Correct commonly misspelled English words in source files
MIT License

Build Status Go Report Card GoDoc Coverage license

Correct commonly misspelled English words... quickly.


If you just want a binary and to start using misspell:

curl -L -o ./
sh ./

Both will install as ./bin/misspell. You can adjust the download location using the -b flag. File a ticket if you want another platform supported.

If you use Go, the best way to run misspell is by using gometalinter. Otherwise, install misspell the old-fashioned way:

go install

and misspell will be in your GOPATH

Also if you like to live dangerously, one could do

curl -L | bash


$ misspell all.html your.txt files.go
your.txt:42:10 found "langauge" a misspelling of "language"

# ^ file, line, column
$ misspell -help
Usage of misspell:
    	Debug matching, very slow
    	Exit with 2 if misspelling found
  -f string
    	'csv', 'sqlite3' or custom Golang template for output
  -i string
    	ignore the following corrections, comma separated
  -j int
    	Number of workers, 0 = number of CPUs
    	Show legal information and exit
  -locale string
    	Correct spellings using locale perferances for US or UK.  Default is to use a neutral variety of English.  Setting locale to US will correct the British spelling of 'colour' to 'color'
  -o string
    	output file or [stderr|stdout|] (default "stdout")
  -q	Do not emit misspelling output
  -source string
    	Source mode: auto=guess, go=golang source, text=plain or markdown-like text (default "auto")
  -w	Overwrite file with corrections (default is just to display)


How can I make the corrections automatically?

Just add the -w flag!

$ misspell -w all.html your.txt files.go
your.txt:9:21:corrected "langauge" to "language"

# ^ File is rewritten only if a misspelling is found

How do I convert British spellings to American (or vice-versa)?

Add the -locale US flag!

$ misspell -locale US important.txt
important.txt:10:20 found "colour" a misspelling of "color"

Add the -locale UK flag!

$ echo "My favorite color is blue" | misspell -locale UK
stdin:1:3:found "favorite color" a misspelling of "favourite colour"

Help is appreciated as I'm neither British nor an expert in the English language.

How do you check an entire folder recursively?

Just list a directory you'd like to check

misspell .
misspell aDirectory anotherDirectory aFile

You can also run misspell recursively using the following shell tricks:

misspell directory/**/*


find . -type f | xargs misspell

You can select a type of file as well. The following examples selects all .txt files that are not in the vendor directory:

find . -type f -name '*.txt' | grep -v vendor/ | xargs misspell -error

Can I use pipes or stdin for input?


Print messages to stderr only:

$ echo "zeebra" | misspell
stdin:1:0:found "zeebra" a misspelling of "zebra"

Print messages to stderr, and corrected text to stdout:

$ echo "zeebra" | misspell -w
stdin:1:0:corrected "zeebra" to "zebra"

Only print the corrected text to stdout:

$ echo "zeebra" | misspell -w -q

Are there special rules for golang source files?

Yes! If the file ends in .go, then misspell will only check spelling in comments.

If you want to force a file to be checked as a golang source, use -source=go on the command line. Conversely, you can check a golang source as if it were pure text by using -source=text. You might want to do this since many variable names have misspellings in them!

Can I check only-comments in other other programming languages?

I'm told the using -source=go works well for ruby, javascript, java, c and c++.

It doesn't work well for python and bash.

Does this work with gometalinter?

gometalinter runs multiple golang linters. Starting on 2016-06-12 gometalinter supports misspell natively but it is disabled by default.

# update your copy of gometalinter
go get -u

# install updates and misspell
gometalinter --install --update

To use, just enable misspell

gometalinter --enable misspell ./...

Note that gometalinter only checks golang files, and uses the default options of misspell

You may wish to run this on your plaintext (.txt) and/or markdown files too.

How Can I Get CSV Output?

Using -f csv, the output is standard comma-seprated values with headers in the first row.

misspell -f csv *

How can I export to SQLite3?

Using -f sqlite, the output is a sqlite3 dump-file.

$ misspell -f sqlite * > /tmp/misspell.sql
$ cat /tmp/misspell.sql

PRAGMA foreign_keys=OFF;
CREATE TABLE misspell(
  "file" TEXT,
  "line" INTEGER,i
  "column" INTEGER,i
  "typo" TEXT,
  "corrected" TEXT
INSERT INTO misspell VALUES("install.txt",202,31,"immediatly","immediately");
# etc...
$ sqlite3 -init /tmp/misspell.sql :memory: 'select count(*) from misspell'

With some tricks you can directly pipe output to sqlite3 by using -init /dev/stdin:

misspell -f sqlite * | sqlite3 -init /dev/stdin -column -cmd '.width 60 15' ':memory' \
    'select substr(file,35),typo,count(*) as count from misspell group by file, typo order by count desc;'

How can I ignore rules?

Using the -i "comma,separated,rules" flag you can specify corrections to ignore.

For example, if you were to run misspell -w -error -source=text against document that contains the string Guy Finkelshteyn Braswell, misspell would change the text to Guy Finkelstheyn Bras well. You can then determine the rules to ignore by reverting the change and running the with the -debug flag. You can then see that the corrections were htey -> they and aswell -> as well. To ignore these two rules, you add -i "htey,aswell" to your command. With debug mode on, you can see it print the corrections, but it will no longer make them.

How can I change the output format?

Using the -f template flag you can pass in a golang text template to format the output.

One can use printf "%q" VALUE to safely quote a value.

The default template is compatible with gometalinter

{{ .Filename }}:{{ .Line }}:{{ .Column }}:corrected {{ printf "%q" .Original }} to "{{ printf "%q" .Corrected }}"

To just print probable misspellings:

-f '{{ .Original }}'

What problem does this solve?

This corrects commonly misspelled English words in computer source code, and other text-based formats (.txt, .md, etc).

It is designed to run quickly so it can be used as a pre-commit hook with minimal burden on the developer.

It does not work with binary formats (e.g. Word, etc).

It is not a complete spell-checking program nor a grammar checker.

What are other misspelling correctors and what's wrong with them?

Some other misspelling correctors:

They all work but had problems that prevented me from using them at scale:

  • slow, all of the above check one misspelling at a time (i.e. linear) using regexps
  • not MIT/Apache2 licensed (or equivalent)
  • have dependencies that don't work for me (python3, bash, linux sed, etc)
  • don't understand American vs. British English and sometimes makes unwelcome "corrections"

That said, they might be perfect for you and many have more features than this project!

How fast is it?

Misspell is easily 100x to 1000x faster than other spelling correctors. You should be able to check and correct 1000 files in under 250ms.

This uses the mighty power of golang's strings.Replacer which is a implementation or variation of the Aho–Corasick algorithm. This makes multiple substring matches simultaneously.

In addition this uses multiple CPU cores to work on multiple files.

What problems does it have?

Unlike the other projects, this doesn't know what a "word" is. There may be more false positives and false negatives due to this. On the other hand, it sometimes catches things others don't.

Either way, please file bugs and we'll fix them!

Since it operates in parallel to make corrections, it can be non-obvious to determine exactly what word was corrected.

It's making mistakes. How can I debug?

Run using -debug flag on the file you want. It should then print what word it is trying to correct. Then file a bug describing the problem. Thanks!

Why is it making mistakes or missing items in golang files?

The matching function is case-sensitive, so variable names that are multiple worlds either in all-upper or all-lower case sometimes can cause false positives. For instance a variable named bodyreader could trigger a false positive since yrea is in the middle that could be corrected to year. Other problems happen if the variable name uses a English contraction that should use an apostrophe. The best way of fixing this is to use the Effective Go naming conventions and use camelCase for variable names. You can check your code using golint

What license is this?

The main code is MIT.

Misspell also makes uses of the Golang standard library and contains a modified version of Golang's strings.Replacer which are covered under a BSD License. Type misspell -legal for more details or see legal.go

Where do the word lists come from?

It started with a word list from Wikipedia. Unfortunately, this list had to be highly edited as many of the words are obsolete or based from mistakes on mechanical typewriters (I'm guessing).

Additional words were added based on actually mistakes seen in the wild (meaning self-generated).

Variations of UK and US spellings are based on many sources including:

American English is more accepting of spelling variations than is British English, so "what is American or not" is subject to opinion. Corrections and help welcome.

What are some other enhancements that could be done?

Here's some ideas for enhancements:

Capitalization of proper nouns could be done (e.g. weekday and month names, country names, language names)

Opinionated US spellings US English has a number of words with alternate spellings. Think adviser vs. advisor. While "advisor" is not wrong, the opinionated US locale would correct "advisor" to "adviser".

Versioning Some type of versioning is needed so reporting mistakes and errors is easier.

Feedback Mistakes would be sent to some server for agregation and feedback review.

Contractions and Apostrophes This would optionally correct "isnt" to "isn't", etc.