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Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison among music artists with the biggest vocabularies, study finds

Elena Di Vincenzo/Archivio Elena Di Vincenzo/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Besides being the godmother of punk, Patti Smith also is an acclaimed poet and an award-winning author. So it’s no surprise Smith is the singer with the biggest vocabulary, according to a new study that ranks 200 different music artists based on their song lyrics.

Word.Tips, which conducted the study, found that Smith uses 217 unique words per 1,000 words appearing in her songs.

At #2 is legendary singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, with 199. Other veteran artists ranked in the top 10 include late Doors frontman Jim Morrison at #4, with 177; late country singer Hank Williams at #6, with 167; The Everly BrothersDon Everly at #7, with 163; Bonnie Raitt at #8, with 159; and the late Johnny Cash at #10, with 158.

Perhaps surprisingly, Bob Dylan, the singer/songwriter considered by many to be one of the music world’s greatest wordsmiths, was at #44 on the list with 130 unique words per 1,000 — tied with David Bowie.

However, Dylan does top a separate list ranking the artists who have used the most unique words over the course of their entire career.  According to the study, he has 12,285 different words in his songs. Prince is second on the tally, with 11,430; Elton John is third, with 9,467; Lou Reed‘s fourth, with 8,979; and Bruce Springsteen is fifth, with 8,862.

The artists that are part of the study came from Rolling Stone‘s list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time,” and a list of Spotify’s 100 most-listened-to modern stars as determined by Kworb.net.

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