Academic Vocabulary Lists

This site contains academic vocabulary lists of English that are based on 120 million words of academic texts in the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). As our August 2013 article in Applied Linguistics points out, there are important differences between these lists and the Academic Word List created by Coxhead (2000).

There are three ways to access the lists (all of which are completely free):

1. Download the lists (as Excel files) for offline use (these three links are short one-page samples):

  • The Academic Vocabulary List (AVL) itself (top 3,000 lemmas, which occur in all academic domains)

  • The AVL words grouped into word families (similar to Coxhead's AWL, but with much more information)

  • Top 20,000 words (lemmas) in COCA-Academic, including AVL words, domain-specific words, and "genre-neutral" words

2. Use the online interface to browse through the list and see detailed information about each word -- its definition, the frequency in each of the nine academic domains (e.g. Medicine, Science, or Business), the collocates (nearby words, which give great insight into word meaning and usage), re-sortable concordance lines (which show the patterns in which the word occurs), and synonyms -- all from just COCA Academic.

3.  Use the online interface to input entire academic texts, and see frequency profiles of all words in the text. You can click on any word to see all of the information shown in #2 above. You can also click on any phrase to find related phrases in COCA-Academic.


Mark Davies and Dee Gardner