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Question on the frequency indication of word entries

I wasn't able to find the answer on the OED website or elsewhere online.

If I sort entries by frequency, every entry is assigned a number of red dots out of eight gray dots. At the end of the list there are entries without that frequency indicator. My impression is that most of these entries are obsolete nowadays and may have a frequency of zero dots out of eight, but not all of them are. I therefore wanted to ask if there is a certain system to the entries without indicated frequency. Are there entries that haven't been classified in this category? Or can I assume that all of these entries are below a certain frequency? Any information on this would be greatly appreciated.


  • Hi @cweidhaas37
    Good question, I'm not quite sure - I've got in contact with a colleague from the team of editors from the OED, hopefully I will be able to get back to you with an answer to that soon!

  • Hi again @cweidhaas37 ,

    Yes, you are right that most entries without indicated frequency are obsolete entries.
    There are also certain classes of entry (like affixes) for which we could not give meaningful frequency information – at least, not that would be comparable frequencies for more regular lexical items.
    Finally, there are some entries for which we don’t yet have frequency data in place, though this category should be more or less eliminated over time.

    There is some more information about word frequency here: Key to frequency
    I hope you find it useful!

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