Etymology
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semantic (adj.)

"relating to significance or meaning," 1894, from French sémantique, applied by Michel Bréal (1883) to the psychology of language, from Greek sēmantikos "significant," from sēmainein "to show by sign, signify, point out, indicate by a sign," from sēma "sign, mark, token; omen, portent; constellation; grave" (Doric sama), from PIE root *dheie- "to see, look" (source also of Sanskrit dhyati "he meditates;" see zen).

The word has tended to become loose in application. Semanticize "invest (something) with meaning; analyze semantically" is by 1942.

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sematic (adj.)

"significant, indicative, serving as a sign or warning" (as of danger), 1855, from Greek sēmat-, combining form of sēma (genitive sematos) "sign" (see semantic) + -ic. Used especially in biology, in reference to "warning" colors, etc. (by 1890).

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seme (n.)

in linguistics, "a sing or symbol; the smallest unit of meaning," 1866, from Greek sēma "sign" (see semantic). Compare -eme, pheme.

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semiology (n.)

1690s, "sign language, the use of gestures to express thought," a sense now obsolete, from Greek sēmeion "a sign, mark, token," from sēma "sign, mark, token" (see semantic, and compare semiotic) + -ology. As "the branch of medical science concerned with morbid symptoms," 1839; as "logical theory of signs" by 1923. Related: Semiological.

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Zen (n.)

school of Mahayana Buddhism, 1727, from Japanese, from Chinese ch'an, ultimately from Sanskrit dhyana "thought, meditation," from PIE root *dheie- "to see, look" (source also of Greek sēma "sign, mark, token;" see semantic). As an adjective from 1881.

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semantics (n.)

"the study of meaning in language; the science of the relationship between linguistic symbols and their meanings," 1893, from French sémantique (1883); see semantic (also see -ics). In this sense it replaced semasiology (1847), from German Semasiologie (1829), from Greek sēmasia "signification, meaning."

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polysemy (n.)

"fact of having multiple meanings," 1900, from French polysémie (1897), from Medieval Latin polysemus, from Greek polysemos "of many senses or meanings," from polys "many" (from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill") + sēma "sign" (see semantic). Related: Polysemic.

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semaphore (n.)

"mechanical apparatus for signaling to distant points," 1814, from French sémaphore, etymologically, "a bearer of signals," ultimately from Greek sēma "sign, signal" (see semantic) + phoros "bearer," from pherein "to carry" (from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry"). Related: Semaphoric (1808); semaphorist.

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semiotic (adj.)

1620s, "of symptoms, relating to signs of diseases," from Latinized form of Greek sēmeiōtikos "significant, portending, worth marking," also "observant of signs," adjective form of sēmeiosis "indication," from sēmeioun "to signal, to interpret a sign," from sēmeion "a sign, mark, token," from sēma "sign" (see semantic). Its use in linguistics and psychology, "of or pertaining to the use of signs," is by 1923. Related: Semiotical (1580s).

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topos (n.)

"literary theme," 1948, from Greek topos, literally "place, region, space," also "subject of a speech," a word of uncertain origin. "The broad semantic range renders etymologizing difficult" [Beekes].

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