Hypernymy and hyponymy with examples and uses

Hypernymy and hyponymy

Hyperonymy indicates a hierarchical relationship of meaning that a higher word establishes with a lower word The hyperonym is a hierarchically superior word because it has a broader meaning that encompasses the meaning of the hyponym, a hierarchically inferior word, with a more restricted meaning.

Hyponymy thus indicates this same hierarchical relationship of meaning It focuses, however, on the perspective of the hierarchically inferior word – hyponym, which, at a semantic level, can be included in a superior class that encompasses its meaning – hypernym.

Country is a hyperonym of Brazil. 
Mammal is a hyperonym of horse.
Game is hyperonym of chess.

Brazil is a hyponym of country.
Horse is a hyponym of mammal.
Chess is a hyponym of game.

The hyperonyms:

  • They present a comprehensive sense;
  • They convey the idea of ​​a whole;
  • They represent the generic characteristics of a class;
  • They allow the formation of subclasses associated with them.

The hyponyms:

  • They have a restricted meaning;
  • Convey the idea of ​​an item or a part of a whole;
  • They represent the specific characteristics of a subclass;
  • They allow membership in a broader higher class.

Examples of hypernyms and hyponyms

hypernym hyponyms
 color  green, blue, yellow, red, white…
 fruit  apple, banana, mango, pineapple, jackfruit,…
 vehicle  car, automobile, motorcycle, bicycle, bus,… 
 sport  swimming, football, skating, athletics, fencing,…
 animal  snake, jaguar, dog, vulture, bear…
 flower  rose, daisy, marigold, hydrangea, orchid,…
 appliance   refrigerator, mixer, blender, vacuum cleaner, iron,…
 mobile  bookcase, cupboard, table, chair, sofa,…
 tool  hammer, saw, pliers, hoe, screwdriver,…
 bird  parrot, seagull, I saw you, macaw, owl…
 illness  flu, measles, mumps, chickenpox, bronchitis,…

Use of hypernyms and hyponyms

The use of hypernyms and hyponyms is essential for building good lexical cohesion in a text. Hyperonyms and hyponyms act as a cohesive lexical resource that allows approaching a theme avoiding vocabulary repetitions.

In addition, they play an anaphoric role in the text, referring to previously mentioned information without repeating it, through the use of generic and specific nouns.

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