In scientific publications, I like to refer to "misspecification(s)" of models. While the dictionary of my LaTeX-Editor complains that this is not a correct word, it is for example used in the wikipedia article on statistical model specification (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_model_specification).

I am convinced that everyone reading my publicatons will understand what I mean by the word. So, is it a real word I can use, or should it be avoided? What would be a proper alternative?

  • Perhaps if you provide a definition of "real word", then someone can answer the question.
    – GEdgar
    Oct 31, 2019 at 13:54
  • As 'specification' has more than one sense, using 'misspecification', a candidate that's just making it into Wiktionary but not say Lexico, CED, AHD, Collins (as yet), ... is not going to be easily understood by the majority of people. Even those familiar with other jargon may struggle. Is there a pejorative flavour (mislead, the 'opposite' of 'lead', certainly has one). / Even with well-established words, the availability of different senses often means that, for precision, terms must be defined. Nov 2, 2019 at 19:56

1 Answer 1


If by "real word" you mean in a dictionary, then yes, it is a word.

n. An incorrect specification Wiktionary

Regarding whether people will understand these little-mentioned words, a general rule of thumb is that common prefixes e.g. un-, de- mis- attached to nouns (within reason) will be understood by most people. Even if it isn't an official word, if it sounds plausible, it's probably OK.

  • OP should be submitting this. Nov 2, 2019 at 19:58
  • @EdwinAshworth What do you mean by submitting?
    – Lordology
    Nov 2, 2019 at 19:59
  • Reasonable evidence of research is expected; merely looking up "misspecification meaning" on Google would give the Wiktionary listing (and only a mention at Collins). Correct practice is to close-vote for lack of such submission of research. Nov 2, 2019 at 20:07
  • @EdwinAshworth I agree about CV'ing practices, and it wasn't clear whether the OP was referring to if it was a dictionary word or one understood in conversation, which to be honest, is closeable in its own right!
    – Lordology
    Nov 2, 2019 at 20:11
  • But I can still only count one CV. And an 'answer' adds credibility. Nov 3, 2019 at 14:14

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