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Disputed words

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Several of Countdown's rules regarding which ODE words are permitted and which are not are applied inconsistently. This page lists words which should be "approached with caution".


Mass noun plurals

The Countdown rules state blah blah.


Adjective inflections

Countdown rules state that all one-syllable adjectives have one-word comparative and superlative forms (i.e. they take -ER and -EST).

Allowed on apterous, may not be allowed on Countdown

  • BRUTER, BRUTEST (Assumed inflections of BRUT).

American spellings

Countdown rules that American words are permitted, while American spellings are not. This occasionally causes issues because the ODE itself makes no such distinction, simply marking words as "US" in either case. Generally the distinction is obvious but sometimes it's debatable.

Allowed on apterous, may not be allowed on Countdown

  • ASSHOLE (Considered US spelling of ARSEHOLE but has a recognisably different pronunciation in UK and US dialect).
  • BRINKSMANSHIP (Considered US spelling of BRINKMANSHIP which is obviously just nonsense.)

Unknown rules

In some cases, the dictionary's intention is hard to discern.

  • WHOLIST(S): WHOLISM is given as "alternative spelling of HOLISM" but HOLISM does not list it. Therefore it is unclear whether the alternative spelling should carry over to the subentries of HOLISM, i.e. HOLIST(S).
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