Dealing with animation, I often want to described a surface that can be generally traversed as "traversable," but every time I type that word anywhere, like MS word or including stack exchange, it says it's not a real word, though I see no reason why it shouldn't be. What other word could I use to capture a variety of methods of locomotion allowing the passing through or over a landscape?

Because "walking" is too limited and somehow no one made "travelable" a word either. Clearly this usage is a simple and common occurrence, yet somehow, English doesn't appear equipped well enough to deal with it.

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    The existence of its dictionary entry is enough for me to consider it a word.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 24, 2018 at 8:15
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Please continue there: further comments here may be summarily deleted.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 24, 2018 at 9:01
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    There are reported to be over a million words in the English lexicon, and even the most comprehensive dictionary, OED, lists only about 67% of these. Other dictionaries fall far short of this. Non-inclusion in a given dictionary does not prove non-wordness. However, the fact that AHD, ODO and M-W all list this word show that the question is not adequately researched. Jun 24, 2018 at 9:13

1 Answer 1


Software is flawed. Software manufacturers (of browsers, wordprocessors, whatever) try to include a list of the more common words in their software, and the list is large but finite. Some perfectly good words will be omitted because the space they take up is not commensurate with the number of times they will be used, on average.

Of course, some people specialise in particular fields and if their common words are not present in the list they will be far more inconvenienced than "regular" users.

However, traversable is explicitly listed as a word in a reputable dictionary. Or more.

Even dictionaries don't list everything. The suffix -able is a "productive suffix", which means it can make other words which are readily understandable [there's one!] and which could reasonably be omitted from a list because of that. Thus travellable, whether spelled with one l or two, may well not appear in a list: it's not very common and it's easily understood.

  • Although in this case, travellable is actually there. :)
    – tchrist
    Jun 24, 2018 at 21:04

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