Semantics Definition | Psychology Glossary

Semantics refers to the underlining meanings of speech, words, phrases, signs and symbols that represent them. Essentially, it is the study of the relationships of language, symbols, and meanings and how they interact with each other.

A great example of this is using literal versus slang versus sarcastic speech. When I tell you I’m going for a drive-by,Ā  you might think I’m in a gang and about to commit a heinous act. However, if you knew I was about to visit a friend’s new house, you’d understand the context as me going for a short drive to see their new place. The heinous act would, of course, not be assumed in this case.

But if you knew how much of a douche my buddy Rick is, you might second-guess yourself.