Does anyone know the rough proportions of Latin words that fall into each of the five declensions? Which is most common? Which is least common?

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    The percentages of the two answers come from different sources, one from a corpus and one from a dictionary. A corpus is more descriptive of actual use, but the question didn't specify what was meant.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Apr 21, 2020 at 17:25

2 Answers 2


According to this study, the distribution is as follows:

  • 1st declension 21.6%
  • 2nd declension 23.7%
  • 3rd declension 52.6%
  • 4th declension 1.4%
  • 5th declension 0.7%

("Development of Gender Classifications: Modeling the Historical Change from Latin to French," by Maria Polinsky and Ezra Van Everbroeck Language Vol. 79, No. 2, Jun., 2003, Table 2, pg. 362)

  • 2
    I wonder if the other stats are based on frequency of occurrence. 5th declension is tiny in terms of lexis, but dies and res are pretty commonly used words.
    – C Monsour
    Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 14:30
  • 1
    @CMonsour. According to the article, the data comes from two sources: another study, which is "The frequency of Latin words and their endings," Diederich, 1939; and a random sampling of 1500 nouns from classical Latin texts. Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 14:42

Difficult to verify this research but, according to this Reddit thread, the distribution over An Elementary Latin Dictionary (Lewis) would be:

  • 1st declension 19.14% (1248)
  • 2nd declension 31.28% (2039)
  • 3rd declension 45.93% (2994)
  • 4th declension 3.59% (234)
  • 5th declension 0.06% (4)

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