Definition - (Aka semasiology)
The area of linguistics that studies meaning. As opposed to pragmatics, which is the study of how utterances are interpretted in context.

Etymology -
The word derives from the French sémantique, which was coined from the Greek semantikos, significant (from Greek sema, sign).
Note: Before this word was coined, the field was called semasiology.

Oxford English Dictionary -
The term's first (English) OED citation is from 1893:
"All, or almost all, the chapter of linguistics treating of Semantics, or the science of meanings, has yet to be written."
(E. Williams tr. M. Bréal in Trans. Amer. Philol. Assoc. XXIV. 27)

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