Tips to Add Words to iPhone’s Dictionary

You might have noticed that your iPhone doesn't know the swear words. We had also provided couple of tricks to teach your iPhone to swear.

iPhone expert, Erica Sadun, who also blogs at Ars Technica decided to investigate as the trick of typing the swear word two or three times and canceling the auto-correct pop-up each time did not work too well all the time.

What she found out was quite surprising but at the same time quite useful for iPhone users.

Erica first goes on to explain where the database of where the user word database was stored:

"That database is stored in the "mobile" user directory, in
/private/var/mobile/Library/Keyboard. The file is called
dynamic-text.dat. It consists of a (mostly) plain text list of words
that the iPhone has marked for special attention.

The auto-correct feature is based on the list of words in the user word database file or iPhone's dictionary. So she set out to do some tests to find out when the user word database gets updated.

"I fired up the Notes application and started typing words in an attempt to see how many repetitions it would take until the dictionary "learned" them. About an infinite number, it would appear. I say this because, after typing and typing and typing, the last modified date for my dynamic-text.dat file remained yesterday.

-rw——- 1 mobile mobile 1244 Jan 15 18:40 dynamic-text.da

It wasn't until I left Notes and hopped over to Mobile Safari that I was able to make any difference at all. In Mobile Safari, I opened a new browser, typed the same words into the Google search field and, in the words of Steve Jobs, boom. Just as one would hope, the dynamic-text.dat file immediately updated without any further repetition needed. I could also see the words by looking through the file.

-rw——- 1 mobile mobile 1359 Jan 16 11:51 dynamic-text.da

To test my update, I then returned to Notes and tried typing my words
again. This time, Notes immediately recognized my new additions as
correct, without offering a special suggestion bubble."

Based on Erica's test, she concluded that not all iPhone apps learn words, however hard you try to teach the iPhone.

So the tip from her test results are that do NOT use Notes to teach your iPhone swear words as in Erica's words its "brain-dead" but instead use Safari's Google text entry field as I have observed worked every time and also started those words in the suggestion bubble.

The other option is to add the swear words in your iPhone's Contact app and your iPhone will
stop prompting you with weird alternatives. You don't even need to have
the swear word as a contact name, it should work even if the word is in
say the job title of one of your contacts to get through the profanity. But I don't like it as it ends up messing up the Contact list.

I think the simplest solution would be the ability to add words to the dictionary from any iPhone app whenever you tap on a misspelled word or the next best solution would be if Apple or some iPhone developer develops a simple app to add words to iPhone's dictionary. I am assuming such an app if developed by an iPhone app developer will get rejected and will need to be developed for the jailbroken iPhone.

What do you think? Let us know if the iPhone trick works in the comments.

[via Ars Technica]



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  • DistortedLoop

    What an f-ing fantastic tip. Now my phone will stop autocorrecting my words to shift and duck. 😉

  • Me

    finally, I hope I could add the Italian world "ma" without seeing it always being corrected to the non-sensed "m'a"…
    That's weird: "ma" is a widely used conjunction… Strange Apple hasn't added it!

  • this is lame, if you dont like the auto correction function JUST CANCEL IT…its not that hard (if u have 2.2) if u r runnin 2.1 then u can download an app from cydia that can stop it. so it doesnt really need anyone to develop an app which could help u add words….i dont like it

  • DistortedLoop

    Actually, I take it back. While the tip keeps autocorrection from correcting your foul language in mobile safari, the same words are auotcorrected in the SMS app still. Too bad.

  • DistortedLoop

    I like the autocorrection feature, and would never turn it off. It makes far too many "correct" corrections to give up; that doesn't mean that I can't be frustrated with the fact that it refuses to learn certain words, and that there is no way to force it to stop autocorrecting particular words that the prude-police at Apple have deemed non-iPhone-worthy.

  • Jonny H


  • kelly summers

    if they get this working fine it will boost the iphone sales no end, i know dozens of people who wont buy the iphone just because they cant use the bluetooth to other phones.

  • Hey DistortedLoop,

    You are right, it seems to work sometimes but doesn't work all the time.

    Erica has just commented that she might be able to build an app for this, in my opinion that's the next best solution.

    So there is hope 🙂

  • terrafx

    You can hack this with a bit of perl. Threw this together as an example and I'm sure someone has more time to create a read, edit, write perl script.

    scp'd file to my linux box. Ran perl script against it & copied back. Voila

    open FILE, ">>dynamic-text.dat" or die $!;
    binmode FILE;
    print FILE "fuck";

    You can also do a very quick dump of words with strings.

  • Hey terrafx,

    Thats just awesome 🙂


  • anonymous

    well, its not hard earned experience to that extent. but if you want your iphone to "learn" words. text people. the iphone will learn that way. and it will be put into the dictionary when youre using safari or notes or whatever else you have in your iphone. believe me since i speak another language and the iphone basically knows another language by now. and no, it does not change my words to shift or duck.

  • mark

    Good tip for users that dont like big fat cases are:

    Remember the main reason for users buying cases are to protect it from scratches ok ive done this and works ok

    For the back you cover the area that sits in contact with a surface with 3 strips of black electrical tape this will also stop the iphone from sliding around.

    For the front you cut 4 bits of electrical tape each half a cm x cm and place 1 in each corner and this is enough to keep the screen off a surface but allows you to have it with out a cases

  • a

    you can add words to dictionary on any phone but why not the iphone?!


    Thank you!!!! My initials are SLW – which the phone always tried to change to SOW – and . . . that's just mean! I'm NOT a SOW. I had rejected the correction at least a hundred times, and the iPhone was not getting the hint. After searching for SLW on Safari – and turning phone off & back on – I can finally type my own initials without being insulted by iPhone.

  • Nigguh..this shizzo iz kleen… i bin trine to doo thizz shizzo fo a long azz mufukin tyme… ya digg…we big tymers up in thos whole

  • Dustin


  • I'm becoming more and more mystified by my iPhone spellchecker. With 2.x firmware it corrected nsw/Nsw (my home state in Australia) to NSW but stopped with 3.x firmware. Ironically, the iPhone wasn't even released in Australia till the 3G phone

    Today it suggested "Ute" as a fix for "Yes".

    I'd also like it to stop trying to capitalise "msg" as "MSG".

  • Kadri

    can't we just add those words to that database file ?

  • Kadri

    i mean manually by accessing the file

  • Darren

    Sorry to sound really basic … i use my phone mainly for SMS, email and phone calls, not as a mini PC. Where do I, and how do i access this database file? Im happy to spend the time just typing in the words i want , so long as it helps in the long run.


    I've got the opposite problem. For some annoying reason, my iPhone now types I'm WITH the bloody apostrophe – 'I'm. How can I go into the dictionary and change it back? I'm a noobie so don't know much about this, and I'm on a PC if that matters…?

    Please help me, it's driving me insane.

  • anonymous

    who cares. anybody in todays world is going to know exactly what your talking about when you text them "I'm ducked up"

  • Meaghan

    Gahhh it still won't learn my name, even though the old software did!

  • Joe

    Ya my damned iPod touch 3G now writes the word me with a damned apostophe — like me'


  • Macelin

    I cannot for the life of me understand why apple continually dumbs their products down – despite the gigantic number of complaints. Why would they make it impossible to edit your own freakin smart type dictionary. That’s sooo stupid. I know many people would never try, but holy dumbass move. Apple clearly has one intention: Limit the capabilities of all their products so that the dumbest person on the planet can’t possibly get lost using it, and limit the functionality so that said idiot can’t break anything, but anyone with average intelligence is screwed when they want to imbibe it with an identity of any kind.

  • Niki

    There’s talk of an iPhone 5 in the works and still we cannot edit or create a custom dictionary! Apple fanboys always cry that if user doesn’t “ducking” like the autocorrection of some words they should just disable it altogether. Hmm, I have a flat tire…I suppose I should set the car on fire then, eh ? That makes no sense. 

    I like autocorrect, I would even venture to say that I *need* autocorrect at times so forgoing that functionality would be ridiculous. However, the fact that fact that turning autocorrect off appears to be the only permanent solution is more proof of this company’s ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.  

    The fact that my iPhone F O U R still can’t “learn” simple words like hell (he’ll) is baffling. No matter how much I say HELL and how little I use he’ll it will ALWAYS revert back to he’ll. And you know what, what if I don’t want “Internet” capitalized? It makes no sense that it took all the way up until this latest upgrade to stop having ‘wtf’ autocorrect in ALL CAPS. Not to mention the iPhone’s utter refusal to remember certain names, abbreviations or initials. It’s like there’s a huge disconnect between the way users speak and the way Apple thinks users speak. 

    Sure these are all minor complaints — individually — but collectively, they are a huge nuisance. For those of us that do a large portion of our social networking from our devices, autonomy when it comes to customization is imperative. I didn’t wait in line for 21 hours and spend $399 for this damn phone only to find it severely lacks some of the most basic features. I feel like Apple is holding back the custom dictionary feature and others til the next phone comes out. They love to do that. 

    Here’s a tip Apple: I will NEVER mean “ducking”. 

  • PeepsMcJuggs

    Works for MOST words, but doesn’t solve the biggest fucking problem: autocorrecting its to it’s. Its like the goddamn shitty mamma jamma is determined to keep it’s crap grammar intact.

    • Eyes

      its is a word.
      and you used it’s wrong.
      you do know that right?
      i just want to make sure you know that.

  • Jessica

    I can live with it correcting cuss words what bugs me is that it tries to corrected my daughters nickname and my sons real name! They are fairly common names and I should be able to fix it without accidentally calling her -hey- and him -page-!