I have a dictionary app that lists “Word Origin” in the entry. The word origin values I’ve seen have been XXXAX, XXXBX and XXXCX. What do those letters represent?

Update: a screenshot for reference

The app: enter image description here

You can also see a number of examples here.

  • Welcome to the site! More details would help here: What app is it? Is it a Latin dictionary? Can we see a sample dictionary entry? It's much easier to judge when one sees a bigger picture.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 12, 2019 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


I'm going to take a shot in the dark and guess that you're using Whitaker's Words, since those look like Whitaker's origin codes.

Each letter in the code indicates something about the word: in order, they're AGE, AREA, GEO, FREQ, and SOURCE. The first indicates how early or late the word is attested; the second indicates what general topic it's related to; the third indicates where in the world the word was found; the fourth indicates how frequently the word appears in corpora; the fifth indicates which source Whitaker took the word from.

For all of them, a value of X means "not known" or "not applicable". So none of the words you've been looking at are associated with a specific time period, area of interest, or region, and Whitaker didn't note his sources for them. But the fourth letter tells you roughly how common the stem in question is: A is more common than B, B than C, and so on.

A full description of all the abbreviations and their meaning can be found here.


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