Ranking Words

We've always known that "popular" and "science" belong together. Even so, we were surprised to learn that they are, respectively, the 956th and 957th most frequently used words in the English language. We found the complete rankings of the 86,800 most common words at WordCount

WordCount currently gets its data from the British National Corpus, a 100-million-word collection of written and spoken texts. Eventually, WordCount's creators plan to track word usage at many levels, ranging from a single document to the entire Internet.

According to WordCount, each word in its current archive "is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving a visual barometer of relevance." So what comes before and after "popular science"? "Products" and "notes," appropriately enough.—Dawn Stover