Wordcount is one of those neat sites that only the internet can support. It is described as being “an interactive presentation of the 86,800 most frequently used English words.”
To use it you launch wordcount and the most popular words are displayed. Not surprisingly, the most common word is “The.” The larger the word, the more we use it. The smaller the word, the more uncommon it is. You can search the database to find the word rank of a specific word. For example, the word quilt is the 20,239th most popular word, ranked in order of usage. Needlework is 31,722nd whereas embroidery 15,326th. Lace is 6,367th and button is even higher at 4,876. The words that follow it in rank are also displayed and some strange mixtures occur. A search for needle revealed that it is 6083rd in the ranking right next to the word accountant.
Wordcount is described as “an artistic experiment in the way we use language.” But, the site is simply fun. The data “comes from the British National Corpus, a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent an accurate cross-section of current English usage. WordCount includes all words that occur at least twice in the BNC. In the future, WordCount will be modified to track word usage within any desired text, website, and eventually the entire Internet.”