The clue giver is saying it is one word because it's ".com". We can't find anything online to settle the argument.

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    The rulebook in my codenames clearly says that for any question like this, the two clue-givers should confer privately, and agree on whether the clue is okay or not. There shouldn't be an argument in the first place, and online is the wrong place to settle this agreement.
    – Stef
    Jul 24, 2023 at 19:59
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    But online is a fine place to seek advice and confirm the "agreement" afterward and to build community understanding. Otherwise there'd scarcely be a need for the codenames tag here. Jul 25, 2023 at 11:48
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    @Stef "Don't come to B&CG.SE for answers to your game questions" is a weird position to take. Jul 25, 2023 at 15:14
  • @AzorAhai-him- Hello. I've never met anyone with the position you describe, so I'm not sure what your comment is referring to or why you tagged me. Have a nice day.
    – Stef
    Jul 25, 2023 at 16:37
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    Don't reread the comment you left on this page or anything I guess Jul 25, 2023 at 16:53

2 Answers 2


In American English, dot-com is hyphenated according to Websters and Collins, and Codenames treats that as more than one word.

English has three ways to write a compound word. Greenhouse is one word. Pack rat is two words. Mother-in-law is hyphenated. Technically, only greenhouse can be a one-word clue.

But that is listed under the "Flexible Rules" section, so ask your group if they want to allow hyphenated clues.

As fyrepenguin points out in the comments, in British English it is just one unhyphenated word: "dotcom", so if you're playing in British English, then yeah, the clue would be fine.

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    Conversely … dotcom from Collins. I’m not sure if it’s truly standardized to hyphenated or a single word. Jul 24, 2023 at 10:47
  • @fyrepenguin Collins agrees on the standardization for American English. collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/dot-com Of course, if you're playing Codenames with British English, use that entry (which I assume is also standardized). Jul 24, 2023 at 11:20
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    FWIW The OED also has "dotcom" as its main entry (for BrE).
    – TripeHound
    Jul 24, 2023 at 15:39

It sounds like the clue giver is avoiding the question of whether it's "dotcom", "dot-com", or "dot com", and is suggesting it's ".com", along with some novel ideas about symbols. They seem to suggest either that symbols don't count as words, or that they are inherently part of the word they are adjacent to. That notion makes no sense - when pronounced, symbols are not symbols, they are their own words. Symbols are graphical representations which are referred to by their names, which are words. It's impossible to give a symbol as a clue, clues must be spoken aloud as words.

"Exclamation point" and "question mark" are not valid clues because they are each two words, despite being expressible as individual symbols "!" and "?". "One percent" is not a valid clue even though it can be expressed as "1%". "Hashtag gaming" is not a valid clue although it can be written "#gaming", nor is "ten dollars" written as "$10". You can't say "negative one" or "unleaded plus" as clues even though they can be written "-1" and "unleaded+". You can't say "full stop" or "decimal point" for ".".

Whether dotcom is acceptable as a single word or unacceptable as two words or a hyphenated word depends on the dictionary you use, but the notion that the names of symbols aren't standalone words when pronounced is absurd.

  • I don't feel that the question is asking if symbols can be given and not count as words. As for your examples I would just give Exclamation or question if I wanted to give a clue around them
    – Joe W
    Jul 24, 2023 at 15:22
  • @JoeW The OP is almost certainly asking about the "." in ".com", otherwise they could have just looked up "dotcom" like any other clue to see if it's one word or two in their dictionary of choice. The argument is that dotcom is one word in this particular orthography when spelled ".com" - how could the OP even have known they were referring to the "." symbol otherwise? Jul 24, 2023 at 15:39
  • While I think the end goal may be to think of a website I think it is a stretch to suggest that they are saying it has to be said that way instead of the other ways such as dotcom as a single word.
    – Joe W
    Jul 24, 2023 at 16:02
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    Taken to an absurd extreme, if symbols were not considered words, me and my programmer friends could clean up in this game by speaking out a RegEx pattern.
    – Logarr
    Jul 24, 2023 at 21:57
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    @prosfilaes Those types of approaches are neat, but violate the rule stipulating that clues must be about the meaning of the word on the card. You can't give clues that relate only to the card's position or orthography. Jul 25, 2023 at 18:56

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