It seems to me that the vocabulary tag is mostly superfluous.

I found this old post from 2010 which compares the tags , which has since been rightfully discontinued, , and . RegDwigнt asserts at the end that the words tag is a simple cop-out for someone who doesn't know which tag to use.

Of course, the state of the taxonomy has evolved since 2010. I am well aware that the tag is in the all-time top30 of used tags. However, it seems, that the vocabulary tag might be actually obsolete now. Every use of the tag - which is by the way not given by the tag wiki - seems to be covered by other tags.

More importantly, the tag info says:

This tag should be distinguished from:

  • , which is for questions about choosing a word from a set of alternatives
  • , which is for questions about finding a word to fit a meaning, when you don't yet have any alternatives to choose from
  • , which is for questions about definitions and nuances of meaning in a word or phrase

Naturally, that's not how the tag is used.

Looking at the questions tagged with vocabulary almost none besides the example questions seem to match the tag's intention.

Another indicator that the tag in its current state might be not that useful is that almost 30% of the vocabulary only tagged questions are closed which is higher than the overall rate.

As first step I edited the usage guidance of the tag to match its intention as described in the old post and the example questions. Thankfully, that has since been approved.

What am I suggesting now?

As a second step, however, I want to ask if the tag vocabulary is necessary at all? Especially considering that we have a closing reason too broad and it seems to apply to most of the example questions.

P.S. It would be nice to get some insight by the people who actually use the tags. Especially the highly involved tag editors.

  • What exactly is the proposal? Are you saying it is a synonym of those others? or maybe should be removed altogether? I think if all tags went away, no one would notice. So why worry about this particular one?
    – Mitch
    Aug 29, 2016 at 21:28
  • 4
    In my opinion it doesn't add any value to a question in it's current state. The old description says "A vocabulary is the body of words used in a particular language." Which basically means it always applies. Thus I edited that - it's still in review. Secondly I wanted to start a discussion about the merit of the tag in the current taxonomy.
    – Helmar
    Aug 29, 2016 at 21:34
  • @Mitch: I don't see any specific proposal, but that's not a problem. It's a "discussion" question.
    – herisson
    Aug 30, 2016 at 0:42
  • @NVZ thanks for the edit. That was a lot simpler than the queries :)
    – Helmar
    Aug 30, 2016 at 15:11
  • @Helmar Try more: english.stackexchange.com/help/searching
    – NVZ Mod
    Aug 30, 2016 at 15:11
  • @NVZ thanks, though I don't think I can replace the other two. But I did improve them with some tricks I learned about the query editor since yesterday.
    – Helmar
    Aug 30, 2016 at 15:18

2 Answers 2


I agree that "vocabulary," as it is used, is often redundant or overly vague. Most of these questions seem like they could be tagged with at least one of the following: , , , and if they are tagged with one of these, doesn't add any information that I can see.

  • and are all related to vocabulary.
  • questions, based on just the tag name, sound like in principle they might refer to the meaning of grammatical structures rather than words, but in practice they are, as the tag info says, used for "questions related to definitions and nuances of meaning of a word or phrase." So in other words, it's safe to assume a question tagged with is related to vocabulary.
  • questions are almost always about meaning or usage in my experience, and it already implies that we're discussing multiple words.
  • already implies that we're discussing multiple words.

One of RegDwight's undeleted examples of a question is "Informal terms for money amounts". I agree that this doesn't quite fit into the above categories. It's kind of like a "single word request"/"phrase request," but explicitly requesting multiple words.

The question is from very early on (Aug 15 '10) and I'm not entirely sure that we need a special classification for it in our current categories. Things I'm wondering: Is this kind of question on-topic anymore? I kind of feel like it would get closed if it were asked today, but is this how it should be? It has a greater than average number of answers (9) and many of them are single-liners without citations. It also uses the "community wiki" convention for list questions and answers, which seems to be kind of dead nowadays (from what I understand, questions cannot even be posted as Community Wiki anymore).

  • No one has mentioned the overlap between "vocabulary" and "terminology," but I suspect that a lot of question posters are not at all clear about where one ends and the other begins. The example "Informal terms for money amounts," which you cite, might work as well under "terminology" as under "vocabulary."
    – Sven Yargs
    Nov 1, 2017 at 18:04
  • @SvenYargs: true, "terminology" might also have some overlap
    – herisson
    Nov 1, 2017 at 18:13

I had, once upon a time, tried manually retagging some questions without flooding the feeds... Then I gave up. Now, I know there's a feature where we can blacklist tags, or burninate(?) so that they vanish without affecting the posts' activity status... I wonder what would happen if we were to try banning the tag. I don't think there's much harm in it.

In short, in my time here, I've found no specific use for the said tag. It's either redundant or mistagged.

I also think it's time we look into "terminology" tag.

  • 3
    I am a big fan of the "terminology" tag, which I think can be used to distinguish questions about words that may have a precise technical meaning or application in a particular field from questions about the meaning or application of words in mainstream English. The phenomenon of what Wilson Follett calls "popularized technicalities" often calls for distinguishing a word's technical meaning in a specialized field's terminology from its popular meaning.
    – Sven Yargs
    Nov 1, 2017 at 18:37

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