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I use the word "misconfigured" all the time, but MS Word, Chrome, and the two dictionaries I checked don't list it as a word.

I'm going to keep using it instead of "configured incorrectly" because I believe it communicates an obvious meaning. However, is it a word that I can use formally? If not, why not?

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If you use it, I'm pretty sure your meaning will not be misconstrued or misunderstood. –  Robusto Dec 30 '10 at 20:05
    
@Robusto: Yes, but will my hypothetical English professor mark me down for using it? –  Chris Dwyer Dec 30 '10 at 23:42
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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Mis- is a productive prefix, so I see no reason why it should not be allowed to form new verbs, unless used instead of a better word if such exists. The OED agrees:

As now apprehended, the prefix normally implies not censure of the act itself, but only of its manner. With this restriction, nonce-words may be formed very freely. In the 17th c. the use was much wider, and many of the formations of that period would now be inadmissible.

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It seems that "misconfigure" is an acceptable word by Wiktionary standards.

I believe that if your formal communication involves writing to or talking with somebody who has tried to "configure" something, the message will be clear, and thus, the usage acceptable. If you are in a context where there is danger of miscommunication or misunderstanding, then you might prefer the "configured incorrectly" version. However, note that in the latter, you run the risk of somebody misinterpreting it to mean that there was a single "correct" configuration that was possible. Hence, I believe, in general misconfigure(d) is more accurate, and thereby more preferable.

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There appears to be a good deal of discussion of this on the webs, but I'd say even if the word doesn't currently exist it seems a useful coinage. –  Brian Hooper Dec 30 '10 at 18:15
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if people are using it and people understand what it means, seems like a word to me.. –  Claudiu Dec 30 '10 at 18:41
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Well, if no one else has, can I go around claiming I coined it? –  Chris Dwyer Dec 30 '10 at 19:13
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Hey this is not a patent, you can't stop me from using it!! No! Please! –  Cerberus Dec 31 '10 at 1:09
    
@Chris: Claim whatever you want, but the written evidence is not on your side: it was added to Wiktionary in 2006 and your question is from 2010 :) –  Hugo Dec 7 '12 at 7:50
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At the very least, it is widely used computer jargon. Google lists 275k hits for misconfigured.

(Side note: My spell checker, on Linux chrome, does not recognise misconfigured, but does recognise its cousin "misconfiguration").

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So now it's a family matter? –  Michael Haren Dec 31 '10 at 4:25
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protected by RegDwigнt Dec 6 '12 at 20:47

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