Greek for… A lexicon is… Lexicology is the study of… A lexicographer is someone who chooses to write a…
Greek for word A lexicon is the body of words/word parts belonging to a language Lexicology is the study of words, their meanings, their uses and their connections. A lexicographer is someone who chooses to write a dictionary.
Sometimes you want to describe a unit of meaning which contains more than one word, eg. ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ or ‘come in’. Sometimes you need to look at a word and its associated forms. If you came across the phrase ‘It was fibrillating’ and needed to know what it meant, what word would you look up in the dictionary?
So instead we use ‘lexeme’ or ‘lexical unit’. A lexeme is a unit of lexical meaning. More examples of lexemes: elephant jog cholesterol happiness put up with face the music etc.
What goes in? Historical words? American English terms? English words used in other countries eg. India, Nigeria? Spoken vocabulary? Slang? Abbreviations? The million or so insects we have named? Proper nouns?
How many words do you think you know? Some guesses suggest 10,000-12,000 for a school leaver, 20,000-25,000 for a university graduate. There is also the question of your passive vs. your active vocabulary.
Known words: Know well Know vaguely Don’t knowUsed words Use a lot Use occasionally Don’t use
A good vocabulary isn’t all about knowing long words. There are 18 four letter words containing the letter Q listed by the Scrabble dictionary. How many could you name? How many people in the world do you think there are who could name them all?