Metonym‏ [Noun.]


‘The relatedness of meaning found in polysemy is essentially based on similarity. The head of a company is similar to the head of a person on top of and controlling the body. There is another relationship between words, based simply on a close connection in everyday experience. That close connection can be based on a container-contents relation (battle/water, can/juice), a whole-part relation (car/wheels, house/roof) or a representative-symbol relationship (king/crown, the President/the White House). Using one of these words to refer to the other is an example metonymy.’

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

Polysemy‏ [Noun.]


‘When we encounter two or more words with the same form and related meanings, we have what is technically known as polysemy. Polysemy can be defined as one form (written or spoken) having multiple meanings that are all related by extension. Examples are the word head, used to refer to the object on top of your body, froth on top of a glass of beer, person at the top of a company or department, and many other things.’

– 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