vocabulary

noun vo·cab·u·lary \ vō-ˈka-byə-ˌler-ē , və- \
Updated on: 21 Nov 2017

Definition of vocabulary

plural vocabularies
1 : a list or collection of words or of words and phrases usually alphabetically arranged and explained or defined : lexicon
2 a : a sum or stock of words employed by a language, group, individual, or work or in a field of knowledge
b : a list or collection of terms or codes available for use (as in an indexing system)
3 : a supply of expressive techniques or devices (as of an art form)

Examples of vocabulary in a Sentence

  1. the basic vocabulary of English

  2. She has learned a lot of new vocabulary.

  3. He has a somewhat limited vocabulary.

  4. Reading helped to expand her vocabulary.

  5. the vocabulary of the art world

  6. The Internet has given us a whole new vocabulary.

Recent Examples of vocabulary from the Web

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

The Vocabulary of vocabulary

For many people, the word vocabulary is primarily associated with the number of words that a person knows; one either has a large or a small vocabulary. But the word has many shades of meaning and is nicely representative of the nuanced and multi-hued nature of so much of the English lexicon.

Vocabulary may indeed refer to the collection of words known by an individual or by a large group of people. It may also signify the body of specialized terms in a field of study or activity (“the vocabulary of science”). It may designate a physical object, such as a book, in which a collection of (usually alphabetized) words is defined or explained. And it may name things other than words, such as “a list or collection of terms or codes available for use,” “a set or list of nonverbal symbols” (such as marine alphabet flag signals), and “a set of expressive forms used in an art” (as in “the vocabulary of dance”).

Origin and Etymology of vocabulary

Middle French vocabulaire, probably from Medieval Latin vocabularium, from neuter of vocabularius verbal, from Latin vocabulum

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms



VOCABULARY Defined for English Language Learners

vocabulary

noun

Definition of vocabulary for English Language Learners

  • : the words that make up a language

  • : all of the words known and used by a person

  • : words that are related to a particular subject


VOCABULARY Defined for Kids

vocabulary

noun vo·cab·u·lary \ vō-ˈka-byə-ˌler-ē \

Definition of vocabulary for Students

plural vocabularies
1 : a list or collection of words and their meanings
2 : the words used in a language, by a group or individual, or in relation to a subject


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up vocabulary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

food, provisions, or a tasty dish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!