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In linguistics, a specific term used to designate a member of a class. For instance, daisy and rose are hyponyms of flower.

Words that are hyponyms of the same superordinate term (that is, a hypernym) are called co-hyponyms. See Examples and Observations, below.

See also:

From the Greek, "below" + "name"

Examples and Observations:

  • "Hyponymy is a less familiar term to most people than either synonymy or antonymy, but it refers to a much more important sense relation. It describes what happens when we say 'An X is a kind of Y'--A daffodil is a kind of flower, or simply, A daffodil is a flower."
    (David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, 2003)

  • A Test for Hyponymy
    "Hyponymy involves specific instantiations of a more general concept such as holds between horse and animal or vermillion and red or buy and get. In each case, one word provides a more specific type of concept than is displayed by the other. The more specific word is called a hyponym and the more general word is the superordinate which may also be referred to as a hyperonym or hypernym . . .. Where the words being classified according to this relation are nouns, one can test for hyponymy by replacing X and Y in the frame 'X is a kind of Y' and seeing if the result makes sense. So we have '(A) horse is a kind of animal' but not '(An) animal is a kind of horse' and so on."
    (Ronnie Cann, "Sense Relations." Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language and Meaning, Vol. 1, ed. by Claudia Maienborn, Klaus von Heusinger, and Paul Portner. Walter de Gruyter, 2011)

  • Inclusion
    "In general, there are a number of hyponyms for each superordinate. For example, boar and piglet are also hyponyms of the superordinate pig, since the meaning of each of the three words sow, boar, and piglet 'contains' the meaning of the word pig. (Note that in defining a word like sow, boar, or piglet, the superordinate word pig is often used as part of the definition: 'A sow is an adult female pig.') Thus, it is not surprising that hyponymy is sometimes referred to as inclusion. The superordinate is the included word and the hyponym is the including one."
    (Frank Parker and Kathryn Riley, Linguistics for Non-Linguists. Allyn and Bacon, 1994)

  • Hierarchical Relationships
    "House is a hyponym of the superordinate building, but building is in turn, a hyponym of the superordinate structure, and, in its turn, structure is a hyponym of the superordinate thing. A superordinate at a given level can itself be a hyponym at a higher level."
    (Patrick Griffiths, An Introduction to English Semantics and Pragmatics. Edinburgh University Press, 2006)

Pronunciation: HI-po-nim

Also Known As: subtype, subordinate term, inclusion

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