lex·​i·​con | \ ˈlek-sə-ˌkän How to pronounce lexicon (audio) also -kən \
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 The North American Scrabble Players Association is prepared to vote this week to ban more than 200 offensive words from its official lexicon for judging in tournaments, according to a report from The New York Times. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Scrabble tournaments look to ban racial and ethnic slurs," 9 July 2020 And while the offensive nature of many of these words and phrases has long been documented, some institutions are only now beginning to drop them from the lexicon. Scottie Andrew And Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations," 6 July 2020 Miri is, in the lexicon of TV character flavours, a Bad Woman. Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, "Stop The Debate About TV’s Messy Women & Start The One About Who Gets To Play Them," 4 June 2020 What emerges is a highly personal lexicon of forms that conjure the forest landscape of her youth in Russia. Marisa Mazria Katz, The New York Review of Books, "Painting a Knotty Landscape: An Interview with Yevgeniya Baras," 30 May 2020 Over a relatively short period of time, a whole new lexicon of pandemic-friendly phrases has taken root in my inbox: Stay healthy. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Email pleasantries in a pandemic," 1 May 2020 Eugene Levy portrayed Johnny with an owlish deadpan, and Catherine O’Hara, his frequent collaborator on the Canadian sketch circuit, granted Moira a loopy flair, an unplaceable accent, and a gonzo lexicon. Eren Orbey, The New Yorker, "The “Schitt’s Creek” Series Finale: The Vindication of Twyla," 8 Apr. 2020 Canadian values While the comedy is built around the clash of cultures, from the beginning the townspeople accept the artifice and eccentricities of siblings David and Alexis Rose, and the overdone lexicon of Moira. Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why Canadians see themselves in ‘Schitt’s Creek’," 8 Apr. 2020 For all of baseball’s advanced metrics and modern lexicon, 2020 may well be defined by a centuries-old French phrase: Force majeure. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "MLB's best hope for a 2020 season? Players and owners alike have a lot to lose," 24 Mar. 2020

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

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The first known use of lexicon was in 1580

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Statistics for lexicon

Last Updated

19 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lexicon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lexicon. Accessed 8 Aug. 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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