Synonymy is the relationship between two words that have the
same sense. This is a strict definition of synonymy – the identity of sense.
Some linguists, however, consider synonymy a similarity of meaning.
i,e; unhappy/sad, present/gift, prisoner/convict.
Synonymy has different aspects i.e. Cognitive, Descriptive and
Cognitive synonyms: are synonyms that are substitutable in any
grammatically declarative sentence. An example of a pair of cognitive
synonyms is ‘seaman’ and ‘sailor’. He is a Seaman and He is a Sailor are
cognitively synonymous. Other pairs include ‘mailman and postman’, ‘buy
and purchase’, ‘hard and difficult’ etc.
Descriptive synonyms: are synonyms that are used
connotatively to express the speakers’ feelings towards what he or
she describes. For example:
Agradjaya is thrifty and Agradjaya is economical.
Agradjaya is a bachelor and Agradjaya is an unmarried man.
Near-synonyms are expressions that appear similar, but not
really identical in meaning because of the variations in their
meaning. Examples of near-synonymy in English are ‘Mist and fog’,
‘stream and brook’. For instance, ‘stream’ and ‘brook’ appear similar
in meaning but they are not really identical. ‘Brook’ is a small
stream while ‘stream’ is a small river. The same explanation could
be offered for ‘mist and fog’. ‘Fog’ is a thick cloud while ‘mist’ is a
The term antonym is used to describe oppositeness of meaning (Palmer,
1996: 94–95). It is the most useful tool of inter-lexical sense relations. Antonym is an
example of inter-lexical sense relations in the sense that, it expresses a kind of relation
that exists between words or sentences that are mutually contradictory.
Example: on-off, old-young, big-small, male-female, dead-alive.
Antonymy has several types with regard to their logical and referential features
(Murphy & Koskela, 2010) as follows:
The Types of Antonymy
In this kind of antonymy, negative of a term implies the positive of another one.
Examples include dead/ alive, pass/ fail and hit/ miss. This pairs of words are also called
complementary/ binary pairs (Saeed, 2009).
Another kind of antonymy is called gradable antonymy. This is a relationship in which the
positive of one term does not necessarily imply the negative of the other such as rich/poor and
young/ old (the same). Actually such antonyms are often adjectives that can be intensified with
adverbs like very, so, too, etc.
The Types of Antonymy
Converse antonyms describe the same relation or activity from different. We can refer to child/
parent and buy/ sell as examples of converse antonyms (Murphy & Koskela, 2010).
Example: John sold the car to Mary.
Mary bought the car from John (Saeed, 2009).
Converse antonymy is also called symmetrical antonymy (Safavi, 2000).
Another kind of antonymy is reversive antonymy. It involves undoing of an action like lock/
unlock and embark/ disembark.
Hyponymy involves the logical relationship of inclusion. For
instance, the meaning of “animal” is included in the meaning of lion,
goat, dog and so on. The term “animal” is the upper term known as the
Superordinate while the lower term is called the Hyponym.
For example: Superordinate Terms for Color and its Hyponyms are
blue, red, green, white, yellow.etc
A semantic relation that describes a word that has unrelated senses.
There are two types of homonymy:
Homophones :when words have the same pronunciation regardless their
spelling with different senses. i,e: Night-knight, know-now, wring-ring and
Homographs: words that have the same spelling regardless their
pronunciation with different senses.
A term that is used to describe a part-whole relationship
between lexical items. A has B means that B is part of A.
i,e: – A human has an arm – An arm has a hand. – A hand has a finger
So, ( arm, leg, body, elbow, hand, finger) are all meronyms of
human. Cover, and page are meronyms of book, root and stem are
meronyms of a plant.
A word that has been taken from the Greek word
metonumia which means a change of name. It is used as a figure of
speech when a concept is not called by its name, but the name it is
intimately associated with.
The white House refers to the US government.
Dawning Street refers to the British government.
Is a new name given for an object or concept to differentiate
the original form or version of it from the more recent form or
version. Much retronyms are driven by advances in technology.
Example: Biological parent (adopted parent)
Hard copy ( soft copy)
Snail mail ( email)
Whole milk ( low- fat)
Polysemy: It is a word that is derived from the Greek word poly (many)
and semia (related to meaning). A word or an expression that has multiple meanings
that are related conceptually or historically. It is also called radiation or
Example: guard a. a person who guards
b. a group of soldiers
c. person who is in charge of a train
Another important relationship invokes the notion of opposition,
although it does so in a way that differs from antonymy .It is a reciprocal
semantic relationship between pairs of words such as (Husband-wife-Child-parent-
grandparents-grandchildren-employer-employee-sell-buy) In some
language, a single word is used for buy and sell.
Summaries: Semantic Relations among Words
Synonymy: words that have the same meanings.
e.g. start & begin.
Antonymy: words that are opposites in meanings.
e.g. hot & cold
Hyponymy: Words whose meanings are specific instances of a more general word, e.g. isosceles and
equilateral are hyponyms of the word triangle.
Homonymy: A word which has two or more entirely distinct meanings.
e.g. club: ‘a social organization’ ; ‘a blunt weapon’.
Meronymy: A term that is used to describe a part-whole relationship between lexical items. e.g.
( arm, leg, body, elbow, hand, finger) are all meronyms of human.
Summaries: Semantic Relations among Words
Metonymy: A word substituted for another word with which it is closely associated,
e.g. diamond for a baseball field.
Retronymy: An expression that would once have been redundant, but which societal or
technoligical changes have made nonredundant, e.g. silent movies movies silent movies
Polysemy: A word which has two or more related meanings.
e.g. bright: ‘shining’ ; ‘intelligent’
Converseness: a reciprocal semantic relationship between pairs of words such as (Husband-wife-
THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY
SEE YOU NEXT TIME
The third week English Semantic