If you stumble across a word with the prefix lex, there’s a pretty good chance that it will have something to do with words.
But how many of the following words that start with lex did you already know?
Words that start with lex
Lexeme = used in linguistics to describe a basic unit of a language consisting of one or more words, the separate elements of which do not convey the meaning of the whole (origin 1940s, from lexicon + -eme)
Lexical = of/relating to the words or vocabulary of a language rather than its grammar and construction; relating to/of the nature of a lexicon or dictionary (origins 19C, from Greek lexikos ‘of words’ + -al)
Lexicalise/lexicalize = make or coin into a word; accept a new word into the lexicon of a language
Lexicographer = person who compiles dictionaries
Lexicography = theory and practice of compiling dictionaries
I am not yet so lost in lexicography, as to forget that words are the daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of heaven. ~ Samuel Johnson
Lexicologist = person versed in lexicology
Lexicology = study of the form, meaning and behaviour of words
Lexicon (pl. lexica or lexicons) = vocabulary of a language, a person, a group of people or a subject; dictionary (origins 17C, modern Latin from Greek lexicon (biblion) ‘(book) of words’)
Lexicostatistics = study of languages and their vocabularies by statistical methods for historical purposes
Lexigram = symbol representing a word, especially one used in learning a language
Lexis = total stock of words in a language; all word forms having meaning or grammatical function (origins 1950s, from Greek, literally means ‘word’)
Some other ‘lex’ words
Alexia = inability to recognise or read written words or letters, typically as a result of brain damage
Dyslexia = disorder involving difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters and other symbols
Just to confuse you, the standalone noun lex means a system or body of laws, or a particular specified law, e.g. lex terrae (the law of the land), lex loci (the law of the country in which a transaction is performed or a property is situated) or lex talionis (the law of retaliation).
But, seeing as laws are made up of words – either written or spoken – they’re not completely unrelated.
Anyway, lex end it there for now…
But if all this has piqued your curiosity and you’d like to find out more, I can highly recommend this TED Talk by Erin McKean on “The Joy Of Lexicography”.
(image courtesy of Surachai via Freedigitalphotos.net)