Lifestyle and Culture

Which Language Is Richest In Words?

March 7, 2018

which language is richest in words

Have you heard language experts say that English has more words than other languages? The claim is made but it’s practically impossible to verify.

Steven Frank, the author of The Pen Commandments claims that English has 500,000 words with German having about 135,000 and French having fewer than 100,000.

But wait.

A blog post for The Economist agrees that English is rich in vocabulary, but comparisons with other languages can’t be made for several reasons.

The simplest problem in comparing the size of different languages is inflection.

Do we count “run”, “runs” and “ran” as three separate words? Another problem is multiple meanings. Do we count “run” the verb and “run” the noun as one word or two? What about “run” as in the long run of a play on Broadway?

When counting a language’s words do we count compounds? Is “every day” one word or two? Are the names of new chemical compounds words?

Estoy, Estás, Está—One Word or Three?

Some languages inflect much more than English. The Spanish verb has dozens of forms—estoy, estás, está, “I am,” “you are,” “he is” and so on.

Does that make Spanish richer in word count?

Some languages inflect much less. (Chinese is famously ending-free). So, whether we count inflected forms will have a huge influence on final counts.

Moreover, many languages habitually build long words from short ones.

German is obvious; it is a trifle to coin a new compound word for a new situation. For example, is the German Unabhängigkeitserklärung—declaration of independence—one word?

Given the possibilities for compounds, German would quickly outstrip English, with new legitimate German “words”, which Germans would accept without blinking.

Glasses looking into an open book

A Sentence that Translates as One Word

The Turkish language is similar in this way.

Turkish not only crams words together but does so in ways that make whole, meaningful sentences.

“Were you one of those people whom we could not make into a Czechoslovak?” translates as one word in Turkish.

You write it without spaces, pronounce it in one breath in speaking, it can’t be interrupted with digressions, and so forth.

Counting the Words in the Dictionary

Another way of measuring the vocabulary in a language and comparing counts is by counting the number of words listed in a standard authoritative dictionary in that language.

From a list on Wikipedia here’s one such comparison. This is a list of dictionaries considered authoritative or complete by approximate number of total words or headwords, included.

These figures do not include entries with senses for different word classes (such as noun and adjective) and homographs.

Wikipedia says it’s possible to count the number of entries in a dictionary, but it’s not possible to count the number of words in a language:

Language Words in the Dictionary
Korean 1,100,373
Japanese 500,000
Italian 260,000
English 171,476
Russian 150,000
Spanish 93,000
Chinese 85,568

Maybe English Does Have the Most Words

The Oxford Dictionary says it’s quite probable that English has more words than most comparable world languages. The reason is historical.

English was originally a Germanic language, related to Dutch and German. English shares much of its grammar and basic vocabulary with those languages.

After the Norman Conquest in 1066 English was hugely influenced by Norman French, which became the language of the ruling class for a considerable period, and by Latin, which was the language of scholarship and of the Church.

Very large numbers of French and Latin words entered the language. This melding of languages means English has a much larger vocabulary than either the Germanic languages or the members of the Romance language family according to Oxford.

English builds its vocabulary through a willingness to accept foreign words. And because English became an international language, it has absorbed vocabulary from a large number of other sources.

So, which language is richest in words?

Let us ask a different, and we think more important question:

Does it really matter?

Whatever languages you translate or interpret in—Chinese, Japanese, Russian, sign language, or others—you are bound to have a rich body of words to work with.

But if you want to dig deeper into the subject, check out Part 2 here.

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  • Reply Arun April 17, 2020 at 4:53 am

    I would like to know following:
    How many words are there in Sanskrit and Marathi language.

    • Reply Annie Pagano April 20, 2020 at 6:32 pm

      That’s an interesting question and a tough one to answer as languages are constantly evolving. It would be a great topic to dive deeper in to!

      • Reply ApKum December 1, 2020 at 4:46 am

        To be honest, Sanskrit is a language which is not evolving anymore I am sure there were languages that went extinct and no one speaks anymore Sanskrit is one of those languages although it is being taught in schools and I don’t think it’s evolving anymore.

      • Reply Adam January 26, 2021 at 5:21 am

        Arabic has more than a million words making it the richest language

    • Reply Akiffes Grodenham July 29, 2020 at 2:08 pm

      Yes I also want to know

      • Reply ... January 28, 2021 at 10:49 am

        What a joke😂

    • Reply Shiwank November 24, 2020 at 6:04 am

      Bhai, Sanskrit is a language with largest no of word’s. Just for denoting elephant there are 32,000 words and there is specific name for denoting each number.

      Lakin Bhai Aap in westerners se Kabhi ye expect nahi kar sakte ki Vo Indian culture ko koi value de, Unho ne hamesha hi India aur Indians ko kam hi samjha h.

      • Reply Varoon April 25, 2021 at 6:49 pm

        What is more important? To have 32000 words for “elephant” or one word for each individual thing and idea?

        I’m currently reading a book called “Les enfants du Capitaine Grant” in French. Here Jules Verne makes accurate descriptions of the flora and fauna he finds in South America, on islands and in Australia. Are there Sanskrit words for all that he describes? According to Google Translate Hindi does not have accurate equivalents.

        It’s not about having multiple words for one thing that matters, it’s about being able to describe the same things in your language without having recourse to foreign words. I’m a person of Indian origin and very well know that Indian languages have more limited vocabulary because we haven’t worked hard enough to create new words during the last two centuries.

        Don’t be jingoistic and keep working

        • Reply The eternal May 11, 2021 at 12:55 am

          U think indian languages have limited words because u haven’t done good research on Indian languages. Most of world languages are evolved from sanskrit and have u counted how many words sanskrit have. Sanskrit can even define which cant be defined in words directly. For example bramhan. can any other language have this capability. Before reading Western books machine u should start with Indian book including sankrit grammar first then u don’t even need to look any other language. Anything can be expressed in sanskrit. Just about anything because of possibility of infinite words.

          • N May 31, 2021 at 5:03 pm

            Thank you…atleast someone respects Indian languages…there are many words that are taken from sanskrit language but people don’t even know about them

    • Reply Vineet January 16, 2021 at 6:05 am

      I don’t know about Marathi but theoretically, Sanskrit has an infinite amount of words. This is because Sanskrit is a fusional language, therefore there can be an infinite amount of words. Until now 105 billion 5 million words are known. The word elephant alone have more than 100 synonyms.

    • Reply Vineet April 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      You are right….👍🏻👍🏻
      They forgot our languages.

  • Reply anonymous April 21, 2020 at 3:52 pm


  • Reply Rod April 22, 2020 at 3:53 am

    Another interesting topic is which language has the longest non compound words? To me it seems like Italian and Spanish have too many long words compared to English.

    • Reply Annie Pagano April 22, 2020 at 5:18 pm

      That would, indeed, be an interesting study!

    • Reply Thomas July 23, 2020 at 6:32 pm

      Finnish and German have words that are some of the longest in existence. Much longer than Spanish and Italian words

      • Reply Pierre December 13, 2020 at 8:22 pm

        Yes but Finnish and German use COMPOUNDED words to make them super long…they specifically said NON-compounded.

      • Reply Steven Hunyadi December 29, 2020 at 6:03 am

        Interestingly, the Hungarian language was totally left out from the lists.
        I know, Hungarian is a difficult, not Indo- European language. Foreiners from Western countries have a hard time learning it.
        But the language has a humongous vocabulary, about 1 million words, and that’s a very conservative estimate.
        It’s right up there with Korean in the number of words.
        And it’s one of the oldest languages still spoken today, at least in Europe.
        You can search for it on the web.

  • Reply Jim April 22, 2020 at 6:42 am

    Hey why have you not put the Greek language in this article ? Its considered to be one of the richest languages in the world and especially in Europe its in first place … at least you could mention that the English language has around 40.000 Greek words or words with Greek routes … i mean your title is about the language which is the richest in words … Greek should be one of them

    • Reply Annie Pagano April 22, 2020 at 5:20 pm

      This article was written based off of just a couple of research sources. It is by no means all-encompassing and meant to be a discussion piece. What defines “richest” and how exactly do you measure that?

    • Reply Human July 8, 2020 at 4:24 pm

      Greek language has 15 million words and 75 million word types

    • Reply Marios Mourtouvanis September 11, 2021 at 4:54 am

      Bravo Jim or Demetris if that is really your name. I am reading Filokalia and I am finding words that I did not know they existed or their meaning to say the least. Read it in Greek if you can. I am a native speaker of Greek and I find words that I we do not use in everyday life.

  • Reply Hamza April 22, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    I believe Arabic has the most words in all languages it has over 12 million words, there is no dictionary that includes every word in Arabic, and that shows how many words there are in the Arabic language, Arabic also have its own problem with words, each verb like “كتب” can make multiply other words like “كاتب,مكتوب,يكتب,اكتب,نكتب,كتاب,كتابة,كتًاب ” and way more!

    • Reply Annie Pagano April 22, 2020 at 6:14 pm

      Wow!! Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply Paul Thomas October 20, 2020 at 9:49 pm

      Dear Hamza,
      Sanskrit is the language with the most words. Not just in the Indo-European language family, but this is attested among all world languages. I understand Arabic has millions of words, but every Arabic language scholar I have asked says that if you were to make a dictionary of all the Arabic words founds in every single text over the last 1600 years, the number would not tally 6 million or more. It is in fact much lower. 10 million or 12 million are theoretical figures, not actual tallies.
      Sanskrit however with all its words tallied (and even excluding nominal compounds) through the historical record has dozens of millions of words. And the grammatical algorithms developed in pre-Classical Sanskrit can help explain this.

      • Reply Liam Davidsson December 28, 2020 at 6:24 pm

        I am curious who are the scholars that you have talked to! just stating that you have spoken to “scholars” does not make your claims any more credible and it only demonstrate your lack of knowledge in the respective language that you are trying to downplay it importance. I am not a native-arabic person but after learning a tiny bit about arabic i now understand why not many people learn this language because it is complicated, it is comprehensive. a word can have at least five meaning provided you add diacritics to it. You need to expand your knowledge of languages rather being stubborn about your own.

        • Reply HELLOOOO January 29, 2021 at 8:53 pm

          If you didn’t know, Sanskrit is the oldest language in the world, and is the predecessor for all languages. If you add the words of all the languages in the world, you would get the number of words in Sanskrit!

          • Guest101 April 19, 2021 at 10:01 am

            Sanskrit is the oldest language existing, yes but it is not the oldest language to exist
            The oldest known language is Sumerian. Your comment is an exaggeration, not as much as some git I saw saying the Arabic language has 500,000,000 words though.

          • N May 31, 2021 at 5:06 pm


    • Reply Mustafa January 23, 2021 at 8:10 pm

      These people thy don’t know Arab hhh thy are in here discussing orphan languages! So amazing how they r closed minded. Arabic have right more than 12m & more vocabulary, and it’s de richest language on de planet. It’s fact

      • Reply Varoon April 25, 2021 at 6:52 pm

        No it’s not a “fact”. Try translating any work by Jules Verne into Arabic and you’ll see the limitations of Arabic. You may have a lot of words but you don’t have a word for everything.

  • Reply mo April 29, 2020 at 6:09 am

    do you Persian language has about 225 milion words ? Persian poetry are like beautiful paintings .

    • Reply Annie Pagano April 29, 2020 at 10:38 pm

      Amazing! Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply Alex May 23, 2020 at 6:22 am

      Hi, IT IS NOT TRUE, but the interesting thing about Persian poetry is some words can have several meanings at the same time and the reader must figure out what is the meaning. it is like a puzzle.

      • Reply Zaky June 30, 2020 at 8:51 pm

        Arabic too, the words meaning might depend on the context of the sentence.

    • Reply Mohamad Nasiri July 9, 2020 at 3:46 pm

      Hi dude, I’m Iranian and know Persian. That’s not true. In Dehkhoda dictionary (The biggest Persian dictionary) there are 343000 words, Plus, Most of them do not have Persian roots or They are no longer used.

      • Reply Orlin Sky August 26, 2020 at 10:57 am

        In Dehkhuda, all Persian words are not included. There are hundred thousands words which are not even in the dictionary, although they are used widely among Persians (Afghans, Iranians and Tajiks). Some words have roots in Arabic, but again if you look from this side then there are more than thousands Persian words used in Hindi, Urdu and even it shares words with Sanskrit from which lots of them have Persian-Pahlavi origin. Persian is one of the richest languages in the world and this the truth bro. Spanish, Russia, English, French , Chinese …etc are nothing in terms of history and words compared to Persian and Arabic.

        • Reply King of sun September 25, 2020 at 7:07 pm

          I agree with origin sky

        • Reply Pierre December 13, 2020 at 8:26 pm

          Dude, your nationalist rhetoric is bordering on dumb. More words does not mean “rich language” and Persian is very poor in literature after the Middle Ages…that’s just a fact–It doesn’t hold a candle to any language in Asia, none the less the romance languages or even English which is growing exponentialy.. Either way you are major BSing because there are not hundreds of thousand words that are even in common use in ANY language.

          • Brad January 15, 2021 at 1:09 am

            You might wanna rethink what you just said and read more about new styles of poetry like “شعر سپید” and “شعر نو” and lots of famous poets like Mohammad-Hossein Shahriar, Parvin E’tesami, Hooshang Ebtehaj, Iraj mirza, Nima Yooshij, Mohammad-Taqi Bahar, Aref Qazvini, etc.

          • Fj February 24, 2021 at 2:59 am

            Where is the Arabic language? It is the richest language with more than 12 million words.

          • admin February 25, 2021 at 1:57 pm

            Hi check out our follow up here

  • Reply jeeva May 5, 2020 at 7:51 pm


  • Reply Andrea May 6, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Thank you.
    I am persuaded by the Oxford Dictionary explanation as over the years I came across lots of synonyms derived from the romance languages which are not part of the day-to-day English language (e.g. threat and menace, the second resembling the Italian translation of both words: ‘minaccia’).
    By the way, the word ‘furlough’ is in the headlines in these days and I could not recall having seen it before, that triggered the thought about the richness of the English language…

    • Reply Annie Pagano May 6, 2020 at 10:08 pm

      It’s so interesting how languages evolve over time. Thank you for your comment and thanks for reading!

    • Reply Jio May 17, 2020 at 9:33 pm

      Yes, the richness of English comes from the fact it’s a Germanic language and that a lot of words have been borrowed from the romance languages specially french.

      Fun fact: In French “threat” is “menace” pronounced differently but written the same.

      • Reply Annie Pagano May 18, 2020 at 2:25 pm

        Very interesting! Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply dad July 17, 2020 at 11:40 pm

      Arabic ahve actually 12 millions of words without repetition

    • Reply Chelsea November 12, 2020 at 9:21 am

      For me, I like to sort English by the 8 (9) parts of speech. I had a college professor (2008) once tell me that English had approximately 900,000 words (including foreign, scientific, and technology terms). I had a an Austrian man who I met in Spain, while learning Spanish, tell me English was his go-to language when writing because of English’s diverse adjective & adverb selections compared to German. I’ve never studied Asian, Persian, Indian-based, Greek or Latin, although I imagine all have a plethora of words to indulge the mind! The human species offers such rich language options for those who choose to seek it.

  • Reply Nour Fadi May 14, 2020 at 12:33 am

    Just saying there are about 500million arabic words and about 500,000 english words and your saying english is the language with the most words . Please double check .

    • Reply Annie Pagano May 18, 2020 at 2:51 pm

      Hi Nour. This is just an opinion piece that is made to stimulate discussion. “Richest” is a very ambiguous term and we are not saying that English has the most words but more analyzing what exactly the term “rich” can be. It’s very open to interpretation.

    • Reply Mohammad May 22, 2020 at 2:34 am

      Classical Arabic is the richest by the number of roots of words and the existing derivations and further possible usage of the same roots to create new words.. but 500 million is an exaggeration.

    • Reply Human July 8, 2020 at 4:26 pm

      Arabic language has 12 million odds and Greek language has 15 words* so…

      • Reply Annie Pagano July 8, 2020 at 4:44 pm

        Stay tuned! We are working on a follow up article to discuss further.

    • Reply Janet August 25, 2020 at 2:17 am

      Sorry, I meant “500.000.000” words.

  • Reply nebraskalass June 2, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Not to be overly critical but “does it really matter?” is not a good answer to a question, especially for a blog.

    • Reply Annie Pagano June 12, 2020 at 9:05 pm

      Blog posts are meant to explore a subject from a variety of perspectives. It’s supposed to be thought-provoking, not a simple Q&A style page. Appreciate your feedback.

    • Reply Bruce August 31, 2020 at 7:14 am

      It is a great way to end a blog like this. It’s an opinion piece where you can see loads of people claiming that their language is the richest. In the end, what is the relevance? Shall we adopt the richest language or will the world go on as it always is? Does it really matter?

  • Reply Said_Hustlr June 5, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    I think the person who made this article didn’t do a proper research on the subject, I’m a native arabic speaker and I cannot speak for the other languages but I can tell for sure that even though I speak Arabic , I only use (or know) quite 7% or so of its vocabulary. it really is a vague language known also for its poetry which I don’t even comprehend without holding a dictionary along which in turn can’t even hold all of the words (lol). English doesn’t even come close I’m sorry to say that. for example the word LION has approximately 150 or such synonyms.

    Best Regards

    • Reply Annie Pagano June 12, 2020 at 9:04 pm

      Thank you for your comment! It seems that it may be time for a part 2 to this article written from a new perspective.

  • Reply معاذ June 9, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    All i’m gonna say is ’اللغة العربية’. The infamous Arabic language…..there is no language that even comes close to it, in terms of the richness of its words and its sheer pure structure and its extraordinary grammar rules. I mean pure arabic by the way. The arabic which the Holy Quran was revealed in and which books are written in and the arabic the scholars speak, not rip-offs of the language which have been wringed and where many grammar rules have been dropped and vocabulary has been emitted with new vocabulary squeezed up from foreign languages
    As it said-
    الحياة أحلى مع العربية
    Indeed life is sweeter with arabic.

    • Reply Annie Pagano June 12, 2020 at 9:03 pm

      Thank you for sharing! It seems that it may be time for a second part to this article 🙂

  • Reply Ian Black June 15, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Ancient Hebrew is the richest language… each letter represents a numeral and a picture too. The potential combination of letters and words therefore creates an innumerable number of meanings and provides a fingerprint of God.

    • Reply Abraham July 2, 2020 at 7:37 pm

      My dear IAN

      The strongest language on earth is Arabic.
      It has 16 thousand roots Unlike all other languages in the whole world. Hebrew is derived from is the oldest language on earth . Since ten thousand years .It is called the mother of all languages. All languages without exception are borrowing Vocabularies from Arabic. Arabic does not borrow at all . It is the strongest language on the face of earth . It has the power and capacity of producing more than 500 million Vocabularies. In the medieval ages it was the language of education and learning in universities and In speech for five centuries . The final testament, the final revelation of Almighty God was sent in Arabic . Two thousand years Arabic is understood but 500 year ago English is difficult to understand . English language has borrowed tens of thousands of vocabularies from many languages . More than 25 thousand words of English language was borrowed from Arabic .Alphabets were invented by Arabs and used by Europeans. The problem of English language that it has 26 alphabets and has 44 sounds . This is its weakness .
      But Arabic has 28 alphabets with 28 sounds .
      It is a long story
      Many Thanks

      • Reply Carl Carchia July 6, 2020 at 1:01 pm

        Thanks for reading and for this perspective, Abraham. You are certainly not alone in this thought process, and Arabic figures to be featured heavily when we publish “Part 2” of this blog.

      • Reply Mohamad Nasiri July 9, 2020 at 2:21 pm

        Hi, What are the sources of your statistics? It seems that you are under the influence of nationalism, Arabic is a rich language in terms of the number of words but you’re exaggerating. for example you said that “Arabic does not borrow at all” ! Ferdows (فردوس) in Arabic it’s borrowed from Persian (پردیس), or so many words have been borrowed from Turkic (قزان، سنجق), etc. Vocabulary borrowing is common in all languages.

        • Reply Zaid زيد November 28, 2020 at 4:11 pm

          From turkish or persian?
          Its the other way around.
          Thats from the quraan and is about the highest janna (حنة الفردوس) .
          Its also common knowledge that turkish is a mix of other languages which makes it pretty unlikely that Arabic with its 12 million native words would borrow a word from it.

          • Guest101 April 19, 2021 at 10:08 am

            Said Holy Quran is written in classical or ancient Arabic, which was influenced by Hebrew, and much older-now dead-languages such as Aramaic, Assyrian, and Sumerian

          • Mohsen May 6, 2021 at 11:41 am

            Yes, Firdaus (Ferdows) is a borrowed word from Old Persian. It’s also used in Quran.
            Also, Mohammad and his cabal copied most of the Quran from Torat and the Bible.

  • Reply Kyasanku Rashid June 19, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    I’m here to reveal that Arabic is far far away in words, it’s the richest language,
    I mean pure arabic in which the holly qran was revealed

    • Reply Annie Pagano June 19, 2020 at 6:27 pm

      An overwhelming amount of people have commented this so, we are working on a second part to this post to explore further. Thanks!

    • Reply Guest101 April 19, 2021 at 10:04 am

      Btw it’s Holy Quran

  • Reply Mehmet June 25, 2020 at 10:44 am

    Millions of words can be derived by different declensions and conjugations in some languages. So we should only take the stem words into account.

    I’m gonna talk about the Turkish language. In recent studies, more than 130.000 or 150.000 words are estimated in the standardized language. And the number of loaned words is approximately 16.000 or 17.000. We get a percentage like 10% or 15%. It’s much less in comparison with the loaned words in the English language.

    Here is a doctoral thesis in German&Turkish. in 2005. It studies the loaned words in Turkish and German. You can search it.
    “Fremdes wortgut im Türkischen und im Deutschen- Eine kontrastive-lexikographische studie
    Türkçe ve Almanca söz varlığında yabancı kelimeler- Karşılaştırmalı-sözlükbilimsel bir çalışma”

    Let me drop a note: “Çekoslavakyalılaştıramayabileceklerimizdenmişsinizcesine” is an extreme limit.
    We don’t use such long words in daily life. 🙂

    • Reply Annie Pagano June 25, 2020 at 6:01 pm

      Thank you for your thoughtful contribution to this conversation! You make a good point of only taking the stem word into account. There are so many ways to interpret the question and therefore, a multitude of answers and opinions that can come from it!

  • Reply john smith July 2, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    i think English language is the richest one not only because it has more vocabulary words but also the international language

  • Reply Moustafa Ayman July 8, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Lol Arabic Has 12.3Milion Words!

    • Reply Annie Pagano July 8, 2020 at 4:44 pm

      We are working on a follow up to discuss this further, stay tuned!

  • Reply Mohamad Nasiri July 9, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    Hello everyone. I think it’s very difficult to talk about this and it needs a lot of research. Some friends have commented on the issue with ethnic prejudices! that’s not true way.
    Let me share my opinion, I am more familiar with languages of Middle East and Central Asia.
    -Arabic is a rich language in terms of the number of non-loan words. I can say it’s the richest language of Western Asia. Of course, figures like 500 million words are incorrect.
    -Persian is a beautiful classic language but in this case, Almost half of the language’s words are borrowed from Arabic! and so many vocabularies borrowed from Turkic (Doerfer: G. Doerfer, Türkische und mongolische Elemente im Neupersischen. Vols. I-IV. Wiesbaden 1963-1975), French, Russian and English. The number of original Persian words used today is very small.
    -Kurdish is a branch of Persian, but the number of orginal Persian words in it is more! and there are so many Arabic and Turkish words in Kurdish.
    -Tajik (Tajikistan) and Dari (Afghanistan), they are Persian too.
    -Turkish, it is a Turkic language. Origin of the words in Turkish vocabulary, which contains 104,481 words, of which about 86% are Turkish and 14% are of foreign origin! it’s purity is beautiful. (
    -Azerbaijani, Turkmen, Uzbek, Uyghur, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Tatar, Bashkir, Gagauz, Qashqai, … All of these are Turkic! The Turkic languages are a language family of at least 35 documented languages and Some of the differences between them are so small that they cannot be considered a separate language (Turkish=Azerbaijani=Qashqai=Uyghur=Uzbek=…) . Many don’t know this, If we look at this family together, we find that the number of words with Turkic roots is very high.

    • Reply Carl Carchia July 10, 2020 at 5:09 pm

      Hi Mohamad, thanks for the perspective and information. We are in the process of doing some background research and possibly interviewing some experts for Part 2 of this blog, which will be centered around Arabic. Stay tuned.

    • Reply hela December 9, 2020 at 10:15 pm

      i agree as im from Iraq and we speak Arabic

  • Reply Felix July 15, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Very interesting and thoughtful article I liked it.

    However. Does it really matter to know the language with the most words?
    Sort of to me. I (33) am living in Japan since one year. As a native Japanese, French, German and English speaker
    I have lived in many countries before, but the sheer endlessness of Japanese words is driving me crazy.
    I didn’t have this impression of “endlessness” in the other languages.

    Japanese, although I speak it since my childhood my mother being Japanese, is pain to learn there is no doubt about it.

    • Reply Carl Carchia July 17, 2020 at 12:40 pm

      Hi Felix, Thanks for reading and providing your perspective. Yes, our research does indicate Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn. Stay tuned for our blog on Arabic, we think you’ll find some of then nuggets in there very insightful, particularly when it comes to words that have multiple interpretations.

  • Reply Nishanthan Sathanandasivam July 22, 2020 at 12:31 am

    I thought only Tamils and other hindi speakers are the only ones who are obsessed with their language, but here i see many arabic speakers are became hardcore fanatics about their language. The fact is this
    Hebrew is the oldest and richest language in the world. Arabic is not oldest but rich language. Tamil and sanskrit both are old languages may be similar to arabic. Stop brainwashed by tamil sanskrit or arabic illusion. I am a Tamil speaker from srilanka but i will never say tamil is oldest language of the world

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  • Reply Jesús August 10, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Guys, pls stop fitting on this. It is already said that compound languages are the richest, and so in that category is swedish the winner of this long discussion.

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  • Reply Emre September 3, 2020 at 1:56 am

    More words doesn’t necessarily mean more richness

  • Reply Ana September 9, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    Yes, it matters. Not everyone has to be a winner. As a translator, I can tell you that English is incredibly rich with words that are similar in meaning but each with their own nuance. A rich vocabulary is important for thinking and creating.

  • Reply Chris September 9, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    Great article! Thank you!

    Too bad the comments went way out of topic comparing sizes like boys in elementary.
    So many things to admire in the idea of language and most people end up counting words..

    Has that follow up article arrived?

    • Reply Carl Carchia September 10, 2020 at 1:34 pm

      Thanks, Chris. It definitely is Pandora’s box (which, btw is an idiom based on Greek mythology). We will be publishing the follow up very shortly. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

      • Reply Chris September 10, 2020 at 10:54 pm

        Hehe, I haopen to be greek 😛
        Pandora was the first woman gods created and she opened a pithar (mistranslated as box) containing all the evils and thats how evil.came to the world and made people count words 😛

        • Reply Carl Carchia September 22, 2020 at 12:57 pm

          yes, that is the story, partially. There is nothing about words being counted. Evils come out of the box, but the mistranslation relates to later in the story when blessings came out … Thanks for your interest. The follow-up will be coming this week!

        • Reply Guest101 April 19, 2021 at 9:51 am

          Now I’m confused, is it pithar or pithos.

  • Reply Is Arabic The Richest Language In Words? - iTi Translates September 22, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    […] response to our blog “Which language is Richest in Words” was so enthusiastic and polarizing that we decided to write a […]

  • Reply Elizaveta September 25, 2020 at 11:54 pm

    I hear here, Arabic or Hebrew has many words because additional words are composed from roots. What about Occitan, were you can have 40 words describing aspects of one concept, for example a meadow? Or Polish, where you can derive tens of words from one words , seven cases, because of declensions, aspects, etc. Quite complex and poetic language also. And it depends on vocabulary, because some vocabularies are additional to the “main language vocabulary” and are simply of specialized types, and you will not find many of those words included in main language vocabularies.Also this language allows for creating new words in poetic sense, but those are of course not compound words like in German. So, it is difficult to say which language has the most vocabulary, as which criteria we apply? And what makes things a little bit more complicated, some native speakers make claims out of ethnic pride, yet how many linguists really researched this subject in depth? Very often those are claims, that such and such language is the richest, are made by amateur linguists. I don’t think profesionally trained linguists would make such claims easily, as pointing which single one languages is the richest etc. I have my doubts about it.

    • Reply Carl Carchia September 28, 2020 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Elizaveta, Thanks for reading. I’m glad you mentioned Arabic and Hebrew (they are in the same language family). You should check out the follow-up to this blog here … We agree it’s almost impossible to deem one language the richest, but it’s a fun and informative topic!

    • Reply hela December 9, 2020 at 10:13 pm

      my guy this was like made like 10 years ago Arabic was made when prophet Muhammed was alive mate. Also the language is similar to English and it is not at the top

  • Reply DS Aswal September 27, 2020 at 11:43 am

    Sanskrit is the oldest language and vast literature and scientific grammar

  • Reply Hadi Kelany October 13, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Arabic is the most rich language in the world I have no doubt in that

    • Reply Carl Carchia October 14, 2020 at 6:55 pm

      Thanks for reading Hadi! It’s certainly up there. We will likely be exploring other languages in this fashion so be on the lookout for that!

    • Reply hela December 9, 2020 at 10:07 pm

      thats what i said but i think they counted the words from the dictionary an i dont think there is an arabic dictionary. if there is i dont they included all the words

  • Reply Cylene Dantas da Gama November 25, 2020 at 3:07 am

    Uma lingue é tão rica quanto sua cultura. É de se esperar que o Inglês, vicejante nos EUA, RU e outros, tenha que distender para incorporar novos vocábulos, todos os dias. Quando a tecnologia da NASA extrapolou o locus fasciendi, óbvio que seria necessário criar palavras que acomodassem o sentido implícito, tentando explicar o que era o objeto ou fato, aduzindo palavras para a narrativa. Soube que a NASA mantinha uma equipe de linguistas com formação em Grego e Latim para cunharem os vocábulos que se faziam necessários. Trabalhei no MGH em Boston e me surpreendi com a facilidade com que os médicos utilizavam ( oralmente e na escrita de prescrição) vocábulos e abreviações de tais vocábulos em Latim. Eu podia me admirar e maravilhar pq estudei Latim durante 8 anos. Exemplos: quantum satis (qs), ad libem. De certa vez ouvi um profissional se expressar em grego para o colega, usando ” tanatos eolos” para implicar o estado do moribundo, Joseph Campbell tb foi chamado para cunhar vocábulos e caracterização psicológica dos personagens de Star Wars. Nada ao acaso, muito pelo contrário, tudo embasado.

  • Reply hela December 8, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    where is arabic and if you look overall [not the dictionary] arabic has the most words

  • Reply Gurmehar December 9, 2020 at 10:32 am

    there are 183,175 words in hindi and 600,000 words in sanskrit

  • Reply Shady December 25, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    Christophoros Charalambakis, director of the Historical Dictionary of Modern Greek (dialect dictionary) at the Academy of Athens, 600.000 words.

    You have to step your game up in research

  • Reply Antier December 25, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    In the past, the Guinness Book of Records ranked the Greek language as the richest in the world with 5 million words and 70 million word types! Well, many of these words have been widely borrowed into other languages, including English. Take a look, for example at medical, musical, or historical terms and expressions.

  • Reply Pikajoe January 6, 2021 at 11:43 am

    I love how native English speakers have been suspiciously silent in championing their own language in the comments – cos obvs none of us speak any other languages so we can’t really have an opinion haha! All power and insight to the great and powerful bilinguals haha 👍🏻

  • Reply Moshe January 9, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    Hi, guys
    I am looking for an Arabic-Hungarian dictionary; does someone know where I can buy such a book?
    A link would be helpful.
    Many thanks,


  • Reply Andres January 10, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    Funny how you leave arabic out with 12.3 million words

  • Reply Leonardo Kvolik January 11, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    Croatian language has 400.000 words that are used now, but if you count the ones that are now used any more/the old ones, you get 2m total words.

  • Reply Dharmalingam Vinasithamby January 18, 2021 at 9:48 am

    Such an interesting topic going by the range of comments that it has provoked. I want to highlight a point – we should not look at the number of words – we should look at the number of ORIGINAL words. Some languages, like English, use many words borrowed from other languages. Original words show the creativity of a language. The people who spoke that language invented a name for an idea and represented it through a series of sounds to make up a word. That word is part of a larger system that their language has developed. So the language reflects the nature of people who spoke it. In fact, one of the criterion for defining a classical language is that the words it uses were all developed from within the community and not borrowed from other groups.

  • Reply h January 18, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    sorry, how many words does the Turkish language have?

  • Reply Glossology January 29, 2021 at 3:39 am

    Greek ??? The basis for many hundred of languages ? where is it ??? Greek with all inflections has more than 6.000.000 words!!!!!

  • Reply Guest101 April 19, 2021 at 9:36 am

    You all are babbling about Arabic having 12.3Million words. Well, The Arabic language has a very similar language called the Hebrew language, so similar that they are called “sister languages” since they both belong in the Semitic languages family. However, seeing as the Hebrew language- ancient Hebrew to be precise-is older than classical Arabic implies that the latter is an evolved form of the Hebrew language. This is backed up by the fact that the Nabataeans (who were Arabs) were nomadic and originally wrote pieces of literature in Aramaic (though they then switched to Arabic). The fact that they were nomads means that they may have been influenced (proof that they were influenced exists in the form of Greek-looking sculptures in their temples when they finally decided to settle down. Proof is also shown in the textiles of the clothing they use as tents when they were still nomads.) or was the source of influence to the civilizations in and around the Middle Eastern lands. Older languages such as the ancient Mesopotamian family of languages: Assyrian, Babylonian, Aramaic and the oldest known language: Sumerian, as is proven by a series of ancient Sumerian texts called the Epic of Gilgamesh being the oldest text known to man. These languages may have had more words than the Arabic have today. Not to mention that most of the Ancient Greek papyrus scrolls that have withered away without being read by archeologists may have contained more words than the modern Greek language has.

    • Reply Guest101 April 19, 2021 at 10:21 am

      Wait sorry i can’t edit it I meant at the beginning “Some people are babbling about the Arabic not borrowing any words from other languages”…

  • Reply Vineet April 21, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    Why you not written anything about Indian languages …..!!?

  • Reply Vineet April 21, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    Have u listen anything about ‘Mother of all languages’???

  • Reply Varoon April 25, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    It’s not about having the most number of words but having a word for everything. Most of the languages being named here, be it Indian languages, Arabic or Persian haven’t created many new words over the last two centuries. None has even a proper local name for “the internet”.

  • Reply Doug Elerath May 1, 2021 at 3:04 pm

    Incredible arguments! Does it really matter if a language can claim 12 million words if the typical highly educated native speaker might know “only” 30 or 40,000?? And should words in agglutinative languages include all possible agglutinations, some of which become sentences in translation. So, should all possible sentences in non-agglutinative languages be included?? Hmmm.

  • Reply Doug Elerath May 1, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    Added: And although this about richness of a language and not individual speakers, even the best of translators is limited to perhaps fewer than 200,000 distinct individual words, not including various cases, tenses, etc. So, is it total word count that provides richness? Or is it the writer’s ability to draw on the words in a language? Since English is hugely composed of loanwords and has no compunction against borrowing at will, should all languages be included in English? Yes, ridiculous, but it does beg the question of what restricts the richness of any language that will borrow and incorporate as needed or to provide nuance?

  • Reply Luis Ostasuc June 24, 2021 at 2:04 am

    I think that part of the richness of a language is how many people can actually communicate with it. Part of the reason that english is an international trade language is that you dont actually have to know as much of it to have conversations with native speakers.
    I for one live in a college town with a large number of international students as well as a fair number of immigrants. In nebraska. and for the most part i can strike up a conversation in english with any person i meet and we could probably understand each other, because i can understand their meaning even without proper grammer or verb/noun agreement.
    and two people, neither of whom speak the same language, can use their second language of english to get their meaning across.
    there’s a reason that most chinese speakers live in china, most arabic speakers are muslim, and french, german, dutch, spanish are mostly used either in their own countries or in their former colonies. the languages themselves may have a lot of words but they can’t be shaped so easily by so many people, imo

    • Reply Roro L August 18, 2021 at 7:48 pm

      Luis O, I concur. One thing I would like to know, who counts these millions of words in a particular language? After counting the first one or two million, who certifies that words are not repeated in the next 10 million? By the way, in my humble opinion, the beauty of a language comes from the way the speaker or writer is able to convey, describe or impart information, with the creative use of the senses, passion, emotion, keenness and intensity in such a way as to deeply affect the sensibilities of the reader or listener. I believe this is achievable in any language. It all depends on the one orchestrating the words. Or so I think.

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