lex·​i·​cal | \ ˈlek-si-kəl How to pronounce lexical (audio) \

Definition of lexical

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 forms— A. F. Parker-Rhodes

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Other Words from lexical

lexicality \ ˌlek-​sə-​ˈka-​lə-​tē How to pronounce lexicality (audio) \ noun
lexically \ ˈlek-​si-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce lexically (audio) \ adverb

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 dictionary making. Both of these words, as well as lexical, derive from the Greek word lexis, meaning "word" or "speech." A fourth 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, or "law," which is used in legal phrases such as lex non scripta, meaning "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 They will now be written in English in the same order as in Japanese ON JANUARY 1ST a minor lexical revolution rolled through Japan. The Economist, "Banyan Why Japanese names have flipped," 2 Jan. 2020 The lexical dispute continued into the 1920s and returned again with the official designation of Denali as the name of Alaska’s highest peak in 2015. National Geographic, "Everything to know about Mount Rainier National Park," 25 Sep. 2019 There are other ways to wage a social struggle on the lexical front. The Economist, "How to change a word’s meaning," 22 June 2019 Her decision to hold a snap election in June last year brought lexical complications. James Masters, CNN, "From 'titanic success' to 'Mad Max': How language around Brexit changed," 27 Mar. 2018 The commission made a number of other lexical recommendations. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "France Says ‘Au Revoir’ to the Word ‘Smartphone’," 16 Jan. 2018 And light drinkers weren't better than abstainers at lexical fluency, the study showed. Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, "Even Small Amounts of Alcohol Impair Memory," 15 Dec. 2017 In 1900, papers in Science and Nature were about as accessible to a general audience as pieces in the New York Times, according to a lexical analysis cited in a 2003 feature in Nature by Jonathan Knight. Daniel Engber, Slate Magazine, "Humans Run Experiments, a Robot Writes the Paper," 12 Dec. 2017 Dumpster fire, in lexical and emoji form, defeated woke in a runoff. Stefan Fatsis, Slate Magazine, "Dumpster Fire, Brexit, Fake News," 3 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lexical.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lexical

1836, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lexical

see lexicon

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Time Traveler for lexical

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The first known use of lexical was in 1836

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Cite this Entry

“Lexical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lexical. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for lexical


How to pronounce lexical (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of lexical

linguistics : relating to words or vocabulary

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More from Merriam-Webster on lexical

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lexical

Spanish Central: Translation of lexical

Nglish: Translation of lexical for Spanish Speakers

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