The 707 words used in "The Edge of the Sky", arranged according to how frequently they occur in the book. Credit: John Pobojewski/Thirst for Foreign Policy Magazine

The 707 words used in “The Edge of the Sky”, arranged according to how frequently they occur in the book. Credit: John Pobojewski/Thirst for Foreign Policy Magazine


What are the 1,000 words used in The Edge of the Sky?

a able about above accept across act actually add admit afraid after afternoon again against age ago agree ah ahead air all allow almost alone along already alright also although always am amaze an and anger angry animal annoy another answer any anymore anyone anything anyway apartment apparently appear approach are area aren’t arm around arrive as ask asleep ass at attack attempt attention aunt avoid away baby back bad bag ball band bar barely bathroom be beat beautiful became because become bed bedroom been before began begin behind believe bell beside besides best better between big bit bite black blink block blonde blood blue blush body book bore both bother bottle bottom box boy boyfriend brain break breakfast breath breathe bright bring broke broken brother brought brown brush build burn burst bus business busy but buy by call calm came can can’t car card care carefully carry case cat catch caught cause cell chair chance change chase check cheek chest child children chuckle city class clean clear climb close clothes coffee cold college color come comment complete completely computer concern confuse consider continue control conversation cool corner couch could couldn’t counter couple course cover crack crazy cross crowd cry cup cut cute dad damn dance dark date daughter day dead deal dear death decide deep definitely desk did didn’t die different dinner direction dis- appear do doctor does doesn’t dog don’t done door doubt down drag draw dream dress drink drive drop drove dry during each ear early easily easy eat edge either else empty end enjoy enough enter entire escape especially even evening eventually ever every everyone everything exactly except excite exclaim excuse expect explain expression eye eyebrow face fact fall family far fast father fault favorite fear feel feet fell felt few field fight figure fill finally find fine finger finish fire first fit five fix flash flip floor fly focus follow food foot for force forget form forward found four free friend from front frown fuck full fun funny further game gasp gave gaze gently get giggle girl girlfriend give given glad glance glare glass go God gone gonna good got gotten grab great green greet gray grin grip groan ground group grow guard guess gun guy had hadn’t hair half hall hallway hand handle hang happen happy hard has hate have haven’t he he’d he’s head hear heard heart heavy held hell hello help her here herself hey hi hide high him himself his hit hold home hope horse hospital hot hour house how however hug huge huh human hundred hung hurry hurt I I’d I’ll I’m I’ve ice idea if ignore imagine immediately important in inside instead interest interrupt into is isn’t it it’s its jacket jeans jerk job join joke jump just keep kept key kick kid kill kind kiss kitchen knee knew knock know known lady land large last late laugh lay lead lean learn least leave led left leg less let letter lie life lift light like line lip listen little live lock locker long look lose lost lot loud love low lunch mad made make man manage many mark marry match matter may maybe me mean meant meet memory men mention met middle might mind mine minute mirror miss mom moment money month mood more morning most mother mouth move movie Mr. Mrs. much mum mumble music must mutter my myself name near nearly neck need nervous never new next nice night no nod noise none normal nose not note nothing notice now number obviously of off offer office often oh okay old on once one only onto open or order other our out outside over own pack pain paint pair pants paper parents park part party pass past pause pay people perfect perhaps person phone pick picture piece pink piss place plan play please pocket point police pop position possible power practically present press pretend pretty probably problem promise pull punch push put question quick quickly quiet quietly quite race rain raise ran rang rather reach read ready real realize really reason recognize red relationship relax remain remember remind repeat reply respond rest return ride right ring road rock roll room rose round rub run rush sad safe said same sat save saw say scare school scream search seat second see seem seen self send sense sent serious seriously set settle seven several shadow shake share she she’d she’s shift shirt shit shock shoe shook shop short shot should shoulder shouldn’t shout shove show shower shrug shut sick side sigh sight sign silence silent simply since single sir sister sit situation six skin sky slam sleep slightly slip slow slowly small smell smile smirk smoke snap so soft softly some somehow someone something sometimes somewhere son song soon sorry sort sound space speak spend spent spoke spot stair stand star stare start state stay step stick still stomach stood stop store story straight strange street strong struggle stuck student study stuff stupid such suck sudden suddenly suggest summer sun suppose sure surprise surround sweet table take taken talk tall teacher team tear teeth tell ten than thank that that’s the their them themselves then there there’s these they they’d they’re thick thing think third this those though thought three threw throat through throw tie tight time tiny tire to today together told tomorrow tone tongue tonight too took top totally touch toward town track trail train tree trip trouble true trust truth try turn television twenty two type uncle under understand until up upon us use usual usually very visit voice wait wake walk wall want warm warn was wasn’t watch water wave way we we’ll we’re we’ve wear week weird well went were weren’t wet what what’s whatever when where whether which while whisper white who whole why wide wife will wind window wipe wish with within without woke woman women won’t wonder wood word wore work world worry worse would wouldn’t wow wrap write wrong yeah year yell yes yet you you’d you’ll you’re you’ve young your yourself


  1. Science jargon and the all-there-is | Seattle Astronomy
    October 19, 2014

    […] Roberto Trotta’s website The 1,000 word list […]

  2. Can the universe be described in simple English? | British Council Voices
    November 12, 2014

    […] accessible? Dr Roberto Trotta tells us about his attempt to describe the universe using the most common 1,000 words of English and explains why science ultimately speaks to us through the language of mathematics. Roberto […]

  3. mura nava
    February 7, 2015

    hi there

    i was wondering how you decided on the 1000 words?
    running them through some vocabulary profilers shows quite a few outside most frequent 1000


    • roberto
      March 27, 2015

      I took them from a Wiktionary compilation, here:

      It’s true that this might possibly not be the most authoritative source of what are the “truly” most common 1000 words — in the end, the definition of the list will depend on what source you use to compile it from.

      I haven’t made any effort to cross-check the exactitude of the list. I felt this was not relevant to my purpose: I am not very interested in the question of whether the 1,000 words I use are really the most used 1,000 words (by whatever criterium! I can easily imagine that the most-used 1,000 words in science fiction novels might be different from the 1,000 most-used words in short stories, for example).

      What I’m interested in is to see what kind of picture of The-All-There is can be painted with a given list. I accept some arbitrariness in its definition, and that is part of its charm 🙂



    • roberto
      March 20, 2018

      I just grabbed a list of 1000 words that Wikipedia said had been culled from several million works of contemporary fiction. So it’s not necessarily representative. It will depend on what sort of source you base it on.

  4. jansegers
    July 4, 2017


    Could it be possible to obtain the 707 word list you’ve used in defining the scientific concepts in your book ?

    I would like to compare it to the 747 words with a Zipf score of 7, 6 and 5 on the Zipf scale
    [ The Zipf-scale: A better standardized measure of word frequency ]

    And the envisioned 700 semantic molecules list draft for the multi-layer NSM-LDOCE Non-Circular Dictionary …

    I believe that comparing these three lists can lead to the creation of a real natural English language defining vocabulary as important as the OGDEN BASIC ENGLISH 850 word list …

    Have a nice day !

    Pieter Jansegers

  5. Walter Hermans
    December 13, 2017

    Hi Roberto,
    Mr. Charles Kay Ogden’s ‘BASIC English word list’, first published in 1932 in its final version, which pretends of consisting of the 850 most useful words, enlarged with (to be adapted!) 100 general science words and (idem!) with 50 additional words of physics might constitute the best source for writing clearly about topics of a similar kind. May be a suggestion for new book?
    Have a great day!
    Kind regards,

    • roberto
      March 20, 2018

      Hi Walter, great suggestion! Although my aim was more to use a (somewhat arbitrary) list (and its constraints) and see what kind of language that would create. I agree I could have done with a few more special words!


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