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Glossary vs. Lexicon: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Glossary is a list of terms and their definitions, often in a specific book or field; Lexicon is the vocabulary of a language or subject.
Glossary vs. Lexicon

Key Differences

Glossary refers to a list of terms and their definitions, typically found at the end of a book or academic paper. It focuses on specific jargon or terminology used in that text, providing definitions or explanations. Lexicon, however, encompasses the entire vocabulary of a language or a specific field of study, including words, their meanings, and usage.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 04, 2023
In academic or technical publications, a glossary serves as a quick reference tool for readers to understand specialized or unfamiliar terms. It is a supplementary part of a larger work, aiming to clarify specific terminology. A lexicon, on the other hand, is more comprehensive and can stand alone as a complete reference work, like a dictionary, encompassing a broader range of vocabulary and usage.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 04, 2023
Glossaries are often tailored to a particular subject or field, containing terms and definitions relevant to that topic. They are not exhaustive but are curated to enhance understanding of the specific content in a text. In contrast, lexicons cover a wider scope, including a full array of words and expressions of a language or discipline, often detailing pronunciation, etymology, and variations in meaning.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 04, 2023
The use of a glossary is typically confined to providing clarity within the context of the text it accompanies. It aids readers in navigating complex or technical subjects by explaining key terms. A lexicon, however, is a tool for language study and research, offering extensive information about words, their origins, and usage in different contexts.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 04, 2023
In summary, while both a glossary and a lexicon deal with words and their meanings, a glossary is a concise list specific to a text or subject, and a lexicon is a comprehensive collection of a language's or field's vocabulary.
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Comparison Chart

Definition

List of terms and definitions in a text.
Complete collection of a language's vocabulary.
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Scope

Limited to specific book or field.
Encompasses entire vocabulary of a language or subject.
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Purpose

To clarify terms within a text.
To provide detailed information about words and usage.
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Format

Often found at the end of a book.
Can be a standalone reference like a dictionary.
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Content

Curated terms relevant to the text.
Extensive range of words, including etymology and pronunciation.
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Glossary and Lexicon Definitions

Glossary

A list of specialized terms and their meanings.
The medical book included a glossary of technical terms.
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Lexicon

A reference book containing an alphabetical list of words.
He frequently consults the lexicon for word origins.
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Glossary

Collection of words and explanations in a specific field.
A legal document often has a glossary for legal jargon.
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Lexicon

Database of words used in a particular language.
Language learning apps are built using a comprehensive lexicon.
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Glossary

Reference section in academic texts for term definitions.
The research paper's glossary simplified technical vocabulary.
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Lexicon

Vocabulary specific to a particular field or subject.
The lexicon of computer science is full of acronyms.
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Glossary

Supplemental section in a book for terms' definitions.
The glossary at the end of the textbook helps clarify complex concepts.
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Lexicon

The complete set of words in a language.
The English lexicon is constantly evolving with new words.
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Glossary

A tool for understanding specific terms in a context.
The cookbook's glossary explained culinary terms.
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Lexicon

Collection of words and their meanings in a language.
Linguists study the lexicon to understand language patterns.
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Glossary

A list of often difficult or specialized words with their definitions, often placed at the back of a book.
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Oct 19, 2023

Lexicon

A dictionary.
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Glossary

A list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with their definitions.
At the back of the book you can find the glossary.
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Lexicon

A stock of terms used in a particular profession, subject, or style; a vocabulary
The lexicon of surrealist art.
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Glossary

A collection of glosses or explanations of words and passages of a work or author; a partial dictionary of a work, an author, a dialect, art, or science, explaining archaic, technical, or other uncommon words.
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Lexicon

The vocabulary of an individual person
“A few of the women tittered, whether in response to the fluctuating octaves of my voice or the awkwardness of my lexicon” (Elisabeth Brink).
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Glossary

An alphabetical list of technical terms in some specialized field of knowledge; usually published as an appendix to a text on that field
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Lexicon

(Linguistics) The morphemes of a language considered as a group.
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Oct 19, 2023

Lexicon

The vocabulary of a language.
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Lexicon

A dictionary that includes or focuses on lexemes.
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Lexicon

A dictionary of Classical Greek, Hebrew, Latin, or Aramaic.
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Lexicon

(programming) The lexicology of a programming language. (Usually called lexical structure.)
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Lexicon

(rare) Any dictionary.
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Lexicon

The vocabulary used by or known to an individual. (Also called lexical knowledge.)
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Lexicon

A set of vocabulary specific to a certain subject.
The baseball lexicon
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Lexicon

A list thereof.
A baseball lexicon
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Lexicon

A vocabulary, or book containing an alphabetical arrangement of the words in a language or of a considerable number of them, with the definition of each; a dictionary; especially, a dictionary of the Greek, Hebrew, or Latin language.
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Lexicon

A language user's knowledge of words
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Lexicon

A reference book containing an alphabetical list of words with information about them
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is a Glossary?

A glossary is a list of specialized terms and their definitions in a book or field.
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What does Lexicon mean?

Lexicon refers to the entire vocabulary of a language or specific subject.
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Can a Lexicon stand alone as a book?

Yes, a lexicon can be a standalone reference work like a dictionary.
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Where is a Glossary typically found?

A glossary is usually found at the end of a book or academic paper.
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Should all books have a Glossary?

Not necessarily, only those with specialized or technical terms.
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Can a Glossary be a separate book?

Generally, glossaries are sections in books, not separate works.
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Does a Lexicon include etymology?

Yes, lexicons often include word origins and detailed usage.
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Who uses a Lexicon?

Linguists, language learners, and researchers use lexicons.
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Is a Glossary comprehensive?

No, a glossary covers terms specific to the text it accompanies.
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Is a Lexicon the same as a dictionary?

A lexicon is similar to a dictionary, but can be more specialized.
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Is a Glossary useful for general readers?

Yes, especially in understanding specialized or unfamiliar terms.
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Can a Glossary contain images?

Sometimes, especially if it helps clarify the term.
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How often are Lexicons updated?

Regular updates are common, especially in fast-evolving fields.
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What's the main purpose of a Glossary?

To clarify and define specific terms used in a text.
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What type of information does a Lexicon provide?

A lexicon provides meanings, pronunciation, and word usage.
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Do Lexicons change over time?

Yes, lexicons evolve as language and word usage change.
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Are Glossaries only for academic texts?

No, they can be used in any text with specialized terminology.
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Can a Lexicon include slang words?

Yes, comprehensive lexicons may include slang and colloquial terms.
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Are online dictionaries considered Lexicons?

Yes, they are a form of lexicon, often with interactive features.
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Is a Glossary necessary for technical manuals?

Yes, it's essential for understanding technical terms and acronyms.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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