UK KS4, US grade 9-10

Note on using wildcards

A wildcard is a character or symbol used to indicate that one or more letters has been missed out of a word. The conventions used by the OED Online are fairly universal ones, where a question mark (?) indicates that one letter is missing and a star (*) indicates that a sequence of letters is missing. The computer will search for all possible matches. For example, a search for k??g, would give 11 results, as it is looking for two missing letters only (??). Whereas a search for k*g would give 292 results as it will include not only the words with 2 missing letters, but also the words with 3,4,5 etc missing letters between the “K” and the “G”.

(These results were accurate for December 2010, but by the time you do the search, the numbers may be different, because of the constant development of the English Language, and the regular inclusion of new words.)

You do not have to enter a complicated “Search” area of the Dictionary to use wildcards; merely type the word, with the wildcard symbols, into the normal “Find word” area.

Activity 1 – Literary terms

Before you use the OED Online to check the spellings and definitions of these words, try to do them first on paper.

  1. Ad?ect*e
  2. Ad*b
  3. All?????tion
  4. Ambig*y
  5. A???ol?gy
  6. A*nance
  7. Ball*d
  8. Con?o???t
  9. E?j*t
  10. Gen?e
  11. H*bole
  12. Meta*or
  13. On?mat?po*
  14. Oxym???n
  15. Personific*
  16. Rhy??
  17. Rhy???
  18. S?b?l*ce
  19. S?mi?e
  20. Solil*y

Activity 2 – Using wildcards to help with spelling

This is a list of 30 of the most commonly misspelled words.

Each of the words in the list below is spelt incorrectly. You may be confident that you know the correct spelling: if so, write out the correct answer and check it in OED Online. If you are not sure what the correct spelling is, use wildcards along with the bits of the word you are confident about: for example, if you are not sure about middle part of word number 5, try arg*ment in OED Online.

  1. Acceptible
  2. Acidently
  3. Acomadate
  4. Aquire
  5. Arguement
  6. Beleave
  7. Comited
  8. Consience
  9. Consious
  10. Definate
  11. Desparate
  12. Dissapear
  13. Embaress
  14. Equiptment
  15. Grammer
  16. Greatful
  17. Imediate
  18. Independant
  19. Libray
  20. Ocurr
  21. Parallell
  22. Posession
  23. Priveledge
  24. Recieve
  25. Recomend
  26. Relevent
  27. Seperate
  28. Tommorrow
  29. Truely
  30. Untill