Word Ways


Darryl Francis


Most people think that dictionaries contain words and that words contain letters. To a certain extent this is true. However, dictionaries contain more than just words -- they contain abbreviations, symbols, prefixes, suffixes and phrases as well. For example, NATIONAL SCHOOL-BUS CHROME is in Webster's Third. So, too, is the prefix CONTRA-. To avoid continually distinguishing between words, phrases, prefixes and so on, all of which are in the dictionary, we lump them all together and refer to them as entries. We could even go so far as to call these entries lexemes -- that is, meaningful forms that belong to the vocabulary of English.