Hyponymy Relation

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A hyponym relation is a word sense relation that is an is-a relation (with the more general word sense being the hypernym word and the other the hyponym word).



  • (Wikipedia, 2013) ⇒ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyponymy
    • In linguistics, a hyponym is a word or phrase whose semantic field[1] is included within that of another word, its hypernym (sometimes spelled hyperonym outside of the natural language processing community[citation needed]). 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.[2]

      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.

  1. Brinton, Laurel J. (2000). The structure of modern English: a linguistic introduction. Illustrated edition. John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN.9027225672, 9789027225672. Source: [1] (accessed: Sunday May 2, 2010), p.112
  2. Fromkin, Victoria; Robert Rodman (1998). Introduction to Language. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publ.. ISBN 0-03-018682-X. 



  • (Cruse, 2002) ⇒ D. Alan Cruse. (2002). “Hyponymy and its Varieties.” In: (Green et al., 2002).
    • Hyponymy and its natural partner, incompatibility, are described by Lyons as "the most fundamental paradigmatic relations of sense in terms of which the vocabulary is structured" (1968, p453). Of all sense relations, they certainly occur across the widest range of grammatical categories and content domains. Hyponym-hyperonym pairs can be observed in all the major syntactic categories (more rarely in the minor categories). But a short time with a dictionary will be sufficient to convince anyone that it is much easier to come up with noun hyponyms than other types.

      Taking a logical approach, we can define hyponymy either extensionally or intensionally.

      One extensional definition is the following, after Cann (1994), but modified to exclude synonymy: X is a hyponym of Y iff there exists a meaning postulate relation X' and Y' of the form:

      • ∀x[X'(x) → Y'(x)], but none of the form: ∀x[Y'(x) → X'(x)].
    • (Here, X' and Y' are the logical constants corresponding to the lexical items X and Y, and the definition states, effectively, that for X to be a hyponym of Y, the extension of X' must be included in the extension of Y'.)
    • The problem with this sort of definition, at least from the point of view of lexical semantics, is that the relation is not shown to arise from the meanings (in the ordinary sense) of X and Y; that is to say, we do not know what it is about the meanings of X and Y that gives rise to the relation.
    • An example of an intensional definition is the following:
      • X is a hyponym of Y iff F(X) entails, but is not entailed by F(Y).
    • (This sort of definition, but not in this exact form, was first put forward by Lyons (1963). Here, F(-) is a sentential function satisfied by X and Y.)
    • The propositional relation of entailment is closer to lexical semantic concerns that the relation of material implication that appears in the extensional definition above, as it is understood as arising directly from meaning. But the intensional definition also has serious problems, because although it words in certain obvious cases (It's a dog unilaterally entails It's an animal), it is not generally the case that F(X) entails F(Y). There are cases where F(Y) entails F(X).
  • (Fellbaum, 2002) ⇒ Christine Fellbaum. (2002). “On the Semantics of Troponymy.” In: R. Green, C. Bean, and S. Myaeng, editors. The Semantics of Relationships: An Interdisciplinary. Dordrecht, Holland: Kluwer.
    • The structure of a lexical entry in a dictionary reflects the relatedness of words and concepts: The target word is usually defined in terms of related word and some differentiae.
    • The super-/subordinate relation, or hyponymy (or hyperonymy or ISA) relation works well to characterize the meaning of nouns, as does meronymy, the part-whose relation.