What’s a Lemma, and How’s It Used in Bible Study?

The word “lemma” shows up everywhere in original-language books and tools, including Logos 5 features—but what is a lemma?

Obviously, it’s a key concept when it comes to digging deeper in Bible study.

So What Is a Lemma, Anyway?

A lemma is the dictionary term for the word you’re looking up. If you were to look up the word “jumping” in an English dictionary, you wouldn’t find it as a headword. What you would find is “jump,” the word that represents “jump,” “jumping,” “jumped,” and “jumps.” In this case “jump” is the lemma.

What’s So Important about Lemmas in Bible Study?

Because Logos ties biblical words to their lemmas, you can search the Bible by a word’s meaning, not just by the word itself.

For example, let’s say I’m studying Mark 4:35–41. In this passage, Jesus and his disciples set sail across the Sea of Galilee. A violent storm arises and threatens to sink the boat. Jesus then says to the wind and sea, “Hush, be still” (NASB), and the storm immediately calms.

The word “hush” in verse 39 is interesting to me, probably because other translations (like the ESV and KJV) use the word “peace” instead. I wonder, “how is this word used in the rest of the New Testament?” I have my Reverse Interlinear panel open in Logos 5, so I see two Greek words listed under “hush.”

Lemma II

But if I look up the lemma, I can find all the different forms tied to the lemma. I can right-click the word “hush,” and run a Bible Word Study report on the lemma right from my Bible . . .

Lemma III

. . . and see the verb used in six different ways across the New Testament!

Lemma IV

A lemma is the basic dictionary form of the word you’re interested in, and it’s your ticket to a deeper understanding of the text you’re studying.

With Logos 5, you have the most cutting-edge features available for Bible study. Upgrade now and see how you can take your word studies to the next level. But hurry—introductory discounts expire February 4.

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Written by
Jeffrey Kranz

Jeffrey Kranz is the founder of OverviewBible, a Bible-literacy website and YouTube channel, and the author of The Beginner's Guide to the Bible. He creates materials to help people understand what the Bible is, what it's for, and what it's all about.

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Written by Jeffrey Kranz