Hypernyms and hyponyms

Hypernyms and hyponyms are two types of related words that are commonly used in linguistic and semantic analysis.

A hypernym is a word that represents a category or a superordinate term that is more general than the words it encompasses. For example, “animal” is a hypernym of “dog,” “cat,” “horse,” and “bird” because it represents a broader category that includes all of these animals. Similarly, “vehicle” is a hypernym of “car,” “bus,” “train,” and “plane” because it encompasses all of these modes of transportation.

On the other hand, a hyponym is a word that represents a specific example or a subordinate term that is more specific than the words it includes. For instance, “dog” is a hyponym of “animal” because it is a specific example of an animal. Likewise, “car” is a hyponym of “vehicle” because it is a specific type of vehicle.

Hypernyms and hyponyms are used to create a hierarchy of words that helps to organize and understand the relationships between different terms in a language. They are instrumental in natural language processing and information retrieval systems, which can be used to group related concepts and improve search results. Additionally, hypernyms and hyponyms can be used in education to teach vocabulary and help students understand the relationships between words.


When writing an academic text, avoid hypernyms that are too general or vague: “people,” “ideas,” etc.


Hyponymy and hypernymy – Wikipedia


By Benjamin L. Stewart

I´m an EFL teacher educator and foreign language coordinator at the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes in Mexico.

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