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I am looking for a good resource that can give me some idea of how popular or commonly used a word is. Some of these may be:

  • WordCount.org -- Indexes the words based on the popularity count. For example, the first word is the, and the word amazing has the rank 4459.

  • Urban Dictionary -- This does not index words, it just lets users propose their own interpretations of words. Sometimes those interpretations are funny, sometimes just plain absurd. But nonetheless, you can see how many responses a word has gotten and make some assumptions about it's popularity.

Can someone tell me something better?

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Also, the technical term is frequency; see related question too. –  Unreason Nov 21 '11 at 13:58
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2 Answers

If you want to talk about metrics then

  • ngrams (ngrams from books scanned by google)
  • COCA (free registration required and there is a limit on the number of queries)

are the two that you should check.

Do take into account that both need a little bit of understanding how things are organized and getting used to.

EDIT: Wordcount is based on BNC.

Finally, here's a comparison.

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Previously-mentioned ngrams and COCA are good; also see COHA at view.byu.edu if you wish to know frequency of use less recently. COCA, Corpus of Contemporary American English, covers 1990-2011; COHA, Corpus of Historical American English, 1810-2009.

onlineslangdictionary is thin on words and its frequency data is questionable. However, the "Tweets using this slang" section gives an excellent view of slang in use in recent minutes.

morewords.com has an interesting variety of searches (e.g. "List all words by word length", "explore all combinations of letters", "Hook Word Lists", etc.). For example: words ending with -rupt, sorted by frequency of use.

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