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Polysemy is the phenomenon that a word acquires new usages which, over time, are likely to become more like new meanings.


the English word mouth refers first of all to the opening of the buccal cavity, but next to this it refers to the point where a river joins the sea.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Aronoff, M. 1976. Word Formation in Generative Grammar, MIT-press, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Spencer, A. 1991. Morphological Theory, Blackwell, Oxford.


the phenomenon that a word has several different meanings which are closely related to each other. The ambiguity of church (either a building or an institution) is an instance of polysemy.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics

See also

Polysemy in quantitative linguistics

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