In total Shakespeare used in his works about 31,500 distinct words (some studies count up to 34,000). Interestingly that some of these words Shakespeare invented himself. A very pragmatic approach, isn't it? But did he use all of the words known to him? Most likely, he did not, because like every human being, he had active and passive vocabularies. And as far as is known, the passive vocabulary is much larger than the active one.
After thorough consideration, the scientists came to the following conclusion: in addition to the number given above Shakespeare knew approximately 35,000 words that he didn't use in his compositions. Thus, they estimated that Shakespeare's real (i.e. passive) vocabulary made up about 65,000 words.
Now let's get back to the point and compare the vocabulary of contemporary people of different ages and educational background with the great classic playwright.
The table below displays the average (very average) figures of vocabulary sizes.
|Education/Age||Vocabulary Size (Base Words)|
|Educated Adult (High School)||15,000|
*As mentioned above the actual Shakespeare's vocabulary could have contained over 65,000 words.
Take the test and find out your vocabulary size. Do a contest with your friend!