An adaptive compression technique which is an improvement to Lempel-Ziv (LZ) compression techniques, both as applied for purposes of reducing required storage space and for reducing the transmission time associated with transferring data from point to point. Pre-filled compression dictionaries are utilized to address the problem with prior Lempel-Ziv techniques in which the compression software starts with an empty compression dictionary, whereby little compression is achieved until the dictionary has been filled with sequences common in the data being compressed. In accordance with the invention, the compression dictionary is pre-filled, prior to the beginning of the data compression, with letter sequences, words and/or phrases frequent in the domain from which the data being compressed is drawn. The letter sequences, words, and/or phrases used in the pre-filled compression dictionary may be determined by statistically sampling text data from the same genre of text. Multiple pre-filled dictionaries may be utilized by the compression software at the beginning of the compression process, where the most appropriate dictionary for maximum compression is identified and used to compress the current data. These modifications are made to any of the known Lempel-Ziv compression techniques based on the variants detailed in 1977 and 1978 articles by Ziv and Lempel.