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Hyponymy referred to Linguistics (Linguistics) the semantically - conceptual subordination ( subordination ) a Semems under another sememe. The subordinate semem is called a hyponym and the superordinate one is called a hyperonym . The opposite (converse) relation of the semantic superordinate to hyponymy is hyperonymy . The word “hyponym” has the same meaning for the sub-term and the opposite word hyperonym has the same meaning for the generic term . Hyponymy is a central semantic relation between terms in semantic networks , taxonomies and thesauri . It is to be distinguished from the part-whole relationship ( meronymy ).

The differing linguistic regulation that predominates in linguistics is likely to have historical reasons and, on the other hand, to be based on the fact that terminological independence from the conceptual logic is achieved: there is no need to make a sharp distinction between word , concept and semem and criticism of the traditional conceptual logic is avoided.

Properties of hyponymy

This relation is:

  • irreflexive : no concept is a sub-concept of itself
  • asymmetric : if A is a hyponym of B, then B cannot be a hyponym of A
  • transitive : if A is a hyponym of B and B is a hyponym of C, then A is a hyponym of C

Example of a transitive type hyponym: If banana is a hyponym of fruit and fruit is a hyponym of food , then banana is a hyponym of food .

Or in another perspective: the meanings of the subordinate expressions contain all the meanings of the superordinate expressions. However, this does not apply the other way around (here: not every food is a banana) because the meaning of the hyponym is more specific.

Relationship between hyperonym and hyponym

The following relationships still exist between hyperonym and hyponym:

  • the scope (extension) of the hyponym is smaller than the scope of the hyperonym. Example: "Every basset hound is a dog, but not every dog ​​is a basset hound."
  • the conceptual content (the intension) of the hyponym is greater than the conceptual content of the hyperonym. The hyponym has at least one more semantic characteristic than the hyperonym.
  • The predication of an object as A (hyponym) implies the predication of the object as B (hyperonym) - but not vice versa.

A term can also be the hyponym of several hyperonyms. For example, banana is a hyponym for fruit and plant .

Hyponymy is also understood as a special case of partial synonymy : Hyponyms have at least one semantic characteristic in common with the hyperonym on the one hand and with their hyponyms on the other .


Hyponyms are hyponyms of a common hyperonym. In conceptual terminology, cohyponyms are sub-terms of a common generic term. Hyponyms are related to hyponymy . This relation is symmetric and transitive. The contents of the elements differ in at least one semantic characteristic.

For example, dachshunds and poodles are cohyponyms to the common hyperonym dog :

  • "This dachshund is a dog."
  • "This poodle is a dog."

Hyponyms are mutually exclusive, they are incompatible (incompatible):

  • "This dachshund is not a poodle."
  • "This poodle is not a dachshund."

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Hyponymy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. Glück, Helmut (ed.): Metzler Lexikon Sprache. 4th edition. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2010: Hyponymy.