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Google Ngram Viewer

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Google Ngram Viewer

The Google Ngram Viewer is an online phrase-usage graphing tool originally developed by Jon Orwant and Will Brockman of Google, inspired by a prototype (called "Bookworm") created by Jean-Baptiste Michel and Erez Aiden from Harvard and Yuan Shen from MIT. It charts the yearly count of selected n-grams as found in over 5.2 million books digitized by Google Inc up to 2012.[1][2][3][4] An n-gram is a sequence of letters of any length, which could be a word, a misspelling, a phrase or gibberish.[5] The n-grams are matched by case-sensitive spelling, comparing exact uppercase letters,[2] and plotted on the graph if found in 40 or more books during each year of the requested year-range.[6] The Ngram tool was released in mid-December 2010[1][3] and now supports searches for parts of speech and wildcards.

The word-search database was created by Google Books and was based originally on 5.2 million books published between 1500 and 2008. Collectively, the corpus contained over 500 billion words in American English, British English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, and Chinese.[5][1] Italian words are counted by their use in other languages. A user of the Ngram tool has the option to select among the source languages for the word-search operations.[7]

Researchers have analyzed the Google Ngram database of books written in American or British English. Research based on the ngram database has included the finding of correlations between the emotional output and significant events in the 20th century such as World War II.[8]


  • Operation and restrictions 1
  • Corpora 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Operation and restrictions

Commas delimit user-entered search-terms, indicating each separate word or phrase to find.[6] The Ngram Viewer returns a plotted line chart within seconds of the user pressing the Enter key or the "Search" button on the screen.

As an adjustment for more books having been published during some years, the data is normalized, as a relative level, by the number of books published in each year.[6]

Google populated the database from over 5 million books published up to 2008. Accordingly, as of May 2012, no data will match beyond the year 2008. Due to limitations on the size of the Ngram database, only matches found in over 40 books are indexed in the database; otherwise the database could not have stored all possible combinations.[6]

Typically, search-terms cannot end with punctuation, although a separate full stop, or period, can be searched.[6] Also, an ending question mark (as in "Why?") will cause a 2nd search for the question mark separately.[6]

Omitting the periods in abbreviations will allow a form of matching, such as using "R M S" to search for "R.M.S." versus "RMS".


The corpora used for the search are composed of total_counts, 1-grams, 2-grams, 3-grams, 4-grams, and 5-grams files for each language. The file format of each of the files is tab-separated data. Each line has the following format: [9]

  • total_counts file
year TAB match_count TAB page_count TAB volume_count NEWLINE
  • Version 1 ngram file (generated in July 2009)
ngram TAB year TAB match_count TAB page_count TAB volume_count NEWLINE
  • Version 2 ngram file (generated in July 2012)
ngram TAB year TAB match_count TAB volume_count NEWLINE

The Google Ngram Viewer uses match_count to plot the graph.

As an example, a word "WorldHeritage" from the Version 2 file of the English 1-grams is stored as follows:[10]

ngram year match_count volume_count
WorldHeritage 1904 1 1
WorldHeritage 1912 11 1
WorldHeritage 1924 1 1
WorldHeritage 1925 11 1
WorldHeritage 1929 11 1
WorldHeritage 1943 11 1
WorldHeritage 1946 11 1
WorldHeritage 1947 11 1
WorldHeritage 1949 11 1
WorldHeritage 1951 11 1
WorldHeritage 1953 22 2
WorldHeritage 1955 11 1
WorldHeritage 1958 1 1
WorldHeritage 1961 22 2
WorldHeritage 1964 22 2
WorldHeritage 1965 11 1
WorldHeritage 1966 15 2
WorldHeritage 1969 33 3
WorldHeritage 1970 129 4
WorldHeritage 1971 44 4
WorldHeritage 1972 22 2
WorldHeritage 1973 1 1
WorldHeritage 1974 2 1
WorldHeritage 1975 33 3
WorldHeritage 1976 11 1
WorldHeritage 1977 13 3
WorldHeritage 1978 11 1
WorldHeritage 1979 112 12
WorldHeritage 1980 13 4
WorldHeritage 1982 11 1
WorldHeritage 1983 3 2
WorldHeritage 1984 48 3
WorldHeritage 1985 37 3
WorldHeritage 1986 6 4
WorldHeritage 1987 13 2
WorldHeritage 1988 14 3
WorldHeritage 1990 12 2
WorldHeritage 1991 8 5
WorldHeritage 1992 1 1
WorldHeritage 1993 1 1
WorldHeritage 1994 23 3
WorldHeritage 1995 4 1
WorldHeritage 1996 23 3
WorldHeritage 1997 6 1
WorldHeritage 1998 32 10
WorldHeritage 1999 39 11
WorldHeritage 2000 43 12
WorldHeritage 2001 59 14
WorldHeritage 2002 105 19
WorldHeritage 2003 149 53
WorldHeritage 2004 803 285
WorldHeritage 2005 2964 911
WorldHeritage 2006 9818 2655
WorldHeritage 2007 20017 5400
WorldHeritage 2008 33722 6825

The graph plotted by the Google Ngram Viewer using this data is here.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Google Ngram Database Tracks Popularity Of 500 Billion Words" Huffington Post, 17 December 2010, webpage: HP8150.
  2. ^ a b "Google Ngram Viewer - Google Books",, May 2012, webpage: G-Ngrams.
  3. ^ a b "Google's Ngram Viewer: A time machine for wordplay",, 17 December 2010, webpage: CN93.
  4. ^ "A Picture is Worth 500 Billion Words – By Rusty S. Thompson",, 20 September 2011, webpage: HBMag20.
  5. ^ a b "Google Books Ngram Viewer - University at Buffalo Libraries",, 22 August 2011, webpage: Buf497.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Google Ngram Viewer - Google Books" (Information),, December 16, 2010, webpage: G-Ngrams-info: notes bigrams and use of quotes for words with apostrophes.
  7. ^ "Google NGrams: What We Learned From 5 Million Books",, 25 September 2011, webpage: CLS25.
  8. ^ Acerbi A, Lampos V, Garnett P, Bentley RA (2013) The Expression of Emotions in 20th Century Books. PLoS ONE 8(3): e59030. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059030
  9. ^ "Google Books Ngram Viewer". Google. 
  10. ^ googlebooks-eng-all-1gram-20120701-w.gz at

External links

  • Google Ngram Viewer
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