As part of my interest to get some interesting data (and a word list), I ended up using the code I used here (refined) against all the WSJ PUZ puzzles released in 2017 and generated a CSV word list, along with counts of the words.

Any questions are welcome, if I didn’t think of them in the questions I wanted answered…

Note: Some of the words will be invalid/nonsensical because some gimmicks involve taking a universal part of a theme set and moving it up or down from the across entry (the WSJ has run at least one puzzle like this in this time frame). So the whole list won’t be that exact or accurate.

Anyhow, here’s some readily identifiable random facts I found:

  • Let’s start with the commonly known rule that a single word generally almost always is not allowed to appear more than once in a specific grid. Applying this rule will make looking at this data a lot easier.
  • I processed 304 PUZ files. This short number is not to be unexpected since the WSJ does not run a puzzle on Sunday or on holidays.
  • The WSJ crossword puzzles used 14,684 unique words in 2017.
  • Of those words, 10,079 were used exactly once. A ratio of words trending towards once is to be expected since most theme entries will be unique. But for some reason, I was surprised that there is this many that only occurred once.
  • 2,230 occurred twice, 980 occurred three times, 503 occurred 4 times, 269 occurred 5 times, 207 occurred 6 times, 114 occurred 7 times, 84 occurred 8 times.
  • This eliminates all but 218 of the words in the list. This entire list has words that occurred in 3% of the total number of puzzles or greater.
  • ERA and ORE occurred 34 times, making them the most used words in WSJ crosswords for 2017. This constitutes 11% of the total number of grids that were produced.
  • A super-majority of the 218 are three or four letter words with a few five letter words sprinkled in between.

Now here’s what I’m sure people were waiting for: The top #100 words in the WSJ according to usage:

ERA 	34
ORE 	34
AREA 	27
OLE 	27
ALA 	25
ALOE 	25
ERIE 	25
ALI 	24
ARIA 	22
ASH 	22
ELI 	20
ERR 	20
RIO 	20
SET 	20
ALE 	19
IRE 	19
ONE 	19
SEE 	19
YES 	19
AMI 	18
ANTE 	18
EDEN 	18
END 	18
ETA 	18
ALTO 	17
ANTI 	17
ISLE 	17
LEE 	17
OREO 	17
ALOT 	16
ELS 	16
EMU 	16
EWE 	16
TEE 	16
TEN 	16
USE 	16
AMEN 	15
ARI 	15
ASIA 	15
ATE 	15
ENDS 	15
SPA 	15
ABBA 	14
ABEL 	14
ACE 	14
ASS 	14
AWE 	14
EASE 	14
EGO 	14
ERAS 	14
EROS 	14
ICE 	14
NET 	14
ORAL 	14
SEA 	14
ALAS 	13
ARE 	13
ARENA 	13
EAT 	13
IDO 	13
IKE 	13
LAB 	13
NEE 	13
OAR 	13
RIOT 	13
ADO 	12
AGE 	12
AIR 	12
ALEE 	12
ANN 	12
ARC 	12
ASSET 	12
EBB 	12
EDIT 	12
ELK 	12
ELSE 	12
ESP 	12
EVE 	12
OBOE 	12
ODE 	12
PSI 	12
RED 	12
SETS 	12
SHE 	12
TIN 	12
ULNA 	12
ACRE 	11
ADA 	11
AGO 	11
ALEC 	11
AMMO 	11
ANT 	11
ASK 	11
ATM 	11
ATOM 	11
BRA 	11
CIA 	11
ETON 	11
EURO 	11
EYE 	11
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One thought on “Wall Street Journal Crossword: Most Used Words For 2017

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