The ENABLE word list includes over 172,000 words in the English language and describes itself as the most thoroughly researched, and therefore the most authoritative word list and reference available for Scrabble players1. It has become a de facto standard, particularly for online word games, and is released into the public domain by its compiler, Alan Beale. Since it is used by many puzzle authors and solvers alike, ENABLE makes the aggressive claim that it is not merely a superior alternative2 to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, but that it threatens to supplant and replace it, to squeeze the very life out of it in a process of Darwinian selection3.

ENABLE is an acronym for Enhanced North American Benchmark Lexicon, and attempts to combine several other sources, such as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition and the OSPD in order to claim to be definitive. Much of the work embodied in ENABLE involves resolution of ambiguity, particularly of nouns that admit no sensible plural, grammatical inflections, or lexicographical contradictions, such as definitions that appear in Merriam-Webster that use words that are themselves absent from the dictionary.

The initial version of ENABLE was released in the fall of 1997, and was updated with a "millennium edition" in April 2000. The new edition included words that were added to the source dictionaries after the initial list was released. The 1997 version of the list is now officially retired, replaced by the ENABLE2K version. Of course this indicates the problem inherent with any effort to produce an official word list - that the language is constantly changing.

The ENABLE2K version of the list contains 173,528 words, listed in a plain text format, one word per line, in alphabetical order. They are not limited by length like some other word lists, particularly those targeted for Scrabble. (ENABLE2K for instance contains ethylenediaminetetraacetates as its longest word). In addition, the ENABLE distribution includes several other files listing the differences between other available word lists. A supplement goes into more detail about the decisions made on each word. Words that have more recently made headline news when included in major printed dictionaries (such as blog) are of course absent. Nevertheless, the ENABLE effort is significant for all kinds of wordplay.

Sources

1,2,3 Quotes in this writeup were taken directly from the README file accompanying the ENABLE2K distribution, obtained from http://personal.riverusers.com/~thegrendel/software.html.

Cooper, M. Available Software, http://personal.riverusers.com/~thegrendel/software.html , viewed on July 11, 2005.
Atkinson, Kevin. Kevin's Word List Page , http://wordlist.sourceforge.net/ , viewed on July 11, 2005.

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