How many words are there in English?

Language and how we use it.
April 10 2006 2:16 PM

Word Count

Are there really 988,968 words in the English language?

Download an MP3 audio interview with the author here, or sign up for Slate's free daily podcast on iTunes.

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Correction, May 16: This piece originally stated that GLM proclaimed that there are exactly 988,968 words in English. In fact, GLM's site, while giving an exact figure, does state that it is merely an estimate. Also, the Slate podcast that accompanies this piece originally stated that GLM sent out press releases about its word count; in fact, the company did not do so. (Return  to the corrected sentence.)

Jesse Sheidlower, formerly the editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary, is the president of the American Dialect Society. He is the author of The F-Word.