Interesting Word Facts and Word Stats

 
Total number of English words:
1900 525,000
1950 600,000
1980 900,000
2012 1,013,913
2014: 1,023,247
Number of words created each day on average: 15

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90% of everything written in English uses just 1,000 words.

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The most commonly used word in written English, by pretty much any reliable standard, is the, appearing nearly twice as often as the next most common word. The most commonly used word in spoken English, however, is I, followed, in order, by you, the, and a.

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The word “listen” contains the same letters as the word “silent”.

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There are about twice as many words in the English language to describe negative emotions such as sad, upset, and disappointed as there are for positive ones, such delighted, happy and elated.

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When modern kids say “bad!” their actual meaning is “good!” Some of us wince at this slang reversal. This is not the first such reversal in the English language, however. “Awful” used to mean awe-inspiring, and “artificial” used to mean full of art.

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8598 words in the works of Shakespeare are used only once.

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At least half of the world’s population is bilingual or “plurilingual”, i.e. they speak two or more languages.

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Many languages have 50,000 words or more, but individual speakers normally know and use only a fraction of the total vocabulary: in everyday conversation people use the same few hundred words.

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Average Americans know about 10,000 words. Writers know the most words, averaging 20,000.

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When the trucking company PIE renamed their truckers, warehousemen and clerical workers “craftsmen,” they raised their pride and cut a sixty percent rate of shipping mistakes down to ten percent. This simple change in terminology saves the company $250,000 per year.

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A radio announcer speaks about 183 words per minute.

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In Spanish and German, they capitalize the word “you.” In English, we capitalize “I.”

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A word formed by joining together parts of existing words is called a “blend” (or, less commonly, a “portmanteau word”). Many new words enter the English language in this way. Examples are “wordollar” (word + dollar); “brunch” (breakfast + lunch); “motel” (motorcar + hotel); and “guesstimate” (guess + estimate). Note that blends are not the same as compounds or compound nouns, which form when two whole words join together, for example: website, blackboard, darkroom.

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Words that are most frequently looked up in dictionaries are:

paradigm (an example that serves as a pattern or model);
conundrum (a riddle answered by a pun; also, a paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem);
oxymoron (the juxtaposition of incongruous or contradictory terms);
ubiquitous (omnipresent);
bastion (a well-fortified position);
epiphany (a revelation);
serendipity (the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident);
encephalopathy (any of various brain diseases);
portcullis (a wooden or iron grate, suspended in front of a gateway and lowered to block passage);
heuristic (a speculative formulation which serves as a guide in the investigation of a problem).

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Did you know there used to be a word in the dictionary (from 1932 to 1940), which did not have any meaning? The word was ‘Dord’. It happened due to some error, this word was later known as Ghost word.

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The word “alphabet” comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha, beta.

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Of all the words in the English language, the word ‘set’ has the most definitions!

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If you stretched out 1,429 words written in longhand, about the amount necessary to fill a small pocket notebook, the line would be one mile long.

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According to the Guiness Book of World Records, there are as many as 2,241 synonyms for the state of being “drunk.”

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A person from Montana gave his daughter a 622-letter long name. His purpose: To tangle up and crash beaurocratic computers!

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What is called a “French kiss” in the English speaking world is known as an “English kiss” in France.

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The average lead pencil will draw a line 35 miles long or write approximately 50,000 English words.

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“Pronunciation” is the most mispronounced word in English language.

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The longest word in English is 45 letters long: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. It refers to a lung disease caused by silica dust. Floccinaucinihilipilification, the declaration of an item being useless, is the longest non-medical term in the English language.

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The longest place-name still in use is a New Zealand hill, Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwenuakitnatahu.

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Hemidemisemiquaver is a funny word. It is a musical term meaning a 64th note.

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In the mid-1800′s, there was a guy hired by an Irish earl to collect high rent from tenant farmers. The farmers totally ignored him. His name was Charles C. Boycott. That’s how the word boycott originated.

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A professional typist’s fingers move 12 miles in one workday.

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In 1984 Alan Foreman of England sent his wife Janet a rather long letter containing over one million words.

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Many people believe that the word “testify” originated in Roman times, when men swore on their testicles. Unfortunately this is not true. It came from the Latin word “testis” meaning “witness”.

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The most commonly-used word in conversation is “I”.

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The word “bride” comes from an old proto-germanic word meaning “to cook”.

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More than half of the world’s languages have no written form.

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Half of the languages spoken in the world today are predicted to disappear during this century.

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Isaac Asimov was a brilliant Russian-born American scientist and author. His work includes writing or editing over 500 books and about 90,000 letters and postcards. He once said: “Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.” Asimov invented a number of words officially recognized by The Oxford English Dictionary including “positronic”, “psychohistory”, and “robotics”.

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In Hindi, the word for ‘yesterday’ (‘kal’) is the same as for tomorrow. The tense of the attached verb tells you of the meaning.

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In Albanian there are 27 words for ‘moustache’ including ‘dirs ur’ – meaning the newly sprouted moustache of an adolescent.

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In Georgian, ‘mama’ means ‘father’.

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More than half of the world’s technical and scientific periodicals are in English.

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Country with the most languages spoken: Papua New Guinea has 820 living languages.

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Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words.

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There is one word mispelled in this sentence which is one of the most misspelled words in America. Which one is it? Mispell is misspelled.

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The word “mortgage” comes from a French word that means “death contract”.

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Nine languages don’t have words for colour – they only differentiate between black and white. For example in Dan (New Guinea) things can be ‘mili’ (darkish) or ‘mola’ (lightish).

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In Greek, “school” translates to “leisure.”

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The oldest word in English that is currently in use is “town”. Some research insist that “I” is the oldest word in the English language.

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Seattle was named after a Duwamish Indian leader named Sealth who had befriended the settlers. His name means reconciler. Chief Sealth (Seattle) was a great leader and orator who reconciled the American Indians and the white settlers.

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The word “bible” came from the Greek word “biblion” which means book. The word “book” comes from “bok” meaning “beech.” The first books in Europe were written on thin slabs of beech wood.

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The concept behind the word “cool” might come from the African word “itutu”, brought to America by slavery.

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The word robot was invented in 1920, in an early science fiction play by Karel Chapek R.U.R. “Rossum’s Universal Robots”. From Czech this word “robota” means: forced labor.

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The letter combination “ough” can be pronounced in nine different ways, which can be heard in this sentence: A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.

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“Rhythm” and “syzygy” (look it up and learn a new word today!) are the longest words without vowels.

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Cabbaged and fabaceae, each eight letters long, are the longest words that can be played on a musical instrument. Seven letter words with this property include acceded, baggage, bedface, cabbage, defaced, and effaced.

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The longest one-syllable words are “screeched” and “strengths”

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“He believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas” has seven spellings of the sound [ i ].

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There aren’t any words that rhyme with orange, purple, angel, bulb, silver, or month.

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The word “queue” is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.

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More English words begin with the letter “s” than with any other letter.

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You and ewe are pronounced the same but share no letters in common. Eye and I is another such pair. Oh and eau is yet another.

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Thitherwards contains the most English words spelled consecutively within it: a, ar, ard, ards, er, he, her, hi, hit, hithe, hither, hitherward, hitherwards, I, it, ither, the, thither, thitherward, wa, war, ward, and wards, totaling twenty-three words.

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“Therein” contains ten words without rearranging any of the letters: there, in, the, he, her, here, ere, therein, herein, rein.

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Ushers contains the most personal pronouns spelled consecutively within it: he, her, hers, she, and us, totaling five pronouns.

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“Queueing” is the only word with five consecutive vowels.

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The word with the most consonants in a row is “latchstring”.

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“Deeded” is the only word that is made using only two different letters, each used three times.

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The only words with three consecutive double letters are “bookkeeping” and “bookkeeper”.

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Sestettes is a word in which each of its letters occurs three times.

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One theory proposes that language evolved from the communication between mother and baby, with the mother repeating the baby’s babbling and giving it a meaning. Indeed, in most languages “mama” or similar “ma”-sounds actually mean ‘mother’.

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The English language spread with the growth of the British Empire, becoming the dominant language in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia. The growing global influence of the US has further increased the spread of English.

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English is the official language of the skies, and all pilots, regardless of their country of origin, identify themselves in English on international flights.

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First novel ever written on a typewriter was “Tom Sawyer.”

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When NASA launched the ‘Voyager 1 & 2′ spacecraft in 1977, they put on board golden discs containing the sights and sounds of Earth, including greetings in 55 of the world’s most widely understood languages. These are currently travelling through space!

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The word chincherinchee is the only known English word which has one letter occurring once, two letters occurring twice, and three letters occurring three times.

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The word “uncopyrightable” is the longest English word in normal use that contains no letter more than once.

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Seoul, the South Korean capital, just means “the capital” in the Korean language.

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Canada is an Indian word meaning “Big Village”.

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The Sanskrit word for “war” means “desire for more cows.”

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In the English language there are only three words that have a letter that repeats six times. Degenerescence (six e’s), Indivisibility (six i’s), and nonannouncement (six n’s).

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Only 3 words in the English language end in “ceed”: “proceed,” “exceed,” and “succeed”.

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Eskimoes have hundreds of words and word forms for the word “snow” but none for “hello”.

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Rudyard Kipling was fired as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. His dismissal letter was reported to have said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language. This isn’t a kindergarten for amateur writers.”

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The very first “The American” dictionary took Noah Webster 20 years to put together.

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Aegilops, eight letters long, is the longest word whose letters are arranged in alphabetical order. Seven letter words with this property include beefily and billowy. Six letter words include abhors, accent, access, almost, biopsy, bijoux, billow, chintz, effort, and ghosty.

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Spoonfeed, nine letters long, is the longest word whose letters are arranged in reverse alphabetical order. Trollied is an eight letter word with this property. Seven letter words with this property include sponged and wronged.

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The words racecar, kayak and level are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes).

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“Four” is the only word which has number of alphabets equal to its numerical value.

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“Underground” is the only word that begins and ends with “und”.

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In England, in the 1880s, ‘pants’ was a dirty word.

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The only words with “uu” are “vacuum”, “muumuu”, “residuum”, and “continuum”.

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There are only 4 English words in common use ending in “-dous”: hazardous, horrendous, stupendous, and tremendous.

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The only word in the English language that has 4 sets of double letters in a row is balloonneer.

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“Feedback” is the shortest word in English that has the letters a, b, c, d, e, and f.

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The oldest written language was believed to be written in about 4500 BC.

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All male terms are shorter than the female terms except for “widower” (widow).

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South Africa has 11 official languages – the most for a single country.

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The longest word in the Finnish language, that isn’t a compound word, is ‘epaejaerjestelmaellistyttaemaettoemyydellaensaekaeaen’. In English it means ‘even with their lack of ability to disorganize’.

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Language with the largest alphabet: Khmer (74 letters). This Austro-Asiatic language is the official language of Cambodia, where approx. 12 million people speak it.

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There are thirteen languages spoken by more than 100 million people. They are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German, French, Malay-Indonesian, and Urdu, in that order.

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There are more than 2,700 languages in the world. In addition, there are more than 7,000 dialects. A dialect is a regional variety of a language that has a different pronunciation, vocabulary, or meaning. About 2,000 of those languages and dialects have fewer than 1,000 speakers.

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More than 1,000 different languages are spoken on the continent of Africa.

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There are about 2,200 languages and dialects in Asia.

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The Philippines has more than 1,000 regional dialects and two official languages.

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The most difficult language to learn is Basque, which is spoken in northwestern Spain and southwestern France. It is not related to any other language in the world. It has an extremely complicated word structure and vocabulary.

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Esperanto is an artificial language, but is spoken by about 500,000 to 2,000,000 people, and 2 feature films have been done in the language.

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The word moment is defined as zero seconds long.

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The Bible is available in 2454 languages.

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There are 50,000 characters in the Chinese language. You’ll need to know about 2,000 to read a newspaper.

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If you spell out every number from 0 to 999, you will find every vowel except for “a”. You have to count to one thousand to find an “a”!

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The only word in English that ends with the letters “-mt” is “dreamt”.

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“Subcontinental” is the only word that uses each vowel only once and in reverse alphabetical order.

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Only two English words in current use end in “-gry”. They are “angry” and “hungry”.

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The most common letter in English is “e”. The most common vowel in English is “e”, followed by “a”. The most common consonant in English is “r”, followed by “t”. The least used letter in English language is “q”.

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A new word in English is created every 98 minutes. 4,000 new words are added to the dictionary every year.

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The most recent language to become extinct was Klallam, traditionally spoken on Vancouver Island. The last speaker died on February 4, 2014.

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Tank word’s origin: Invented during World War I, these heavily armored combat vehicles had the potential to be formidable weapons. In an effort keep them secret during moves through France, the English assigned the vehicles the codename of “tank” to give possible spies the impression that they were for water transport rather than weapons. The name stuck and has now become the official term for that type of vehicle.

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Magazine word’s origin: The word “magazine” goes back to the Arabic word “makhzan,” which means “storage house.” The word was used in some form or another in several European languages, including English, with that same meaning. In fact, in military usage, magazine still mean “storage.” However, in 1731, a periodical called “The Gentleman’s Magazine” came out, with the explanation that the publication was named “magazine” because it was like a storehouse of written works. The use of “magazine” as a publication continues to this day.

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How long have languages existed: Since about 100,000 BC.

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Bikini word’s origin: Many post-World War II atomic bomb experiments were conducted by the United States at Bikini Atoll, one of the Marshall Islands. In 1946, just a few days after the first of these tests, fashion designer Jacques Heim debuted a two-piece women’s swimsuit called a “bikini” in an attempt to capitalize on the publicity surrounding the recent nuclear test. The name impressed people as surely as atomic energy, and to this day bikinis of all designs are worn on beaches all over the world. That wasn’t Heims’ first attempt at associating tiny swim wear and nuclear weaponry, by the way: just a few months earlier, he had introduced a similar beachwear design dubbed the “atome” because it was so tiny.

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First language ever written: Sumerian or Egyptian (about 3200 BC). Oldest written language still in existence: Chinese or Greek (about 1500 BC).

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English words “I”, “we”, “two” and “three” are among the most ancient, from thousands of years.

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80% of information stored on all computers in the world is in English.

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Language with the fewest words: Taki Taki (also called Sranan), 340 words. Taki Taki is an English-based Creole spoken by 120,000 in the South American country of Suriname.

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The words: glasses, scissors, trousers, jeans, and pants only exist in plural form.

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The word “butterfly” was originally “flutterby,” which makes a whole lot more sense since many butterflies aren’t yellow and none of them taste like butter.

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One in every 7 persons in world knows or speaks English that makes over 1 billion people speaking English as of today.

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The first English dictionary was printed in 1755, it was Dr Johnson’s Dictionary, which standardized the language for the first time.

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A sentence that contains all 26 letters of the alphabet is called a “pangram”. The following sentence contains all 26 letters of the alphabet: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” This sentence is often used to test typewriters or keyboards. The sentence “Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs” uses every letter of the alphabet and uses the least letters to do so!

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Some words exist only in plural form, for example: glasses (spectacles), binoculars, scissors, shears, tongs, gallows, trousers, jeans, pants, pyjamas (but note that clothing words often become singular when we use them as modifiers, as in “trouser pocket”).

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Mandarin Chinese is the only language spoken by more people around the world than English.

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In the U.S. there are 18 doctors called Dr. Doctor, and one called Dr. Surgeon. There is also a dermatologist named Dr. Rash, a psychiatrist called Dr. Couch and an anesthesiologist named Dr. Gass.

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Monday is the only day of the week that has an anagram, which is dynamo. March, April, and May are the only months of the year that have anagrams, which are charm, ripal, and yam.

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The word “Checkmate” in chess comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat” meaning “the king is helpless”.

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Jacuzzi, Laundromat, Frisbee, Coke, and Microchip are actually trademarks that have fallen into common, generic use. Aspirin, Escalator, Tabloid, Cellophane, and Yo-yo even became defunct trademarks after being used generally.

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The only planet not named after a god is our own, Earth. The others are, in order from the Sun, Mercury, Venus, [Earth,] Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.

 

Other Appendices:

Appendix I:  Some of My Favorite Words with Thoughts

Appendix II:  Most Popular Favorite Words

Appendix III:  Three Most Favorite Words Research

Appendix IV:  A List of Positive Words

Appendix VI:  Favorite Words of Celebrities

Appendix VII:  Favorite Word Quotes