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A wrapper on hunspell for use in Python

Project description

Build Status Build status PyPI version PyPI pyversions License: MIT


Cython wrapper on Hunspell Dictionary


This repository provides a wrapper on Hunspell to be used natively in Python. The module uses cython to link between the C++ and Python code, with some additional features. There's very little Python overhead as all the heavy lifting is done on the C++ side of the module interface, which gives optimal performance.

The hunspell library will cache any corrections, you can use persistent caching by adding the use_disk_cache argument to a Hunspell constructor. Otherwise it uses in-memory caching.


For the simplest install simply run:

pip install cyhunspell

This will attempt to install non-python depedencies on your behalf. You can speed this up by providing a libhunspell dependency ahead of time (see Non-Python Dependencies below).


cacheman -- for (optionally asynchronous) persistent caching

Non-Python Dependencies


If you don't have hunspell installed the library will download and build it for you.

If you want to use ubuntu's 1.6 installation on ubuntu distributions use the following before installing:

sudo apt-get install libhunspell-1.6-0 libhunspell-dev

This is a faster installsudo apt-get install libhunspell-1.6-0 libhunspell-dev than the built-in download and compile.

Older versions of debian may only have 1.3.0 available, which you can install with

sudo apt-get install libhunspell-1.3-0 libhunspell-dev


Spell checking & spell suggestions

How to use

Below are some simple examples for how to use the repository.

Creating a Hunspell object

from hunspell import Hunspell
h = Hunspell()

You now have a usable hunspell object that can make basic queries for you.

h.spell('test') # True


It's a simple task to ask if a particular word is in the dictionary.

h.spell('correct') # True
h.spell('incorect') # False

This will only ever return True or False, and won't give suggestions about why it might be wrong. It also depends on your choice of dictionary.


If you want to get a suggestion from Hunspell, it can provide a corrected label given a basestring input.

h.suggest('incorect') # (u'incorrect', u'correction', u'corrector', u'correct', u'injector')

The suggestions are in sorted order, where the lower the index the closer to the input string.


The module can also stem words, providing the stems for pluralization and other inflections.

h.stem('testers') # (u'tester', u'test')
h.stem('saves') # (u'save',)

Bulk Requests

You can also request bulk actions against Hunspell. This will trigger a threaded (without a gil) request to perform the action requested. Currently just 'suggest' and 'stem' are bulk requestable.

h.bulk_suggest(['correct', 'incorect'])
# {'incorect': (u'incorrect', u'correction', u'corrector', u'correct', u'injector'), 'correct': ['correct']}
h.bulk_stem(['stems', 'currencies'])
# {'currencies': [u'currency'], 'stems': [u'stem']}

By default it spawns number of CPUs threads to perform the operation. You can overwrite the concurrency as well.

h.set_concurrency(4) # Four threads will now be used for bulk requests


You can also specify the language or dictionary you wish to use.

h = Hunspell('en_CA') # Canadian English

By default you have the following dictionaries available

  • en_AU
  • en_CA
  • en_GB
  • en_NZ
  • en_US
  • en_ZA

However you can download your own and point Hunspell to your custom dictionaries.

h = Hunspell('en_GB-large', hunspell_data_dir='/custom/dicts/dir')

Asynchronous Caching

If you want to have Hunspell cache suggestions and stems you can pass it a directory to house such caches.

h = Hunspell(disk_cache_dir='/tmp/hunspell/cache/dir')

This will save all suggestion and stem requests periodically and in the background. The cache will fork after a number of new requests over particular time ranges and save the cache contents while the rest of the program continues onward. You'll never have to explicitly save your caches to disk, but you can if you so choose.


Otherwise the Hunspell object will cache such requests locally in memory and not persist that memory.



Tested on Ubuntu and Fedora with pre-build binaries of Hunspell as well as automatically build depedencies. It's inlikely to have trouble with other distributions.


The base library comes with MSVC built Hunspell libraries and will link against those during runtime. These were tested on Windows 7, 8, 10 and some on older systems. It's possible that a Python build with a newer (or much older) version of MSVC will fail to load these pre-built libraries.


So far the library has been tested against 10.9 (Mavericks) and up. There shoudn't be any reason it would fail to run on any particular version of OSX.

Building source libraries

See libs/README

Navigating the Repo


Package wrapper for the repo.


All unit tests for the repo.

Language Preferences

  • Google Style Guide
  • Object Oriented (with a few exceptions)


  • Convert cacheman dependency to be optional

Known Workarounds

  • On Windows very long file paths, or paths saved in a different encoding than the system require special handling by Hunspell to load dictionary files. To circumvent this on Windows setups, either set system_encoding='UTF-8' in the Hunspell constructor or set the environment variable HUNSPELL_PATH_ENCODING=UTF-8. Then you must re-encode your hunspell_data_dir in UTF-8 by passing that argument name to the Hunspell constructor or setting the HUNSPELL_DATA environment variable. This is a restriction of Hunspell / Windows operations.

Known Issues

  • Exact spelling suggestions on different OS's differs slightly with identical inputs. This appears to be an issue with Hunspell 1.3 and not this library.
  • Older versions of pip and setuptools will build with incorrect windows DLL bindings and complain about "ImportError: DLL load failed: %1 is not a valid Win32 application."
  • Sometimes windows machines won't find the build tools appropiately. You may need to 'SET VS100COMNTOOLS=%VSxxxCOMNTOOLS%' before installing. Python 3 usually wants the xxx as '140' and python 2 as '90'. There's not a lot the library can do to fix this, though pip and setuptools upgrades oftentimes resolve the issue by being smarter.
  • Ubuntu on windows needs autoconf and build tooling installed to function. Install sudo apt-get install autoconf automake libtool build-essential pkg-config python python-devto enable build tooling to work.


Author(s): Tim Rodriguez and Matthew Seal



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