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 semiotics (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 semiotics (audio) , ˌse-​mē-​ , ˌsē-​ˌmī-​ \ noun
semioticist \ ˌsē-​mē-​ˈä-​tə-​sist How to pronounce semiotics (audio) , ˌse-​mē-​ , ˌsē-​ˌmī-​ \ noun

Examples of semiotics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Nolan uses the semiotics of his star’s Protagonist as a new Prometheus in a half-baked experiment of racial representation. Armond White, National Review, "Christopher Nolan Pursues Hollywood’s New Tenets," 23 Dec. 2020 Befitting these studies, there’s a rigor to conversation with Eisenberg — which can coherently zig and zag from vaudeville to Marxist feminist Silvia Federici to the semiotics of the guitar. Washington Post, "Wendy Eisenberg finds meaning in complexity," 13 Nov. 2020 Camp and the system of semiotics groaned and broke under the weight of reality. Elizabeth Isadora Gold, Longreads, "Find Yourself," 2 Oct. 2020 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

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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Statistics for semiotics

Last Updated

6 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Semiotics.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of semiotics

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

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