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50,000 words is the goal of NaNoWriMo. It was chosen because it "is a difficult but doable goal, even for people with full-time jobs and children. The length makes it a short novel."  It breaks down to 1,667 words a day (1,613 words in 31-day months like July.) Many Wrimos abbreviate 50,000 as "50k" (k as in kilo, or thousand).
50,000 is a minimum, not a strict maximum; wrimos are welcome to continue writing if they are so inclined or have not finished their novels - many do. However, they must make at least 50,000 on one novel to be verified as a winner.
Some critics of Nanowrimo claim that the goal of Nanowrimo is too short to be a real novel, stating that most published novels are around 70,000 words. However, there are many novels, such as The Great Gatsby, which are around 50,000 words in length.