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I want to create a poster titled "An Incomplex Introduction to Complexity-based Cryptography." As you see, it contrasts the words incomplex and complexity. (Words like simple or easy do not provide this.) I looked up the word incomplex, and found it in a few dictionaries:

However, most dictionaries do not include this word. Is it a legitimate word at all? Can I use it?

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That sounds like a perfectly cromulent word. –  Joshua Karstendick Dec 21 '10 at 13:47
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@Joshua: Ironically, the word cromulent itself isn't listed in ordinary dictionaries :) I found its meaning here: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cromulent. –  Sadeq Dousti Dec 21 '10 at 17:45
    
@SadeqDousti That's probably why he used it :) –  AsianSquirrel Mar 2 at 22:27

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

It's definitely not a standard English term, and as such will likely sound wrong to most people, even if it is shown somehow to be a legitimate term.

I understand your interest in using it to contrast against "complexity" but I think you would find that "simple" would work just as well, as simple is quite commonly used as the opposite of complex. And you'd get far fewer people wondering if it were a real word.

If I were trying to write the title, I'd probably go with, "A Simplicity-based Introduction to Complexity-based Cryptography." Snappy, and you have full part-of-speech agreement between your contrasting phrases--which makes it crystal clear that you're going for a fun contrast.

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If it's for a title you can do whatever you want, especially if you are coining a word for use in a knowledge domain.

But you will be better understood if you use a word like simple instead of incomplex. Trust me when I tell you that simple does provide a specific contrast to complex.

If you can't abide simple, I'd suggest you try non-complex instead of incomplex.

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Consider using the word "uncomplicated" making your title

An Uncomplicated Introduction to Complexity-based Cryptography

I suspect you were attempting to create a parallel between "incomplex" and "complexity-based"

"Uncomplicated" will get closer to that goal than "simple" (though the contrast between "simple" and complexity is arguably more powerful)

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I checked in Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Ed. (OED 2nd Ed.), and interestingly the word "incomplex" was coined in early 17C and last usage was recorded as late as 19C. It is defined as :

Not complex; not complicated or involved; simple.

Although I could not find in other dictionaries, I support your title as it's the legal usage of prefix in-.

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It's also in Webster's Unabridged, but I don't think I've ever heard it before. –  Matthew Flaschen Apr 4 '11 at 14:57

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