A General Survey of Word
* How to define WORD?
* What is the difference between WORD and
* What is Saussure’s SIGN composed of?
* How does SENSE differ from REFERENCE?
* Is MEANING the same as SENSE?
1. Vocabulary · Lexicon · Dictionary
3. Lexeme · lexical unit · word form
It usually refers to a complete inventory of the
words in a language. But it may also refer to the
words and phrases used in the variants of a
language, such as dialect, register, terminology,
etc. A unit of vocabulary is generally referred to as
a lexical item/ a word.
A learner’s vocabulary can be divided into active
vocabulary and passive vocabulary: the former
refers to lexical items which a learner can
use(speak and write); the latter to words which
he/she can understand(read and guess).
Lexicon[early 17th cent. from Greek
lexikon book of words] or lexis [1950s:
from Greek léxis speech] is used instead of
"dictionary" though generally lexicon is a
technical term which refers to the set of all
words and idioms of the language in
question; sometimes writers use lexicon to
refer to the vocabulary of a language as
used by an individual speaker, which is
best illustrated in the term “mental
A dictionary is “a reference book containing
words usually alphabetically arranged with
pronunciations, functions, etymologies,
meanings, and syntactical and idiomatic uses
” (Merriam Webster, 1993).
The practice of compiling dictionaries is
lexicography; a person who complies
dictionaries is seen as a lexicographer.
Lexicology [1820s: from Greek lexikós of
words, -logia study] is the systematic study
of vocabulary/lexical items/lexis. It deals
with words and word-forming morphemes,
It follows that these elements must be
investigated in their form and in their
meaning. Roughly, it is a combination of
studies on semantics and morphology, called
lexical semantics or pragmatic semantics in
Lexeme from Greek léxis speech, and
-eme ） refers to every entry in the
dictionary. It is the minimal unit of
language which has a semantic
interpretation and embodies a distinct
cultural concept. It is made up of one
or more form-meaning composites
called lexical units/lexical items.
• Lexeme can be seen as a term that is
used to express the idea that inflected
forms, which are words themselves, are
still variants of one single word, e.g.
“playing”, “played”, “plays” are the
inflected variants of the same lexeme
“play”. In a sense, each of these
variants is itself a word; the term word
form is used for them.