Transferred Meaning of a Word

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Transferred Meaning of a Word


the secondary, or derived, meaning of a word, connected with its basic, main meaning by a metonymic or metaphorical relationship or by some associative features.

The transferred meaning of a word can arise from spatial, temporal, or logical correspondences in concepts, such as the contiguity of material and product or of process and result—for example, the metonymic meanings of the words izdanie (“edition”), otdelka (“decoration”), zimovka (“hibernation”), and izobrazhenie (“depiction”). It can also occur from association by similarity in shape, color, or feature of movement—for instance, the metaphorical meanings of the words tupoi (“dull”), svezhii (“fresh”), and shtamp (“cliché”). As a result of the transfer of names on the basis of general function, there arose many transferred meanings of words, such as krylo (“wing”), shchit (“shield”), and sputnik (“companion”). The transferred meaning of a word has closer syntagmatic connections, whereas the literal meaning is paradigmatically conditioned.

The principles governing the rise of the transferred meaning of a word, such as regularity and irregularity in formation of semantically homogeneous groups of words, as well as the character of the relationship between the transferred and main meanings—for instance, the direction of development from more concrete meanings to more abstract—can be described either synchronically or diachronically. In the historical development of a language, the transferred meanings of words may become the main ones or vice versa, such as in the development of the meaning of the words ochag from “hearth” to “source of origin,” trushchoba from “jungle” to “slum,” and krasnyi from “red” to “beautiful.” Various factors, such as emotional and evaluative aspects and the associative ties that accompany the use of a word, influence the shift in the semantic structure of a word.


Vinogradov, V. V. “Osnovnye tipy leksicheskikh znachenii slova.” Voprosy iazykoznaniia, 1953, no. 5.
Kurilovich, E. “Zametki o znachenii slova.” In his book Ocherki po lingvistike. Moscow, 1962.
Shmelev, D. N. Problemy semanticheskogo analiza leksiki. Moscow, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.