lex·​i·​cog·​ra·​pher ˌlek-sə-ˈkä-grə-fər How to pronounce lexicographer (audio)
: an author or editor of a dictionary

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Today, we're looking at a word that is dear to our hearts: lexicographer. The ancient Greeks were some of the earliest makers of dictionaries; they used them mainly to catalog obsolete terms from their rich literary past. To create a word for writers of dictionaries, the Greeks sensibly attached the suffix -graphos, meaning "writer," to lexikon, meaning "dictionary," to form lexikographos, the direct ancestor of the English word lexicographer. Lexikon, which itself descends from Greek lexis (meaning "word" or "speech"), also gave us lexicon, which can mean either "dictionary" or "the vocabulary of a language, speaker, or subject."

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Kory Stamper, a former lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, told The Post in 2017 that people were turning to dictionaries to make sense of current events. Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2022 Enter Joseph Worcester, the only lexicographer in history to edit three dictionaries covering the same subject matter for three competing publishers in three consecutive years. Bryan A. Garner, National Review, 17 Mar. 2022 Many knowledgeable critics thought Worcester innocent of the charges — and the better lexicographer. Bryan A. Garner, National Review, 17 Mar. 2022 Samuel Johnson used similar language—harmless drudge—to describe the lexicographer who compiles a dictionary. Alexandra Horowitz, The Atlantic, 16 Mar. 2022 Some are purely wicked but others—an artist, a travel writer, a lexicographer—are there for more conflictedly voyeuristic purposes. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 1 Oct. 2021 Commentary from experts including a lexicographer, a cognitive scientist and a PhD specializing in the history of swearing is then used as grist for comics such as Sarah Silverman, Zainab Johnson and Nikki Glaser. Los Angeles Times, 5 Jan. 2021 Particularly interesting to word nerds like Sokolowski, a lexicographer, is quarantine. Leanne Italie, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Dec. 2020 At the same time, Dr. Nunberg was a lexicographer — a writer of dictionaries. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, 14 Aug. 2020 See More

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

Word History


Late Greek lexikographos, from lexikon + Greek -graphos writer, from graphein to write

First Known Use

1625, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lexicographer was in 1625


Dictionary Entries Near lexicographer

Cite this Entry

“Lexicographer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lexicographer. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



lex·​i·​cog·​ra·​pher ˌlek-sə-ˈkäg-rə-fər How to pronounce lexicographer (audio)
: an author or editor of a dictionary

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