Semantics (from Ancient Greek: σημαντικός sēmantikós, "significant")[1][a] is the linguistic and philosophical study of meaning, in language, programming languages, formal logics, and semiotics. It is concerned with the relationship between signifiers—like words, phrases, signs, and symbols—and what they stand for, their denotation.

In international scientific vocabulary semantics is also called semasiology. The word semantics was first used by Michel Bréal, a French philologist.[2] It denotes a range of ideas—from the popular to the highly technical. It is often used in ordinary language for denoting a problem of understanding that comes down to word selection or connotation. This problem of understanding has been the subject of many formal enquiries, over a long period of time, especially in the field of formal semantics. In linguistics, it is the study of the interpretation of signs or symbols used in agents or communities within particular circumstances and contexts.[3] Within this view, sounds, facial expressions, body language, and proxemics have semantic (meaningful) content, and each comprises several branches of study. In written language, things like paragraph structure and punctuation bear semantic content; other forms of language bear other semantic content.[3]

The formal study of semantics intersects with many other fields of inquiry, including lexicology, syntax, pragmatics, etymology and others. Independently, semantics is also a well-defined field in its own right, often with synthetic properties.[4] In the philosophy of language, semantics and reference are closely connected. Further related fields include philology, communication, and semiotics. The formal study of semantics can therefore be manifold and complex.

Semantics contrasts with syntax, the study of the combinatorics of units of a language (without reference to their meaning), and pragmatics, the study of the relationships between the symbols of a language, their meaning, and the users of the language.[5] Semantics as a field of study also has significant ties to various representational theories of meaning including truth theories of meaning, coherence theories of meaning, and correspondence theories of meaning. Each of these is related to the general philosophical study of reality and the representation of meaning. In 1960s psychosemantic studies became popular after Osgood's massive cross-cultural studies using his semantic differential (SD) method that used thousands of nouns and adjective bipolar scales. A specific form of the SD, Projective Semantics method[6] uses only most common and neutral nouns that correspond to the 7 groups (factors) of adjective-scales most consistently found in cross-cultural studies (Evaluation, Potency, Activity as found by Osgood, and Reality, Organization, Complexity, Limitation as found in other studies). In this method, seven groups of bipolar adjective scales corresponded to seven types of nouns so the method was thought to have the object-scale symmetry (OSS) between the scales and nouns for evaluation using these scales. For example, the nouns corresponding to the listed 7 factors would be: Beauty, Power, Motion, Life, Work, Chaos, Law. Beauty was expected to be assessed unequivocally as “very good” on adjectives of Evaluation-related scales, Life as “very real” on Reality-related scales, etc. However, deviations in this symmetric and very basic matrix might show underlying biases of two types: scales-related bias and objects-related bias. This OSS design meant to increase the sensitivity of the SD method to any semantic biases in responses of people within the same culture and educational background.[7][8]


In linguistics, semantics is the subfield that is devoted to the study of meaning, as inherent at the levels of words, phrases, sentences, and larger units of discourse (termed texts, or narratives). The study of semantics is also closely linked to the subjects of representation, reference and denotation. The basic study of semantics is oriented to the examination of the meaning of signs, and the study of relations between different linguistic units and compounds: homonymy, synonymy, antonymy, hypernymy, hyponymy, meronymy, metonymy, holonymy, paronyms. A key concern is how meaning attaches to larger chunks of text, possibly as a result of the composition from smaller units of meaning. Traditionally, semantics has included the study of sense and denotative reference, truth conditions, argument structure, thematic roles, discourse analysis, and the linkage of all of these to syntax.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Semantiek
Alemannisch: Semantik
asturianu: Semántica
azərbaycanca: Semantika
Bân-lâm-gú: Ì-bī-lūn
беларуская: Семантыка
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сэмантыка
български: Семантика
bosanski: Semantika
brezhoneg: Semantik
català: Semàntica
čeština: Sémantika
Cymraeg: Semanteg
dansk: Semantik
Deutsch: Semantik
eesti: Semantika
Ελληνικά: Σημασιολογία
Esperanto: Semantiko
euskara: Semantika
فارسی: معناشناسی
føroyskt: Merkingarfrøði
français: Sémantique
Frysk: Semantyk
Gaelg: Semantaght
galego: Semántica
한국어: 의미론
hrvatski: Semantika
Bahasa Indonesia: Semantik
interlingua: Semantica
íslenska: Merkingarfræði
italiano: Semantica
עברית: סמנטיקה
Basa Jawa: Semantik
қазақша: Семантика
Kiswahili: Semantiki
Kreyòl ayisyen: Semantik
Кыргызча: Семантика
Latina: Semantica
latviešu: Semantika
lietuvių: Semantika
Lingua Franca Nova: Semantica
la .lojban.: smuske
lumbaart: Semantega
magyar: Szemantika
македонски: Семантика
Bahasa Melayu: Semantik
Nederlands: Semantiek
日本語: 意味論
norsk: Semantikk
norsk nynorsk: Semantikk
Novial: Semantike
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਅਰਥ-ਵਿਗਿਆਨ
português: Semântica
română: Semantică
rumantsch: Semantica
русский: Семантика
Scots: Semanteecs
Simple English: Semantics
slovenčina: Sémantika (náuka)
slovenščina: Semantika
کوردی: واتاناسی
српски / srpski: Семантика
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Semantika
svenska: Semantik
Tagalog: Palasurian
татарча/tatarça: Семантика
Türkçe: Anlam bilimi
українська: Семантика
Tiếng Việt: Ngữ nghĩa học
Winaray: Semantika
粵語: 語義學
中文: 语义学