AskDefine | Define lexicon

Dictionary Definition



1 a language user's knowledge of words [syn: vocabulary, mental lexicon]
2 a reference book containing an alphabetical list of words with information about them [syn: dictionary]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • , /ˈleksɪkɑn/, /"leksIkQn/


From λεξικόν.


  1. A dictionary that includes or focuses on lexemes.
  2. A dictionary of Classical Greek, Hebrew, Latin, or Aramaic.
  3. The lexicology of a programming language. (Usually called lexical structure.)
  4. Any dictionary.
  5. The vocabulary used by or known to an individual. (Also called lexical knowledge)


dictionary of lexemes
dictionary of Classical Greek, Hebrew, Latin, or Aramaic
  • Greek: λεξικό
  • Icelandic: orðabók, orðasafn
  • Italian: lessico
  • Russian: лексикон
lexicology of a programming language
  • Greek: λεξιλόγιο
  • Icelandic: orðasafn
  • Italian: lessico
(rare) any dictionary
  • Greek: λεξικό
  • Icelandic: orðabók, orðasafn
  • Italian: lessico
  • Russian: лексикон, словарь
vocabulary used by an individual

Extensive Definition

In linguistics, the lexicon (from Greek Λεξικόν) of a language is its vocabulary, including its words and expressions. More formally, it is a language's inventory of lexemes.
The lexicon includes the lexemes used to actualize words. Lexemes are formed according to morpho-syntactic rules and express sememes. In this sense, a lexicon organizes the mental vocabulary in a speaker's mind: First, it organizes the vocabulary of a language according to certain principles (for instance, all verbs of motion may be linked in a lexical network) and second, it contains a generative device producing (new) simple and complex words according to certain lexical rules. For example, the suffix '-able' can be added to transitive verbs only, so that we get 'read-able' but not '*cry-able'.
Usually a lexicon is a container for words belonging to the same language. Some exceptions may be encountered for languages that are variants, like for instance Brazilian compared to Portuguese, where a lot of words are common and where the differences may be marked word by word.
When linguists study the lexicon, they study such things as what words are, how the vocabulary in a language is structured, how people use and store words, how they learn words, the history and evolution of words (i.e. etymology), types of relationships between words as well as how words were created.
An individual's lexicon, lexical knowledge, or lexical concept is that person's knowledge of vocabulary.

Further reading

  • Aitchison, Jean. Words in the Mind: An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2003.
lexicon in German: Wortschatz
lexicon in Spanish: Lexicón
lexicon in French: Lexique
lexicon in Hebrew: לקסיקון
lexicon in Ido: Lexiko
lexicon in Lithuanian: Leksikonas
lexicon in Dutch: Woordenschat
lexicon in Norwegian Nynorsk: Ordforråd
lexicon in Norwegian: Ordforråd
lexicon in Portuguese: Léxico
lexicon in Russian: Лексика

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

biographical dictionary, cant, chemical dictionary, desk dictionary, dialect dictionary, dictionary, dictionary of quotations, electronics dictionary, etymological dictionary, foreign-language dictionary, gazetteer, general dictionary, geological dictionary, gloss, glossary, gradus, jargon, language, lexis, nomenclator, onomasticon, palaver, phrase book, phraseology, polyglot dictionary, promptorium, rhyming dictionary, science dictionary, slang dictionary, specialized dictionary, stock of words, synonym dictionary, synonymy, terminology, thesaurus, treasury of words, unabridged dictionary, verbiage, vocabulary, word list, wordage, wordbook, wordhoard, words
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