Definition of vocabulary in English:

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Pronunciation: /və(ʊ)ˈkabjʊləri/

noun (plural vocabularies)

1The body of words used in a particular language: a comparison of the vocabularies of different languages the Sanskrit vocabulary
More example sentences
  • Just as the vocabulary of a language changes from age to age, so the vocabularies of different languages are distinct in their systems, uses, and references.
  • It involves comparison to reconstruct, if you like, the ancient vocabularies that present-day languages are derived from.
  • It is often said that the vocabulary of a language is an inventory of the items a culture talks about and has categorized in order to make sense of the world.
lexicon, word stock, lexis
1.1The words used in a particular subject or sphere of activity or on a particular occasion: the vocabulary of law [mass noun]: the term became part of business vocabulary
More example sentences
  • As an added bonus, I realised, new falconers get to learn a vocabulary of Medieval English for free.
  • On some occasions, the vocabulary that she employs in her response to Derrida is recriminatory.
  • Prior to entering, she studied concepts such as defining her business and its services, learning basic business vocabulary, and marketing and management.
1.2The body of words known to an individual person: he had a wide vocabulary
More example sentences
  • Of all writers, he discovers, Shakespeare has the widest vocabulary relating to the varieties of weeds found in rural Warwickshire.
  • Standards in English could be higher if children used a wider vocabulary and more complex sentences in their oral and written work.
  • This was the day that the word contemplative entered my vocabulary, giving shape to the way I wanted to live my life.
1.3A list of difficult or unfamiliar words with an explanation of their meanings, accompanying a piece of specialist or foreign-language text.
Example sentences
  • It was right there, the third word in the weekly vocabulary list our teacher had just handed out.
  • It includes sample text, grammar and vocabulary lists and more for 1,445 languages.
  • He compiled the vocabulary by taking words from English, French, German and Latin.
2A range of artistic or stylistic forms, techniques, or movements: dance companies have their own vocabularies of movement
More example sentences
  • Like his Judson colleagues, his choreography eschewed an advanced dance technique, and he incorporated everyday movements into his vocabulary.
  • A visionary, she developed a new and wholly unique dance technique and vocabulary of steps and movements.
  • And though the movement vocabulary was unmistakably balletic, the visual appeal of the work may more often be associated with rock music videos.


Mid 16th century (denoting a list of words with definitions or translations): from medieval Latin vocabularius, from Latin vocabulum (see vocable).

  • voice from Middle English:

    A word derived from Latin vox ‘voice’ and is related to vocabulary (mid 16th century), vocal (Middle English), vocation (Late Middle English), and vociferous (early 17th century), while the verb vocare ‘to call’ appears in convoke (late 16th century) ‘call together’; equivocate (Late Middle English) literally ‘call by the same name’; evoke (early 17th century) ‘call out’; invoke (Late Middle English) ‘call upon’; provoke (Late Middle English) ‘call forth’; revoke (Late Middle English) ‘call back’; and vouch (Middle English) and voucher (early 16th century). Vowel (Middle English) is from Old French vouel, from Latin vocalis (littera) ‘vocal (letter)’. The Latin root survives in vox pop, ‘an informal survey of people's opinion’, which is short for Latin vox populi or ‘voice of the people’. When people refer to an ignored advocate of reform as a voice in the wilderness they are echoing the words of John the Baptist proclaiming the coming of the Messiah: ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.’

Words that rhyme with vocabulary


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: vo¦cabu|lary

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