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From Ancient Greek σημασία (sēmasía, the meaning of a word) + -λογία (-logía, -logy, branch of study), from σημαίνω (sēmaínō, I show by a sign, signify), from σῆμα (sêma, a mark, sign).



semasiology (usually uncountable, plural semasiologies)

  1. (linguistics) Semantics; a discipline within linguistics concerned with the meaning of a word independent of its phonetic expression.
    • 1992, Brigitte Nerlich, Semantic Theories in Europe, 1830-1930, →ISBN:
      Stylistics seemed to have become a four-letter-word in German semasiology, a fact that shows how far official German semasiology had shifted away from Reisig's initial outline, and how different it was from Bréal's semantics of language-use and Wegener's semantics of communication.
    • 2001, Federica Busa, et al., The Language of Word Meaning
      "The early theories of semasiology attempted to account for meaning shifts in language."
    • 2002, Nicolas Slonimsky, et al., The Listener's Companion: Great Composers and Their Works.
      It must be left to students of musical semasiology to account for the psychological association that exists between the spiritual concept of goodness and saintliness and the notational accident of the absence of sharps and flats in the key signature, which results in the 'whiteness' of the music.

Usage notes[edit]

The term "semasiology" was introduced before 1829 by K. Reisig. It predates the term semantics and originally meant what "semantics" has come to mean. At this point, the term "semantics" is more common, and various attempts have been made to differentiate the two words by giving "semasiology" a narrower meaning. The narrower meanings currently in use include: The study of historical semantic change, cognitive semantics, lexical semantics, and those aspects of semantics other than onomasiology. However, there is no universal consensus on which, if any, of the narrower meanings are accepted.

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