I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time I’ve said this: English is probably one of the hardest languages to learn (assuming it’s not your first). With all of the homonyms, homophones, and the 7 different ways to pronounce the letter combination “-ough”, it can get confusing in a hurry. In addition to words being able to be pronounced in different ways, countless words out there have many different meanings. Even worse: we have some words with countless meanings.
Okay, well not countless, but many indeed! Don’t ask how, but I got to wondering: exactly which English word has the most definitions? (I swear, sometimes I have the curiosity of a six-year-old.) So, I took a crack at it and guessed “run.” I figured you can run a marathon, run a software application, have a good run (like a winning streak), run for a political office, a well can run dry, or you can get a run in a piece of fabric. Anyway, lo and behold! I was pretty darn close. “Run” is the word with the second highest number of definitions. And I was feeling pretty proud of myself until I found out just how many meanings of “run” actually exist.
Oxford dishes out 396 definitions for the word “run”! (All of a sudden, my six weren’t so exciting.)
Even more impressively, “run” is not only second place, it’s a distant second place. Any idea what the first place word is? (Don’t worry if you guess wrong. I did, too. I was way off!)
The word “set” clocks in at 464 different meanings! (Different enough, that is.) Crazy, huh? If you care enough to find a list of them, you’ll find that many of the definitions are very similar. But even still, 464 is shocking.
So what do you do with a bit of random trivia like this? Impress your friends by knowing which words means most. And if that doesn’t impress your friends, well, you could learn to ride a unicycle.
Honorable Mentions: Go, Fall, Put, and Stand are all over 250!