So, I think I've found a misspelled word in the Mac OS 10.8 dictionary. This is not a word that I've added. I double checked in \Library\Spelling and don't have it added to any user dictionaries. When I look up the word the dictionary even states it is a common misspelling.

The word in question is "espresso" but if I type "expresso" it's not underlined in red.

Is there anyway to edit the system dictionary? Or is this something I should submit to Apple as a bug?

*If I double click to select the word and then right click, I don't have the "Unlearn Spelling" option.

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    It was underlined in red for me. – revolver Mar 5 '13 at 1:45
  • Hmm, interesting. What OS are you using? Any suggestions on where else the user dictionary might store words that have been added manually? If I highlight the word I don't get the option to "Unlearn Spelling" from the context menu. – John C Mar 5 '13 at 2:29
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    It is not underlined in red on my MBP OSX 10.8. I think that is a really good catch. Certainly submit as a bug report. I will do the same myself. – bassplayer7 Mar 5 '13 at 2:42
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    From Apple's Mountain Lion Dictionary: ORIGIN 1940s: from Italian (caffè) espresso, literally ‘pressed out (coffee).’ usage: The often-occurring variant spelling expresso —and its pronunciation |ikˈspresō| —is incorrect and was probably formed by analogy with express. So, you're right to flag it, it ought to be red underlined (and it's not on my computer either). – Richard Mar 5 '13 at 3:45
  • Not underlined on OSX 10.7.5 english, usa, english usa keyboard either. Please be sure of comparing the same locale, region and mac keyboard/systems exactly. – dhchdhd Mar 5 '13 at 14:38

Warning: be careful about editing the system dictionary as it is easy to get an unusable dictionary. You also run the risk of having the updated dictionary over-written by subsequent OSX updates.

To edit the system level dictionaries, there is a helpful Q&A that tells you where to find the dictionaries: superuser.

In summary:


The System-wide equivalent, which is empty on my Mac, would be here:


Aside from this, you will find packaged dictionaries here:



If it were me, I would just add the word to my personal dictionary. Although your question was how to edit the system dictionary, I note that on my system (10.8.2 Australian English) both your words are accepted.

But Microsoft Word 2011 (with Australian English) puts red lines under expresso and is happy with espresso.

It appears your example may be one of those where there is different usage in different parts of the world and in different software packages.

  • Some details needed to make an unofficial informed comparison: country, language, keyboard language and purchase origin. – dhchdhd Mar 5 '13 at 14:41
  • All AU, though the AU keyboard is the same as US. – Gilby Mar 5 '13 at 20:43
  • Just to be clear, neither word (espresso or expresso) is underlined as misspelled on my system either. – John C Mar 6 '13 at 3:05
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    It's not clear to me how this helps to edit the built in dictionaries to remove e.g. the word expresso. The dictionaries in /Library/Dictionaries/ have a very complicated database format (and are codesigned) and it seems unlikely that they can be edited by the user (without more information). The other directories only contain words that the user added himself. – Vortexfive Jan 27 '14 at 12:00
  • You can't add a "misspelling" to your personal dictionary. All you can do is to teach OS X to stop treating a word as misspelled. In this case, the misspelled word is already being treated as correct. That's the problem. So adding it to the local dictionary won't do anything (except ensure the problem persists even after the main dictionary has been fixed). – Lèse majesté Mar 19 '15 at 10:46

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