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how many words in English dictionary?

By erwin1978 ¬∑ 11 replies
Dec 24, 2002
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  1. I'm looking to get an electronic dictionary. Do you have any advice? Most of them advertise how many definitions it has, but all I care about is how many words it has in the database. Does anyone know how many words there are in the English dictionary.
  2. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Why on earth (or off it for that matter) do you need to know how many words a dictionary's got?

    It's not necessarily that the ones with the most words are the best...

    It depends on how you count the words... Do you count each word as one, or do you group different "ways to write" (can't remember the word), Am is are, together? etc....

    What do you want to use the dictionar for?
    Just looking up some words on the net, or for spelling/grammar in Word?

    I usually use www.dictionary.com for whenever I can't remember how to correcltly spell a word... (But it doesn't help me when I don't have a clue of what the word is...)
  3. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    American English or the Queen's English? :)

    I have seen dictionaries with an excess of 200,000 words.. A vocabulary of around 60,000 words is considered PHD graduate material, so for most people, something around 50,000 words should be more than plenty.

    Your usual paper-back dictionaries (as far as I know) are around 30,000 - 40,000 usually.

    Pocket dictionaries often include around 10,000 to 20,000 words. A recent children's dictionary I looked at had 5,000.

    I would say that the amount of words in the English language isn't as important as the words chosen to go into the dictionary you are choosing. But to be safe, the more the merrier.
  4. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    Once you get into a specialized field of knowledge there become many more terms than are covered in a normal dictionary. I remember typing up a report that was due last week and having Microsoft Word tell me I had about 5 spelling errors per paragraph when in fact they were correct.
    Do there even exist "dictionaries" that are that comprehensive for computer programs like Word?
  5. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,704

    I think it's probably beyond human capabilities to write a complete, concise, 100% correct, full English dictionary. The total number probably won't be known in my lifetime or any of ours.
  6. conradguerrero

    conradguerrero TS Rookie Posts: 310

    One specialized dictionary that comes to mind is a Medical Dictionary that can be used by word.
  7. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    I think it is possible to create a complete, concise and 100% correct dictionary... But it'd be complete for a couple of months (if not less), as new words show up all the time...

    Here in Norway we have a team who are working on such a project (to cover the entire norwegian language)...
    The last time I saw some coverage on it, it was close to the size of Encyclopædia Britannica, and they and was around "G".... (They are updating it every 10-15 years)
  8. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    man, i really do wonder why you continue to post these almost surreal posts. no offense but it does come across as if you have too much time on your hands.
  9. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Hey, it's christmas, and I've got next to nothing to do.. ;) :D
  10. nebulus

    nebulus TS Rookie Posts: 32

    I kinda take offence to that 'Queens English'- statement? You mean "American English or 'Standard English' "- surely?

    Remember that our English language did not originate from those old things that we call queens in our country, but from this countrys inhabitants themselves ;)

    Sorry to be pedantic, but im a bit of a patriot when it comes to things like our English language and how its interpretted.

    Just thought I might try to make this lame post a little more interesting :D
  11. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Not to be rude, but then you should know there are two "versions" of English.... (Without counting cockney and other dialects)
    Standard English and Queens English/Oxford English...
    There are certain differences between the two, though mostly when spoken...

    But it is quite interesting to see how a person from liverpool, london, manchester (or insert other place here) and oxford would write something...

    At least that was the case back in 96... I doubt there's been that much change in the english language since that....

    Oh, and you mustn't forget that Rick is an American...
  12. nebulus

    nebulus TS Rookie Posts: 32

    Hmmm, ok we'll let him off. "God rid us of the Queen!"
    Why should she have connotations in the descriptive sense of our language!?

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