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 Though immediately after her announcement Monday, many women, and men, debated whether Serena -- hands down one of the greatest athletes in the world -- was conveniently playing semantics. Roxanne Jones, CNN, 11 Aug. 2022 Fancy semantics aside, the halo draws your eye from the sharp, pointed bow, along the sleek steel hull and down to the large swim platform aft. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 22 July 2022 And, for better or worse, the semantics still matter. Hanna Lustig, Glamour, 21 July 2022 Farming doesn’t even have a universal definition among humans, and the semantics only get messier when the concept is applied to other species. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 11 July 2022 It’s not the DNA of the music or the movement or all the semantics that are below the surface level. Josh Chesler, SPIN, 9 July 2022 Understanding the semantics of business—the way that problems, people and processes work—is key to understanding how best to manage well. Agur Jõgi, Forbes, 22 June 2022 Defaults are murky territory, and Russia's basically arguing over semantics here. Allison Morrow, CNN, 28 June 2022 In fact, their semantics pose the greatest threat to the transgender community and society at large. Ryan T. Anderson, National Review, 15 June 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

14 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Semantics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/semantics. Accessed 15 Aug. 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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