Q: What are the rules ?
A: The “rules”, such as they are, are “Take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.“
Q: How do I submit a word ?
A: Simply click on the “Submit Words” tab, fill out the nomination form and click “Send”
Q: Do you publish every word that is submitted ?
A: Not all words are posted. Some are pretty far from the basic rules (one letter change, etc.). Some are two words which we post, selecting the best as “Ringers”. Some are a little obscure – you may have to take out your actual dictionary to figure them out. Some we can’t actually figure out but sometimes post anyway – we’ve added a new field for the original word in 2021 to make the job of deciphering the more esoteric contributions a little easier.
Despite the limitless opportunities that politics offer (and some very clever contributions), we do not publish words that have obvious political connotations, since we’d rather not have the website seem partisan in any way: we didn’t want to referee and politicians are perfectly capable of entertaining us on other platforms.
We also try not to post words that might be offensive to our younger readers (besides, who wants our pages to start showing up on unfortunate search results). Finally, we also try not to post words that are based on religious words or concepts or identifications (whether pejorative or not).
Q: What are the annual award categories ?
A: Originally, only the top 10 words that were compliant with the rules were published each year, but as this site is more about originality than slavish devotion to rules, other categories have emerged, currently :
- Top 10 – words that meet the rules and are truly exceptional – only one letter changed. You can nominate more than one word from a single contributor, but only one per contributor will be included in the final list.
- Best of the Rest – as above, 20 words that are really good, but failed to meet the cut or were excluded owing to the one Top 10 limit of one word per contributor
- Ringers– 10 words that fall outside the rules but are just too good to leave out
- Covid – self-isolation and quarantine gave everyone a chance to spend more time thinking up words, so this category was added in 2020 and retained in 2021. We sincerely hope that this category will fade into oblivion in 2022.
Q: Who selects the annual winners ?
A: WPMI began on a whim by a couple who had the time and ability to set the site up and manage it. Selecting an “annual winner” and “Top 10” was the incentive for people to contribute. It was little more than an after-dinner game in 2010, with only 78 words submitted and the site founders did the judging themselves. Popularity grew, but over the first 10 years only 250-400 words were published each year. Many more words were submitted, but only the best were uploaded to the site. With the rise in numbers of entries, some of the regular contributors were invited to participate in the award process from 2016 onwards. In 2020 the field grew to over 600 entries, new categories were introduced and a loose collaboration of contributors selected the winners. Beating Wordle to the punch, 2021 saw WPMI take off, with 2,787 entries published and the opportunity to participate in the voting process was thrown open to all. The system works well, and the final decisions when votes are tied come down to the discretion of the moderator.
Q: What do you mean by “clever”?
A: Dry, unfunny and awkwardly contrived words generally fail to make the cut. Clever words are those that relate closely to the original, either by auditory association or context, with a humorous definition. Words that bear no relation to the original word, but have an amusing, erudite or poetic definition are clever. Definitions that include more words with a one-letter change are clever. Satirical definitions are clever.
Q: Are you making any money out of this ?
A: No. WPMI is run by amateurs for enthusiasts. Uploading words is done in our spare time, when we have some.
Q: How can I make suggestions, point out typos or submit comments ?
A: You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org