In linguistics, a hyponym is a word or phrase whose semantic field is included within that of another word, its hypernym (sometimes spelled hyperonym outside of the natural language processing community). In simpler terms, a hyponym shares a type-of relationship with its hypernym. For example, scarlet, vermilion, carmine, and crimson are all hyponyms of red (their hypernym), which is, in turn, a hyponym of colour.
Computer science often terms this relationship an "is-a" relationship. For example, the phrase Red is-a colour can be used to describe the hyponymic relationship between red and colour.
Hypernymy is the semantic relation in which one word is the hypernym of another. Hypernymy, the relation in which words stand when their extensions stand in the relation of class to subclass, should not be confused with holonymy, which is the relation in which words stand when the things that they denote stand in the relation of whole to part. A similar warning applies to hyponymy and meronymy.
As a hypernym can be understood as a more general word than its hyponym, the relation is used in semantic compression by generalization to reduce a level of specialization.
- ^ Brinton, Laurel J. (2000). The structure of modern English: a linguistic introduction. Illustrated edition. John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN.9027225672, 9789027225672. Source:  (accessed: Sunday May 2, 2010), p.112
- ^ Fromkin, Victoria; Robert Rodman (1998). Introduction to Language. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publ. ISBN 0-03-018682-X.
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