Semantics is the study of meaning in language. It can be applied to entire texts or to single words. For example, "destination" and "last stop" technically mean the same thing, but students of semantics analyze their subtle shades of meaning.

To correctly pronounce semantics — which is a singular noun even though it ends in s — accent the second syllable: "suh-MAN-ticks." In the late 1800s, Michel Bréal coined the term sémantique to describe the psychology of language. That French word has its origins in Greek: semantikos means "significant," and comes from semainein "to show, signify, indicate by a sign." Semantics investigates the meaning of language.

Definitions of semantics

n the study of language meaning

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the function of pointing or specifying from the perspective of a participant in an act of speech or writing; aspects of a communication whose interpretation depends on knowledge of the context in which the communication occurs
formal semantics
the branch of semantics that studies the logical aspects of meaning
lexical semantics
the branch of semantics that studies the meanings and relations of words
cognitive semantics, conceptual semantics, semasiology
the branch of semantics that studies the cognitive aspects of meaning
Type of:
the scientific study of language

n the meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or text

“a petty argument about semantics
Type of:
meaning, substance
the idea that is intended

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