cases where there are rulings of past OSPD/OTCWL editors, make a representative list of them and share them with the committee. The word should be accepted unless another committee member takes issue with the appropriateness of the analogous words found.

Publish word list

The word list will be published in the following ways:

  • As a text file available for personal use to NASPA Members through NASPA Member Services
  • As a PDF file of formatted addenda/delenda# suitable for inclusion in a printed copy of OTCWL2016.
  • As a set of entries in the NASPA Word Database
  • Included in a forthcoming edition of NASPA Zyzzyva.
  • Available for licensed use to software developers.