What is semantics? Provide an analysis of major lexical relations.

What is semantics? Provide an analysis of major lexical relations.

What is semantics

Semantics is the study of meaning. It is a wide subject of language study.  It is one of the most fundamental concepts in linguistics. For language acquisition, the understanding of semantics is very essential. To know how language users acquire a sense of meaning, as speakers and writers, listeners and readers, and how meanings alter over time the study of semantics is essential. It is important for understanding language in social contexts, as these are likely to affect the meaning, and for understanding varieties of English and the effects of the style. The study of semantics includes the study of how meaning is constructed, interpreted, clarified, obscured, illustrated, simplified negotiated, contradicted, and paraphrased.

There are different types of lexical relations. These are discussed below.


Synonyms are two or more forms with very closely related meanings. English has a lot of synonyms because its vocabulary comes from different sources like Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Greek, and French. Examples of synonym pairs are broad-wide, almost-nearly, and cab-taxi answer-reply. It is apparent that the words in each pair are quite similar to each other. The meaning of sameness in synonyms is not “total sameness’. Not all synonym pairs can be replaced by each other. For example the word “watch’ fits in this sentence ‘I watch TV. When replaced with its near-synonym ‘see’, the sentence sounds odd.


Antonym is a word that means the opposite of another, e.g. thin. Antonyms are made by adding the prefix un- fortunate/unfortunate, able/unable. Antonym is also made by adding the prefix non: entity/nonentity, smoker/nonsmoker.


A homonym is a word that is written and pronounced the same way as another, but which has a different meaning. 

E.g. lie 1-not true

Lie 2 -horizontal position 

Bat – The flying animal 

Bat 2 -baseball bat


Homophones are words that are spelled differently but sound the same. E.g. Rain and rein


A prototype is an object which is very typical of the kind of object. A man of medium height and average build, between 30 and 50 years old, with brownish hair, could be a prototype of a man in certain areas of the world. A dwarf or hugely muscular body-builder could not be a prototype of man.


An acronym is a kind of abbreviation. It is a word formed by taking letters from a phrase that is too long to use comfortably. For example Laser Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of


An abbreviation is a word that has been shortened. E.g. Ad= Advertisement, Flu = Influenza


It refers to a word that has two or more similar meanings: Foot The house is at the foot of the mountains

Foot: One of his shoes felt too tight for his foot.


It is a word or phrase that is used to represent closely associated with.

e.g. “A dish” for an entree something is

“The press” for the news media.

 “Hollywood” for the American film industry


When words are used together regularly, we call it a collocation E.g. Black and white


When the meaning of one form is included in the meaning of another, the relationship is known as hyponymy. Example: typical pairs of hyponyms are- daffodil-flower, dog-animal, poodle-dog carrot-vegetable, banyan-tree, and hip-hop-music. The meaning of the relationship between hyponymy pairs looks somewhat like a type of hierarchal relationship from which we get a clear concept that if the object is a carrot, then it is necessarily a vegetable which in turn is a ‘plant’.

Read More: Classify English consonants according to their places of articulation

Mr. Abdullah
Mr. Abdullah

Mr. Abdullah is a passionate love of Literature. Researcher and Lecturer of English Literature and Language.

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