An ELT Glossary : Lexical verbs / Delexicalised verbs

A lexical verb is a verb which can be used as the main verb of a sentence and has a recognisable meaning - for example :  go, type, live.

However, some verbs which can act as main verbs are "delexicalised" - they have no individual meaning other than indicating "perform the action indicated by the noun". In English, do, have, take and make are all delexicalised verbs.

Examples :  

  • She had lunch
  • We took a break
  • made a mistake
  • He did the shopping


Some of these verbs can of course also be used with lexical meaning :

have = possess : She has a lovely house.
take = seize hold of : She took a book off the shelf.