In the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, the term meaning is defined as something known, important, reputed, as well as meaning or meaning of a word or phrase; among others. In relation to the linguistic sign, it is related to the mental content that is given to a word or term. It is the concept or idea that is associated with a word in all types of communication, as it happens in the mental content. The concept of this term has many aspects that must be fully addressed, including its general definition and its types.

What is the meaning

The concept of this term refers to what defines what is being talked about and comes from experiences with one or more objects. For example, the meaning of fan could be defined as a tool to fan oneself (and in turn a possible definition of fanning could be: «to create a current of air through the manual movement of an object»).

You have to realize that meanings are nothing more than purely mental entities, not universal or absolute. They are abstract, conventional too, like signs. As for example, if a human being has never seen a ship and sees one for the first time, by association he might say: “what a strange fish…!”.

types of meaning

The semantics of the term under study tends to be a bit complex, this is because the word is broken down into different types and each one is used in different ways, all according to the text or context of a specific topic. The types of meaning are divided into literal, figurative, denotative, connotative and contextual. All of these will be explained below.

literal meaning

It is an adjective used to refer to the proper meaning of a word or a situation, for example, the meaning of names. Its definition comes from the Latin litterālis, whose meaning is relative to a term. It is important to note that, although the word in question has a written relationship with the literary term, these have nothing to do with each other except the conception they have regarding the meaning of other words.

Figurative Meaning

This item talks about the meaning of a word according to its meaning or, failing that, the similarity it shares with a given idea. The word itself makes sense through the similarity it has with a situation or another term, whose concept is relatively the same as the word in question. An example of this may be the meaning of dreams that can be repeated or similar to real life, whether in past, present or future situations.

denotative meaning

This type of meaning does not leave room for a second interpretation, since clear, concise and full terms are defined in them. When faced with a denotative meaning, there is no room for doubt, since its reason for being is totally explicit. An example to explain this is the connotation of the phrase «pack of dogs», its meaning explains that it is a group of dogs, specifying that there are animals involved and an open number. The same happens with the meaning of respect, which refers to a consideration and show of tolerance.

connotative meaning

This concept is even more complicated than the previous ones, this is because it alludes to a totally different meaning to the word or message that is being broadcast, thus denoting colloquial phrases of a certain society, for example, when saying “this person is leading a “dog life” refers to situations or characters referring to misery, hardship or qualifications of suffering.

The connotative message of the phrase, takes on a symbolic value and with an intentional meaning. The same goes for the meaning of colors. One can well speak of a rosy life only to refer to a happy life, with indefinite benefits or its fullness.

Contextual meaning

Here reference is made to polysemic words, which have multiple conceptions and must be studied carefully in order to give them the correct meaning. this class of connotations are emitted under a totally specific communicative relationship. For example, if a child is said to be cute, the term can be seen as something that has only been around for a short time or makes adorable gestures. On the other hand, if it is said that a bread or some other snack is tender, it refers to the fact that it is easy to eat, digest or break.

The concept changes according to the situation in which it is. This can also apply to tattoos with their meaning or the meaning of colors.

The signifier and the signified

For many authors, both terms are part of the structure of a sign. To begin with, the signifier is the material form that a word takes, thus being able to be the structure of a given word (graph), or a mental or visual image. The sense that the signifier acquires goes to a symbolic level, this means that its meaning takes on meaning under a specific context and not under a general one, for example, in the Middle Ages, nobody could know what technology is because it is not associated to an acoustic image.

Now, regarding the meaning, this is, as has been mentioned on previous occasions, the mental content that is given to a linguistic term and that, subsequently, is associated with the acoustic image or better known, as the sound. This refers to the mental images that each person has when they hear a word. The central word of the theme and signifier have correspondence in all languages, so they are mutually involved.

Who is Ferdinand Saussure?

Ferdinand SaussureFerdinand Saussure was a Swiss linguist who contributed a lot of his knowledge to the deep development of linguistics in the 20th century, in fact, he is known worldwide as the father of linguistics. He was the creator of the Geneva school when, at that time, the structuralist schools reigned. Most of the information regarding the term in question has been thanks to the knowledge of this author, in addition, many other scholars take it into account as a direct reference to this particular topic.

Trends in the search for meaning on the web

There are too many searches on the web referring to different meanings, starting from the meaning of metaphor, the meaning of amnesty, proverbs with their meaning and even tattoos with their meaning. Each one has different meanings and, precisely for this reason, they will be explained in this special section.

Dreams meaning

The interpretation of dreams is one of the most extensive searches on the web. The dream context is quite captivating, but, in addition to that, for many people dreams have a special connotation, which is why they remember every detail seen in them to have a specific meaning and determine if they are related to real life. each person. Some tend to be very superstitious, others more fanciful, but they are still a source of unknowns today.

meaning of names

Like the previous item, many people, especially future parents, search the web for the meanings of the names of boys and girls, in order to select their favorites and, later, name their children. Some names tend to be associated with purity, bravery, and power. Many others have biblical meanings, everything changes according to the way they are written and the combination with other names.

Sayings with their meaning

Sayings are known for being a very popular (and colloquial) form of expression depending on the society where they are used. They are used to denote wisdom verbally. These proverbs are passed down from generation to generation, which is why most of them are so old. An example of these sayings is “Al bad weather, good face” with this allusion is made to the fact that, no matter how bad the situation that is happening, you always have to have a smile on your face and a solution in mind to get ahead.

Tattoos with their meaning

Tattoos are forever, therefore, the person who gets one must know the correct connotation of it, in addition to having a positive (or negative) impact on their life. People tend to tattoo countless symbols, faces or phrases, but each one has a different concept, it could be said that it is even connotative. What for some means a simple moon as a tattoo, for others it represents light, protection, something mystical and out of this world.

Meaning of the colors

Psychology tends to define or associate colors with emotions and even with characteristics of a certain attitude or character. There are too many variations in the interpretation of each color, for example, the meaning that the color blue tends to be the favorite of people who have some psychopathy, but it is also said that blue reflects courage or determination as a character. This is where the definition of color comes in according to its different shades.

Frequently Asked Questions about Meaning

What is meaning?

It is the broad or concise definition or explanation of what a certain term is about.

What do dreams mean?

The connotation of dreams tends to vary too much, so the meanings change according to the details the dreamer remembers and the beliefs they have.

What do the colors of the flag mean?

Colors are associated with the emotions or characteristics of a person, but also with places and things. So the colors of the flag denote cultural characteristics of the country.

What do the emojis mean?

They are symbols inspired by the natural manga of Japan. There are many types of emojis, both people and emoticons laughing, crying, etc.

What is the difference between signified and signifier?

The signifier is the spelling or structure of the term to be defined, the meaning is what the word really means, what it is about, what it means.