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[Pre-Populates, Pre Populates, Prepopulates]

Simple at first but after some research I can't actually find much on this.

Background/Context: I need to write some sort of tech specification and the app takes in data from an external source (API) and prepopulates a few fields. It came up with a red underline saying I had misspelled something and couldn't find it in the drop-down. I then searched online and a few different sources say different things. I'd like to know if this is actually a word or it's just accepted by a wide range of the population

Limited research: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/populate No record of prepopulate; only has these outpopulate, outpopulated, outpopulating repopulate, repopulated, repopulating superpopulated, underpopulate, underpopulated, underpopulating

https://www.yourdictionary.com/prepopulate Very limited description Includes these prepopulated

  • prepopulates
  • prepopulating

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/prepopulate

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/spellcheck/english/?q=prepopulate No record

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prepopulate Thought it might be US only No record

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    Your links to Your Dictionary and Wiktionary say it's a computing term, so it's not necessarily in generalist dictionaries. The question "is it a word" isn't very meaningful. In a computing context, it will probably be understood, but if you're writing for a non-technical audience, it's a bit more complex, and if you're told not to use words that aren't in a (specific) dictionary then you can't use it. You could find alternatives like "populated in advance" if you're worried.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 25, 2023 at 8:47
  • Not really worried, just more curious to be honest. Although I'm a software engineer do you know of it's use elsewhere? Apr 25, 2023 at 8:49
  • It seems to be largely a recent usage, as shown in Google ngrams, though there were a few earlier examples. The meaning (previously populated or metaphorically already given values etc.) seems obvious
    – Henry
    Apr 25, 2023 at 10:30
  • If it's not in Wiktionary, one ought to be extremely wary about using a candidate word. If it is, but not in say OED, wary. This is in Wiktionary, but as the [computing] caveat is appended, back to 'extremely wary' for broadened usage. Apr 25, 2023 at 11:10
  • If you're using prepopulated, you're in good company from your nonhyphenated list in dictionary.com/.../populate. Apr 25, 2023 at 14:03

1 Answer 1

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Yes, "prepopulate" (also spelled "pre-populate") is a word in the field of computing. Since it's a piece of technical jargon, you won't find it in most dictionaries and spelling checkers may highlight it. Wiktionary lists the word, as you have noted, but it correctly states that this word is only used in computing.

You can find plenty of examples on Stack Overflow, GitHub, et cetera.

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  • Thanks, i made a comment above also - What about in the context of non-computing, e.g (I've "prepopulated" your name on this form, you just need to fill in the rest). Is the word strictly in the field of computing, as personally I would rather say "I've filled in your name..." Apr 26, 2023 at 11:22
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    @ShaunMoore As I stated, the term is not used outside of the field.
    – alphabet
    Apr 26, 2023 at 11:23

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