The question is a little more complex than the title states. Exceptioned is not in the dictionary. But I am not trying to use this as a verb.

I work in IT. We keep a list of exceptioned words that we parse through on an inbound email. As far as I'm aware, everyone in my industry uses this term quite frequently. I'm also wondering, can others understand what I'm trying to say? What happens that allows someone to "define" this word in the context I'm using it, even if it is incorrect?

I'm not literately inclined. So, I don't even know what part of speech exceptioned should be. But the overall question is, even if this is NOT a real word, why does it "feel" right? Is this really wrong?

I suddenly got hit by the linguistics bug, and something like this example, started to fascinate me. I have so many more questions now!

[Excuse my incorrect tags usage]

  • "What happens that allows someone to "define" this word in the context I'm using it". Sounds like Linguistics to me. I'm sorry if it's 101.
    – christopher clark
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 16:13
  • " even if this is NOT a real word, why does it "feel" right? Is this really wrong?" Also, sounds like a linguistics question.
    – christopher clark
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 16:15
  • 2
    All words are real words. English speakers understand the general functioning of morphology (past tense/participle ‘-ed’), and make reasonable guesses.
    – Jeremy Needle
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 16:36
  • 1
    The real question here is whether to exception is a verb. I'm not sure what it means, since the querent has neglected to say, but I would assume that it's a replacement for to except born of the phonal conflation of accept and except.
    – Anonym
    Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 6:39
  • "Exceptioned" is valid computer jargon in some contexts. Not a word for general use, though.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 14:32

4 Answers 4


The unacknowledged life of 'exceptioned' and 'unexceptioned'

Both exceptioned and unexceptioned appear often enough in Google Books search results to yield Ngram graphs. Here is the Ngram chart for the period 1800–2008 for exceptioned (blue line) and unexceptioned (red line):

As the chart indicates, unexceptioned is the earlier word. A Google Books search finds matches for it dating back to Daniel Defoe, "The Parallel: or Persecution of Protestants the shortest way to prevent the Growth of Popery in Ireland" in A Second Volume of the Writings of the Author of The True-born Englishman (1705):

And as no testimony of the good Deeds of a Person, or a Party, can come with such unexceptioned Authority as what has the concurring Testimony of their Enemies, we refer the Reader for the Particulars; to the famous Milton, whose Pen must needs obtain Credit of our high Gentlemen since he Quarrels with the very Men they would quarrel with, and falls in with the fury of the Times, to expose those they would have exposed.

Unexceptioned seems to be have been used almost exclusively as an adjective during its three centuries of existence. The meaning appears to be "without exception, or not admitting of exceptions." I was surprised to find that the Compact Edition OED of 1971 has no entry for unexceptioned, considering that the word goes back so far in English literature, and that a Google Books search finds about 150 unique matches for the term overall, including several from 2014.

'Exceptioned' as an adjective

The earliest match for exceptioned in Google Books search results involves its use as an adjective, too. From a letter of James Bowdoin to Thomas Pownall (December 3, 1770), reprinted in The Bowdoin and Temple Papers, volume 1 (1897):

As soon as it was known by one of sd messages that they [the proposed bills] would not [be assented to with certain words in them], the House striking out the exceptioned words im[m]ediately sent ye sd bills to ye Council, who passed them.

Here exceptioned appears to mean "taken exception to, or criticized." But more-recent instances of exceptioned as an adjective seem to carry the meaning "excepted, or exceptional," as in Frederick Bruner, The Churchbook: Matthew 13–28 (2004):

Where there is no repentance, Jesus' exception means that some divorces are the (“exceptional” or “exceptioned”) will of God. Here Moses and Jesus agree. Where divorce is the exceptioned will of God, Jesus protects such divorced persons from the opprobrium that is sometimes cruelly attached to them, as though all divorced persons are, as such, less than God's best persons (because, it is said, all divorce is less than God's best will).

The same general sense of exceptioned as an adjective appears in tech publications such as G. Neufeld & M. Ito, Protocols for High Speed Networks IV (2013):

Cells belonging to other connections can be processed once the exception condition is saved (even if these connections share the same endpoint as an exceptioned connection). We cannot process cells belonging to the exceptioned connection, even if they are not affected by the exception, since some applications may depend on the per-channel ordering guarantee of ATM cells.

'Exceptioned' as a verb

Exceptioned first appears in Google Books search results as a verb in Francis Spilsbury, Free Thoughts on Quacks and their Medicines, Occasioned by the Death of Dr. Goldsmith and Mr. Scawen (1776):

Indeed by such railings against every ingredient which is made use of, were we to exclude, one after another, from the several medical compositions, all those which might now and then be exceptioned, we would soon find ourselves reduced to return to that time of ignorance, when disorders were deemed incurable.

Here again, exceptioned seems to mean "taken exception to"—but this time as a past-tense verb, rather than as an adjective. But more recent usage shows the term being used to mean "treated as an exception [to some rule]." For example, from Steve Hughes, ‎Jim Samuelson & ‎S. Miller, SQL Server DTS (2002):

Overflows that actually occur during transformation cause the row to be exceptioned. You can specify this value when the source values are all (or mostly) within the range of the destination column. In total Google Books finds more than 170 unique matches for exceptioned without regard to whether the word is being used as an adjective or as a verb.


I suspect that exceptioned feels right to the poster because in the field of IT in which he works the term is part of the nomenclature—whether technical, colloquial, jargony, or otherwise. Under the circumstances, the question "Is it a word?" seems fairly easy to answer affirmatively—especially since it has been around for more than 240 years in other senses.

The crucial question is whether the people that the poster is trying to communicate with will recognize the intended sense—and the rightness—of the word (as he does) or will be baffled by it. If the poster feels reasonable confident that the intended audience will understand the word, I see no reason to avoid using it, either as an adjective or as a verb.

  • Thank you, I got booted out of Linguistics exchange, since my question and post was mostly related to the english language. But, the question I really wanted answered as a result was, "What happens that allows someone to "define" this word in the context I'm using it, even if it is incorrect?" Someone who has never heard this word before, I think, could still understand it as an adjective rather than it's standard verb form. But anyways, thanks. Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 0:56
  • @christopherclark What happens? Nothing happens. The word is either picked up over time and enters the lexicon or just disappears.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 16:58

Exceptioned is not commonly used, but you could try excepted, except that it sounds like its opposite, accepted.

One possible reason why exceptioned "feels right" is that the familiar word exception carries the meaning you're after, and modifying it with an -ed suffix is a common way of coining colloquial adjectives from nouns. E.g. consider someone who has been convinced to use computers instead of writing entries by hand: he's been computered.

In your case, "exceptioned" would be understood, though with your budding linguistics interest, it would be worthwhile to find alternate words that are both common and perspicuous.


No. Using exceptioned might sound correct within your closed group(or within the IT industry), but it is not a real word and outside the group, people may not appreciate it.

You can verb any noun, but it is injurious to English, as I realized it from my previous question.

...even if this is NOT a real word, why does it "feel" right?

Perhaps, the wrong term is being used for so long , that it has become an accepted practice.

If you are looking for an alternate word, then you can either opt for exempted or blacklisted



We parse through a list of exempted words on all inbound mails


We maintain a list of blacklisted words that are used to validate inbound mails

  • @christopher clark - exempted and excluded happen to be synonyms. So you can say - We check our inbound mails against an excluded list of words
    – BiscuitBoy
    Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 7:03
  • Well, I wasn't using it as a verb. I think adjective is the correct part of speech for that word. Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 0:51

English loves to create verbs. (Note: By that I mean English speakers). This is called denominalization. (s in BrE)

Just take a gander at this article on Shakespeare:

'Enjailed', 'portcullised', 'cowarded', 'to lip': David Crystal explains how Shakespeare created new verbs from old nouns, and considers the dramatic impact of this technique.

[...]This is Mowbray complaining about his sentence of banishment in Richard II: Within my mouth you have enjailed my tongue, Doubly portcullised with my teeth and lips ... (1.3.160)

Great, huh?

Shakepeare and linguistic innovation

In the context of a list, it is perfectly fine to say: List of Exceptions. And if your IT comrades (ahem), want to verb it, so be it. Though I can't quite fathom why it is really necessary, other than to stress that some group of guys (mostly guys, and in that sense, even the women are guys, right?) did this. It is in keeping with how English evolves.

Jumping forward some five hundred years, the best business publication in the English-speaking world in terms of the quality of its writing, The Economist, backs up this idea:

MOTHERS AND FATHERS used to bring up children: now they parent. Critics used to review plays: now they critique them. Athletes podium, executives flipchart, and almost everybody Googles. Watch out—you’ve been verbed.

The English language is in a constant state of flux. New words are formed and old ones fall into disuse. But no trend has been more obtrusive in recent years than the changing of nouns into verbs. “Trend” itself (now used as a verb meaning “change or develop in a general direction”, as in “unemployment has been trending upwards”) is further evidence of—sorry, evidences—this phenomenon.

It is found in all areas of life, though some are more productive than others. Financiers are never lacking in ingenuity: Investec recently forecast that “Better-balanced autumn ranges should allow Marks & Spencer to anniversary tougher comparisons”—whatever that may mean. Politics has come up with “to handbag” (a tribute to Lady Thatcher) and “to doughnut”—that is, to sit in a ring around a colleague making a parliamentary announcement, so that it is not clear to television viewers that the chamber is practically deserted.

[...] Verbing—or denominalisation, as it is known to grammarians—is not new. Steven Pinker, in his book “The Language Instinct” (1994), points out that “easy conversion of nouns to verbs has been part of English grammar for centuries; it is one of the processes that make English English.” Elizabethan writers revelled in it: Shakespeare’s Duke of York, in “Richard II” (c1595), says “Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle”, and the 1552 Book of Common Prayer includes a service “commonly called the Churching of Women”.

Notice how the writer makes up a verb to mean making a noun into a verb: to verb. I would venture to say that if "it feels right" to make exception a verb that's because making up verbs in English has always been very common.


As a side note, French is a nominalizing language. It loves to create nouns.

Vive la différence!

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