I misspelt the word "analogous", and I found that the system spellchecker offered "anbalagous" as a possible correction. As far as I can tell, "anbalagous" isn't a real word, so I figured I must have added it to the dictionary at some point by mistake.

However, it seems that "anbalagous" isn't in ~/Library/Spelling/LocalDictionary, so it's a bit of a mystery. Out of curiosity, I would like to check which file the word "anbalagous" appears in. So:

  • where are the spell check dictionary file(s) located on a Mac?

  • is there any location other than ~/Library/Spelling/LocalDictionary where custom words are stored for the system spell checker?

  • if (as I suspect) the dictionary is stored in a binary file, is there a way to see the list of words in it?

  • (Probably not but might as well check) does a Mac's spell checker dictionary contain the word "anbalagous" by default?

In case it makes a difference I'm still on OS X 10.11.

  • The linked question is the same as mine. However, it is apparently out of date (even given that I'm running an old OS version), since that file doesn't exist on my system.
    – N. Virgo
    Oct 7, 2020 at 13:17
  • I didn't mean to close it (I don't like the system arbitrarily doing that because I have the privilege), I just wanted to flag. If it doesn't, ping me and I'll reopen
    – Allan
    Oct 7, 2020 at 13:17
  • The location is the same, it's just the filename seems different now - /System/Library/Services/AppleSpell.service/Contents/Resources/AppleSpell.8
    – Allan
    Oct 7, 2020 at 13:19
  • @Allan the Resources subfolder doesn't exist on my system
    – N. Virgo
    Oct 7, 2020 at 13:21
  • 2
    Just for grins, I just tried your word (copied and pasted it into TextEdit) and it isn't triggered by spell check. This is a 2 month old install of Catalina and I'm the only one using it so there's no chance of that word being entered by someone else. It appears it's in the system spell checker.
    – Allan
    Oct 7, 2020 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


Through a process of elimination, I have determined that the word is (erroneously) in the system wide spell checker.

  • The file isn't in your local spell check dictionary. This is easy to check - simply edit the file ~/Library/Spelling/LocalDictionary. You can also issue the following command to search directly from the command line

    % grep -i anbalagous < ~/Library/Spelling/LocalDictionary

  • Apple utilizes a spell checker called Hunspell which is an open source spell checker based on MySpell. (also found on https://opensource.apple.com) The dictionary (en_US.dic) are plain text files and can easily be viewed/edited. Issuing the following command on the downloaded dictionary file yields no results; it's not in the public dictionary from Hunspell.

    % grep anbalagous < hunspell-en_US-2019.10.06/en_US.dic

  • AppleSpell appears to be their proprietary spelling and grammar checker product as it isn't found on https://opensource.apple.com/source/ (listing of open source projects used by Apple). The version.plist file found in /System/Library/Services/AppleSpell.service/Contents makes reference to the "ProjectName" being "ProofReader".

  • There are additional word lists (spelling dictionaries) found in /usr/share/dict. Searching each one for the word in question produced no result either. Eg:

    % grep -i anbalagous < ~/usr/share/dict/words

  • On a FreeBSD 12-1 VM, I installed the hunspell and en-hunspell (en-US dictionary) ports. Anbalagous is identified as misspelled; so the hunspell engine and dictionary appear to be working.

  • Finally, on a clean install of Catalina, I tested the word anbalagous and it doesn't trigger the spell check. It appears it's in the spell check dictionary/word list supplied from Apple or there is possibly a bug in Apple's implementation of the spell checker.

Since I can't seem to find a dictionary with that misspelling and the open source tools which Apple bases their spell checker seem to function correctly, I filed a bug report with Apple at https://www.apple.com/feedback/macos.html; I encourage you to do the same.

  • 2
    My freshly reinstalled High Sierra system also knows "anbalagous" for no good reason. I suspect it is a deliberate copyright trap (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictitious_entry ) Feb 2, 2021 at 18:25
  1. You may be able to select the word in TextEdit (or other app), right click and select 'Unlearn Spelling'.

  2. If the word isn't in the file LocalDictionary, is it in any other files in that folder? I have a file there called en_GB, which contains words I've added.

  • I'm not able to do (1), because it doesn't give me that option. It does give me that option if I right-click on one of the words in LocalDictionary, so I assume this is because "anbalagous" is in some other file. There are a few other files in ~/Library/Spelling, but that word isn't in any of them.
    – N. Virgo
    Oct 7, 2020 at 13:09

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