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A recent word game used

"dwelt",

which surprised me because they usually don't include conjugations of verbs, unless they are also adjectives, like e.g. "burnt". Can

"dwelt"

be an adjective? The only example I could come up with was something like "the house looked ______ in", but then that probable needs a hyphen, and even then, is it really an adjective?

Is there perhaps a rule that all past participles can be adjectives, even if their use would make no logical sense?

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  • @livresque Wordle doesn't offer any way to play yesterday's word, after 24 hours it's gone, so there's no need to hide the word behind spoiler alerts. Besides, it's right there in the title :-)
    – abc123
    Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 23:37
  • It's still before midnight in parts of the world. As soon as I saw your title I knew what you were referencing.
    – livresque
    Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 23:38
  • @livresque Oh, I thought the word changed at the same moment all arund the word. Shall I remove the question and post it again tomorrow?
    – abc123
    Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 23:40
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    That would be polite. Also encourage you to check a dictionary.
    – livresque
    Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 23:41
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    I feel your pain. Wasn’t leapt an answer a while back? The (Wordle) problem is that the New York Times changed up / continues to change up the original bank of words (which now seems to include participles such as these as well as an occasional plural). Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 2:56

1 Answer 1

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To paraphrase John Lawler's comment, any past participle can potentially serve as an adjective if the occasion arises. Whether it pleases readers' stylistic senses is another matter. Here are a few examples of dwelt serving as an adjective in pre-position:

Every compressed house thus became a place with its own memory, part of the larger collective memory of the dwelt place. (Place as Material Culture: Objects, Geographies, and the Construction of Time, 2013.)

In this world, the dead mark the time in the life of communities - dead bodies lay the foundations of dwelt space, and they inhabit it after the occupation ended, as happens at many other tells. (Far from Equilibrium: An Archaeology of Energy, Life, and Humanity, 2021.)

But they've auxiliars there from many a town, / Spear-wielding men, that every effort mine / Put quite abroad, nor suffer me to crown / My wish, and overthrow fair Ilium's well-dwelt town. (The Iliad of Homer, Literally Rendered in Spenserian Stanza, 1864; note the use of the adverb well to modify dwelt.)

Conventionally, such an adjective usage is rare. You'll find many guides (like this from the University of Victoria Continuing Studies) focus on narrower sets of participial adjectives, like those showing emotion. Nonetheless, occasionally other participles are used as adjectives.

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