Oh, I love a good word. Our language is chock full of them. There are so many I have never heard before, or do not know what they mean.
So, just how many words are there in the English language. Well. When you ponder this question, things become complicated. There is no single answer to this question.
It’s impossible to count the number of words in a language for a couple of reasons. It is very difficult to decide what actually counts as a word.
So do you count… let’s say…. “dog” as one word or two or three? I mean, I have dogs.. .which are nouns… animals. And “dog” is also a verb which means “to follow persistently.” Or it could mean that something is troubled or plagued by something else. “She really dogged you, man.”
Then things get really wonky. Plurals… like dogs? Is that a whole other word? What about things like dog-tired, dog-eared, and such? Are they new words, or just two words joined together. What about hot dog? Dog leg in the road. Ohhhhh. Holy Shih Tzu.
This goes on and on and on, once you start thinking about dialects, and abbreviations, and past, present, future tenses. All of this is making me tense. Or sick as a dog.
The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use. So there is sort of an answer. It also contains 47,156 obsolete words. And then you can add in the 9,500 derivative words included as sub-entries.
If you want the breakdown… here it is. Roughly.
And the rest is made up of exclamations, conjunctions, prepositions, suffixes, etc.
So now you know.
And, just for the shear enjoyment of this discovery endeavor… how about a few we don’t normally use?
If… you are discussing ‘nettles’ you many want to describe them as “urticaceous”
Your brother-in-law? The one that is shaped a bit like a lizard? He would be a lacertiform.
How about when you pull your boat in. To the dock. That little post on the wharf… or even on a ship… to which ropes are tied? THAT is called a “bollard.”
Let’s go back in time. You know, when torture was all there… for everyone to see. Well, that iron collar thing… that was attached to a post and put around someone’s neck as punishment? That is a jougs. Oyyy. My jougs is killing me.
And… what this column is made of. Gobbledygook. The language that is meaningless or is made unintelligible by excessive use of abstruse technical terms. Plain old nonsense.
Gobbledygook. To you and you … and you.
“Learning never exhausts the mind.”
― Leonardo da Vinci
“The knowledge of all things is possible”
― Leonardo da Vinci