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For many reasons, people have found it useful to compile a list of words. Nothing fancy, just a plaintext listing of words that people may use. These lists may or may not restrict themselves to dictionary words depending on the source; they may or may not be restricted on one language; and they may or may not exclude abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon; but in general they serve as a compendium of vocabulary in use in writing.
WordLists can be used in many circumstances:
- Spellchecking. They are the cheapest way to determine if the majority of a text is spelt correctly even if not accurate. Just cross-reference each word in the text against the WordList.
- Dictionary crossreferencing. With a WordList, it's easy to guess whether or not a given string is in the dictionary. Thus, when doing things like searching, you could provide links to the dictionary definitions of the terms. On wikis, you could provide TwinPages to the dictionary definition of the title or words therein.
- Pronunciation key. If you are doing TextToSpeech? conversion with an inconsistent language like English, it's helpful to have the pronunciations of words in the stream. Some word lists, like the Moby list (see [below]), provide a pronunciation key.
- Password cracking. While possibly of dubious merit, since most passwords use common words, WordLists can be used to identify weak passwords. Many networks use the system wordlist to disallow simple passwords. The infamous program crack takes a wordlist as a data source.
If you need a WordList, see http://www.hyphenologist.co.uk/wordlist/wordfaq.htm. In particular, the [Moby] list is the largest WordList available in the world with over 600 000 entries. It's also in the public domain, making it a hundred times more valuable.
If you're running a popular Unix variant, the canonical system WordList is stored at /usr/share/dict/words.
Contrast against WordIndex.