Lexeme is a term in linguistics. They are units of meaning, independent of any inflectional endings, or whether it is one word or several. "Come in" is a lexeme; so is "raining cats and dogs". The largest English dictionaries have about half a million lexemes. "The true figure is undoubtedly a great deal higher".[1]

In the English language, run, runs, ran and running are forms of the same lexeme, conventionally written as RUN.

A similar concept is the lemma (or citation form). It is the form of a lexeme which is chosen to represent the lexeme, for example, RUN instead of the other forms. Lemmas are used in dictionaries as the headwords. Other forms of a lexeme are usually listed later in the entry. So all headwords in a dictionary are lexemes.

A lexicon is made of lexemes.

Reference[change | change source]

  1. Crystal, David 1995. The Cambridge encyclopedia of the English language. Cambridge. p119