lex·​i·​cog·​ra·​pher ˌlek-sə-ˈkä-grə-fər How to pronounce lexicographer (audio)
: an author or editor of a dictionary

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Today, we're looking at a word that is dear to our hearts: lexicographer. The ancient Greeks were some of the earliest makers of dictionaries; they used them mainly to catalog obsolete terms from their rich literary past. To create a word for writers of dictionaries, the Greeks sensibly attached the suffix -graphos, meaning "writer," to lexikon, meaning "dictionary," to form lexikographos, the direct ancestor of the English word lexicographer. Lexikon, which itself descends from Greek lexis (meaning "word" or "speech"), also gave us lexicon, which can mean either "dictionary" or "the vocabulary of a language, speaker, or subject."

Examples of lexicographer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Swan had written and was shopping a screenplay, The Saint and the Scoundrel, about Samuel Johnson, the English lexicographer who published A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755 and suffered from Tourette syndrome. Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Aug. 2023 Last summer, a team of linguists and lexicographers from Oxford and researchers from Harvard began a new project, the Oxford Dictionary of African American English. Alex Carp, The New Yorker, 20 Mar. 2023 Some linguists and lexicographers agree that African American language and culture deserves its own dictionary. Meron Moges-Gerbi, CNN, 11 June 2023 This pronunciation change happened at a time when American English was trying to differentiate itself from British English, explained Kelly Elizabeth Wright, experimental sociolinguist and lexicographer at Virginia Tech. Janelle Davis, CNN, 12 Mar. 2023 But then a grammarian or a lexicographer decided that both spellings should be preserved, and that the main meanings should be divided between them. David Owen, The New Yorker, 12 Jan. 2023 Kory Stamper, a former lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, told The Post in 2017 that people were turning to dictionaries to make sense of current events. Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2022 Enter Joseph Worcester, the only lexicographer in history to edit three dictionaries covering the same subject matter for three competing publishers in three consecutive years. Bryan A. Garner, National Review, 17 Mar. 2022 Many knowledgeable critics thought Worcester innocent of the charges — and the better lexicographer. Bryan A. Garner, National Review, 17 Mar. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Late Greek lexikographos, from lexikon + Greek -graphos writer, from graphein to write

First Known Use

1625, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lexicographer was in 1625


Dictionary Entries Near lexicographer

Cite this Entry

“Lexicographer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lexicographer. Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


lex·​i·​cog·​ra·​pher ˌlek-sə-ˈkäg-rə-fər How to pronounce lexicographer (audio)
: an author or editor of a dictionary

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