And the award for the most commonly used word in the English language goes to...TIME.
That's the verdict of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, as reported by CNN.com. The dictionary relied on the billion-word Oxford English Corpus, which is researching 21st-century English, to come up with its list of the top 100 nouns, verbs, articles, and other parts of speech.
"Time" topped the list of nouns, with "person" and "year" taking second and third place. For a more comprehensive list and analysis, go here.
Some fascinating tidbits:
- "Man" came in seventh, while "woman" is fourteenth.
- "War" ranked forty-ninth; "peace" didn't make the list.
- On the other hand, "friend" is thirtieth, and neither "enemy" nor "foe" is on the list.
- The most popular word over all is "the."
The vast majority of the most commonly used words come from Old English, which means they would have been understood, more or less, by an inhabitant of the British Isles before the Norman Conquest in 1066.
"Time" is virtually unaltered from Old English "tima," which is very closely related to "tide." (We see remnants in "Christmastide," "eventide," and other quaint words.)
Why has "time" proved so timeless? We English-speakers are obsessed with time. Think of all the ways in which we talk about it: We make time, mark time, pass time, keep time, waste time, kill time, have the time of our lives, and--if we're unfortunate--do time. We're on time or out of time. We have time clocks, time signatures, timetables, and timepieces. We're chronically short on time or making up for lost time.
I'd go on, but time's up.