What is semantics in linguistics Synonymy and antonym Paronymy


Semantics is an area of ​​linguistics focused on the meaning of words and sounds as well as the relationship between the meaning and structure of these elements within the utterance.

“Semantics is the study of meaning at the most diverse levels of speech , studying how the structure of sounds, syllables, words and utterances impacts their meaning and understanding. It is through semantics that concepts such as synonymous, antonymous or paronymous words, connotation and denotation, ambiguity and polysemy, among others, are developed. Let’s find out more about these concepts!

Semantics is the area of ​​linguistics that studies meaning and its relationship with the signifier . Meaning is associated with sense and, therefore, with content and context; the signifier is associated with form (of words or signs, spelling or sound).

Within semantics, there are concepts relating the use and structure of meaning within certain contexts, as well as some grammatical phenomena regarding meaning in language . Let’s learn more about these concepts next.

synonymy and antonymy

Synonymy refers to different vocabularies with similar semantic load (meaning) , which can be used in place of each other depending on the context . They are synonyms.

  • Synonym of space : environment.
  • Synonym of affectionate : affectionate.
  • Synonym of supporting : sustaining.

Antonymy , on the other hand, refers to different vocabularies with a semantic load (meaning) with relationship of opposition/contradiction to each other. They are antonyms.

  • Antonym of beautiful : ugly.
  • Antonym of clean : dirty.
  • Antonym of good : bad.
Don’t stop now… There’s more after the publicity 😉

Hyponymy and Hyperonymy

Hyponymy and hypernymy refer to the relationship of meaning between wordsHyperonyms are words with a broader meaning , which sometimes refer to a “category” that encompasses several other more specific terms. These terms are known as hyponyms , as they have a more specific meaning within a broader one.

“My girlfriend loves watching sports on TV: football , volleyball , basketball , she doesn’t miss a single broadcast!”

The word “sports” is a hyperonym because it has a broader meaning, encompassing other hyponyms such as “soccer”, “volleyball” and “basketball”.


Paronymy refers to words with different meanings , but similar signifiers (structure) . Paronyms often cause confusion in speakers, who change their use due to the written and sound similarity between these words. As examples of paronyms, we have:

  • fulfillment and fulfillment , _
  • the air is u air,
  • send d o and send t o,
  • cava le iro and cava le iro,
  • abso l ver and abso r ver,
  • and minente and i minente.

Polysemy or homonymy

Homonymy is the relationship between different words (or expressions) that have equal signifiers (equal spelling, sound, or both), but different meanings .

  • They are (from the verb “to be”); are (holy); are (healthy).
  • On top (locution); above (from the verb “to top”).
  • Taste (noun synonymous with “flavor”); taste (from the verb “to like”).

Polysemy is the property of the same signifier having more than one meaning , which can be understood by the context.

  • Preach (a sermon); sew on (a button on the shirt); nail (a nail in the wall).
  • Mango fruit); sleeve (of the shirt).

Connotation and denotation

Words and speeches can have a connotative or denotative meaning . Denotation refers to the use of words or expressions with literal , real and dictionary meaning. Connotation, on the other hand, refers to the use of these words or expressions in a figurative sense , which can be metaphorical , ironic or to convey a meaning that goes beyond (or is different from) the literal.

One drop made the cup overflow.

In a denotative sense, “drop” has the real meaning of a drop of some liquid. In the connotative sense, “gout” can represent an event or an action that triggered a series of consequences.


Ambiguity occurs when an utterance has more than one possible interpretation due to its structure, often causing communication problems. It can also be used as a stylistic device to generate humor or poetic license.

He found his mother at her home.

Whose house was it? From the son or from the mother? This is a common example of ambiguity. To learn more about this linguistic phenomenon, read the text : ambiguity .

solved exercises

Question 1 – (FGV) When writing a text, the author faces several difficulties. One of them is to avoid the repetition of words and one of the means for this is to substitute a word of specific value for another of general content, as in the following example.

The sergeant was run over; after a few minutes, an ambulance arrived and took the soldier to the hospital.

Check the words below that show, respectively, this same type of relationship:

A) savages/indians

B) musicians / samba dancers

C) packaging / boxes

D) banana tree

E) room / room


Alternative E. The words “room” and “room” are, respectively, hyponym (specific term) and hyperonym (related comprehensive term), being the only alternative whose words have this relationship in the same order as that proposed by the utterance.

Question 2 – (EEAR) Check the pair of nouns in which the change of gender from masculine to feminine does not change the meaning of the word.

A) the cure, the moral

B) the grass, the capital

C) the child, the head

D) the character, the model


Alternative D. The words “character” and “model” can be used in both genders (altering only the article) without changing its meaning.

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