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Answers to the design task

Here are some possible answers to the design task in Step 2.6:

  • bleat: a sound recording of the noise the word describes.
  • charabanc: an indication that the word is old-fashioned.
  • discreet: a note comparing ‘discreet’ (careful not to attract attention) and ‘discrete’ (separate and distinct). These two words are commonly confused.
  • pelvis: a picture to show this part of the skeleton.
  • tort: an indication that this is a legal term.
  • sidewalk: information about geographical restrictions: this is American, not British usage.
  • skinny: an indication that this word has a negative connotation.
  • utterly: an indication that this word often occurs in negative contexts.

Look up these words in a dictionary of your choice. Does it provide all the additional information for these words?

For examples of usage labels in dictionaries, see:

For more about word frequency, see

Word prevalence

You might also want to consider whether a word is ‘prevalent’, or in other words whether it is known by a lot of people.

Look at the website http://crr.ugent.be/archives/2045. The spreadsheet, downloadable from this site, gives word prevalence scores for 62,000 English lemmas. The scores are as follows:

  • Negative prevalence: words known by less than 50% of the people
  • Prevalence = 0.0: 50% of the people know this word
  • Prevalence = 1.0: 84% of the people know the word
  • Prevalence = 1.5: 93% of the people know the word
  • Prevalence = 2.0: 98% of the people know the word
  • Prevalence = 2.5: nearly everyone knows the word

You can find out more about word prevalence by reading Brysbaert et al (2018) below.

Further reading

Brysbaert, M., Mandera, P., McCormick, S.F., and Keuleers, E. (2018) ‘Word prevalence norms for 62,000 English lemmas’. Behavior Research Methods [online] 1-13. available from http://crr.ugent.be/archives/2045 [5 November 2019]

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding English Dictionaries

Coventry University