• synonyms


See more synonyms for lemma on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural lem·mas, lem·ma·ta [lem-uh-tuh] /ˈlɛm ə tə/.
  1. a subsidiary proposition introduced in proving some other proposition; a helping theorem.
  2. an argument, theme, or subject, especially when indicated in a heading.
  3. a word or phrase that is glossed; headword.
Show More

Origin of lemma1

1560–70; < Latin: theme, title, epigram < Greek lêmma something received, premise, akin to lambánein to take, receive, take for granted


noun, plural lem·mas. Botany.
  1. a bract in a grass spikelet just below the pistil and stamens.
Show More

Origin of lemma2

1745–55; < Greek lémma shell, husk, akin to lépein to peel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lemma

Historical Examples

  • The lemma in his note is Oratesque, the reading of Daniel Heinsius' edition.

    The Last Poems of Ovid


  • His apparatus is the first to supply a lemma for each variant reading reported, and is clear and easy to read.

  • The method of exhaustion used, for the purpose of proof by reductio ad absurdum, the lemma proved in Eucl.

British Dictionary definitions for lemma


noun plural -mas or -mata (-mətə)
  1. a subsidiary proposition, proved for use in the proof of another proposition
  2. linguistics a word considered as its citation form together with all the inflected forms. For example, the lemma go consists of go together with goes, going, went, and gone
  3. an argument or theme, esp when used as the subject or title of a composition
Show More

Word Origin

C16 (meaning: proposition), C17 (meaning: title, theme): via Latin from Greek: premise, from lambanein to take (for granted)


noun plural -mas or -mata (-mətə)
  1. the outer of two bracts surrounding each floret in a grass spikeletCompare palea
Show More

Word Origin

C19: from Greek: rind, from lepein to peel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for lemma


1560s, first in mathematics, from Greek lemma (plural lemmata) "something received or taken; an argument; something taken for granted," from root of lambanein "to take" (see analemma).

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

lemma in Science


Plural lemmas lemmata (lĕmə-tə)
  1. The outer or lower of the two bracts enclosing one of the flowers within a grass spikelet.
Show More
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.