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aspell - Unix, Linux Command

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aspell - interactive spell checker


aspell [options] <command>


aspell is a utility that can function as an ispell -a replacement, as an independent spell checker, as a test utility to test out Aspell features, and as a utility for managing dictionaries.


<command> is one of:
-?,help display the help message
-c,check file
  to spell-check a file
-a,pipe ispell -a compatibility mode
-list produce a list of misspelled words from standard input
[dump] config
  dump the current configuration to stdout
config key
  print the current value of an option
  return the soundslike equivalent for each word entered
filter pass standard input through the same set of filters that would be used to spell check a document
  print version number and exit
dump|create|merge master|personal|repl wordlist
  dump, create, or merge a master, personal, or replacement word list


The following options may be used to control which dictionaries to use and how they behave.
  base name of the dictionary to use. If this option is specified then Aspell will either use this dictionary or die.
  location of the main word list
  language to use, it follows the same format of the LANG environmental variable on most systems. It consists of the two letter ISO 639 language code and an optional two letter ISO 3166 country code after a dash or underscore. The default value is based on the value of the LC_MESSAGES locale.
  the preferred size of the word list
  an extra information to distinguish two different words lists that have the same lang and size.
  search path for word list information files
  list of available modules, modules that come first on this list have a higher priority. Currently there is only one speller module.
  personal word list file name
  replacements list file name
  extra dictionaries to use.


These options control the behavior of Aspell when checking documents.
  ignore words <= n chars
  ignore case when checking words
  ignore commands to store replacement pairs
  save the replacement word list on save allkeyboard (file) the base name of the keyboard definition file to use (see section 4.4.3)
  suggestion mode = ultra | fast | normal | bad-spellers


These options modify the behavior of the various filters.
  add or removes a filter
  sets the filter mode. Mode is one if none, url, email, sgml, or tex. (The short cut options ’-e’ may be used for email, ’-H’ for Html/Sgml, or ’-t’ for Tex)
  The encoding the input text is in. Valid values are ‘‘utf-8’’, ‘‘iso8859-*’’, ‘‘koi8-r’’, ‘‘viscii’’, ‘‘cp1252’’, ‘‘machine unsigned 16’’, ‘‘machine unsigned 32’’. However, the Aspell utility will currently only function correctly with 8-bit encodings. utf-8 support is planned for the future. The two ‘‘machine unsigned’’ encodings are intended to be used by other programs using the Aspell library and it is unlikely the Aspell utility will ever support these encodings.
  email quote characters
  number of chars that can appear before the quote char
  SGML attributes to always check
  SGML file extensions
  TeX commands
  check TeX comments


These may be used to control the behavior of run-together words.
  consider run-together words legal
  maximum numbers that can be strung together
  minimal length of interior words


Miscellaneous options that don’t fall under any other category.
  main configuration file
  location of main configuration file
  location of language data files
  alternative location of language data files. This directory is searched before data-dir. It defaults to the same directory the actual main word list is in (which is not necessarily dict-dir).
  location for personal files
  personal configuration file
  prefix directory


  create a backup file by appending .bak to the file name. Only applies when the command is check.
  time load time and suggest time in pipe mode.
  reverse the order of the suggestions list
  the keymapping to use, either aspell for the default mapping or ispell to use the same mapping that the ispell utility uses
In addition Aspell will try to make sense out of ispell’s command line options so that it can function as a drop in replacement for ispell. If Aspell is run without any command line options it will display a brief help screen and quit.


Aspell can also accept options via a personal or global configuration file. The exact files to used are specified by the options per-conf and conf respectfully but the personal configuration file is normally .aspell.conf located in the $HOME directory. Each line of the configuration file has the format:

option [value]

where option is any one of the standard library options above without the leading dashes. For example the following line will set the default language to Swiss German:

lang de_CH

There may any number of spaces between the option and the value however it can only be spaces, i.e. there is no ’=’ between the option name and the value. Comments may also be included by preceding them with a ’#’ as anything from a ’#’ to a newline is ignored. Blank lines are also allowed. Values set in the personal configuration file override those in the global file. Options specified at either the command line or via an environmental variable override those specified by either configuration file.

The global configuration file for Aspell is /etc/aspell.conf and the per user configuration file is ~/.aspell.conf


run-with-aspell(1), word-list-compress(1), aspell-import(1)

Aspell is fully documented in its Texinfo manual. See the ‘aspell’ entry in info for more complete documentation.


This manual page was written by Brian Nelson <> based on the Aspell User’s Manual, Copyright © 2002 Kevin Atkinson.
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