Skip to content
20% OFF Language Courses     Register Today

Which Language Has the Most Words?

Have you ever wondered which language boasts the biggest vocabulary? Have you ever gotten tongue-tied trying to think of the perfect word? Not all languages have the same number of words. Some languages have a whole lot more words to choose from than others. However, figuring out which language has the most words is trickier than it might seem.

Importance of Languages and Vocabulary

Language is ever-evolving therefore many new words are introduced to the vocabulary. On the other hand, many “old” ones disappear from everyday use but are still part of the language. Defining what constitutes a “word” and the dynamic nature of language itself is a complex question. As different languages count them in different ways.

Vocabulary size refers to the number of words a language has in its arsenal. The more it has, the richer its linguistic diversity and cultural tapestry become. However, not all languages have the same structure. Therefore, it’s not easy to calculate which language has the most words..

Sign up for our offers

Exclusive discounts on your course with Cactus directly on your inbox!

Discovering the Language With Most Words

One way to look into it is by considering the number of words in a dictionary. Various factors play a role, such as historical influences, cultural exchanges, and technological advancements. Different languages are heavily influenced by other languages as well.
According to recent data, there are a few that can be highlighted:

LanguageDictionaryWord Count
KoreanWoori Mal Saem1 million+
PortugueseAulete Digital800 000+
FinnishRedFox Pro800 000+
EnglishCollins English Dictionary700 000+
TamilSorkuvai700 000+
SwedishSwedish Academy Dictionary600 000+

Korean tops the chart; however, different dictionaries present a different number of words for the same language. For example, Collins English Dictionary may show more words than Oxford English Dictionary. Using this metric may present different results for the language with most words.

The same is valid for Portuguese. A Brazilian Portuguese dictionary may include far more words than a European Portuguese dictionary. Particularly, as Brazilian Portuguese is heavily influenced by indigenous languages such as Guarani.

So, which language has the most words?

English is a strong contender. English’s propensity for borrowing words from other languages and its use as a global lingua franca contribute to its vast vocabulary. The Oxford English Dictionary, which is one of the most comprehensive dictionaries of the English language, lists over 500 000 words. However, this number is constantly growing as new words are added.

That doesn’t mean it may not be Korean or Portuguese as determining it’s not easy. Those impressive dictionary numbers might be inflated, but those languages still have a rich and nuanced vocabulary.

Which Language Has the Most Words?

Next Steps to Learn a Language

Determining which language has the most words is a complex task that depends on various factors, including how one defines a word and the methods used to count them. While English often comes out on top in discussions, other languages such as Korean, Finnish, and Swedish also have substantial vocabularies. Ultimately, the richness of a language cannot be measured merely by the number of words it contains. Some languages are easier to learn for English speakers whilst others share unique roots such as Romance languages.

If you are interested in learning a new language, discover our immersive language courses. We offer 10-week and conversation courses. Courses are online or face-to-face. Start learning in Brighton, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds, London or Manchester. Alternatively, discover our private tailored classes. Join our free trial lessons!

Ready to Start Learning?

Learn a language,
your way

Are you ready to start learning a language? Find out more about our online lessons, face-to-face classes, teachers, best ways to start learning and more!

Start learning today

  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • Arabic
  • Cantonese
  • Catalan
  • Czech
  • Croatian
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Swedish
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
let’s go