Definition of lexeme in US English:



  • A basic lexical unit of a language, consisting of one word or several words, considered as an abstract unit, and applied to a family of words related by form or meaning.

    • ‘On this account, the word based theories posit that lexical relations in Semitic languages are linked to derivations involving lexemes and morphemes.’
    • ‘Therefore, high imageability words will easily and uniquely access their corresponding lexemes.’
    • ‘This may be a consequence of abnormally rapid decay of lexemes in the phonological output lexicon.’
    • ‘Linguists might call the monster on the ice-floes a floating signifier, a lexeme whose meaning varies contextually.’
    • ‘The resulting semantico-functional variant of a lexeme performs a different function in speech.’


1940s: from lexicon + -eme.