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Is this a word?

I recently wrote a story with the word 'embroiderment', but it isn't in the dictionary. Is it a word, and if not, what would be a way to show the noun 'embroidery' as a resulting state?


  • The OED is an enormous collection of words that have actually been used. OK, it doesn't aim to include every technical word from every technical specialisation. And there are some brand new words in circulation which haven't been included yet. Even so, the fact that embroiderment is not recorded in the OED is very suggestive.

    Added to this, embroiderment yields not a sing hit on google.

    I don't see why you think the word is needed. The OED lists embroidery as an art as its first used, but the second listed use is:

    embroidery, n.
    2. concr. Embroidered work or material.

    The art sense is earler, first found in a work of 1370. But the work sense is pretty old, dating back at least to the late sixteenth century.

    If you're determined to show exactly what aspect of the word embroidery you mean, why not add an adjective? For example

    confident embroidery
    skilled embroidery
    accomplished embroidery
    neat embroidery
    rich embroidery
    finished embroidery


  • Hi @cxharmon,

    I think there are actually two separate elements to your question. Firstly: is it a word?, to which the answer is yes on the basis that it is an utterance with a specific meaning. Secondly, there is the broader question of whether the word is in widespread usage, to which the answer is no, and neither is it ever likely to be for all the reasons @DavidCrosbie outlined.

    To give you a clearer example: my daughter, when she was learning to speak, made up words like "dup" (meaning the object she was indicating) and "deet" (meaning "yes"). Both of those examples are words because they had specific meanings but neither of them ever had any currency outside of my immediate family and both have now fallen out of use entirely. In short, the bar for what constitutes a word is very low indeed but the bar for general acceptance and inclusion in a dictionary is much, much higher.

  • Thanks so much for commenting and for the advice. I'll fix that. I always just kinda only recognized that when the word 'embroidery' was used it was just referring to the art of it, not the resulting state as well. :)

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