We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip main navigation

Answers to the design task

Here are the answers to the previous design task step.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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]
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
This article is from the free online

Understanding English Dictionaries

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education