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Polysemy Page


What does 'polysemy' mean?

Polysemy is an English word of Greek origin.  "Poly" means 'many', and "semy" means 'meanings'.

What is the difference between polyseme and homonym?

Polyseme is a word with multiple meanings, but all the meanings come from the same etymology.

Homonyms are spelled the same, but have different meanings from totally separate etymologies.

NOTE:  In Dictionaries and Lexicons, all the polysemes are listed under one heading, while the homonyms are listed as separate words.

I hope this page is helpful to somebody.  It is a work in progress.  It is no where near being finished.



 Note:  my source for definitions is the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

Polyseme Meanings Sample sentences
Matrix (etymology) Greek, meaning:  "mother" X
Matrix (1a) [anatomy] [obsolete] uterus (obsolete means it is not used any more)
Matrix (1b) [anatomy] the intercellular tissue that binds cells together The cells of the body are held together by a matrix.
Matrix (1c) [anatomy] a tissue from which other tissue grows The epithelium is a matrix.
Matrix (2) something from which other things originate Gaia is the matrix of all living things.
Matrix (3) something in which other things are embedded The fossil is in a matrix of limestone.
Matrix (4) a mold (for making things) Put the plaster in the matrix.
Matrix (5) [metallurgy] The main metal in an alloy. Iron is the matrix of steel.
Matrix (6) a material in an agglomerate, which is used to bind other materials together, such as cement Cement is the matrix of concrete.
Matrix (7) [gemology] the original gem stone, before it is cut and polished for jewelry He cut the diamond from the matrix.
Matrix (8) [botany] the substance on which (or within which) a fungus grows The orange peel was the matrix for the penicillin.
Matrix (9) [math] matrices (a part of algebra) I never understood matrices in my algebra class.
Matrix (10) [photography] the original photograph, before the dye has been applied ?
Matrix (11) [logic] a propositional function  ?
Polyseme Meanings Sample sentences
Line (1) Thread, string, cord, or rope Hold on to the line!
Line (2) A row of something (or people)
Synonym:  queue
Please don't cut in the line!
Line (3) A long, narrow thing There is a line in the crust of the earth.  It is called a 'fault line'.
Line (4) Course of conduct (behaviour) If you 'get out of line', you will be kicked out of the school.
Line (5) Limit Don't 'cross the line', or else you will be in trouble!
Line (6a) family line
Synonym: lineage
My family line goes back to Poland.
Line (6b) line of fire When I yell, "Fire your weapons," don't walk into the line of fire.
Line (6c) military line ?
Line (6d) naval line ?
Line (6e) the front lines King David sent Uriah to the front lines so that he would be killed in battle, and then King David could marry Uriah's wife.
Line (6f) officers of the navy ?
Line (6g) things in order I have all my ducks in a row (line).
Line (6h) line of conveyances (vehicles) There is a line of traffic for ten kilometres.
Line (6i) line of musical notes a line, b line, c line, d line, e line, f line, g line
Line (6j) (1) production line There are ten people working on that production line.
Line (6j) (2) people responsible for an organization ?
Line (6k) sports line up (players) I was number 4 in the batting line up.
Line (7) long, narrow mark on something Draw a line on your paper.
Polyseme Meanings Sample sentences
Plant (1) any member of the plant kingdom, having a cell wall and chlorophyll We planted a plant in the garden.
Plant (2) a factory Radiation is leaking from the power plant.


Post Script 

In the movie "MATRIX", I believe that "matrix" has multiple meanings:  2, 3, 9.

In the number 2 sense, the MATRIX served as the originator of the false life that people were living.

In the number 3 sense, the MATRIX was a place where the humans were "embedded".

In the number 9 sense, the MATRIX was a computer program, consisting of complex matrices.

So, "MATRIX" is the perfect title for the movie.




Sorry, but that's all for now.

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"Love is all there is;  Everything else is entropy." (Leon)