Meaning of words Synonymy antonymy homonymy and paronymy

Meaning of words

The meaning of words is studied by semantics, the part of grammar that studies not only the meaning of words but also the relationships of meaning that words establish among themselves: relationships of synonymy, antonymy, paronymy, homonymy,…

Understanding these relationships provides us with the broadening of our semantic universe, contributing to greater vocabulary diversity and greater adequacy to different contexts and communicative intentions. 

Synonymy and antonymy

Synonymy indicates the ability of words to have similar meanings Antonymy indicates the ability of words to have opposite meanings Thus, through synonymy and antonymy, words establish relations of proximity and contrariety.

Examples of synonymous words :

  • important: significant, considerable, prestigious, indispensable, fundamental,…
  • necessary: ​​essential, fundamental, mandatory, obligatory, indispensable,…

Examples of antonyms :

  • dedicated: disinterested, detached, faulty, disapplied, relapsed,…
  • punctual: late, retarded, durable, generic, irresponsible,…

homonymy and paronymy

Homonymy refers to the ability of words to be homonyms (same sound, same spelling, different meaning), homophones (same sound, different spelling, different meaning) or homographs (different sound, same spelling, different meaning) .

Examples of homonymous words :

  • river (water course) and river (verb to laugh);
  • path (itinerary) and path (verb to walk).

Examples of homophones :

  • one hundred (100) and without (indicates lack)
  • Sense (sense) and census (statistical survey)

Examples of homograph words :

  • spoon (cutlery) and spoon (pick up);
  • hit (correction) and hit (verb hit);

Paronymy refers to words that are spelled and pronounced alike but have different meanings  .

Examples of paronyms :

  • Length (size) and greeting (salutation);
  • Immigrate (enter a new country) and emigrate (leave your country).

Polysemy and monosemy

Polysemy indicates the capacity of a word to present a multiplicity of meanings, according to the sentence context in which it occurs Monosemy means that certain words have only one meaning  .

Examples of polysemous words :

  • Head (part of the human body and leader of the group, with common origin in the Latin word capitia );
  • Letter (symbol of writing and substitute document for money, with common origin in the Latin word littera ).

Examples of monosemous words :

  • Stethoscope (medical instrument);
  • Enneagon (polygon with nine angles).

Denotation and connotation

Denotation indicates the ability of words to present a literal and objective meaning The connotation indicates the capacity of the words to present a figurative and symbolic meaning.

Examples of words with denotative meaning :

  • The ship docked at the port.
  • The tapir is a mammal.

Examples of words with connotative meaning :

  • You are my port.
  • Think for your own head, you tapir!

Hypernymy and hyponymy

Hyperonymy and hyponymy indicate the ability of words to establish hierarchical relationships of meaning A hypernym, a superior word with a broader meaning, encompasses a hyponym, an inferior word with a more restricted meaning.

Fruit is a hyperonym of strawberry.
Strawberry is a hyponym of fruit.

Examples of hypernyms :

  • tool
  • bird

Example of hyponyms :

  • hammer, saw, pliers, hoe, screwdriver,…
  • parrot, seagull, I saw you, macaw, owl…

variant forms

Variant forms refer to words that have more than one correct spelling, without changing their meaning. 

Examples of variant forms :

  • abdomen and abdomen;
  • drunk and drunk;
  • shuffle and shuffle;
  • heart attack and heart attack;
  • blond and blond

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