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[see-mee-ot-iks, sem-ee-, see-mahy-] /ˌsi miˈɒt ɪks, ˌsɛm i-, ˌsi maɪ-/
noun, (used with a singular verb)
the study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior; the analysis of systems of communication, as language, gestures, or clothing.
a general theory of signs and symbolism, usually divided into the branches of pragmatics, semantics, and syntactics.
Origin of semiotics
1875-80; see semiotic, -ics
Related forms
[see-mee-uh-tish-uh n, sem-ee-, see-mahy-] /ˌsi mi əˈtɪʃ ən, ˌsɛm i-, ˌsi maɪ-/ (Show IPA),


[see-mee-ot-ik, sem-ee, see-mahy-] /ˌsi miˈɒt ɪk, ˌsɛm i, ˌsi maɪ-/
adjective, Also, semiotical
of or relating to signs.
of or relating to semiotics.
Medicine/Medical. of or relating to symptoms; symptomatic.
1615-20; (def 3) < Greek sēmeiōtikós significant, equivalent to sēmeiō-, verbid stem of sēmeioûn to interpret as a sign (derivative of Greek sēmeîon sign) + -tikos -tic; (def 4) < Greek sēmeiōtikḗ, noun use of feminine of sēmeiōtikós, adapted by John Locke (on the model of Greek 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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for semiotics
  • As the discipline of semiotics has taught us, signs are made everywhere.
  • Such visual semiotics are not limited to the human race.
  • But one suspects a more personal motive behind his impulse to abandon semiotics.
  • Along the way there are sendups of everything from semiotics to military intelligence, deconstruction and cognitive psychology.
  • She knows a thing or two about the semiotics of objects and the meanings that lurk behind décor.
  • To parse the semiotics of these and other varieties of nudity in photography could be a fun project.
  • He scribbles notes to himself, as if wrestling with the finer points of semiotics.
  • They amount to oracular experiments in graphic semiotics.
  • Eco offers two diagrams almost as elaborate as those that appear in his works on semiotics.
  • The semiotics of lapels is becoming more complicated.
British Dictionary definitions for semiotics


/ˌsɛmɪˈɒtɪks; ˌsiːmɪ-/
noun (functioning as sing)
the study of signs and symbols, esp the relations between written or spoken signs and their referents in the physical world or the world of ideas See also semantics, syntactics, pragmatics
the scientific study of the symptoms of disease; symptomatology
Also semiology, semeiology


/ˌsɛmɪˈɒtɪk; ˌsiːmɪ-/
relating to signs and symbols, esp spoken or written signs
relating to semiotics
of, relating to, or resembling the symptoms of disease; symptomatic
Word Origin
C17: from Greek sēmeiōtikos taking note of signs, from sēmeion a sign
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for semiotics

study of signs and symbols with special regard to function and origin, 1880, from semiotic; also see -ics. Medical sense is from 1660s.



1620s, "of symptoms, relating to signs of diseases," from Greek semeiotikos "significant," also "observant of signs," adjective form of semeiosis "indication," from semeioun "to signal, to interpret a sign," from semeion "a sign, mark, token," from sema "sign" (see semantic). Its use in psychology dates to 1923. Related: Semiotical (1580s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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