I find that I have a sort of "personal dictionary" of words that I like to use. I use "salient" a lot. I use "hence", "perhaps", "incapable", "fortuitous" frequently. I store a sort of "cache" of words - both common and uncommon - that I use regularly as a part of how I speak.

I figure this is the case for everybody - certain friends use some words more than others in regular communication, etc. I'm sure you have your own set of words that you tend to "fall back" on.

So the question is - what is the name for this cache? What is the word or phrase for "collection of words or phrases a person commonly uses to communicate"?

  • One's diction?
    – Kris
    Apr 22, 2013 at 14:47

4 Answers 4


This might be referred to as your idiolect.

the speech habits peculiar to a particular person:
in his strange idiolect, he preferred to call angels ‘angelicals’


However, what this does not refer to is a habit of using a particular word a lot. That probably is just a habit.

  • 3
    This also includes special grammar choices, and is not exclusive to vocabulary. How about lexicon?
    – Mitch
    Apr 22, 2013 at 15:07
  • 2
    Possibly. I did write might quite deliberately!
    – Andrew Leach
    Apr 22, 2013 at 15:23
  • 2
    @AndrewLeach: Are you suggesting that might makes right? (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Might_makes_right for the unaware.) Apr 22, 2013 at 17:10
  • @Mitch Good point on lexicon - that does seem to be more exacting. That being said, idiolect is a fine answer too. Apr 22, 2013 at 18:49
  • I might also use idiom for this, although that can imply modus operandi rather than literal idiom. Apr 22, 2013 at 19:59

You can also try lexicon.

Noun The vocabulary of a person, language, or branch of knowledge. A dictionary, esp. of Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, or Arabic: "a Greek–Latin lexicon". Synonyms dictionary - vocabulary - wordbook - thesaurus - glossary


One possible way to express this is wordhoard or word-hoard which is derived/translated from the Old English word wordhord meaning store or treasure of words. This appears in the text of the Old English epic poem Beowulf in the context of the hero Beowulf "unlocking" his wordhoard before delivering a powerful address to the king Hrothgar.

In the text (Heaney translation): "The leader of the troop unlocked his word-hoard; The distinguished one delivered this answer: “We belong by birth to the Geat people
And owe allegiance to Lord Hygelac.""

I think this word is a poetic and expressive way to communicate this idea and do so with high respect to the heritage of the English we speak.



A vocabulary, also known as a wordstock or word-stock,[1] is a set of familiar words within a person's language. A vocabulary, usually developed with age, serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge. Acquiring an extensive vocabulary is one of the largest challenges in learning a second language.

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