lex·​i·​con | \ ˈlek-sə-ˌkän How to pronounce lexicon (audio) also -kən \
plural lexica\ ˈlek-​sə-​kə How to pronounce lexicon (audio) \ or lexicons

Definition of lexicon

1 : a book containing an alphabetical arrangement of the words in a language and their definitions : dictionary a French lexicon
2a : the vocabulary of a language, an individual speaker or group of speakers, or a subject computer terms that have been added to the lexicon
b : the total stock of morphemes in a language
3 : repertoire, inventory added the DVD to his video lexicon

Synonyms for lexicon


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Tips on Using Lexicon in a Sentence

The word lexicon has a number of closely-related meanings, which can easily lead to confusion and may cause the word to be used in an awkward way. Lexicon can refer to a general dictionary of a language (as in "a lexicon of the Hebrew language") and also to a narrower printed compilation of words within some sphere (as in "a medical lexicon" or "a lexicon of the German in Finnegans Wake").

Similarly, lexicon can refer both to the vocabulary of a specific group of people ("the lexicon of French") or to the general language used by an unspecified group of people ("a word that has not entered the general lexicon yet"). It may also often be found in reference to the vocabulary employed by a particular speaker ("'Failure' is not a word in my lexicon").

Examples of lexicon in a Sentence

a computer term that has entered the general lexicon an avid word enthusiast who is compiling a lexicon of archaic and unusual words
Recent Examples on the Web There’s a bit from the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes that’s recently entered the legal lexicon: Calvinball. Aaron Regunberg, The New Republic, 12 July 2022 In Tubman, Cook saw the embodiment of what women, Black people and people with disabilities could achieve at a time when equal rights for all had not yet entered the American lexicon. NBC News, 29 Apr. 2022 As an underused and somewhat archaic word, droll–which means unusually funny, usually in a dry way–ends in a classic double letter, has only one vowel, and really isn’t common lexicon. Matt Gardner, Forbes, 7 July 2022 This isn’t the only time superheroes have entered the luxury lexicon of late. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 7 July 2022 During discussions about treatment, patients learn the lexicon of cancer — surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and the like. T. Salewa Oseni, STAT, 23 June 2022 His onomatopoeic surname begot the perfect nickname for a 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end, as Gronk joined the lexicon as a noun, verb and, sometimes, even an adjective. Ben Shpigel, New York Times, 21 June 2022 It’s about reclaiming the Black lesbian or queerness in the visual lexicon. Rica Cerbarano, Vogue, 8 June 2022 The broadcast, clearly aimed at Ukrainian forces on the front lines, seems to have entered the lexicon of Lysychansk’s civilian residents, as well. New York Times, 17 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of lexicon

1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lexicon

Late Greek lexikon, from neuter of lexikos of words, from Greek lexis word, speech, from legein to say — more at legend

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The first known use of lexicon was in 1580

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Last Updated

1 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Lexicon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lexicon. Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about lexicon


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