Semantic field characteristics types and examples

Semantic field

semantic field consists of a group of words that have the same meaning and that are part of a different lexical category. An example would be: red, yellow, blue, bluish, greenish, reddish, color, whiten, redden (semantic field of colors). Semantic field characteristics types

The same word belongs to several semantic fields. For example, the words woman, girl, girl, lady, spinster, belong to the “feminine” semantic field. But only “young” girl and girl belong to the semantic field, and spinster to “not married”.

The semantic field is more related to concepts. A matrix of a woman, girl, girl, lady, spinster, would be:

The +/- values ​​express the semantic fields. Within the “feminine” semantic field, for example, enter (in addition to those): cow, mare, princess, queen, sister, sister-in-law, wife, girlfriend, dancer, teacher


The concept of semantic field refers to the system of interrelated networks that make up the vocabulary or lexicon of a language. Each word is surrounded by a network of associations that connect with other terms.

And those that are interrelated can belong to the same semantic field, for example house, roof, floor, wall, etc. Semantic field characteristics types

On many occasions, the overlap between semantic fields can be observed. So – by way of example – the ceiling and wall field can overlap in connection with painting or repairing. In this way, a semantic field groups different words based on an idea or meaning.

Now, the elements of this set can belong to different lexical categories. Among others, they can refer to works or people (nouns), actions or states ( verbs ), and qualities or characteristics ( adjectives ).

For example, study (verb) and teacher (noun) are part of the semantic field of the word school (noun).

On the other hand, the notion of the lexical field is related to that of the associative field. The latter refers to the set of all the meanings associated with a particular linguistic sign. This field is infinite in extension as it is constantly growing due to the appearance of new meanings.

Characteristics of the semantic field

Constant development

In a semantic field, the associations that can be established between the elements of this great mosaic are infinite. Conceptual relationships are constantly growing thanks to sustained development.

Every day, new meanings and ideas are incorporated from science, sports, and politics, among other areas of knowledge.

Language is a reflection of human activities, so it is normal for its advances to translate increasingly interconnected networks of words.

This is enhanced by the phenomenon of globalization that brings different languages ​​into contact. Among others, cooperation between cultures results in new words for common ideas.


The semantic field has its scope of existence in the way in which the different words of a language are organized in the mind.

Words in the semantic field are organized according to a very large number of meanings. These include color, flavor, animals, costumes, drinks, or events.

On the other hand, a word can belong to more than one semantic field. For example, in the Spanish language the noun layer belongs to the field of the word dress (clothing) and to that of structure (levels, biology).

Lexical gaps

In all languages, ​​there are situations in which there are empty spaces or gaps within the semantic field. For example, in English a single word is used to mean cousin and cousin ( cousin ).

On the other hand, there are other pairs to differentiate the gender of words related to kinship: mother/father, sister/brother, aunt/uncle.

This can also be illustrated – on the Spanish side – with the word pig. This term is used for both the animal and the food. However, in English, there is a distinction between pig (pig, animal) and pork (pork, food). Semantic field characteristics types

Different status

In a semantic field, not all semantic elements necessarily have the same status. For example, the words blue, red, yellow. green. black, purple, indigo, royal blue, aquamarine, and cyan belong to the color field.

However, the former is more commonly used. These are considered less marked members of the semantic field and are often easier to learn and remember. In fact, children learn the term blue first before they do indigo, royal blue, or aqua.

Often, a less marked word consists of a single morpheme (blue, for example), in contrast to the more marked words (royal blue).

In fact, the least marked member cannot be described using the name of another member. So, you can say Cyan is a type of blue. But the opposite is not feasible (* Blue is a type of cyan ).

Also, the less marked elements tend to be used more frequently than the more marked terms. For example, the word blue occurs much more frequently in conversation and writing than aqua or royal blue.



Within the open semantic fields are included those whose number of words is infinite or indeterminate. An example of this would be the types of food (pasta, tamales, fast food, salads, cakes, soups, stews, fried foods …).


In very specific cases, the number of words that could belong to a certain semantic field is finite. Such is the case of the days of the week, the zodiacal signs or the seas of the world.


In some cases, the words that make up a semantic field are encompassed in two extremes. This is the case for the entire range of words that are between large and small or between bad and good (such as medium or fair, respectively).


A semantic field can be made up of words related to a concept. This is the criterion used by ideological dictionaries, very popular during the 19th and a good part of the 20th centuries.

In this way, an idea or concept is related to a series of broader (categories, general ideas) or more specific terms. So, for example, the words curtain and decorator belong to the same semantic field by association.


Here are some examples of the semantic field. It should be noted that the lists are not complete. This is because the system of relationships between words is extensive and complex in most cases.

Semantic field of colors

  • Nouns: red, yellow, blue, orange, green, purple, brown, black, magenta, bronze, cyan, olive green, maroon, navy blue, aquamarine, turquoise, silver … crayons, watercolor, markers, paint
  • Adjectives: bluish, greenish, reddish, whitish, yellowish, red, tan, blackened, bleached …
  • Verbs: bleach, redden, color, paint, bleach, stain, blacken …

Semantic field of animals

  • Nouns: bull, donkey, horse, duck, shark, octopus, seal, eagle, hummingbird, mouse, squirrel, bear, giraffe, rhinoceros, butterfly, spider, wasp, cat, tiger… flock, shoal, herd, flock… farm, jungle, jungle, zoo … howl, squawk, growl …
  • Adjectives: domestic, wild … Semantic field characteristics types
  • Verbs: tame, tame, graze, hunt, herd, castrate …

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