People are sometimes asked how many English words they know, and I'm also curious about the size of my own vocabulary. One way perhaps is to look at a list of the most frequently used 5000 or 8000 words, pick out the unfamiliar words, then see how much is left.

Note, the criteria of the estimation here is simple: know at least one definition (as full fluency is too rigorous and complicated).

Is there any other practical way to count memorized words or phrases?

  • While the question cited as duplicate does have some relation to this question they are not duplicates. The cited question asks about measuring proficiency levels and the answer points to a link where one's proficiency level may be assessed and may be assigned a rating of [ABC][12] whereas this question asks about measuring the size of one's vocabulary. There may be some degree of correlation here but they are separate questions. Further, the answer I have provided cites a link that produces a numerical estimate of size of vocabulary and not a proficiency rating.
    – Jim
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 21:32
  • @Jim While I agree the referenced question deserves a better answer, it does not prevent this Q considered to be a subset of referenced one. Also, plain number of words does not means much in terms of a language proficiency. You may know just several hundred (like I do!) and feel comfortable with it. There are better merits, and the referenced Q is about them. Your answer is good, but let's go there and provide with good, authoritative answers at a single place. Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 22:20
  • @bytebuster- The questions are not the same and my answer here would not be a very good answer for that other question because I agree that proficiency is not just about number of words known. This question does not ask about proficiency it asks about size of vocabulary- and that's all. I don't really have any vested interest in whether this question remains closed or not, but in my opinion it should not be closed as duplicate.
    – Jim
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 22:26
  • This question is bad not only because it's a duplicate. It is also based on a (wrong) assumption that number of words is a criteria at all. Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 4:37
  • 3
    @bytebuster- I think you are reading too much into it. Nowhere in this question does it mention any criteria about language proficiency it is simply asking how to measure the size of one's vocabulary. What you can and cannot infer from that number is a completely separate question.
    – Jim
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 5:12

1 Answer 1


This site purports to estimate the size of your vocabulary in a very similar manner to the one you describe coupled with some statistical methods. I don't know how scientific this site really is, but based on the writeup they provide at the end, I think they are not completely without merit.
The one word of advice I would give is to be honest; just because you've heard the word doesn't necessarily mean you know what it means. On these types of words try actually saying what you think it means out loud before checking the box.

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    Splendid! That site takes me minimized effort to do the estimation in minutes. The statistical methods are described on their page, which sounds rather scientific. So I got my it, thanks.
    – canoe
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 3:14
  • According to the site's explanation page testyourvocab.com/details the results are heavily biased. The count is based on the 45,000 head-word overlap between a 70,000 head-word British Dictionary and the 100,000,000 word British Corpus. The resulting number is an underestimate, because it does not count any words that are easy to derive from the head-words. Another major bias is that half of the English language is not part of the test -- the test writers excluded words that have cognates and false friends in Portuguese.
    – Jasper
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 23:14

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