Usage and Grammar

Q. How do you handle words that do not appear in the dictionary? Are they considered wrong? Within my documentation the writer uses the word “Typomatic.” This means when you are in our software and start typing a word, the word appears in the field as you type the word. In Merriam-Webster this word does not appear.

A. The way to handle words not in the dictionary is to think about whether they are appropriate anyway. “Typomatic,” in the context you describe, is understandable, concise, and slightly humorous. A good editor would search for “Typomatic” online to see whether it’s commonly used (yes), whether it’s a trademarked term (yes), and whether its meaning is the same as in her text (no). She would then consider whether to allow it. That’s the hard part; it calls for editorial judgment. Be prepared to give reasons for your decision. And as you’ve guessed by now, “It’s not in the dictionary” is not a good reason.