Word frequency data

The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) is the most widely-used corpus in the world. In March 2020 it was updated for the last time (with data up through Dec 2019), and the word frequency data from the corpus was updated in April 2020. The following are the major changes and improvements in the word frequency data.



COCA 2020

Corpus: size

400 million words

More than twice as large, at one billion words. This means that the data is even more accurate for lower frequency words.

Corpus: how up to date

Texts from 1990 - ~2012

The most recent texts are from Dec 2019. There are 20 million words each year from 1990-2019 (+ about 240 million words from blogs and other websites from 2013). So there are about 600 million new words of data since the previous data was released in 2012.

Corpus: genres

Spoken, fiction, magazine, newspaper, academic.

Same five genres as before (with about 120-130 million words per genre), plus the three new genres:
-- Blog posts and other web pages (120-130 million words for each of these two genres). So much of what we consume nowadays comes from the web, and these genres include many words that don't occur much elsewhere (e.g. ebook, webpage, browsing, password, template, meme, snarky, off-topic, downloadable, open-source, updated, (to) monetize, upgrade, debunk, archive, pirate, upgrade).
-- TV and movies subtitles (130 million words). This is by far the most informal language we've ever had in COCA. Many studies (e.g. A, B, and C show that the data from subtitles agrees with native speaker intuitions about their language even better than the data from actual everyday conversation (like in the BNC). Until now, COCA didn't really have this highly informal language.

Data: formats

Separate lists for:
-- 60k lemmas
-- 60k genres
-- 100k word forms

Now all purchases include all three of these lists. In addition, the "genres" list now includes the frequency of each of the 60,000 lemmas in nearly 100 different sub-categories, like Magazine-Sports, Newspaper-Finance, Academic-Medical, Web-Reviews, Blogs-Personal, or TV-Comedies.

The new data also includes something that people have been wanting for a long time. Every purchase also includes a list of the top 220,000 words in the billion word corpus (word forms, not lemmas). For each word, there is helpful information on whether or not the word might be a proper noun, how well the word is spread across the entire corpus, and in which of the eight main genres it is the most common.

Data: accuracy

Very good (compare to other corpora)

Even better. We have exhaustively compared the 60k lemmas list to the previous COCA word frequency lists, as well as the iWeb frequency lists. We have also compared each word to five online dictionaries to see if the word occurs there, and (if not) we have manually checked each of these words. No frequency list will ever be 100% correct, but we believe that the COCA 2020 lists are by far the most accurate word frequency lists available anywhere.


Separate prices for each purchase: 60k lemmas list, 100k word forms list, 60k genres list, etc

All four of the formats are now included for the same price as one format previously.