12 November 2008


I am pushing 40 and do not recall ever hearing or seeing that word. Not even during College Grammar in my junior year of h.s. Ok, so I may not remember much at all about that class or many of the others for that matter. This may surprise you, but I was NOT identified as a candidate for G&T in school, but I DID skip a grade .... (ok, so it was just Kindergarten...)

So you can imagine how suspicious I was when my 6 yr old pointed out that a word I had just uttered (now I can't recall THAT word!) was "polysemous". I questioned her at first about the alleged definition of this word (word that sounds the same but means different things) and also tried to ferret out where she'd heard this "word" to no avail. She never EVER cites her sources so I'm thinking there's a future in reporting or espionage or politics for her! I researched "polysemous" (i.e. Googled the term) and when I confirmed that she was not making it up, prayed that she wouldn't notice that Mama doesn't know everything!

This is what I recall from Schoolhouse Rock days:

A homonym is a word that sounds the same as another word yet has a different meaning. Homonyms can be further broken down into homophones; words that are pronounced identically though spelled differently and homographs; words that are pronounced and spelled identically. In both instances of homonymy the requirement is for the common words to have unrelated meanings. Homophone: bare (uncover) bear (the mammal) Homograph: bank (financial institute) bank (side of a river)

And this is what I just had to recently confirm was ACTUALLY a word:

A polyseme is a word or phrase with multiple, related meanings. A word is judged to be polysemous if it has two senses of the word whose meanings are related. Since the vague concept of relatedness is the test for polysemy, judgments of polysemy can be very difficult to make. With polysemy the reference is to a single word with different senses of the same basic meaning. Polysemes are also etymologically related, whereas Homonyms are not.Look at examples of a set of polysemes. Following is an example of four versions of the same word with four distinct senses of meaning: Polyseme: crawl (move slowly on hands and knees) crawl (move slowly in traffic) crawl (to be covered with moving things) crawl (to swim the crawl)

Other areas in which Emi puts her mom to shame: piano, soccer, singing...

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