Homophone‏ [Noun.]


‘When two or more different (written) forms have the same pronunciation, they are described as homophones. Common examples are bare/bear, meat/meet, flour/flower, pail/pale, right/write, sew/so and to/two/too.’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 120

Homonym‏ [Noun.]


‘We use the term homonyms when one form (written or spoken) has two or more  unrelated meanings, as in these examples:

bank (of a river) – bank (financial institution)
bat (flying creature) – bat (used in sports)
mole (on skin) – mole (small animal)
pupil (at school) – pupil (in the eye)
race (contest of speed) – race (ethnic group)’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 120

Prototype‏ [Noun.]


‘The idea of “the characteristic instance” of a category is know as a prototype. The concept of a prototype helps explain the meaning of certain words, like bird, not in terms of component features (e.g. “has feathers,” “has wings”), but in terms of resemblance to the clearest example. […]

Given the category label furniture, we are quick to recognise chair as a better example than bench or stool. […] However, this is one area where individual experience can lead to substantial variation in interpretation and people may disagree over the categorisation of a word like avocado or tomato as fruit or vegetable.’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 119

Hyponym‏ [Noun.]


‘When the meaning of the one form is included in the meaning of the another, the relationship is described as hyponymy. […] The concept of “inclusion” involved in this relationship is the idea that if an object is a rose, then it is necessarily a flower, so the meaning of flower is included in the meaning of rose. Or, rose is a hyponym of flower.
[…] We can also say that two or more words that share the same superordinate term are co-hyponyms.’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 118-119

Antonym‏ [Noun.]


‘Two forms with opposite meanings are called antonyms. […] Antonyms are usually divided into two main types, “gradable” (opposites along a scale) and “non-gradable” (direct opposites).

Gradable antonyms, such as the pair big/small, can be used in comparative constructions like I’m bigger than you and A pony is smaller than a horse. Also, the negative of one member of a gradable pair does not necessarily imply the other. For example, the sentence My car isn’t old, doesn’t necessarily mean My car is new.

With non-gradable antonyms (also called “complementary pairs”), comparative constructions are not normally used. We don’t typically describe someone as deader or more dead that another. Also, the negative of one member of a non-gradable pair does imply the other member. That is, My grandparents aren’t alive does indeed mean My grandparents are dead. Other non-gradable antonyms in the earlier list are the pairs: male/female, married/single, and true/false.

Although we can use the “negative test” to identify non-gradable antonyms in a language, we usually avoid describing one member of an antonymous pair as the negative of the other. For example, while undress can be treated as the opposite of dress, it doesn’t mean “not dress.” It actually means “do the reverse of dress.”

Antonyms of this type are called reversives. Other common examples are enter/exit, pack/unpack, lengthen/shorten, raise/lower, tie/untie.’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 117-118

Synonym‏ [Noun.]


‘Two or more words with very closely related meanings are called synonyms. […] We should keep in mind that the idea of “sameness” of meaning used in discussing synonymy is not necessarily “total sameness.” There are many occasions when one word is appropriate in a sentence, but its synonym would be odd.”

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 117

Collocation‏ [Noun.]


‘If you ask a thousand people what they think of when you say hammer, more than half will say nail. If you say table, they’ll mostly say chair, and butter elicits bread, needle elicits thread and salt elicits pepper. One way we seem to organise our knowledge of words is simply on the basis of collocation, or frequently occurring together.’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 121-122

Fun Semantics


‘The words Fire Department make it sounds like they’re the ones who are starting the fires, doesn’t it? It should be called the “Extinguishing Department.” We don’t call the police the “Crime Department.” Also, the “Bomb Squad” sounds like a terrorist gang. The same is true of wrinkle cream. Doesn’t it sound like it causes wrinkles? And why would a doctor prescribe pain pills? I already have pain! I need relief pills!

Carlin (1997)’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 112