Definition of semasiology in US English:



  • The branch of linguistics that deals with words and phrases and the concepts that they represent.

    Compare with onomasiology
    • ‘Barske's paper, also grounded in semasiology, provides a rich ethnographic account of how a traditional Okinawan dance called nuchibana was utilized for contemporary political purposes by a group called ‘Okinawan Hands for Peace.’’
    • ‘This presumes Williams's concept of the ‘action sign’, and thus locates semasiology where it belongs at the forefront of anthropological theories of human embodiment.’
    • ‘Williams notes that semasiology as an anthropological viewpoint assumes that human action includes both spoken sign systems and action sign systems and that human action, in being agentic, is therefore not ‘behavior’.’
    • ‘In semasiology, for example, a non-Cartesian concept of person is coupled with a new-realist, post-positivist philosophy of science.’
    • ‘In contrast, semasiology conceptualizes the signifying body and the spaces in which people move as specifically human; that is, as meaning-making practices specific to language-using creatures.’


Mid 19th century: from German Semasiologie, from Greek sēmasia ‘meaning’, from sēmainein ‘signify’.