Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 4, pp 947–968 | Cite as

Polysemy and word meaning: an account of lexical meaning for different kinds of content words

  • Agustin VicenteEmail author


There is an ongoing debate about the meaning of lexical words, i.e., words that contribute with content to the meaning of sentences. This debate has coincided with a renewal in the study of polysemy, which has taken place in the psycholinguistics camp mainly. There is already a fruitful interbreeding between two lines of research: the theoretical study of lexical word meaning, on the one hand, and the models of polysemy psycholinguists present, on the other. In this paper I aim at deepening on this ongoing interbreeding, examine what is said about polysemy, particularly in the psycholinguistics literature, and then show how what we seem to know about the representation and storage of polysemous senses affects the models that we have about lexical word meaning.


Polysemy Word meaning Semantics and pragmatics Content words 



This work benefited from comments from Andreas Brocher, Ingrid Lossius Falkum, Lotte Hogeweg, Marina Ortega, Tim Pritchard, Alexandra Spalek, and an anomymous reviewer. Research for this work was funded by Projects IT769-13 (Basque Government) and FFI2014-52196-P, of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ikerbasque: Basque Foundation for ScienceBilbaoSpain
  2. 2.Linguistics and Basque Studies DepartmentUniversity of the Basque CountryVitoriaSpain

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