Spellcheck’s Sexist Sewist Problem and a Sewist’s Poem

Our Past President Lorna McKillip recently found a lovely and humorous poem called Thirteen Ways of Looking a Pattern, from the Dress a Day blog by Erin McKean, and wanted to share it with our members. As a poet and sewist sharing Lorna’s story on her behalf, I have to agree, though I don’t think you have to be either to draw the same conclusions.

Speaking of sewist, though, the Dress a Day blog is actually about sewing and words, with its author having written two books. As such, our Past President asked Erin if Erin had challenges with spellcheck and/or autocorrect changing the word sewist to sexist because it didn’t recognize sewist as a legitimate word. Erin was able to relate, and also showed how she included and supported sewist in the online Wordnik community. Wordnik is a nonprofit organization, and “an online English dictionary and language resource that provides dictionary and thesaurus content”, in case you didn’t know as I hadn’t known before today.

How Erin recommended sewving spellcheck’s sexist sewist problem was by adding it to your device’s custom dictionary. Instructions can be found by searching your device name, along with “add to dictionary”, as there isn’t one set of instructions for the various devices, and software out there. Useful advice for anyone out there faced with the same problem, and Lorna has tried and can confirm it works!

Myself, I have found on iPhones and Android phones, when I type in a word it doesn’t recognize, I get the option to select it from the other word guesses it offers me, like sexist in the case of sewist. After I type and select the word I want a few times, though, the phones seem smart enough to offer the word as a choice going forward, and also not autocorrect it after I type it, even when I don’t choose it among the choices offered.

In Microsoft Word and Google Docs, sewist gets flagged as a word not in their dictionaries. The fix for this is easy, should you want to fix the problem there. In doing spellcheck, when the word is flagged, you can choose Add to Dictionary to make it permanent, or just Ignore All if you don’t care to “approve” letting it be every occurrence.

Hopefully, that covers the vast majority the tech people use for spellcheck and autocorrect. Thanks, Lorna and Erin, for the tips and lessons, and other great reading content!


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