• In historical linguistics, it refers to the any change in the meaning(s) of a word through the development of languages over the course of time.
  • Also called semantic shift, lexical change and semantic progression.
  • "Semantic change is not a change in meaning per se, but the addition of a meaning to the semantic system or the loss of a meaning from the semantic system while the form remains constant." --David P. Wilkins


Semantic Change: How Words Evolve Over Time


Hawk and dove

Semantic shift that have remained popular since the Vietnam War, when (1) hawk came to be used frequently for supporters of the war and (2) dove for its opponents, extending the meaning of these words from the combative nature of hawks and the symbolically peaceful role of doves.

Mouse and bookmark

Today, computers users utilize a mouse and bookmark Internet addresses. These new meanings did not replace earlier ones but extended the range of application for the words mouse and bookmark."


Deepstash helps you become inspired, wiser and productive, through bite-sized ideas from the best articles, books and videos out there.