Semantic property

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Semantic properties or meaning properties are those aspects of a linguistic unit, such as a morpheme, word, or sentence, that contribute to the meaning of that unit. Basic semantic properties include being meaningful or meaningless – for example, whether a given word is part of a language's lexicon with a generally understood meaning; polysemy, having multiple, typically related, meanings; ambiguity, having meanings which aren't necessarily related ; and anomaly, where the elements of a unit are semantically incompatible with each other, although possibly grammatically sound. Beyond the expression itself, there are higher-level semantic relations that describe the relationship between units: these include synonymy, antonymy, and hyponymy.[1][2][3]

Besides basic properties of semantics, semantic property is also sometimes used to describe the semantic components of a word, such as man assuming that the referent is human, male, and adult, or female being a common component of girl, woman, and actress. In this sense, semantic properties are used to define the semantic field of a word or set of words.[4][5]


  1. Akmajian, Adrian; Richard A. Demers, Ann K. Farmer, Robert M. Harnish (2001). Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-51123-1. pp. 237–241
  2. Small, Steven Lawrence; Cottrell, Garrison Weeks & Tanenhaus, Michael K. (1988). Lexical ambiguity resolution: perspectives from psycholinguistics, neuropsychology, and artificial intelligence. Morgan Kaufmann. ISBN 0-934613-50-8, ISBN 978-0-934613-50-7.
  3. Murphy, M. Lynne (2003). Semantic Relations and the Lexicon: Antonymy, Synonymy, and Other Paradigms. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-78067-5, ISBN 978-0-521-78067-4.
  4. Brinton, Laurel J. (2000). The structure of modern English: a linguistic introduction. Illustrated edition. John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN.9027225672, 9789027225672. p.112
  5. Leech, Geoffrey (1974). Semantics. Pelican Books. ISBN 0-14-021694-4. pp. 96-102

See also