Thai Frequency Lists with English Definitions

Thai Frequency Lists with English Definitions

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Thai frequency lists with English definitions…

In How to Learn a Language in a Foreign Country Robert Bigler mentioned the importance of using frequency lists.

The same 3-4000 words come up all the time. Learn them. Work with them. If you don’t understand something, ask people to explain.

Students of the Thai language have been in search of a decent frequency list for years. Back in 2006, Rikker Dockum (Thai 101) posted Doug’s 1000 Thai word frequency collection on TV: List Of 3000 Most Common Thai Words.

Rikker pointed out that the best list in Doug’s materials came from the legendary Mary Haas. And for good reason. Unlike Mary’s, many lists include technical and highly formal words (not exactly words to learn at the beginning of your Thai language journey).

After collecting Thai vocabulary lists (below) another problem I ran into is that many don’t include English definitions. To rectify this, Mark Hollow (programmar extraordinaire) whipped up a program to add English from three dictionaries: Lexitron, Volubilis, and the Royal Institute (all Thai). Thanks Mark!

Not all words made it through, so if someone wants to take on that chore, please contact me.


From Mark: Each zip file contains the original files, csv or one-word-per-line plain text files and csv + excel versions with the English & Thai definitions. The LEX, VOL, LEX+VOL and RID file extensions denote the dictionaries used for the definitions in each file.

Thai frequency lists with English definitions…

Doug’s 1000 Word Thai Frequency List:
Posted on TV by Rikker, the list includes: Mary Haas, McFarland, Orchid, and Tax.

Doug’s 1000: download

Chula university top 5000 Thai words:
Chula’s list (no longer online) seems to be drawn from academic publications.

Chula 5000: download

SEAlang Lab Thai Vocabulary Lists:
A collection of vocabulary lists compiled by SEAlang sorted by origin, web rank, and subject: Vocabulary: Thai AWl, AUA Reader, BYKI and SEAlang.

SEAlang: download

Jørgen Nilsen’s Thai Frequency Lists and tests:
Formerly at, these files were created by Jørgen Nilsen using Chulalongkorn University’s frequency list.

Thai Frequency Top 4000 (pdf): download

Thai Frequency Top 4000 (excel): download

Thai Academic Word List (pdf): download

Top 4000 Vocabulary Test for Thai (pdf): download

Thai Frequency Top 4000 on Memrise (created by John Smith):
Thai Vocab Builder 11
Thai Vocab Builder 12
Thai Vocab Builder 13

Thai vocabulary lists with English definitions…

In the 1940′s George Bradley McFarland used thirty different sources to compile the top 1000+ Thai words for his Thai-English dictionary. McFarland’s list has weird quirks and omissions. And while the list is included in Doug’s contribution, this download notes both the old-fashioned words and their modern equivalent (reason why I’m sharing it here). uses McFarland’s list as a base for their Common words of the Thai Language.

McFarland: download

Fundamentals of the Thai language:
This list comes from the out-of-date but still wonderful Fundamentals of the Thai language. Being a Thai language resources junkie, the actual hardcopy (5th Edition) sits in a place of honour in my bookcase.

Updated sections can also be found at Fundamentals of the Thai Language.

Fundamentals: download

Paiboon Publishing:
I found Benjawan Becker’s vocabulary lists online (apologies, but I’ve forgotten where). When asked, Benjawan gave her permission to share them in this post. Thanks Benjawan!

Thai for Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced: download
Anki 2: download

FSI Vocabulary:
This list comes from the FSI materials found on at Foreign Service Institute Thai Language Course (still in the process of being updated).

FSI Vocab: download

Karn TV:
Karn.TV is a web site for kids’ learning materials. There are three word lists for primary 1-3 grades. Included are cultural words such as basic royal and religious terms.

Karn Vocab: download

Manii Reader Vocabulary:
The Manii books are classics with Thais and students of the Thai language. Mani lessons can be found at Learn2SpeakThai, Learn to read Thai with Maanee at (offline for now), and SEAsite.

Manii 1 & 2: download
Anki 2: download

Quick & Dirty Thai Vocabulary Download:
From the post of the same name, the Quick & Dirty Thai Vocabulary download is a work in progress.

Quick & Dirty Thai Vocabulary: download


The Apache Lucene project is an open source search engine program. It has a Thai language module complete with stopwords and is released under a free license.

Lucene stopwords: download

Chula university also has a stopword list. It’s ready to share but so far we’ve been unable to get permission.

Online Thai vocabulary lists…

Thailand Bangkok Mission: 1000 Thai words:
Ben Crowder from Riverglen Press has a 1000 Thai Vocabulary list used at the Thailand Bangkok Mission. Download it from his site.

ClickThai Vocabulary Trainer…

If you don’t have the time to create vocabulary lists with flashcards and sound, the ClickThai Vocabulary Trainer is the top smart phone app with a graduated vocabulary list. From what I’ve seen, the others have a datadump (common and uncommon words come at you in no certain order).

For a review, read: Increase Your Thai Vocabulary: Word Brain & ClickThai Vocabulary Trainer.

Thai frequency lists without English definitions…

Thai wordlist from royin-dictionary
This Thai word list doesn’t have English translations but perhaps someone can make use of it.

Vocabulary posts on WLT…

Here are a few more WLT posts discussing Thai vocabulary lists (you can also do a site search for ‘frequency’):

The Top 39 Thai Words You Must Know
A Top 100 Thai Word List Created from Phrases
Top 100 Thai Vocabulary List

And for a rolling litany of new vocabulary, read most anything by Hugh Leong: Thai Language Thai Culture.

27 thoughts on “Thai Frequency Lists with English Definitions”

  1. Greetings.
    I have a doubt…I want to use Jørgen-Nilsen list, but in the excel has this clasifications: RANK NEW, FREQUENCY and DP RANK, so , my question is: What classification should I study with? rank new or frequency? I guess frequency is how offen a word is used, but the order disagree with the rank, so.. I’m confused…Help please. Thank you.
    771 กระบวนการ process 8053 68
    772 ฝรั่ง western person; guava 4251 83
    773 แถว row; area 4694 81
    774 โทษ blame; punish 6782 73

    • By “rank” (first column) is normally better, especially for the first 500 words since that makes up of 71% of Thai words we have been using all the time. Some words may have a lot of “frequency”. This is because Thai do not have any alternative word for that one. But it’s used on a certain situation only.

  2. Pingback: Learning Thai – experiment begins | Mossy's Blog
  3. Thomas, will you be publishing/sharing the updated files? In a previous comment you said “Please let me know if anyone is interested in the updates”.

  4. Thomas – I’m very interested in the updated files! Please see if they can be uploaded here or placed in a google doc for mass usage.

    Thanks in advance!

  5. Paiboon Publishing – Intermediate & Advanced:
    I transliterated the Thai script to roman letters with the help of and updated the xls files. Please let me know if anyone is interested in the updates.

  6. Tod, I was disappointed with most of the frequency lists (especially Chula and McFarland). What I’m doing at the moment is compiling my top favs – Becker, FSI, Fundamentals, Haas and AUA. I’ll chop and rearrange until I’m happy, then show it to a Thai friend to see what she thinks, culling even further. I’ll mark spoken and written as well. It won’t be perfect but it just might be useful.

  7. Those frequency word lists can be pretty hit-or-miss. Most of them were or are compiled from the volumes of pretty dry stuff written in Thai.

    Because of the dissimilarities between written and spoken Thai, this can skew the results as far as a “top” word list. Many words which routinely appear in written Thai are not so much used in spoken Thai and vice-versa.

    At least I don’t feel bad being “underwhelmed” by the Chula list. Here I thought it was just me..

    Still, lists like this can be a good starting point in trying to get some semblance of which words to concentrate on as far as vocabulary acquisition. There is enough “bleed over” between words common in both written and spoken Thai to provide good value..

  8. You found GIMP before I saw your post!! Welcome to the world of open source, we’ll have you using Linux next!!

  9. Sidenote: I’ve found GIMP. It’s a clean replacement for PhotoShop (most tools are named the same). LibreOffice + Write 2 + GIMP = free (mostly).

  10. Keith, I’m impressed with LibreOffice. Spreadsheet, presentation, drawing package, etc… but nothing to replace PhotoShop… (tips welcome).

    Gaelee, I believe you’ll be happy with Keith’s suggestion. The look and feel of LibreOffice is excellent.

    In search of something similar I’ve used OpenOffice but it’s so clunky I can’t stand working with it. LibreOffice is slick.

  11. Yes Keith, thanks for the suggestion. I will look into it.

    And Cat, thank you for your offer as well. Probably I need to do more on my end.

  12. Thanks for the suggestion Keith (you’ve saved me a bit of work). I’ll check it out myself as I’m trying to get away from MS products. I now use Write 2 for text but hadn’t come across anything for Excel that suites me.

  13. Can I recommend that you download LibreOffice. It is free open-source and a complete office suite. Has all that Microsoft Office has, but is very integrated. It will open and save in all the MS formats as well as the widely used open formats. It runs on Mac, Windows, Linux and anything else you might want to use. Since starting with it I now use nothing else.

  14. Ok, now I understand. I thought you were having problems opening the compacted files.

    The newer version of Excel has xlsx as an extension. You need the older version, with the xls extension. Give me a bit and I’ll make a second set for you.

  15. I’m on Mac but I’m a few ferocious cats behind. Leopard to be precise. Embarrassing, I know…

    Maybe that’s the problem?

    Or when it tells me there’s no default to open .xlsx files, then I don’t know what to do. Isn’t that a microsoft thing?

  16. Seems like this would be a great resource, but not very mac friendly. I haven’t been able to open any of them. Am I missing something?

  17. Keith, programming such as that goes way over my head so I’m going to be impressed anyway 🙂

    From what I’ve seen, a tweaked combination of Mary Haas, Benjawan Becker, FSI, SEAlang, Manii, Fundamentals and Quick & Dirty would make a decent list. I’m not impressed with Chula or McFarland. It’s weird what McFarland doesn’t have – polite particles, full names for the days of the week, etc.

  18. I downloaded the Chula 5000 list a little while back, then wrote a quick and dirty program checking each against the Lexitron dictionary, producing a csv of the words and English definitions. Was so proud of it, I was going to send it to you, then found there were errors with some words. With some groups of words it failed to distinguish tone marks eg ไม่ ไม้ – so I scrapped it as I didn’t have time dig around finding the bug and checking every single word!


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