Definition of syntagm in US English:


(also syntagma)

nounPlural syntagmas, Plural syntagms, Plural syntagmata

  • 1A linguistic unit consisting of a set of linguistic forms (phonemes, words, or phrases) that are in a sequential relationship to one another.

    Often contrasted with paradigm
    • ‘The tone, mood, fast-paced interjections, and witty syntagms of the 1940s vernacular are very difficult to convey in the several lines of subtitled translation.’
    • ‘For Saussure, syntagms are a ‘horizontal’ dimension of language, and are the regular and typical patterns of structure in the language system.’
    • ‘In addition, notes of the missing syntagms have to be made, and schemes of the structure and movement of the text have to be drawn, making the piece difficult to comprehend.’
    • ‘In written etic discourse, which is, after all, a linear string of syntagms, one may need to break off in order to ‘enflesh’ a character.’
    1. 1.1 The relationship between two syntagms.


Mid 17th century: via late Latin from Greek suntagma, from suntassein ‘arrange together’.