polysemy

[ puh-lis-uh-mee, pol-ee-see-mee ]
/ pəˈlɪs ə mi, ˈpɒl iˌsi mi /

noun

a condition in which a single word, phrase, or concept has more than one meaning or connotation.

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Origin of polysemy

First recorded in 1895–1900; from New Latin polysēmia, equivalent to Late Latin polysēm(us) “with many significations” (from Greek polýsēmos, equivalent to poly- “many” + sêm(a) “sign” + -os adjective suffix) + -ia noun suffix; see poly-, -y3

OTHER WORDS FROM polysemy

pol·y·se·mous, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for polysemy

polysemy
/ (ˌpɒlɪˈsiːmɪ, pəˈlɪsəmɪ) /

noun

the existence of several meanings in a single wordCompare monosemy

Derived forms of polysemy

polysemous, adjective

Word Origin for polysemy

C20: from New Latin polysēmia, from Greek polusēmos having many meanings, from poly- + sēma a sign
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012