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What is a Lexophile?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A lexophile is a lover of words. Other words have been coined to describe people who are fascinated by words and language; logophile is another example of a word which might be used to the same effect. Whatever one calls them, lovers of words can sometimes turn their interest into a career in a field such as dictionary editing, while others may take up the study of words and compilation of interesting word lists as a hobby.

This word is derived from the Greek roots for “word” and “love.” Lexophiles may study words in any language, although many choose to focus on a specific language to pursue their interests. Some simply collect words which they think are unusual or interesting. Others may follow the history of language, the evolution of words in common use, and other language-related topics.

Lexophiles might help create or edit dictionaries.
Lexophiles might help create or edit dictionaries.

Many lexophiles are fond of word play. They may explore ways in which everyday words can sound or feel different in puns, or craft written compositions which play with unusual words they have discovered. A lexophile may collect obscure words or look for words with meanings which have changed dramatically since they entered the lexicon. Lexophiles can also study differences in regional dialects and slang, which can sometimes provide interesting illustrations of the way in which language has evolved.

There are a number of websites which have been set up for people who are interested in words. A lexophile can find bulletin boards filled with people who have like interests, along with word lists, information about events which may be of interest, and other materials. Connecting with people of similar interests may be of interest to many hobbyists.

There are a number of careers which can offer a lexophile an opportunity to explore words for a living. Dictionary work can be one area of interest, as dictionaries need writers and editors and offer an opportunity to do research on obscure words and shifts in language use. Writing and editing in general can provide people with ample opportunities to play with language, as can teaching, conducting research, and studying foreign languages.

People who are interested in pursuing careers related to words should be prepared to spend some time in school. Academic careers for a lexophile such as working on dictionaries usually require at least a masters degree. Writing and editing may not necessarily require higher degrees, although they can be helpful when starting a career, but they do require a great deal of practice and hard work.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a LanguageHumanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a LanguageHumanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I love words, too. I think it can be very interesting to keep track of words and see how some of them have changed in meaning over time. For example, I believe the word "awful" used to mean awesome. Isn't that fascinating?

I also like word play, but I try to avoid using big words (not that I know many), because they might be not understood by the person/people I am talking to. I like to keep my audience in mind when choosing my diction. To me, it's not worth it to lose one's audience over being a lexophile.


@redstaR - There are lots of different books out there which are perfect for lexophiles that are specific to unusual or obscure words. A good thesaurus is essential as well; sometimes definitions can be a little hard to understand without an easy reference point. It’s always good to read up on some examples of how the words are used also because sometimes it might be different than you expect. There’s no point knowing what it means if you don’t know how to use it in a sentence. The point is to really get a good understanding of what the word means and then it’ll be easier to memorize.

In my opinion, the best thing by far when it comes to learning and remembering words is by using flash cards. You can make them by hand but there’s also a lot of different flash cards software out there which help to track your progress.


I’m interested in words and would like to expand my vocabulary but I don’t really know where to get started. I’ve been keeping a notebook for a while when I happen to come across a word I don’t know but a problem I keep having is that even after I’ve written it down I forget the meaning pretty quickly. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions?


I’m very much a lover of words as well. I’ve been collecting words and phrases in notebooks for years now. My roommates think it’s a weird habit but I can’t stop myself, every time I stumble upon an interesting word I have to write it down.

It’s not just complicated or obscure words I’m drawn to though and I don’t think that’s a necessary part of being a lexophile; I have whole notebooks full of short phrases that I simply think have a good ring to them.

In response to @Engelbert’s question, one of my favorite words and one that I use a lot is “compendious”, meaning short and to the point. I also like “incandescent”, which has a few different meanings. Firstly it can mean emitting light, but it can also mean extremely angry and brilliant. I’m fascinated by words that can be used in different ways.


I love words! Ironically though, I’ve never referred to myself as a lexophile. I’ve been reading dictionaries and collecting words I like since I was a kid. I tend to be hesitant to use obscure words in general conversation at risk of sounding pretentious but I still like to keep track of words I like anyway. I’m mainly drawn to the sound of words rather than their meaning but obviously if both are interesting then it’s great. One word I discovered recently that I really like is “peripatetic”, meaning to travel from place to place.

Sometimes I like to just flip through the dictionary at random and highlight interesting words but usually I find them by chance while reading. I’ve started noting the origin of words as well which has actually helped a lot in expanding my vocabulary. For example “colloquium”, meaning an academic conference or seminar, comes from Latin “colloqui”, with “col-“ meaning together and “loqui” meaning to talk.

Anyone else have any favorite words of theirs they’d like to share?

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    • Lexophiles might help create or edit dictionaries.
      By: Maciej Zatonski
      Lexophiles might help create or edit dictionaries.