The term “lexicon” comes from the Greek word “lexikon,” which means “a wordbook” or “a dictionary.” This is derived from the Greek root “lexis,” meaning “word” or “speech,” which in turn comes from “legein,” meaning “to speak.”

1. Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

The PIE root “*leg-” means “to collect” or “to gather,” which evolved to signify “to speak” or “to choose words.”

2. Greek

From the PIE root, the Greek word “legein” (λέγειν) developed, meaning “to speak.” The noun “lexis” (λέξις) means “word” or “speech.” The term “lexikon” (λεξικόν) was derived from “lexis” and means “a wordbook” or “a dictionary.”

3. Latin

The Greek term “lexikon” was adopted into Latin as “lexicon,” retaining the meaning of “a dictionary” or “a wordbook.”

4. Modern English (from the 16th century CE to present)

The term “lexicon” was adopted into Modern English from Latin and Greek, retaining the meaning of “a dictionary” or “the vocabulary of a language, person, or subject.”

Phonetic Evolution

The pronunciation of “lexicon” has remained relatively stable from Greek to Modern English.

Usage Examples

  • “Lexicon is often used to describe a dictionary or the vocabulary of a particular language, person, or subject.”
  • “Another example of ‘lexicon’ in a sentence is ‘The professor has an extensive lexicon of technical terms in linguistics.'”

Cultural or Historical Notes

The development of the word “lexicon” was significantly influenced by the need to compile and organize words and their meanings, especially in scholarly and educational contexts. Lexicons have been essential for studying and preserving languages, especially ancient and less widely spoken languages.

The word “lexicon” reflects the concept of a comprehensive collection of words, emphasizing the importance of understanding and documenting language. It underscores the role of lexicons in education, linguistic research, and the preservation of cultural and linguistic heritage.