In linguistics, a word sense is one of the meanings of a word. A dictionary may have over 50 different senses of the word play, each of these having a different meaning based on the context of the word's usage in a sentence. For example:
We went to see the play Romeo and Juliet at the theater.
The coach devised a great play that put the visiting team on the defensive.
The children went out to play in the park.
In each sentence we associate a different meaning of the word "play" based on hints the rest of the sentence gives us.
People and computers, as they read words, must use a process called word-sense disambiguation to find the correct meaning of a word. This process uses context to narrow the possible senses down to the probable ones. The context includes such things as the ideas conveyed by adjacent words and nearby phrases, the known or probable purpose and register of the conversation or document, and the orientation (time and place) implied or expressed. The disambiguation is thus context-sensitive.
A word sense may correspond to either a seme (the smallest unit of meaning) or a sememe (the next larger unit of meaning), and polysemy is the property of having multiple semes or sememes and thus multiple senses.
- semantics - study of meaning
- lexical semantics - the study of what the words of a language denote and how it is that they do this
- word sense induction - the task of automatically acquiring the senses of a target word
- word sense disambiguation - the task of automatically associating a sense with a word in context
- lexical substitution - the task of replacing a word in context with a lexical substitute
- sememe - unit of meaning
- linguistics - the scientific study of language, which can be theoretical or applied.
- sense and reference
- ”I don’t believe in word senses” -- Adam Kilgarriff (1997)
- WordNet(R) - A large lexical database of English words and their meanings maintained by the Princeton Cognitive Science Laboratory.
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