se·​mi·​ot·​ics | \ ˌsē-mē-ˈä-tiks How to pronounce semiotics (audio) , ˌse-mē-, ˌsē-ˌmī- \
variants: or semiotic \ ˌsē-​mē-​ˈä-​tik How to pronounce semiotic (audio) , ˌse-​mē-​ , ˌsē-​ˌmī-​ \
plural semiotics

Definition of semiotics

: a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deals especially with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics

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Other Words from semiotics

semiotic adjective
semiotician \ ˌsē-​mē-​ə-​ˈti-​shən How to pronounce semiotician (audio) , ˌse-​mē-​ , ˌsē-​ˌmī-​ \ noun
semioticist \ ˌsē-​mē-​ˈä-​tə-​sist How to pronounce semioticist (audio) , ˌse-​mē-​ , ˌsē-​ˌmī-​ \ noun

Examples of semiotics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Charlie’s Rorschach qualities may be another camp element in a movie whose gender semiotics could keep a squadron of graduate students occupied until the end of time. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, "Who’s Your Wingman Now? Pushing the Envelope With ‘Top Gun’," 24 Mar. 2020 What came to be the most interesting discovery of my tenure as a fashion critic at The New York Times was how much subliminal voodoo is crammed into the semiotics of advertisements for major luxury brands. Cintra Wilson, The New York Review of Books, "Waste Not, Shop Not," 11 Feb. 2020 Get our daily newsletter That book was acclaimed as a searing insight into the semiotics of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The Economist, "Dispatches from “the war against reality”," 1 Aug. 2019 As Benjamin, Eli Gelb seems to have walked onto the Laura Pels stage directly from a semiotics course at Brown; and Will Brittain brings dignity to the prototypical dumb jock, even if he is often made to do so while wearing one. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: With ‘Skintight,’ Idina Menzel Takes On a Straight Play. Sort Of.," 21 June 2018 Like those artists, Mr. Leonilson painted curious figures in bright flat fields of color, adding bits of language, in keeping with a postmodern era in which semiotics and other theories were central elements in art. Roberta Smith And Martha Schwendener, New York Times, "What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week," 10 Jan. 2018 Like many online and off in today’s political culture, Zuckerberg devotes a lot of mental energy to the semiotics of communication — what different units of language or imagery mean, and how our individual and social appetite for meaning leads us to engage and react to different forms of content. James Poulos, Orange County Register, "Violence not something that social media can easily tame," 22 Apr. 2017 Still, whether the act of appropriation was an endorsement of Sanders’s brand of democratic socialism or a move meant to bait the world’s semiotics professors is likely to remain up for debate. Erika Harwood, Vanities, "Bernie Sanders Got a Tribute at Paris Fashion Week," 18 Jan. 2017 We’re watching the semiotics come together in front of our eyes. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, "Studio 360," 25 Apr. 2016

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

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First Known Use of semiotics

1880, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for semiotics

Greek sēmeiōtikos observant of signs, from sēmeiousthai to interpret signs, from sēmeion sign, from sēma sign

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Time Traveler for semiotics

Time Traveler

The first known use of semiotics was in 1880

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Cite this Entry

“Semiotics.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for semiotics


How to pronounce semiotics (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of semiotics

technical : the study of signs and symbols and how they are used

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