Wordlists are compilations of words from a wide variety of sources including some dictionaries. The wordlists are commonly in the public domain.
What sets the lists apart are what they are used for. For example, the official Scrabble™ player's dictionary, known as OSPD, includes words that are playable under the “official rules” of Scrabble. The words are 8 letters or less in length, no proper names, no abbreviations.
Each list has a history, a source, and some bias. We've tried to credit all the sources, as well as any biases we've observed. On our page of word lists you will also find compilations of all the lists into a single list.
The most common use of any word list in electronic form is to hand a LOT of known valid words to an electronic solving tool. For example, The Electronic Alveary™ (aka “TEA”), from Crossword Man in the U.K., can consume these lists and extract a sort of “regular expression” for lots of letter patterns from it. Maybe you want to know a lot of words that are a specific length and have 'd' in a particular position. TEA can find it. Or you want all the anagrams of “blacksmith” for something. TEA is a great choice. And TEA can handle several lists at once, so if you have a wordlist of a particular sort, you can look there for matching words. Some of the Tools
If you are new to Regular Expressions, they can be quite daunting. If you are familiar with the basics, they can still be quite daunting! They are an extremely powerful tool and a remarkably concise way to interpret text. They would rarely be considered “light reading,” but they can be read. Here are a few references: