Friday, 14 May 2010

Homonym & Hyponym


In linguistics, a homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings (in other words, are both homographs and homophones), usually as a result of the two words having different origins. The state of being a homonym is called homonymy. Examples of pairs of homonyms are stalk (part of a plant) and stalk (follow/harass a person), and left (opposite of right) and left (past tense of leave).

In a looser non-technical sense, the term "homonym" can be used to refer to words that share the same spelling irrespective of pronunciation, or share the same pronunciation irrespective of spelling – in other words, they are homographs or homophones.[1] In this sense, pairs such as row (propel with oars) and row (argument), and read (peruse) and reed (waterside plant), would also be homonyms.

A distinction may be made between "true" homonyms, which are unrelated in origin, such as skate (glide on ice) and skate (the fish), and polysemous homonyms, or polysemes, which have a shared origin, such as mouth (of a river) and mouth (of an animal).


In linguistics, a hyponym is a word or phrase whose semantic fieldis included within that of another word, its hypernym (sometimes spelled hyperonym outside of the natural language processing community). In simpler terms, a hyponym shares a type-of relationship with its hypernym. For example, scarlet, vermilion, carmine, and crimson are all hyponyms of red (their hypernym), which is, in turn, a hyponym of colour.

Computer science often terms this relationship an "is-a" relationship. For example, the phrase Red is a colour can be used to describe the hyponymic relationship between red and colour.

Hypernymy is the semantic relation in which one word is the hypernym of another. Hypernymy, the relation in which words stand when their extensions stand in the relation of class to subclass, should not be confused with holonymy, which is the relation in which words stand when the things that they denote stand in the relation of whole to part. A similar warning applies to hyponymy and meronymy.