I use the word "misconfigured" all the time, but MS Word, Chrome, and the two dictionaries I checked don't list it as a word.

I'm going to keep using it instead of "configured incorrectly" because I believe it communicates an obvious meaning. However, is it a word that I can use formally? If not, why not?

  • 4
    If you use it, I'm pretty sure your meaning will not be misconstrued or misunderstood.
    – Robusto
    Dec 30, 2010 at 20:05
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    @Robusto: Yes, but will my hypothetical English professor mark me down for using it?
    – Chris
    Dec 30, 2010 at 23:42
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    Came here for the exact same reason, wanted to use it, but my spell checker complained. Thanks for asking this!
    – Andy
    Dec 6, 2017 at 18:27

3 Answers 3


Mis- is a productive prefix, so I see no reason why it should not be allowed to form new verbs, unless used instead of a better word if such exists. The OED agrees:

As now apprehended, the prefix normally implies not censure of the act itself, but only of its manner. With this restriction, nonce-words may be formed very freely. In the 17th c. the use was much wider, and many of the formations of that period would now be inadmissible.

An alternative could be malconfigured, if you wish to use a Latinate prefix to a Latinate word.

  • 2
    I've worked in IT for 20+ years and I've never heard "malconfigured". I do believe you'd get your ass kicked if you said something like that man. Misconfigured is used all the time and it should have been in the dictionary 10+ years ago.
    – deltaray
    Apr 8, 2020 at 20:36
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    @deltaray: Perhaps so, but that does not make it better. Malconfigured is probably a better formation, so that is an argument for using it. Apr 8, 2020 at 22:11
  • I heard malconfigured already in the context of IT, and I think it sounds similarly good/bad thereby being the more elegant formation. I will use that instead. Sometimes I also hear ill configured.. but ill cannot be a prefix like that right?
    – Jan
    Jan 1, 2021 at 10:19
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    @Jan: An ill-configured computer also sounds perfectly fine to me. Ill- can be used as a praefix to mean "wrong(ly)". Jan 1, 2021 at 18:00
  • I believe the military term is the initialism "FUBAR".
    – martineau
    Nov 18, 2021 at 19:27

It seems that "misconfigure" is an acceptable word by Wiktionary standards.

I believe that if your formal communication involves writing to or talking with somebody who has tried to "configure" something, the message will be clear, and thus, the usage acceptable. If you are in a context where there is danger of miscommunication or misunderstanding, then you might prefer the "configured incorrectly" version. However, note that in the latter, you run the risk of somebody misinterpreting it to mean that there was a single "correct" configuration that was possible. Hence, I believe, in general misconfigure(d) is more accurate, and thereby more preferable.

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    There appears to be a good deal of discussion of this on the webs, but I'd say even if the word doesn't currently exist it seems a useful coinage. Dec 30, 2010 at 18:15
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    if people are using it and people understand what it means, seems like a word to me..
    – Claudiu
    Dec 30, 2010 at 18:41
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    Well, if no one else has, can I go around claiming I coined it?
    – Chris
    Dec 30, 2010 at 19:13
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    Hey this is not a patent, you can't stop me from using it!! No! Please! Dec 31, 2010 at 1:09
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    @Chris: Claim whatever you want, but the written evidence is not on your side: it was added to Wiktionary in 2006 and your question is from 2010 :)
    – Hugo
    Dec 7, 2012 at 7:50

At the very least, it is widely used computer jargon. Google lists 275k hits for misconfigured.

(Side note: My spell checker, on Linux chrome, does not recognise misconfigured, but does recognise its cousin "misconfiguration").

  • 3
    So now it's a family matter? Dec 31, 2010 at 4:25

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