lexical

adjective

lex·​i·​cal ˈlek-si-kəl How to pronounce lexical (audio)
1
: of or relating to words or the vocabulary of a language as distinguished from its grammar and construction
Our language has many lexical borrowings from other languages.
2
: of or relating to a lexicon or to lexicography
lexical methods aim to list all the relevant formsA. F. Parker-Rhodes
lexicality noun
lexically adverb

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The Wordy History of Lexical

The word lexicon can be used as a synonym of dictionary, and the word lexicography refers to the practice of making dictionaries. Both of these words, as well as lexical, derive from the Greek word lexis, meaning "word" or "speech." Another descendant of lexis is lexiphanic, an archaic adjective describing one who uses pretentious words for effect. Lexis should not be confused with the Latin lex, meaning "law," which is used in legal phrases such as lex non scripta, "unwritten law."

Examples of lexical in a Sentence

a dictionary provides lexical information—it tells you what the word “cat” means, not all there is to know about cats
Recent Examples on the Web Because JavaScript interprets each number as a string type and does lexical sorting, not numerical sorting. Sheon Han, WIRED, 4 Mar. 2024 By adopting methods like tiered retention, lexical scoping and hashing, companies can responsibly moderate content while respecting user privacy. George Ng, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 This can help spot linguistic features which humans may miss, calculating the percentage prevalence of words and classes of words, lexical diversity, average sentence length, grammatical patterns and many other metrics. Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi, Discover Magazine, 7 Feb. 2018 Last August, Hungarian neuroscientists Atilla Andics and colleagues reported that the left hemisphere of the dog brain is selectively activated in response to the lexical properties (i.e. the meaning) of spoken words. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 7 Apr. 2017 Other words in this lexical field, though, have etymologies that stress more selfish instincts, along the lines of egoism. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Apr. 2023 This lexical progression is similar in Ukrainian. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2022 Although personality traits have been linked to variation in production, particularly the use of specific lexical items, this is the first study to show that the personality traits of listeners/readers have an effect on the overall assessment of variable language. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 27 Mar. 2016 As ever, there’s a new round of Quordle against which to test your lexical skills. Kris Holt, Forbes, 17 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lexical.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

see lexicon

First Known Use

1836, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of lexical was in 1836

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Dictionary Entries Near lexical

Cite this Entry

“Lexical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lexical. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

lexical

adjective
lex·​i·​cal ˈlek-si-kəl How to pronounce lexical (audio)
: of or relating to words, a vocabulary, or a dictionary

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