lex·​i·​cog·​ra·​pher | \ˌlek-sə-ˈkä-grə-fər \

Definition of lexicographer 

: 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

But this abundance of Internet speak and signals can be hard to keep up with, as new meanings spread across the web at a speed that was unimaginable when lexicographers relied on filing cabinets. Katy Steinmetz, Time, "A Major Dictionary Has Officially Added Emoji," 6 Mar. 2018 Surprisingly, lexicographers like Kory Stamper have not been dismayed by coarse presidential language. Stephanie Ebbert, BostonGlobe.com, "Words you couldn’t say in The Boston Globe — until now," 17 Apr. 2018 But then, part of the thrill of being a lexicographer is knowing that the work will never be done. Ben Huberman, Longreads, "To Be a Lexicographer Is to Surrender to Folly," 3 Mar. 2018 Linguists and lexicographers acknowledge that linguistic innovation, and therefore linguistic survival, starts with youth speech, and especially the speech of young women. Kory Stamper, The Cut, "The 300-Year History of Using ‘Literally’ Figuratively," 29 Jan. 2018 Members in the 129-year-old organization include linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, editors, students, and independent scholars, according to the ADS release. Lisa Marie Segarra, Time, "A Trump 'Rhetorical Bludgeon' Was Named 2017 American Dialect Society Word of the Year," 6 Jan. 2018 Few lexicographers are lucky enough, then, to have both endlessly pleasurable work and the talent to write amusingly about it. The Economist, "A history of slang charts the change in taboos," 19 Oct. 2017 Note to lexicographers: Look, the word, in its Spanish form (El ‘beach-spreading’) has even spread globally: El ‘Beach-Spreading’ tampoco lo Han inventado los americanos. Amy S. Rosenberg, Philly.com, "Could 'beach-spreading' - a phrase born in Sea Isle - end up in the dictionary?," 6 Sep. 2017 That’s partly to set themselves apart, and partly because the digital tools used by modern lexicographers are WOTY-friendly. 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 'lexicographer.' 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 lexicographer

1625, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lexicographer

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

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Last Updated

1 Oct 2018

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The first known use of lexicographer was in 1625

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playful or foolish behavior

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