The 25 Toughest Vocabulary Words Based On 1,000,000 Answers

My first Android creation was a game called Vocabulary Builder. The gameplay is simple: match words with definitions and vice versa. It has multiple skill levels, tracks your progress, and has a built-in dictionary.

Today, it is the number one Google search result for Android Vocabulary Builder, has a 4/5 star rating, and has around 100k installs. It is monetized with ads and a 99 cent ad-free pro version. Being as this is Android, this translates into me having made roughly $100 dollars from it throughout its entire lifetime. No, seriously. Despite cleverly sneaking ads in between definitions, it's CPM is practically nothing (an order of magnitude less than some of my iOS games) and of the 100k installs, a whopping 82 have converted to pro users.

But that is neither here nor there. What is interesting (and hopefully worth sharing), is the analytics data that has been collected. Using a free Google App Engine account, I have collected the anonymized result of every single question (within the free account quota). This equates to over a million data points. Ironically, due to the size of the data set, in order to bulk download all of this data in a timely fashion, I had to temporarily upgrade to a paid account. Here I share the toughest and the easiest vocabulary words.

The 25 Toughest Words

To qualify this data, the dictionary used in the game is based on a well known list of difficult GRE-style words. It is not based on the entire English dictionary.

Rank Word Definition Correct Ratio
1 transport strong emotion; rapture 0.1078838174
2 husband use sparingly; conserve; save 0.1198156682
3 career rush wildly; go at full speed 0.1380952381
4 disport amuse 0.1697247706
5 nicety precision; accuracy; minute distinction or difference 0.1991150442
6 cupidity greed (for wealth) 0.2042553191
7 cow terrorize; intimidate 0.2044444444
8 dint means; effort 0.2064220183
9 affected artificial; pretended 0.2127659574
10 exceptionable objectionable; likely to cause dislike; offensive 0.224137931
11 base contemptible; morally bad; inferior in value or quality 0.2282157676
12 brook tolerate; endure 0.2307692308
13 qualified limited; restricted 0.2322274882
14 guy cable or chain attached to something that needs to be braced or steadied 0.2339449541
15 gloss brief explanation note or translation of a difficult expression 0.2355769231
16 enjoin command; order; forbid 0.2358974359
17 mountebank charlatan; boastful pretender 0.2380952381
18 pluck courage 0.2476190476
19 bearing deportment; connection 0.2511210762
20 flag droop; grow feeble; decline in vigor or strength 0.2525252525
21 wont (the stated person's) habit or custom; habitual procedure 0.2525773196
22 pan criticize harshly 0.2526315789
23 waffle speak equivocally about an issue 0.2565445026
24 ferment agitation; commotion(noisy and excited activity); unrest (of a political kind) 0.2566371681
25 mettle courage (to continue bravely in spite of difficulties); spirit 0.2581967213

Interestingly, most of these words are not that uncommon, but are clearly used in the context of their 2nd or 3rd definition.

The 25 Easiest Words

For contrast, here is the other end of the spectrum:

Rank Word Definition Correct Ratio
1 psychiatrist doctor who treats mental diseases 0.9957264957
2 healthy possessing good health; healthful 0.9911894273
3 vaporize turn into vapor (steam, gas, fog, etc.) 0.9868421053
4 sibling brother or sister 0.9855769231
5 optician maker and seller of eyeglasses 0.9821428571
6 judiciary judicial branch of government 0.981981982
7 plumber one who installs and repairs pipes and plumbing(pipes) 0.9815668203
8 exhale breathe out 0.9814814815
9 renovate restore to good condition; renew 0.981042654
10 lubricate apply a lubricant to 0.9807692308
11 replicate reproduce; duplicate 0.9787234043
12 reminiscent suggestive of something (in the past); of reminiscence 0.9782608696
13 artery blood-vessel 0.9779735683
14 morgue mortuary; place where bodies are kept before burial or cremation 0.9779735683
15 negligence neglect; failure to take reasonable care 0.9777777778
16 nauseous causing nausea; feeling nausea 0.9774774775
17 cardiologist doctor specializing in ailments of the heart 0.9771689498
18 mentor counselor; teacher 0.9770642202
19 oversee watch over and direct; supervise 0.9768518519
20 nectar drink of the gods; sweet liquid collected by bees 0.976744186
21 amphibian able to live both on land and in water 0.9764150943
22 dermatologist one who studies the skin and its diseases 0.9763033175
23 kneel go down on one's knee(s) 0.9759615385
24 toxic poisonous 0.9758454106
25 hibernate sleep throughout the winter 0.9757281553

If you are reading this and you are interested in word games, check out some of my other titles: Beworded (Android Market, App Store) and Word Topple (App Store).

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