What are polysemous words?

It is very likely that you have ever heard about polysemic words, we, on occasion, have told you about them. Today we want to explain more about these types of words and give you some examples so that you can understand it from today and forever.

Polysemic words

Polysemic words are those that are written the same but do not mean the same. In addition, it is important to differentiate them from homonymous words, which you may have heard less about them but it is also necessary to know what they are and what they mean.

Therefore, polysemic words , occur when the same word has several meanings or meanings. They are always written the same, but in order to understand the meaning they want to convey, you must keep in mind the context of the sentence in which they are placed.

Characteristics of polysemic words

  • They are written the same
  • They have the same grammatical category
  • They have the same etymological origin
  • In the dictionary the meanings are in the same entry

When do polysemic words occur?

  • Change in the use of a word over time. Example: the The word “networks” used to refer to fishing nets or other types of tools, now its use has spread with the Internet and social networks.
  • Specialization of a field. Example : The word “keys” is not the same for a music teacher who is teaching a student the piano as it is for a computer scientist who works with the keys of the computer keyboard.
  • Figured language. Example. The “arms” of the chair.
  • Geographic region. There are words that have different meanings depending on where they are said.

Polysemic words examples

Difference between polysemy and homonymy

We speak of homonymy when two words of different origin and meaning end up having the same shape and are pronounced or spelled the same. But, how do you differentiate a homonymous word from a polysemic word? You have to remember the following:

Homonymous words

  • Different etymological origin
  • They belong to different grammatical categories
  • They can be written differently
  • It has different entries in the dictionary
  • They can be homographs or homophones

What are homophones?

Homophones are pronounced the same but spelled differently. Example: “Feed the cow and then put the bags on the roof of the car.” Cow (animal) / roof rack (accessory that is added to the external roof of the car to add cargo).

What are homograph words?

Homograph words are spelled the same but they are not always pronounced the same way, although sometimes they do have the same pronunciation. Example: “I went to the bank to withdraw money but since it was closed I sat on a bench to wait for it to open ran”. (Financial institution / street furniture to sit on).

5 examples of polysemic words

We are going to show you some examples so that you better understand what polysemic words are:

  • Skirt: A: beef cut. B: the bottom of a mount. C: female garment.
  • Plant: A: bottom of the feet. B: vegetable. C: physical space where you work; synonymous with factory.
  • Painting: A: framed artistic painting. B: geometric figure composed of straight lines. C: part of the bicycle.
  • Letter: A: board game; deck of cards. B: correspondence; written communication. C: restaurant menu.
  • Bucket: A: bucket, container. B: one of the many mathematical operations that exist. C: geometric figure.