se·​man·​tics | \ si-ˈman-tiks How to pronounce semantics (audio) \

Definition of semantics

1 : the study of meanings:
a : the historical and psychological study and the classification of changes in the signification of words or forms viewed as factors in linguistic development
b(1) : semiotics
(2) : a branch of semiotics dealing with the relations between signs and what they refer to and including theories of denotation, extension, naming, and truth
3a : the meaning or relationship of meanings of a sign or set of signs especially : connotative meaning
b : the language used (as in advertising or political propaganda) to achieve a desired effect on an audience especially through the use of words with novel or dual meanings

Examples of semantics in a Sentence

More than semantics is at stake. In the case of obesity, the debate has heightened in the wake of major diet-pill recalls last year. Many new diet nostrums are in various stages of testing, and the FDA's bar for approving new drugs is lower for disease treatments than for other problems, such as baldness or skin wrinkles. — Laura Johannes et al., Wall Street Journal, 9 Feb. 1998 Over the years Wierzbicka has gained a distinct reputation for playing hardball with others in the linguistics community. Though her rhetoric can be rather scathing at times, there is no question that her studies in semantics are a force to be reckoned with. — Joseph Hilferty, Word, April 1997
Recent Examples on the Web Some think this is a matter of semantics with no material difference between sales funnels and revenue funnels. George Bradt, Forbes, 3 May 2022 But if the fundamental relationship between producer and consumer is here to stay, maybe arguing about the word itself is just semantics? Cassie Werber, Quartz, 18 Mar. 2022 One key element of human language is semantics, the connection of words with meanings. Betsy Mason, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Feb. 2022 Russian grammar is similar to Ukrainian — perhaps a tad closer than, say, Ukrainian and Polish — but the semantics are not that close. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2022 The new work on semantics was completely independent of the work on memory — the two unfolding at around the same time but on opposite sides of the United States. Quanta Magazine, 8 Feb. 2022 The people at Merriam-Webster are blurring the distinction between choice and coercion, and that’s not merely semantics. David R. Henderson And Charles L. Hooper, WSJ, 27 Dec. 2021 But the semantics over what constitutes an invasion does risk diminishing the action that the Russian President took on Monday. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 22 Feb. 2022 Capturing their bodies in the half-light, out of focus, from above, and behind, the camera finds a visual language of disturbing semantics. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 10 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'semantics.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of semantics

1874, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for semantics

see semantic

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Time Traveler for semantics

Time Traveler

The first known use of semantics was in 1874

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Dictionary Entries Near semantics

semanticize

semantics

semantogenic

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Statistics for semantics

Last Updated

3 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Semantics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/semantics. Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for semantics

semantics

noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction
se·​man·​tics | \ si-ˈmant-iks How to pronounce semantics (audio) \

Medical Definition of semantics

: the study of meanings:
a : the historical and psychological study and the classification of changes in the signification of words or forms viewed as factors in linguistic development
b(1) : semiotic
(2) : a branch of semiotic dealing with the relations between signs and what they refer to and including theories of denotation, extension, naming, and truth

More from Merriam-Webster on semantics

Nglish: Translation of semantics for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about semantics

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