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See: Lexicon, Grammar, Lexical Item.


  • (WordNet, 2009) ⇒ http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=lexis
    • S: (n) lexis (all of the words in a language; all word forms having meaning or grammatical function)
  • (Wikipedia, 2009) ⇒ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexical_item
    • The entire store of lexical items in a language is called its lexis.
  • (Wikipedia, 2009) ⇒ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexis_(linguistics)
    • In linguistics, lexis (from the Greek: λέξις "word") describes the storage of language in our mental lexicon as prefabricated patterns (lexical units) that can be recalled and sorted into meaningful speech and writing. Lexis as a concept differs from the traditional paradigm of grammar in that it defines probable language use, not possible language usage. This notion contrasts starkly with the Chomskian proposition of a “Universal Grammar” as the prime mover for language; grammar still plays an integral role in lexis, of course, but it is the result of accumulated lexis, not its generator.


  • (Crystal, 2008) ⇒ David Crystal. (2008). “A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, 6th edition." Blackwell Publishing.
    • QUOTE: lexis A term used in LINGUISTIC to refer to the vocabulary of a LANGUAGE … A UNIT of vocabulary is generally referred to as a lexical item, or LEXEME. A complete inventory of the lexical items of a language constitutes that language's dictionary, or LEXICON … 'in the lexicon' as a set of lexical entries. …
    • Lexis may be seen in contrast with GRAMMAR, as in the distinction between 'grammatical WORDS' and lexical words: the former refers to words whose sole function is to signal grammatical relationships (a role which is claimed for such words as of, to and the in English); the latter refers to words which have lexical meaning, i.e. they have semantic CONTENT. Examples include lexical verbs (versus auxiliary verbs) and lexical noun phrases (versus non-lexical NPs, such as PRO). A similar contrast distinguishes lexical morphology from derivational MORPHOLOGY.


  • (Carter, 1998) ⇒ Ronald Carter. (1998). “Vocabulary: Applied Linguistic Perspectives; 2nd edition." Routledge.
    • One theoretical notion which may help us to resolve some of the above problems is that of the lexeme. A lexeme is the abstract unit which underlies some of the variants we have observed in connection with 'words'. Thus BRING is the lexeme which underlies different grammatical variants: 'bring', 'brought', 'brings', 'bringing' which we can refer to as word-forms (note a lexeme is conventionally represented by upper-case letters and that quotation marks are used for its word-forms). Lexemes are the basic, contrasting units of vocabulary in a language. When we look up words in a dictionary we are looking up lexemes rather than words. That is, 'brought' and 'bringing' will be found under and entry for BRING. The lexeme BRING is an abstraction. It does not actually occur itself in texts. Instead, it realizes different word-forms. Thus, the word-form 'bring' is realized by the lexeme BRING; the lexeme GO realizes the word-form 'went'. In a diction each lexeme merits a separate entry or sub-entry.
    • The term lexeme also embraces items which consist of more than one word-form. Into the category come lexical items such as multi-word verbs (to catch up on), phrasal verbs (to drop in) and idioms (kick the bucket). Here, KICK THE BUCKET is a lexeme and would appear a such in a single dictionary entry even though it is a three-word form. ...
    • We can also see that the notion of lexeme helps us to represent the polysemy - or the existence of several meanings - in individual words: that, far (n.). “fair (adj. as in good, acceptable) and fair (adj. as in light in colour, expecially of hair), would have three different lexeme meanings for the same word-form. The same applies to the different meanings of lap … But there are numerous less clear-cut categories. For example, in the case of line (draw a line; rail line; clothes line) is the same surface form realized by one, two, or three separate underlying lexemes? And are the meanings of chair (professional appointment; seat) or paper (newspaper; academic lecture) or dressing (sauce; manure; bandages) specialization of the same basic lexeme or not.
    • An important question which also arises her concerns our own metalanguage in this book. Should we talk of words or word-forms or lexemes or lexical items? It is clear that the uses of these words word or vocabulary have a general common-sense validity and are serviceable when there is no real need to be precise. They will continue to be used for general reference. The terms lexeme and the word-forms of a lexeme are valuable theoretical concepts and will be used when theoretical distinctions are necessary. Lexical item(s) (or sometimes vocabulary items or simply items) is a useful and fairly neutral hold-all term which captures and, to some extend, helps to overcome instability in the term word, especially when it become limited by orthography.
    • In this chapter there is a distinct shift from examining lexical items at the level of the orthographic ‘word’ or in the patterns which occur in fixed expressions towards a consideration of lexis in larger units of language organization.


  • B Levin. (1985). “Introduction. Lexical semantics in review.” Cambridge, MA, Lexicon Project Working Papers 1: MIT Working Papers in Lingusitics.