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OED (1976) defines this word as: "A word-like grammatical form intermediate between morpheme and utterance, often identical with a word occurrence; a word in the most abstract sense, as a meaningful form without an assigned grammatical role; an item of vocabulary." This basically means "˜the smallest unit of vocabulary that you can find in a dictionary". Most usually it is the same as a word, but sometimes it is smaller, e.g. a prefix like "un-".

See also Phoneme, Meme, Semanteme and Morpheme.