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How many words are in the Latin language total? There are many, but I am curious to see how many. More or less than English?

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    Welcome to the site! This question is interesting, but might be hard to answer. How many words are there in English and how was that number obtained? – Joonas Ilmavirta Jan 17 at 23:18
  • Well, I found an approximation. en.oxforddictionaries.com/explore/… "171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words". However, that is for the English language, not Latin. – M. C. Jan 17 at 23:49
  • One of my Latin Dictionaries has 1206 pages (plus extra pages for names). Each page has about 25 words listed. Does that come to 30150 words? – Hugh Jan 18 at 1:06
  • @JoonasIlmavirta Perhaps from some count of a Latin corpus somewhere? – luchonacho Jan 18 at 12:27
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This is not likely to be the final answer, but I hope it might give some rough idea of the scale we might be talking about.

Perseus has a tool for studying word frequency, based on 301 texts (from Classical Latin authors to religious texts, e.g. the Vulgata). I did a search and, based on a list of 174 texts (see bottom of page for list; not sure why not all 301 were included), the total number of words produced were 6,321,361. Now, a quick look at the list shows that not all declensions are in the list. For instance, the list includes tulerit, tulerunt, tuli, tulisse, tulisset, and tulit, whereas there are many more declensions of the corresponding verb (in the active present) missing.

So, the number above is well below the "true" value. But I hope it gives an idea of the scale we might be talking about, i.e. millions.

PS: I have a question elsewhere that might help to produce a more accurate number, based on Wiktionary.

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    Do you think we should count different forms of the same verb as separate words? That has a huge effect on the estimate. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jan 18 at 18:35
  • @JoonasIlmavirta Oh, that's a good question. I was by default assuming so. But on a second thought, you might be capturing properties of the language which might not, in a sense, be a "true" measure of the richness of its corpus. Probably both are useful information, and ultimately it depends on the use the OP wants to give to it. – luchonacho Jan 18 at 19:07
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The Oxford Latin Dictionary has about 40,000 entries, according to its Wikipedia page, so that's probably a good estimate for classical Latin. Du Cange's Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis has about 90,000 entries, according to this website. That should include most words up through the 19th century, though certainly not all words.

It's unclear to me how many Latin words have been coined since then, as proponents of "Living Latin" regularly coin new words for modern objects and concepts.

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