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What is a lexical relation?



A lexical relation is a culturally recognized pattern of association that exists between lexical units in a language.

Examples: English paradigmatic lexical relations

Here is a table showing some common paradigmatic lexical relations in English with example sets and underlying structure:

  • Lexical relation

    Example set

    Underlying structure


    A "happy" synonym set: {happy, joyful, glad}

    simple set


    A "temperature" set: {cold, cool, lukewarm, warm, hot}



    A "social relation" set: {(student, teacher), (patient, doctor)}

    set of pairs

    generic-specific whole-part

    A "whole-part" tree:

  • house
  • roof
  • walls
  • floor
  • tree

  • Underlying structure

    Each lexical relation has an underlying structure that describes the relationship that senses within a lexical relation set have with each other.


    Here are some underlying structures of lexical relations:

      Here are some kinds of lexical relations:

    Context for this page:

    Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

    Page content last modified: 5 January 2004

    © 2004 SIL International