XKCD comic 1007, "sustainable", has indicated that the frequency of the word "sustainable" has undergone significant growth. According to explain XKCD, it has gone from 0.000005% in 1960 to approximately 0.003% in 2012 - an increase in almost three orders of magnitude in half a century.

Have any other words experienced a sustained frequency growth greater than that?


  • Relative growth, not absolute growth: the word "a" going from 1.4% to 1.5% is a large absolute growth, but very small relative growth.
  • A non-trivial frequency at the end of the growth: "aimag" going from essentially zero before 1970 to 0.0000035% in 1999 isn't that significant. An ending frequency of at least 0.0001%, or preferably greater than 0.001%, would be good.
  • Having a growth rate (measured over a period of at least two years) greater than that of "sustainable"'s half century average.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.