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identically sounding language units that, unlike polysemous units, lack common semantic elements.

Derivational and syntactic markers are not decisive objective criteria for distinguishing homonymy from polysemy. Lexical homonyms may arise as a result of the identical pronunciation of words of different origin (for example, Russian rys’, “trot,” and rys’, “lynx”) or as a result of a complete divergence in the meanings of a polysemous word (for example, Russian mir, “world,” and mir, “peace”). They may also be the result of parallel word formation from the same stem (for example, Russian troika, “troika,” and troika, “C” [a grade in school]).

The interpretation of a homonym, like the meanings of polysemous words, is determined by context. However, the absence of common semantic elements in homonyms makes it impossible to combine their meanings, with the exception of unintentional or deliberate ambiguity. The existence of borderline cases makes it difficult to determine whether a word is polysemous or whether it is a homonym. Some linguists restrict the concept of homonymy to only the first of the above types and relegate the concept of homonymy to the history of a language. Some linguists consider all the separate meanings of polysemous words to be homonyms. The distinction between homonymy and polysemy is highly important in lexicography.


Smirnitskii, A. I. “K voprosu o slove: Problema ‘tozhdestva slova’.” Trudy instituta iazykoznaniia, vol. 4. Moscow, 1954.
Akhmanova, O. S. Ocherki po obshchei i russkoi leksikologii. Moscow, 1957.
Kurylowicz, J. “Zametki o znachenii slova.” Ocherki po lingvistike. Moscow, 1962.
Shmelev, D. N. Problemy semanticheskogo analiza leksiki. Moscow, 1973.


References in periodicals archive ?
This can be solved at the expense of introducing spurious homonyms (matching labels but different IRIs).
Conversely, it will be shown that another homonym of "chino" arose in Philippines as a synonym of Sangley, the Tagalog name of the merchants from Cathay (the Middle Kingdom).
Technology that selects from homonym variants based on previous exchanges
We do not think as indisputable the authors' a priori expectation of the research under examination into the underadditive influence of primes associated with different meanings of word homonyms on the identification of the word homonym itself.
Remarkably, the words raise and raze are both homonyms and antonyms of each other.
When one of those homonyms is misused, there's no little red squiggly line to alert the writer.
justice, wish to handle your ears with homonyms, and squeeze you into
3 : one of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning <The noun "bear" and the verb "bear" are homonyms.
In each sentence, the words that go in the blanks are homonyms.
clusters of hou see dried oysters, like sea-bound testicles, homonyms for happenstance, bow-tied lily flowers unwrap to given gold.
For example, if you mess up homonyms and do not "right the write way," spell check will not pick up the mistake, whereas a proofreader probably will.
The spelling helps with common homonyms and spelltraps are invaluable as an additional ready reference guide.