Social Question

Haleth's avatar

How many words do you know?

Asked by Haleth (19546points) August 1st, 2011

Jellies are a pretty intelligent bunch, so I bet everybody here has a pretty high vocabulary. I just found this test which estimates how many words you know. The average for adults who are native English speakers is 20,000–35,000.

I tried to be very honest and got ~31,000. There were a lot of words where I sort of had a vague idea what they meant, but wasn’t 100% sure, and that bothered me. It makes me wonder how much I’m actually getting out of reading if I’m not sure about all these words. Time to hit the books!

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66 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

I got 33,700.

Holy Jesus balls, there were some really archaic, random, and weird words on there… 0_o

LuckyGuy's avatar

28,900 I’m so ashamed.

But I do speak Japanese. Does that count?

Hibernate's avatar

14k .. I need to improve it by reading something I don’t usually read or take a dictionary and learn new words :) I just laughed a bit on some of them .. bugbear or mayhem or mammon.[gotta love all these games I use to play]

tranquilsea's avatar


King_Pariah's avatar

22,400 what can I say? Language Arts have never been my strong suite (except when I’m drunk/tipsy)

tedibear's avatar

That was interesting! I got 32,100 words. And yes, some of those words were random and weird.

@tranquilsea – Love ! It’s one of the reasons I miss having a computer at work.

MilkyWay's avatar

21, 300.
I’m pretty surprised it’s not more, but hey. I’m not an adult. :P

gailcalled's avatar

40,100 with no cheating.( I am immediately going to learn the words I didn’t know.)

DominicX's avatar

31,800. As a linguistics major, I’d like it to be higher. There were some words on there that I recognized completely, but I could not pin a definition on. Grrr…

However, there were plenty of words which I have never seen in my entire life, not even in the loftiest literature I’ve read. I mean tatterdemalion? Seriously?

tranquilsea's avatar

I think we should take all those words and make a story with them.

rebbel's avatar

One, no two, no three.
Well, that is four, plus these is eleven.

18. 300
Boohoohoo, I am a poser.
Bigger even than @Blackberry

Blackberry's avatar

27,900. I’m such an effing loser!

gailcalled's avatar

Edited by me.

28lorelei's avatar

32,800 interesting

everephebe's avatar

32,100. I’m going to freerice now.

AshLeigh's avatar

30,000… Eh. I’m not an adult. :)

rebbel's avatar

I meant: I am a loser, not a poser.

tedibear's avatar

@rebbelIt’s possible to be both.

gailcalled's avatar

@rebbel: Holy flaming estivation. English is not your first language.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I only know fifteen words and have used them all up in writing this sentence.

fundevogel's avatar

26,700 I wish I knew more…

jerv's avatar

31.300 here.

gailcalled's avatar

It’s easy. Look up, as I am doing right now, one new word. Then use it in a sentence.

Viz.:I sometimes have to restrain from being a captious reader on fluther.

Zaku's avatar


rebbel's avatar

@gailcalled Estivation?
<<< Goes to

gailcalled's avatar

@rebbel: I had to look it up, also. A good word, I must say. “Aestas” means “summer” in Latin. That makes it easy to remember.

rebbel's avatar

Ora Et Labora.
Urbi Et Orbi.
That’s all my Latin.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

English isn’t my first language so I’m okay with that.

PhiNotPi's avatar

I’m not an adult, and the SC government completely removed all vocabulary standards for the English class I took last year. The test also says that it needs more data for my age group. I’ve said too much.

And the test probably doesn’t include words like penultimate, bipartisan, cosine, tangent, tesseract, hypercube, quark, lepton, boson, gluon, transcendental number, quaternion, Euclidian geometery, tensor timpani (a voluntary muscle in the middle ear), conic section, cardinality, Turing machine, time complexity, fractal, logarithmic, ersatz, etc., most of which I know more about than the vast majority of people I have met in my entire life.

In other words, my specialties were completely left out.

Jeruba's avatar

37,800. I knew estivation, but there was a goodly splash of words toward the end that I recognized but couldn’t define and a few that I think were made up on the spot by a random letter generator just as a test of honesty.

CaptainHarley's avatar


No you’re not! STOP that! : P

CaptainHarley's avatar

I got just a little over 36,000. Not very good considering I read all the damned time, have a Master’s Degree, and write some. : (

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Jeruba I suspect you are correct about the “random letter generator.” Although I may not know the meanings of all the words I recognize, there are very, very few words I have never even SEEN! Well, with the possible exception of profession-specific words, such as medical terminology. : )

snowberry's avatar

31,700 words for me. I used to present a “word of the day” to our school. Many of the words I missed were in this list, but it’s been long enough I don’t remember them anymore. Gah! I’m gonna memorize ‘em now!

Kardamom's avatar

26,100. Boy do I feel stupid : (

I was surprised because I read and write all the time.

linguaphile's avatar

34,300. I’m curious about the ones I’ve never heard before. Like @DominicX some words sounded familiar but I couldn’t confidently define them.

Jeruba's avatar

You wont find tatterdemalion in lofty literature, @DominicX, but you’ll find it in old literature. In fact, quite a few of those words are familiar to me from reading older British literature. I have seen that word used in a number of books and also heard it used conversationally without any special fanfare; just another handy word, apt for its picturesqueness: e.g., “a tatterdemalion crowd.” But the conversation was likewise among readers of older works, such as novels of Dickens, Eliot, Thackeray, and their literary kin.

gailcalled's avatar

Here is my list of words to learn;

pabulum (a good guess would be a mushy cereal, as in Pablum)
estivation (I now can define that)
cantle (a curved back of a horse’s saddle…I can’t see using that very often.)

I too am a reader of 18th and 19th century Brit. Lit.

And speaking of Brit.Lit.,C.P.Snow (The Masters) loved the word “phthisic.” I’ve never read it anywhere else.

Look it up.

Jeruba's avatar

Of those, I knew conflate, disjunctive, bibulous (think of imbibe), and pabulum in addition to estivation (opposite of hibernation). But you must have known quite a few of the ones that stumped me, @gailcalled, to outscore me by so much.

gailcalled's avatar

@Jeruba: Remember, being your senior, I’ve had a lot more time to look up words.

ratboy's avatar

I learned all the words I need to know in kindergarden.

Berserker's avatar


I would have got way lower if I didn’t speak French. They better have free naps in the Fluther Retard Section. :D

Hibernate's avatar

This was something fun but I don’t think it shows the exact number one really knows. For instance there are those of you that read a lot like @CaptainHarley but didn’t got many words. Not to mention there are a lot of scientific terms that are used so rarely one needs to be in particular circles to be able to use them. And there’s the ghetto slang. One can learn a lot of words by listening to the music or look for the culture from there.

For my particular example I know that I do not master so many words but it’s less likely for me to know half from what a person born in an English speaking country. There are words I usually have to use the Mirriam-Webster dictionary but I don’t think that I know only these :P

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@worriedguy Don’t worry, you got more than me. I only got 25,400, but seeing I only score 116 on IQ test, far less then the geniuses here on Fluther, I say that is OK. ;-P

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Blackberry… my pleasure, dude. You’re plenty smart, from what I’ve seen. If you want a bigger vocabulary, read more and look up the words you don’t know. That’s what I’ve done my entire life. You’re bright enough to pick them up right away. Don’t sell yourself short. : ))

augustlan's avatar

34,000. I feel humbled.

tranquilsea's avatar

FWIW on that second to last page there was word after word that had me scratching my head. I was surprised I got the score I did. Besides I take things like this with a grain of salt as it is really quite possible to have a much higher score in reality that doesn’t play out due to the words they chose.

gailcalled's avatar

As an apparent member of the clerisy, I plan to use each word I don’t know in my Q & A here. Oddly, “estival” was the answer to a cryptic crossword from the Atlantic that I was working on earlier. (That’s two, right there.)

Jeruba's avatar

And I’ll be your epigone.

gailcalled's avatar

I bet no one’s contemplating uxoricide chez toi.

Jeruba's avatar

It’s probably been done. Not at the moment, though, I hope. (And that one’s not on your list of New Words to Master—or mine.)

chewhorse's avatar

29,800.. kinda average.

tranquilsea's avatar

I also subscribe to A Word A Day and have done so for a few years. He/she does a great job of grabbing words from all over and running them in themes.

Today’s word: defalcate to embezzle funds.

That one would be a hard one in speech for obvious reasons.

CaptainHarley's avatar


That conjurs up visions of someone grabbing his accountant by the throat and throttling him, yelling, “Defalcate, damn you! Defalcate!” LMAO!

CaptainHarley's avatar


LMAO! That gets funner the longer I think about it! : D

zensky's avatar


gailcalled's avatar

44,101 since I added “labile.”

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