The Cruciverbalist

Contact Us



Word of the Day


Clever Clue of the Month

The Cruciverbalist


April 16, 2005


I’ve added a couple new features to the Word of the Day that I am very excited about. 

The first one is Crossword Puzzle Frequency.  What I’ve done is approximated how often a particular word appears in crossword puzzles if a person does one puzzle per day.  Obviously this is not an exact science – this is based on a limited amount of data and limited to the crossword puzzles I work on.  If you work on a completely different level or type of crossword puzzle, I would expect the numbers to be at least slightly different.  I will attempt to refine the numbers as I collect more data. The Crossword Puzzle Frequency for today’s word, Elba, is: 6 times a year.  That is, if you average one puzzle a day this year, you’ll run into the word Elba 6 times.

The second feature is Frequency in English Language.  This feature is made possible by one of my favorite web-sites, Jonathan Harris’s WordCount site.  This site presents 86800 of the most frequently used English words and ranks them in order of commonness.  WordCount’s data comes from the British National Corpus®, a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent an accurate cross-section of current English usage. WordCount includes all words that occur at least twice in the BNC®.

Once again, this is not perfect.  I’ve noticed many Crosswordese words don’t even show up in the 86800 word database.  Also, Mr. Harris pointed out in an interview that the last word in the 86800 word database is conquistador.  Obviously, there are many less common words than that that come before it.  Overall, however, I think this site should give us an interesting picture of the frequency of Crosswordese words compared to the other words in the database.  If you’d like to hear the interview with Mr. Harris please click on this link: Interview.

For today’s word, Elba, the Frequency in English Language is: 49142 / 86800.  That means, of the 86800 words in the database, there are 49142 words that are more common.  To put this all into perspective, according to, depending on the level of education, background, etc., the average native speaker of English knows 12,000 – 20,000 words.

Paul Stynsberg, © 2004