Words: if you use enough of them, you’ll always sound precocious 🎵.
We love our favourite Disney characters for their style, their dreams, and their swagger. But nothing creates a memorable character quite like their voice. Not just the actor that voices them, but how they string a sentence together.*
TheToyZone has analyzed the vocabulary of 183 characters from Disney’s animated movies to find out how many different words they use per 500 words of dialogue. We’ve compared top and bottom, heroes and villains, princesses, and the wordiest movies altogether.
These are the Disney characters that learned a word or 200 to save their aching nose.
*An honorary mention goes to the likes of Dumbo and Dopey, who have a million-word facial vocabulary.
- Buzz Lightyear is the Disney character with the biggest vocabulary, using 281 unique words per 500 in Toy Story 3.
- Charles F. Muntz uses 270 unique words per 500, making him the Disney villain with the largest vocab.
- The Disney princess with the highest vocabulary is Princess Jasmine (Aladdin), with a score of 229/500.
- The Disney animated movie with the highest vocabulary is Zootopia, which features 3,181 unique words.
Buzz Lightyear Has Disney’s Largest Vocabulary
The writers of the spin-off Lightyear movie have a job on their hands: their hero is Disney’s most loquacious character. Buzz Lightyear used 281 unique words per 500 in Toy Story 3, although slipping into Spanish for phrases like “Me he despertado de hiper-sueño en un planeta extraño!” kinda helped.
By Toy Story 4, Buzz was back focusing on his pre-programmed catchphrases, which limited his vocabulary. But we now know that his real inner voice has a stratospheric range.
At the other end of the scale, you can’t really blame Nemo for having Disney’s smallest vocabulary. After all, he’s a juvenile. And a fish. But knows enough to tell you that the Big Blue is both “big” and “blue.”
Do Disney Villains Have A Bigger Vocabulary Than the Heroes?
So, you’re making a Disney movie. If you won’t make your villain British, you should at least put some long words in their arsenal, right? On the other hand, you don’t want your villains to sound smarter than your heroes. What would Walt do? We compared the vocabulary of Disney’s heroes and villains below to find out.
Well, sure, Walt’s writers give villains a bigger vocabulary on average. BUT! There is a disproportionately high number of heroes in the very top and very bottom categories. What does this tell us? Disney tends to give its villains a mediocre vocabulary and its goodies a high or low one. This shows young audiences that while using a diverse word set can be admirable, there’s no shame in being precise and to the point if words aren’t your strength.
Jasmine is Queen Among Disney’s Low-Vocab Princesses
As Disney’s highest-profile role models, the princesses could afford to.. er.. mix up the ol’ word bag a little. Princess Jasmine from Aladdin is the most loquacious of the doe-eyed royals, yet she has only the 76th-highest vocabulary out of the 183 characters in our study. However, Jasmine does have a direct way with words and leaves nobody in doubt of her meaning, viz. “I am not a prize to be won.”
The way princesses talk is political. Aladdin (1992) doesn’t pass the Bechdel-Wallace test (which measures the value that a movie’s dialogue puts on female opinions and relationships) and neither does Mulan. And despite Ariel losing her voice in The Little Mermaid, she is far from the most silenced Disney princess: men have 68% of the dialogue in that movie, 71% in Beauty and the Beast, and 76% in Pocahontas.
Zootopia is the Animated Disney Movie with the Highest Vocabulary
It’s the Ulysses of Disney movies. Nope, not Flora & Ulysses, but Zootopia. Just as James Joyce fit 30,030 unique words into his legendary novel’s 730 pages, Disney squeezes 3,181 words into the 108-minute kidnap thriller Zootopia. Zootopia teaches us the word for a three-humped camel (“pregnant”) as well as introducing totally made-up words like Midnicampum holicithias and pawpsicles.
Ka-Chow! The Cars franchise has a 300 horsepower vocab under its hood. The first Cars movie features just 47 fewer unique words than Zootopia, and Cars 2 is in hot pursuit in third place. Cars 1 & 2 also have a big word total, including non-unique words (nearly 11,000 each) – only Finding Dory has more.
It is not within the remit of this study to prove whether Cars has a bigger vocabulary than The Fast and the Furious, but we have our hunches.
Meega Nala Kweesta, Baby
Hoping your kid will develop a Buzz Lightyear-strength vocabulary? Doctors recommend you hold off on the Disney movies (and other screen time) until they’re two years old – and proceed with caution after that.
But with a whole childhood (and, let’s face it, adulthood) ahead of them to ‘study the classics,’ you can be sure they’ll pick up some choice words when they need them. You know: nefarious, quid pro quo, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious…
We built a shortlist of animated Disney films and gathered the scripts for each movie using websites such as ScriptSlug, Reddit and IMDb.
We converted the scripts from pdf to HTML using https://www.pdftohtml.net/. We manually labelled each script with characters from the film using IMDb. Then we compiled a list of characters and categorised them as heroes, villains, princesses, or other.
For every character we calculated the total number of words and number of unique words in one movie. Then we calculated the median number of unique words per 500 sequential words in the characters dialogue as a metric that doesn’t depend on the total number of words, and ranked the characters by this metric (the only exception is Aurora in “Princesses” section).
For characters in multiple movies, we selected the movie in which they used the greater number of unique words per 500.
The data was collected in October 2021.
Fair Use Statement
Would you like to share the findings from our study with your readers? We’d love that! Whether you decide to share the charts themselves or just key insights from our data analysis in part or whole, we ask you that you please credit TheToyZone by linking back to this page. This will allow your readers to find their way back to the original source of the research so they can learn more about the characters and movies have the biggest vocabularies, whiles you’re recognizing our team for their hard work.