How Many Words are in the English Language

-How Many Words are in The English Language-

How Many Words are in the English Language? You’re probably asking this question; the English language has survived the centuries. It progressed from Old English to modern English. Read through to get more information on this topic.

Where the English Language Came From

English is a Germanic language that uses a lot of German and Dutch terminology. They share some basic structural elements, vocabulary, and sound. Many of the most commonly used terms in English are Germanic.

 Throughout the centuries, English has been influenced by and welcomed words from many languages, and it still contains words from many languages today.

These words account for roughly 80% of the English language. For English, we have a plethora of terms from all over the world.

How Many Words Are In The English Language?

Many people believe that the English language contains over a million words.

 In fact, during a project looking at words in digitized books, researchers from Harvard University and Google estimated 1,022,000 words in 2010, with the number expected to grow by several thousand each year.

When you see a large number like this, keep in mind that it includes different spellings of the same word. It also contains many words that could be classified as archaic (they are not used in modern English).

More Information On Words That Are In The English Language?

There are approximately 600,000-word forms defined in the second edition of the Oxford English dictionary. This includes many old-fashioned words that are no longer commonly used.

Every year, they update the dictionary to include unfamiliar words invented to describe the world, as well as new meanings for words that already exist in English.

 The 171,476 words currently in use from the Oxford English Dictionary are a more useful number. There are recent examples of each of these words being used.

An Ever-Expanding Vocabulary

An Ever-Expanding Vocabulary

At any time, new words can enter the language. In 2019, no one could have predicted what has become a defining word of 2020: COVID-19. This term is not going away.

Another new concept is when you hear the term Tweets and all the words that go with it. Old words fade away; for example, we no longer use Shakespearean language.

The introduction to lexemes, or a family of related terms, leads to expressions such as Black Lives Matter and emotional support animal. We think of them as systems, but do we consider them singular words?

The English Dictionary

How Many Words are in The English Language

Let’s Consider how many words are in the Dictionary. The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains complete entries for 171,476 currently used words (and 47,156 obsolete words).

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, and its 1993 Addenda Section contain approximately 470,000 entries.

 However, the number of words in the Oxford and Webster Dictionaries differs from the number of words in English.


Slang and Jargon

The dictionary alone cannot tell you how many words there are in the English language. For starters, dictionary publishers such as Oxford University and Merriam-Webster take the time to incorporate extra words into their dictionaries.

 Slang and jargon are also used. There are various slang terms. Some exist depending on where you live, while others are widespread. “Frenemy,” a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy,” is one example of a common slang term.

Jargon, or words used by people in a particular profession, contributes to the volume of words in the English language.

The Average Person

It is safe to assume that the average person’s vocabulary is less than the total number of words in English.

When you use Google Docs’ word counter to count the number of words you’ve typed in an essay, the result is only a fraction of the total number of words in English.

There is simply no way for anyone to know and use every word in the English language on a daily basis.

More Information on The Average Person

However, how many words does the average person understand? On Quora, published author Robert Charles Lee responds to this question.

 “3,000 words will cover 95 percent of everyday writing — common texts and speech like newspapers, blogs, most books, movies, and so on,” he writes.

 Only “the first 1,000 words are used in 89 percent of everyday writing” out of those 3000.

Other Languages

Let us now compare English to other languages to see which has the most words. Other languages have always influenced English. It shared “much of its grammar and basic vocabulary” with Dutch and German at first. 

 According to the Linguistic Society of America, the world has approximately “6,909 distinct languages.” They classified most of those languages as “languages that can be shown to be genetically related to one another.

” English is a member of the “Indo-European family.” Spanish, German, Russian, Italian, and French are also members of this family. 5 There are others, but for the time being, we’ll compare English to those five.

A Truly Limitless Word Count?

How Many Words are in The English Language

To begin, let’s be clear: knowing the number of words in the English language is nearly impossible. This is because there is no universally accepted method for determining what makes up a “word.”

 The language is constantly changing and expanding. People and cultures are constantly inventing new words. In the meantime, obsolete words fade into obscurity.

To figure out how many words there are, you’d have to track every word every day, without pause. Languages are how people communicate, so they are just as alive as we are.

Making Sense of All the Variables

Because English reflects the people who use it, you must also consider all of the slang words and super-specific terms we invent.

 There are words that do not appear in everyday speech. Do we include these words in our total? What about regional variations?

The longest word in the English language, for example, is 189,819 letters long. This word, which we will not be spelling here, is the full name for a type of protein known as “titin.”

The Count Keeps Climbing

What about words with multiple meanings? Depending on which dictionary you use and how you use it, the word “word” has dozens of definitions.

Should “word” count as only one entry, or should it be considered a distinct term for all of its various applications?

Then there are the figures. Numbers, any type of number, have their own word in theory. There would be an infinite number of words if dictionaries included numbers in this manner.

What Do Respected Resources Say?

When attempting to determine a reasonable but definitive number of words in the English language, it is best to consult the resources compiled by experts. These are the dictionaries that we all use daily.

Most dictionaries exclude scientific terms, numbers, and slang words, which, if included, would vastly increase the total number of words.

 Publishers create these books to reflect the words of a diverse range of people and groups.

It is not so much a question of how many words are in the English language as it is of how many words people actually use.

How Many Words Do We Really Use?

How Many Words are in The English Language

The words in dictionaries are not all the terms available, but they contain more than enough for the average person.

 In fact, the average person will never, ever use all of those words in their lifetime. This is because normal communication requires a smaller vocabulary.

Most adults who speak English as their first language know only 40,000 words. According to lexicographer Susie Dent, most people use only 20,000 of those 40,000-plus words regularly.

The Value of Word Lists

While we don’t know how many words are in the English language, we do know how important it is to compile the most comprehensive lists of terms possible.

The best way to accomplish this is to make lists that are tailored to specific needs. There are general dictionaries and a collection of scientific terms for professionals and students.

We also have recreational lists. These are, for example, the official Scrabble dictionaries. If you enjoy playing Scrabble, do some research to determine which word list will be most useful to you.

The Vocabulary of an Individual

How Many Words are in The English Language

It’s safe to say that the average person’s vocabulary is less than the entire set of English words. There is no other way to identify and use everyday English words.

Studies show that the average 20-year-old English speaker uses 42,000 words.

 At a 2011 BBC conference, lexicographer Susie Dent estimated that while an English speaker may recognize around 40,000 words, only 20,000 of them are actively used.

Adults who speak English use between 20,000 and 30,000 words per day. The good news is that they are most likely capable of recognizing additional words when reading by using context clues.


How many words are there in total in the English language? The Corpus of Contemporary American English, for example, contains over one billion words drawn from publications, TV shows, blog websites, and other sources.

 However, these comprise many variations of the same word. The English language currently encompasses a massive one million distinct words. According to the Worldwide Language Display, which tracks language usage patterns?

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