Answers to the design task

Based on the questions in Step 2.6, here are the possible answers that you may have answered below.

  • 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., & Keuleers, E. (2018) Word prevalence norms for 62,000 English lemmas. Behavior Research Methods, 1-13. See also http://crr.ugent.be/archives/2045

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding English Dictionaries

Coventry University