Demonstrate Your Way With Words With 16 Synonyms For “Vocabulary”

It will probably not surprise you to learn that we are sort of obsessed with vocabulary at We love all words from A to Z, even ones that start with weird symbols like Ægypt. When it comes to talking about the collection of all the unusual words we have learned, it’s not enough to just call it vocabulary. This got us thinking about synonyms for vocabulary and all the wonderful terms we can use to talk about all the words we know.

The word vocabulary comes from the Latin vocābulārius, meaning “of words.” A related word in English that you might recognize is vocal, from Latin vōcālis. At the root of both terms is vox, meaning “voice.” Essentially, a vocabulary is a collection of the terms you use to call things. Read on to find out new terms you can use to describe your vocabulary.


The dictionary is one of the best places to find vocabulary words, so much so that the word dictionary itself is a near-synonym for vocabulary. The word dictionary means “a lexical resource (such as containing a selection of the words of a language.” Dictionaries have been around since ancient times—the earliest known dictionaries date to around 2300 BCE.

How do dictionaries work? Learn about it here.


We noted the Latin root of vocabulary already. Another word that shares that same root is vocable, “a word; term; name.” However, vocable is also used more generally to refer to utterances not typically considered words, such as abracadabra, a nonsense expression used in magic tricks.


The word expression is a more everyday synonym for vocabulary. While expression is often used to mean “the act of expressing or setting forth in words,” it can also specifically refer to “a particular word, phrase, or form of words.” The word expression has something of a culinary origin; it comes from the Latin expressiō meaning “a pressing out.”


A slightly more sophisticated but still quotidian synonym for vocabulary is terminology, “the system of terms belonging or peculiar to a science, art, or specialized subject; nomenclature.” The combining form -logy is used to name sciences or bodies of knowledge. This means that the word terminology has another, if less common, meaning: “the science of terms, as in particular sciences or arts.”


Another synonym for vocabulary that ends in -logy is phraseology, “manner or style of verbal expression; characteristic language,” or simply “expressions; phrases.” The word phraseology was coined by a German philologist (a term that refers to a person who specializes in linguistics or literary texts) who made a slight mistake. The correct transcription of the word from Greek would be phrasiology, but the erroneous phraseology stuck.


A synonym for phraseology that’s less of a mouthful is locution, “a particular form of expression; a word, phrase, expression, or idiom, especially as used by a particular person, group, etc.” Locution is often specifically used to refer to oral rather than written language (meaning, words spoken aloud rather than written down). An archaic term related to locution is locutorium or locutory, meaning “parlor,” in the sense of “a room in a monastery where the inhabitants may converse with visitors or with each other.”


Another sophisticated synonym for vocabulary is lexicon, “the vocabulary of a particular language, field, social class, person, etc.” A lexicon is essentially any collection of words. Each of us has our own mental lexicon, which is the collection of words that is stored, understood, and used by an individual. These mental lexicons are made up of lexemes and lemmas that help us name and describe the world.


A lexeme is “a lexical unit in a language, as a word or base; vocabulary item.” A lexeme can be made up of one word or multiple words. For example, “run” and “speak up” are both lexemes. Lexeme ultimately comes from the Greek lexikós, meaning “of or pertaining to words.”


As you may have guessed, there are a number of synonyms for vocabulary that include “word.” One of these is wording, “the act or manner of expressing in words; phrasing.” The term wording is used to particularly signal that the words were chosen deliberately and with care to transmit a message clearly.


A more obscure synonym that wording is wordstock, “all the words that make up a language or dialect, or the set of words that are known or used by a particular person or group; vocabulary.” Stock literally means “inventory,” but it comes from Old English stoc(c), meaning “stump, stake, post, log.”


One of the more delightful terms to refer to mental lexicon is word-hoard, “a person’s vocabulary.” The origin of hoard gives us a clue about how important words are. Hoard comes from the Old Saxon hord meaning “treasure; hiddenmost place.”


A synonym for vocabulary that looks suspiciously like the contraction for “cannot” is cant [ kant ], a word that means “the phraseology peculiar to a particular class, party, profession, etc.” This word has more negative connotations than the other synonyms we have looked at. It can also be used as a noun to mean “whining or singsong speech, especially of beggars” or as a verb to mean “to talk hypocritically.”

Know what does sound nice? These synonyms and alternatives for the word nice.


A sophisticated term for vocabulary with a frisson of French is parlance, “a way or manner of speaking; vernacular; idiom.” The word comes from the French parler meaning “to speak.” As you might guess, parlance is most often used to refer to speech or dialect rather than written language.


A kind of vocabulary one is often cautioned to avoid when writing for general audiences is jargon, “the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group.” The word comes from the Old French jargon, meaning “warbling of birds, prattle, chatter, talk.”


A near-synonym for jargon is lingo, “the language and speech, especially the jargon, slang, or argot, of a particular field, group, or individual.” The word lingo is said to be an altered form of lingua, meaning “language,” a reference to the phrase lingua franca, “any language that is widely used as a means of communication among speakers of other languages.” The expression lingua franca literally translates to “Frankish language,” with Frankish as a term referring to Europeans and dating back to the Crusades.

turn of phrase

The expression turn of phrase refers to “a particular arrangement of words.” It’s a good idiom for drawing attention to unusual or exceptional word choice. Turn of phrase alludes to the turning or shaping of objects (as on a lathe), a usage dating from the late 1600s.

You can test your newly enriched vocabulary about vocabulary with our handy quiz here. If you feel you want to brush up on your terminology, lexicon, and/or expressions, you can check out our word list here.

Further your small-talk skills by exploring these different types and synonyms of "small-talk."

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