Dictionary or thesaurus which gives reading level of a word
October 10, 2019 10:25 AM   Subscribe

I could swear that I saw this somewhere: you look up a word, and the reading level is provided next to it. Or the percentage of English speakers who know the word. Have I seen this, or do I just wish it existed? I've checked several sources and can't find it!
posted by onecircleaday to Education (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Is it 'The Living Word Vocabulary: The Words We Know, A National Vocabulary' (1976)?

From: There's an (old — 1971) book called the Living Word Vocabulary that gave reading levels for different words. In it, "verbose" is given a score of 12–72%, which means that on a multiple-choice test, 72% of 12th graders could identify the correct meaning of "verbose".
posted by porpoise at 10:41 AM on October 10, 2019

The old Collins COBUILD ESL dictionaries used to have this c.2002 — but I haven't seen if they've been updated/removed since then.
posted by scruss at 12:10 PM on October 10, 2019

You could use the Google Ngram Viewer as a proxy -- I figure that words that are used less will be a higher reading level.
posted by gregr at 12:56 PM on October 10, 2019

Porpoise is the closest, but this was an online source.
posted by onecircleaday at 4:19 PM on October 10, 2019

Merriam-Webster has "look-up popularity" if you look up a word. That's not exactly what you want, but when I saw your question I thought "doesn't Merriam-Webster have this?" so it's possible you're confused in the same way I was.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:51 PM on October 10, 2019

Dictionary.com used to have a Difficulty Index, e.g. "Most English speakers likely know this word", but it looks like it's been removed at some point.
posted by lesser weasel at 6:55 PM on October 10, 2019

The Cobuild dictionary can now be found online here. It gives a five dot rating for how common a word is ("cat" for example, gets 4 out of 5 dots). Vocabkitchen lets you paste in a longer text and it will analyse the difficulty of each word according to the Common European Framework. If you're a bit more ambitious, the original site that a lot of pros use is the Compleat Lexical Tutor.
posted by Sing Fool Sing at 7:49 PM on October 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

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