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

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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 Like in many English-speaking societies, Nigerians have crafted new words, phrases and meanings that have, overtime, become widely adopted as part of the country’s local lexicon. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "These are the Nigerian English words added to the Oxford Dictionary," 23 Jan. 2020 And that's exactly what the audience wants from a show that has meshed itself into the cultural lexicon. Kathryn Gregory, The Courier-Journal, "I don't know how to love 'Jesus Christ Superstar' any more after this stellar production," 8 Jan. 2020 Due diligence with great concern to assure that there will not be waste and abuse has not been part of the lexicon when dealing with state surpluses. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: Budget surplus? Expect new programs of questionable merit that will live forever," 11 Dec. 2019 My favorite taco filling — the one that eventually might be included among the essentials of the Los Angeles taco lexicon — is the hongos, or mushrooms. Los Angeles Times, "Mushrooms star in this easy recipe from Tacos 1986," 22 Oct. 2019 One thing's for sure — Shakira's Super Bowl halftime show performance introduced many viewers to new cultural influences and potentially brought a new word into our lexicon. CBS News, "Shakira's Super Bowl "tongue-wiggle" was a nod to her Arab heritage," 3 Feb. 2020 Almost every subculture and craft has its own specific lexicon that can quickly identify outsiders. Popular Science, "The new black-and-white Leica does things color cameras can’t," 17 Jan. 2020 In my lexicon, a goal is something that can (eventually) be checked off a list, whereas a resolution is more of a determination to change something on an ongoing basis. Amy Lindgren, Twin Cities, "Working Strategies: 2020 vision: New Year’s goals and resolutions," 28 Dec. 2019 Savage, before savage became a part of our mainstream lexicon. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, "For Taylor Swift's 30th birthday, a definitive ranking of her 30 best lyrics," 13 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for lexicon

Time Traveler

The first known use of lexicon was in 1580

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Statistics for lexicon

Last Updated

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lexicon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lexicon. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for lexicon


How to pronounce lexicon (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of lexicon

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

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