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the study of signs and sign-using behaviour. It was defined by one of its founders, the Swiss linguist
Ferdinand de Saussure, as the study of “the life of signs within society.” Although the word was used in
this sense in the 17th century by the English philosopher John Locke, the idea of semiotics as an
interdisciplinary mode for examining phenomena in different fields emerged only in the late 19th and early
20th centuries with the independent work of Saussure and of the American philosopher Charles Sanders


Study of the syntax and the semantics of formal languages and formal systems.

It is related to, but does not include, the formal treatment of natural languages (e.g., English, Russian, etc.).
Metalogic has led to a great deal of work of a mathematical nature in axiomatic set theory, model theory,
and recursion theory (in which functions that are computable in a finite number of steps are studied).


In linguistics and philosophy, the study of the use of natural language in communication; more generally,
the study of the relations between languages and their users. It is sometimes defined in contrast with
linguistic semantics, which can be described as the study of the rule systems that determine the literal
meanings of linguistic expressions. Pragmatics is then the study of how both literal and nonliteral aspects of
communicated linguistic meaning are determined by principles that refer to the physical or social context
(broadly construed) in which language is used. Among these aspects are conversational and conventional


A sememe (from the Greek: σημαίνω (sēmaino), "mean, signify") is a semantic language unit of meaning,
correlative to a morpheme.

1. A sememe is a proposed unit of transmitted or intended meaning; it is atomic or indivisible. A

sememe can be the meaning expressed by a morpheme, such as the English pluralizing morpheme
-s, which carries the sememic feature [+ plural]. Alternately, a single sememe (for example [go] or
[move]) can be conceived as the abstract representation of such verbs as skate, roll, jump, slide,
turn, or boogie. It can be thought of as the semantic counterpart to any of the following: a meme in
a culture, a gene in a genetic make-up, or an atom (or, more specifically, an elementary particle) in
a substance.


1615–20; ( def. 3 ) < Gk sēmeiōtikós significant, equiv. to sēmeiō-, verbid s. of sēmeioûn to interpret as
a sign (deriv. of Gk sēmeîon sign) + -tikos -tic; ( def. 4 ) < Gk sēmeiōtikḗ, n. use of fem. of sēmeiōtikós,
adapted by John Locke (on the model of Gk logikḗ logic, etc.; see -ic) to mean “the doctrine of signs”; (
defs. 1, 2 ) based on Locke's coinage or a reanalysis of the Gk word


mid-15c., "the tilling of land," from L. cultura, from pp. stem of colere "tend, guard, cultivate, till" (see
cult). The figurative sense of "cultivation through education" is first attested c.1500. Meaning "the
intellectual side of civilization" is from 1805; that of "collective customs and achievements of a people" is
from 1867.
"For without culture or holiness, which are always the gift of a very few, a man may renounce wealth or
any other external thing, but he cannot renounce hatred, envy, jealousy, revenge. Culture is the sanctity of
the intellect." [William Butler Yeats]
Slang culture vulture is from 1947. Culture shock first recorded 1940
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Oedipus complex

The process alleged in Freudian psychoanalytic theory whereby the normal infant boy sexually desires his
mother and is consequently jealous of his father and secretly wishes to kill him. The guilt this not
unnaturally causes precipitates the development of the superego, or restraining conscience. Women's
conscience needs a mirror-image origin, sometimes called the Electra complex.

Oedipus complex, Freudian term, drawn from the myth of Oedipus, designating attraction on the part of the
child toward the parent of the opposite sex and rivalry and hostility toward the parent of its own. It occurs
during the phallic stage of the psycho-sexual development of the personality, approximately years three to
five. Resolution of the Oedipus complex is believed to occur by identification with the parent of the same
sex and by the renunciation of sexual interest in the parent of the opposite sex. Freud considered this
complex the cornerstone of the superego and the nucleus of all human relationships. Many psychiatrists,
while acknowledging the significance of the Oedipal relationships to personality development in our
culture, ascribe love and attraction toward one parent and hatred and antagonism toward the other not
necessarily to sexual rivalry but to resentment of parental authoritarian power.

The term Oedipus complex designates a network embracing the wishes and hostile impulses of which the
mother and the father are the objects, along with the defenses that are set up to counter these feelings. Freud
called this complex "the nucleus of the neuroses," and, beyond that, it may be considered the central
structure in the functioning of the human mind.

The term Oedipus complex itself did not appear in Freud's published work until his paper "A Special Type
of Object-Choice Made by Men" (1910h, p. 171). At that time, with some reluctance, he borrowed the word
complex from Carl Jung. Freud's reference to the myth of Oedipus, however, originates much earlier. In a
letter dated October 15, 1897, to his friend Wilhelm Fliess, he wrote: "I have found, in my own case too,
falling in love with the mother and jealousy of the father, and I now regard it as a universal event of early
childhood. . . . If that is so, we can understand the riveting power of Oedipus Rex" (1954 [1887-1902]).
Indeed the notion is to be found in Studies on Hysteria, where Freud, in quest of the etiology of hysteria,
stressed the traumatic role of sexual seductions, experienced by the child and for which the father was
responsible (1895d).


[met‐on‐ĭmi], a figure of speech that replaces the name of one thing with the name of something else
closely associated with it, e.g. the bottle for alcoholic drink, the press for journalism, skirt for woman,
Mozart for Mozart's music, the Oval Office for the US presidency. A well‐known metonymic saying is the
pen is mightier than the sword (i.e. writing is more powerful than warfare). A word used in such
metonymic expressions is sometimes called a metonym [met‐ŏnim]. An important kind of metonymy is
synecdoche, in which the name of a part is substituted for that of a whole (e.g. hand for worker), or vice
versa. Modern literary theory has often used ‘metonymy’ in a wider sense, todesignate the process of
association by which metonymies are produced and understood: this involves establishing relationships of
contiguity between two things, whereas metaphor establishes relationships of similarity between them. The
metonym/metaphor distinction has been associated with the contrast between syntagm and paradigm. See
also antonomasia.