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Science Word List (SWL) 318 word families for science texts

This page describes the Science Word List (SWL), giving information on what the SWL is, details about why it was developed, information on how it was developed, as well as a complete list of words in the SWL.


To explore the list more fully, try the SWL highlighter (on this site).


What is the SWL?

The Science Word List (SWL), developed by Averil Coxhead and David Hirsch in 2007, is a list of 318 word families which do not occur in the GSL or AWL but which occur with reasonable frequency in a range of written science texts.


The SWL is divided into sublists based on frequency, in a similar way to the AWL. There are 6 sublists, with the first 5 each containing 60 word families, and the last containing 18. The first sublist gives 2.01% coverage of the corpus used to derive the list, the second gives 0.74%, the third 0.45%, the fourth 0.30%, the fifth 0.21%, while the sixth (and smallest) sublist gives only 0.05% coverage.


Why was the SWL developed?

The GSL, on which the AWL is based, provides lower coverage of science texts compared to other text types, meaning that the GSL and AWL in combination also give lower coverage. The coverage of the GSL and AWL for science texts is only 80%, compared to 86.7% for Art, 88.8% for Commerce and 88.5% for Law. The SWL is an attempt to provide extra coverage of science texts. Their list of 318 word families provided an extra coverage of 3.79% for their corpus.


How was the SWL developed?

Coxhead and Hirsch used a corpus of 1.7 million words, covering 14 subject areas, namely Agricultural Science, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Ecology, Engineering and Technology, Geography, Geology, Horticultural Science, Mathematics, Nursing and Midwifery, Physics, Sport and Health Sciences, and Veterinary and Animal Sciences.


To confirm that the list was a true science list, they compared coverage in the science corpus to that in non-science corpora. They found that the SWL gave only 0.61% coverage of an Arts corpus, 0.54% of a Commerce corpus, 0.34% for Law and 0.27% for fiction, much lower than the 3.79% of the science corpus.


References

Coxhead, A. and Hirsch, D. (2007), 'A pilot science-specific word list', Revue française de linguistique appliquée, Issue 2, 2007, pp.65-78.


Science Word List

The Science Word List is shown below. It is presented in order of frequency. The overall rank in the list (out of 318) is shown, together with the headword, sublist, and other members of the word family.



Rank Headword SublistRelated word forms
1cell1celled, cells
2species1sp, specie, spp, subspecies
3acid1acidic, acidity, acidly, acids
4muscle1muscled, muscles, muscling
5protein1proteins
6molecule1molecular, molecules
7nutrient1nutrients
8dense1densely, denseness, denser, densest, densities, density
9laboratory1lab, laboratories, labs
10ion1ionisation, ionise, ionised, ioniser, ionisers, ionises, ionising, ionization, ionize, ionized, ionizer, ionizers, ionizes, ionizing, ions, ionic
11tissue1tissues
12atom1atomic, atomise, atomised, atomiser, atomisers, atomises, atomising, atomism, atomize, atomized, atomizer, atomizers, atomizes, atomizing, atoms, subatomic
13enzyme1enzymes
14graph1graphed, graphing, graphs
15fluid1fluidities, fluidity, fluids
16nerve1nerveless, nerves, nervily
17organic1inorganic, inorganically, organically, organics
18organism1organisms
19module1modular, modularity, modules
20oxygen1oxygens
21absorb1absorbance, absorbed, absorbency, absorbent, absorber, absorbers, absorbing, absorbs, absorption, absorptions, absorptive
22bacterium1bacteria, bacterial
23axial1axially
24vertical1vertically, verticals
25diagram1diagrammatic, diagrammatically, diagrammed, diagramming, diagrams
26column1col, cols, columnar, columned, columns
27electron1electrons
28horizontal1horizontally
29rotate1rotated, rotates, rotating, rotation, rotational, rotations, rotatory
30membrane1membranes, membranous
31hormone1hormonal, hormones
32zone1zonal, zoned, zones, zoning
33fibre1fiber, fibers, fibres, fibrous
34plot1plots, plotted, plotter, plotters, plotting
35fertile1fertilisation, fertilise, fertilised, fertiliser, fertilisers, fertilises, fertilising, fertility, fertilization, fertilize, fertilized, fertilizer, fertilizers, fertilizes, fertilizing, infertile, infertility
36linear1linearities, linearity, linearly, nonlinear
37physiological1physiologically
38metabolic1metabolically
39hydrogen1hydrogenous, hydrogens
40respiration1respires, respired, respiring, respire, respirations
41deposit1deposited, depositing, depositor, depositors, depository, deposits
42segment1segmental, segmentary, segmentation, segmentations, segmented, segmenting, segments
43nitrogen1nitrogenous, nitrogens
44infect1infected, infecting, infection, infections, infectious, infectiously, infectiousness, infective, infects, noninfectious, reinfect, reinfected, reinfecting, reinfection, reinfections, reinfects, uninfected
45digest1digested, digestible, digesting, digestion, digestive, digestives, digests, indigestible, undigested
46vector1vectors
47circuit1circuited, circuiting, circuitous, circuitries, circuitry, circuits
48carbon1carbons
49magnitude1magnitudes
50magnet1magnetic, magnetically, magnetics, magnetise, magnetised, magnetises, magnetising, magnetism, magnetization, magnetize, magnetized, magnetizes, magnetizing, magnets, nonmagnetic
51radiate1radiated, radiates, radiating, radiation, radiations, radiative
52stimulate1stimulated, stimulates, stimulating, stimulation, stimulations, stimulatory
53height1heights
54sodium1sodiums
55volt1voltage, voltages, voltmeter, voltmeters, volts
56vegetation1vegetations
57versus1vs
58lateral1laterality, laterally, laterals
59atmosphere1atmospheres, atmospheric
60diameter1diameters
61flora2floras, floristic
62dissolve2dissolved, dissolves, dissolving
63contaminate2contaminated, contaminates, contaminating, contamination, contaminations, uncontaminated
64climate2climates, climatic, climatically, climatological
65oxide2oxides
66vein2veined, veins
67fraction2fractional, fractionally, fractions
68amino2
69nucleus2nuclei, nucleuses
70polar2bipolar, bipolarities, bipolarity, polarisation, polarise, polarised, polarises, polarising, polarities, polarity, polarization, polarize, polarized, polarizes, polarizing
71conserve2conservation, conservationism, conservationist, conservationists, conservator, conservators, conserved, conserves, conserving
72filter2filtered, filtering, filters, filtrate, filtrated, filtrating, filtration, filtrations, unfiltered
73diffuse2diffused, diffuser, diffusers, diffuses, diffusing, diffusion, diffusions
74phosphate2phosphates
75secrete2secreted, secretes, secreting, secretion, secretions, secretor, secretors, secretory
76marine2
77align2aligned, aligner, aligners, aligning, alignment, alignments, aligns
78gradient2gradients
79tract2tracts
80vitamin2vitamins
81soluble2insolubility, insoluble, solubility
82precipitate2precipitated, precipitately, precipitates, precipitating, precipitation
83strain2strained, strainer, strainers, straining, strains
84urine2urinal, urinals, urinary, urinate, urinated, urinates, urinating, urination, urines
85buffer2buffered, buffering, buffers
86disc2discette, discettes, discs, disk, diskette, diskettes, disks
87optimum2
88profile2profiled, profiles, profiling
89toxic2nontoxic, toxicities, toxicity
90fuel2fueled, fueling, fuelled, fuelling, fuels
91plasma2plasmas
92peak2peaked, peaking, peaks
93circulate2circulated, circulates, circulating, circulation, circulations, circulatory, uncirculated
94loop2looped, looping, loops
95carbohydrate2carbohydrates
96coefficient2coefficients
97elevate2elevated, elevates, elevating, elevation, elevations, elevator, elevators
98fungus2fungal, fungi, funguses
99node2nodal, nodes
100saturate2saturated, saturates, saturating, saturation, saturations, unsaturated
101deficiency2deficiencies, deficient
102gravity2gravitate, gravitated, gravitates, gravitating, gravitation, gravitational, gravities
103symmetry2symmetric, symmetrical, symmetrically, symmetries, unsymmetrical
104synthesis2synth, syntheses, synthesise, synthesised, synthesiser, synthesisers, synthesises, synthesising, synthesize, synthesized, synthesizer, synthesizers, synthesizes, synthesizing, synths
105virus2viruses
106equilibrium2equilibria, equilibriums
107intersect2intersected, intersecting, intersection, intersections, intersects
108discharge2discharged, discharger, dischargers, discharges, discharging, undischarged
109microbe2microbes, microbial
110kidney2kidneys
111abundant2abundance, abundances, abundantly
112gland2glands, glandular
113skeletal2
114tutorial2tutored, tutorial, tutorials, tutoring, tutors, untutored
115digit2digits
116drain2drainage, drainages, drained, drainer, draining, drains
117solute2solutes
118flux2fluxes
119pollen2pollens
120interface2interfaced, interfaces, interfacing
121osmotic3
122embryo3embryos
123liver3livers
124moisture3moistures, moisturise, moisturised, moisturiser, moisturisers, moisturising, moisturize, moisturized, moisturizer, moisturizers, moisturizing
125sketch3sketched, sketches, sketching
126enlarge3enlargeable, enlarged, enlargement, enlargements, enlarger, enlargers, enlarges, enlarging
127cylinder3cylinders
128exert3exerted, exerting, exertion, exertions, exerts
129spine3spinal, spinally, spineless, spinelessly, spinelessness, spines, spiny
130mobile3immobile, immobility, mobiles, mobilities, mobility
131correlate3correlated, correlates, correlating, correlation, correlational, correlations, uncorrelated
132anatomy3anatomical, anatomically, anatomies, anatomist, anatomists
133alcohol3alcoholic, alcoholics, alcoholism, alcohols
134substrate3substrates
135proton3protons
136cavity3cavities
137thermal3thermally, thermals
138calcium3
139aquatic3aquatically, aquatics
140hybrid3hybridisation, hybridisations, hybridise, hybridised, hybridises, hybridising, hybridization, hybridizations, hybridize, hybridized, hybridizes, hybridizing, hybrids
141sterile3sterilisation, sterilisations, sterilise, sterilised, steriliser, sterilisers, sterilises, sterilising, sterilities, sterility, sterilization, sterilizations, sterilize, sterilized, sterilizer, sterilizers, sterilizes, sterilizing, unsterile
142solar3
143transverse3transversely
144chloride3chlorides
145defense3defenceless, defencelessly, defences, defence, defenses, defensible, defensibly, defensive, defensively, defensiveness, indefensible, indefensibly
146overview3overviews
147switch3switchable, switched, switches, switching
148inject3injected, injecting, injection, injections, injector, injectors, injects
149specimen3specimens
150decompose3decomposed, decomposer, decomposers, decomposes, decomposing, decomposition
151dilute3diluted, dilutes, diluting, dilution, dilutions, undiluted
152pathway3
153spatial3spatially
154fragment3fragmentary, fragmentation, fragmented, fragmenting, fragments
155contraction3contractions
156feedback3feedbacks
157vapour3vapor, vaporiser, vaporisers, vaporizer, vaporizers, vapors, vapours
158session3sessional, sessions
159terrestrial3terrestrially
160inherit3inheritance, inheritances, inherited, inheriting, inheritor, inheritors, inherits
161potassium3potassiums
162zinc3zincs
163pore3pores
164simultaneous3simultaneity, simultaneously
165phosphorus3phosphoric
166radius3radii, radiuses
167extinct3extinction, extinctions
168saline3salinities, salinity
169ammonia3ammonium
170distal3distally
171intestine3intestinal, intestines
172diagnose3diagnosed, diagnosing, misdiagnose, misdiagnosed, misdiagnosing, undiagnosed
173shaft3shafted, shafting, shafts
174condense3condensate, condensates, condensation, condensations, condensed, condenser, condensers, condenses, condensing
175web3
176apical3apically
177junction3junctions
178lactate3lactated, lactates, lactating, lactation
179static3statically
180infrared3
181propagate4propagated, propagates, propagating, propagation, propagations, propagator, propagators
182symptom4symptomatic, symptomatically, symptoms
183wavelength4wavelengths
184barrier4barriers
185cube4cu, cubes, cubic
186evaporate4evaporated, evaporates, evaporating, evaporation, evaporator, evaporators
187grid4grids
188proximal4proximally
189dependence4dependences, interdependence, interdependences
190photosynthesis4photosynthesise, photosynthesised, photosynthesises, photosynthesize, photosynthesized, photosynthesizes, photosynthesizing, photosynthetic
191terminology4terminological, terminologies
192algae4algaes, algal
193microscope4microscopes, microscopic, microscopical, microscopically, microscopy
194orbit4orbital, orbitally, orbitals, orbited, orbiting, orbits, orbitted, orbitting
195capsule4capsules
196breakdown4
197morphology4morphological, morphologically, morphologies, morphologist, morphologists
198permeable4impermeability, impermeable, impermeably, permeabilities, permeability
199superior4superiority, superiors
200perpendicular4perpendicularly
201disperse4dispersal, dispersals, dispersed, disperses, dispersing, dispersion
202calibrate4calibrated, calibrates, calibrating, calibration, calibrations
203pulse4pulsed, pulses, pulsing
204differential4diff, differentially, differentials, diffs
205drug4drugged, druggie, druggies, drugging, drugs
206routine4routinely, routines, subroutine, subroutines
207inlet4inlets
208viable4nonviable, viabilities, viability
209cord4corded, cording, cordless, cords
210degrade4degradation, degradations, degraded, degrades, degrading
211emit4emission, emissions, emits, emitted, emitter, emitters, emitting
212cortex4cortexes
213urea4ureas
214configure4configurable, configuration, configurations, configured, configures, configuring
215counter4countered, countering, counters
216disorder4disordered, disorderly, disorders
217drill4drilled, driller, drillers, drilling, drills
218uptake4uptakes
219cluster4clustered, clustering, clusters
220hazard4hazarded, hazarding, hazardous, hazardously, hazards, nonhazardous
221recreation4recreational, recreationally, recreations
222texture4textural, textured, textures, texturing, untextured
223elongate4elongated, elongates, elongating, elongation
224nitrate4nitrates
225parasite4parasites, parasitic, parasitically
226compress4compressed, compresses, compressibility, compressible, compressing, compression, compressions, compressor, compressors
227acute4acutely, acuteness
228converge4converged, convergence, convergences, convergent, converges, converging
229compact4compacted, compacting, compaction, compactly, compactness, compacts
230cone4cones
231recall4recalled, recalling, recalls
232verify4verifiable, verification, verifications, verified, verifier, verifiers, verifies, verifying
233hemisphere4hemispheres, hemispheric, hemispherical
234coil4coiled, coiling, coils, uncoil, uncoiled, uncoiling, uncoils
235susceptible4insusceptible, susceptibilities, susceptibility
236apparatus4apparatuses
237infant4infancy, infants
238penetrate4interpenetration, interpenetrations, penetrated, penetrates, penetrating, penetration, penetrations, penetrative
239periphery4peripheral, peripherally, peripherals, peripheries
240reservoir4reservoirs
241anomaly5anomalies, anomalous, anomalously
242electrode5electrodes
243compartment5compartmental, compartmentalisation, compartmentalise, compartmentalised, compartmentalises, compartmentalising, compartmentalization, compartmentalize, compartmentalized, compartmentalizes, compartmentalizing, compartments
244interior5interiors
245basal5basally
246embed5embedded, embedding, embeds
247altitude5altitudes
248incubate5incubated, incubates, incubating, incubation, incubations, incubator, incubators, preincubated, preincubation
249replicate5replicated, replicates, replicating, replication, replications
250synthetic5synthetically, synthetics
251exponential5exponentially
252tilt5tilted, tilting, tilts
253onset5onsets
254chronic5chronically
255fracture5fractured, fractures, fracturing
256homogeneous5homogeneously, homogenous
257superficial5superficialities, superficiality, superficially
258temperate5intemperate, intemperately, temperately, temperateness
259viscous5viscose, viscosities, viscosity
260insulin5insulins
261propel5propellant, propellants, propelled, propeller, propellers, propelling, propellor, propellors, propels
262median5medians
263diverge5diverged, divergence, divergences, divergent, diverges, diverging
264magnesium5magnesiums
265exotic5exotically, exoticism, exotics
266insulate5insulated, insulates, insulating, insulation, insulations, insulator, insulators, uninsulated
267latitude5latitudes
268subtract5subtracted, subtracting, subtraction, subtractions, subtracts
269latent5latencies, latency
270mortal5immortal, immortalise, immortalised, immortalises, immortalising, immortalities, immortality, immortalize, immortalized, immortalizes, immortalizing, immortally, immortals, mortalities, mortality, mortally, mortals
271vacuum5vacuumed, vacuuming, vacuums
272filament5filamentous, filaments
273ventilate5ventilated, ventilates, ventilating, ventilation, ventilations, ventilator, ventilators, ventilatory
274adverse5adversely, adverseness, adversities, adversity
275arc5arced, arcing, arcs
276array5arrayed, arraying, arrays
277dam5dammed, damming, dams
278impair5impaired, impairing, impairment, impairments, impairs, unimpaired
279span5spanned, spanning, spans
280chamber5chambered, chambers
281genus5genuses
282vital5vitally
283convey5conveyance, conveyancer, conveyancers, conveyances, conveyancing, conveyancings, conveyed, conveyer, conveyers, conveying, conveyor, conveyors, conveys
284invade5invaded, invader, invaders, invades, invading
285resemble5resemblance, resemblances, resembled, resembles, resembling
286ancestor5ancestors, ancestral
287debris5
288grasp5grasped, grasping, grasps
289lipid5lipids
290pigment5pigmentation, pigmentations, pigmented, pigmenting, pigments
291recycle5recyclable, recycled, recycles, recycling, recyclings, unrecyclable, unrecycled
292starch5starched, starches, starchier, starchiest, starchily, starchiness, starching, starchy
293anion5anionic, anions
294fuse5fused, fuses, fusing, fusion, fusions
295generic5genre, generically, genres, nongeneric
296humid5humidities, humidity
297rupture5ruptured, ruptures, rupturing
298vibrate5vibrated, vibrates, vibrating, vibration, vibrational, vibrations, vibrator, vibrators, vibratory
299adhere5adhered, adherence, adherences, adherent, adherents, adheres, adhering
300inferior5inferiorities, inferiority, inferiors
301longitudinal6longitudinally
302plunge6plunged, plunger, plungers, plunges, plunging
303sheath6sheaths
304capture6captured, captures, capturing, uncaptured
305engage6engaged, engagement, engagements, engages, engaging, engagingly
306partition6partitioned, partitioning, partitions
307serum6antisera, antiserum, antiserums, serums
308transient6intransience, transience, transiently, transients
309aluminium6aluminum
310defect6defective, defectively, defectiveness, defects
311temporal6temporality, temporally
312indent6indentation, indentations, indented, indenting, indents
313purify6purification, purifications, purified, purifies, purifying
314designate6designated, designates, designating, designation, designations
315entitle6entitled, entitlement, entitlements, entitles, entitling, unentitled
316mesh6enmesh, enmeshed, enmeshes, enmeshing, enmeshment, enmeshments, meshed, meshes, meshing
317cumulative6cumulatively, noncumulative
318radial6radially



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Sheldon Smith

Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 21 September 2021.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.



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