Does Any Dictionary Have All the Words in Our Language?

Most paperback dictionaries contain about 50,000 words, and the average home dictionary has about 100,000 words. The biggest dictionary in America, Webster’s Third International, contains over 400,000 words.

But the biggest dictionary in the world is the Oxford English Dictionary, a 12-volume work that contains more than 415,000 words, with not only their meaning, but their complete history as well!

But those 415,000 words in Oxford are not the total number of words in English. Our language has more than 800,000 words, including all technical terms. And no dictionary is big enough to contain all those words.

The word unabridged in a dictionary’s title doesn’t mean that the book has all the words in the language; it simply means that the dictionary contains all the words that were in an earlier edition of that book.

The Oxford English Dictionary took 44 years to complete!

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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