Rhetorician I.A. Richards (1893-1979) called them the most important words for two reasons:
- They cover the ideas we can least avoid using, those which are concerned in all that we do as thinking begins.
- They are words we are forced to use in explaining other words because it is in terms of the ideas they cover that the meanings of other words must be given.
(How to Read a Page: A Course in Effective Reading, With an Introduction to a Hundred Great Words, W. W. Norton, 1942)
For the complete article, go to The 100 Most Important Words in English.