Can You Name The Most-Used English Words?

If you’re an English teacher, you have to check this out. It’s called WordCount and it’s an interactive way to examine the most-used words in the English dictionary. You can simply ask your class what they think the most used word is…and then what they think the top 10 words are. WordCount lets you show the words in an interactive timeline-based show.

You can also enter in any word you want to see where it falls in terms of usage amongst the entire dictionary. Very cool.

WordCount is also a great way to explore the language and perhaps learn some new words while you’re at it. Check it out for yourself and give it a whirl in your classroom!

About WordCount

WordCount is an artistic experiment in the way we use language. It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonness. Each word is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving a visual barometer of relevance. The larger the word, the more we use it. The smaller the word, the more uncommon it is.

WordCount data currently comes from the British National Corpus®, a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent an accurate cross-section of current English usage. WordCount includes all words that occur at least twice in the BNC®. In the future, WordCount will be modified to track word usage within any desired text, website, and eventually the entire Internet.

WordCount was designed with a minimalist aesthetic, to let the information speak for itself. The interface is clean, basic and intuitive. The goal is for the user to feel embedded in the language, sifting through words like an archaeologist through sand, awaiting the unexpected find. Observing closely ranked words tells us a great deal about our culture. For instance, “God” is one word from “began”, two words from “start”, and six words from “war”. Another sequence is “america ensure oil opportunity”. Conspiracists unite! As ever, the more one explores, the more is revealed.

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