Ernst von Glasersfeld coined the term "lexigram" in 1971, created the first 120 of them and designed the grammar that regulated their combination. This artificial language was called Yerkish, in honor of Robert M. Yerkes, the founder of the laboratory within which the lexigrams were first used in 1973 by the chimpanzee Lana within the context of the LANA project.
The term lexigram has been used to describe a mystical property of words, similar to numerology. A lexigram decodes hidden messages in words or titles by putting together full sentences from letters in that word that convey a deeper meaning of the original word. It is considered a spiritual process.