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6.1: Meaning relations between words

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    A traditional way of investigating the meaning of a word is to study the relationships between its meaning and the meanings of other words: which words have the same meaning, opposite meanings, etc. Strictly speaking these relations hold between specific senses, rather than between words; that is why we refer to them as sense relations. For example, one sense of mad is a synonym of angry, while another sense is a synonym of crazy.

    In §6.2 we discuss the most familiar classes of sense relations: synonymy, several types of antonymy, hyponymy, and meronymy. We will try to define each of these relations in terms of relations between sentence meanings, since it is easier for speakers to make reliable judgments about sentences than about words in isolation. Where possible we will mention some types of linguistic evidence that can be used as diagnostics to help identify each relation. In §6.3 we mention some of the standard ways of defining words in terms of their sense relations. This is the approach most commonly used in traditional dictionaries.

    This page titled 6.1: Meaning relations between words is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Paul Kroeger (Language Library Press) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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