lex·​i·​con | \ˈlek-sə-ˌkän also -kən \
plural lexica\ ˈlek-​sə-​kə \ 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

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Synonyms for lexicon


dictionary, wordbook

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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

In addition to logging food, the other pillar of the Weight Watchers lexicon is community. Cheryl Wischhover, Vox, "As “dieting” becomes more taboo, Weight Watchers is changing its name," 24 Sep. 2018 The company continues to fight the good fight to keep the phrase from becoming generic, but some call it bullying over a phrase that is already ingrained in the public lexicon. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "The term 'Taco Tuesday' is trademarked by the Taco John's chain from Wyoming," 22 Mar. 2018 Around 2010, a public dialogue regarding sulfates (cheap lathering detergents) entered the soap lexicon. Tyler Watamanuk, New York Times, "When Did Soap, Once Simple, Get So Complicated?," 11 July 2018 That, of course, was before bullpenning entered the lexicon. Teddy Greenstein, chicagotribune.com, "Launch angles? Bullpenning? Ice cream instead of beer? This is not the baseball I once covered," 18 May 2018 And there was a lexicon to learn: elevenses, drives, beaters, keepers, loaders. David Usborne, Town & Country, "The Mysterious Case of the Parnham House Fire," 29 May 2018 The summit began a fresh era in Sino-American relations and its significance propelled it into the political lexicon—a Nixon to China moment becoming shorthand for an audacious maneuver. Joanna Sugden, WSJ, "Historic Handshakes: Past Presidential Summits," 10 June 2018 Actually, that Latin phrase seems only to have entered the popular lexicon after Queen Elizabeth II used it to refer to 1992. Tom Saler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Tom Saler: 2018 has eerie resemblance to 1968," 23 Mar. 2018 Examining the 2,612 Instagram and Tumblr posts, Gerrard uncovered a complicated lexicon of signals that would likely evade any platform’s moderation efforts. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "How Pro-Eating Disorder Posts Evade Filters on Social Media," 13 June 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for lexicon

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for lexicon

The first known use of lexicon was in 1580

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English Language Learners Definition of lexicon

: the words used in a language or by a person or group of people

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Comments on lexicon

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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