Measures of word prevalence for 61,800 English words

At long last we found time to make the English word prevalence measures available.

Word prevalence indicates how many people know a word. Because percentage known has an uninteresting distribution, word prevalence is calculated on the basis of a probit transformation. The following are interesting landmarks:

  • negative prevalence values: words known by less than 50% of the people; only of interest for word learning studies
  • prevalence = 0.0 : 50% of the people know this word
  • prevalence = 1.0 : 84% know the word
  • prevalence = 1.5 : 93% know the word
  • prevalence = 2.0 : 98% know the word
  • prevalence = 2.5 : nearly everyone knows the word

You find all the information in:

  • Brysbaert, M., Mandera, P., McCormick, S.F., & Keuleers, E. (2019). Word prevalence norms for 62,000 English lemmas. Behavior Research Methods, 51(2),  467-479. pdf

You find an Excel file with the word prevalence measure for English here.

If you want more information about the use of word prevalence, have a look at our findings in Dutch.

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