When correcting somebody on the application of a word, could it be said that you are being critical of their use of semantics? For example, calling the tool used to pick a lock a "tension wrench" is incorrect because the force being applied is actually "torsion," not "tension." In this situation, it could be said that there is a malapropism; however, does this malapropism fall under semantics?

  • It's speech error, I think it's due to the word closely matching other cohorts. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cohort_model – Daniël W. Crompton Jan 1 '15 at 21:41
  • What definitions of 'semantics' are you aware of? – Edwin Ashworth Jan 2 '15 at 0:22
  • Am I incorrect in believing that lexical semantics deals with the literal meaning of words? – John Jan 2 '15 at 1:11

You might want to investigate "eggcorns", which are mistaken hearings that have a similar sound but different meaning than the original. As pointed out, this is a speech error; it is caused by an error of hearing, or rather an error in mentally "transcribing" a spoken word or phrase, but it is facilitated by a lack of understanding, on the part of the hearer, of the semantics of two similar words. Many of these are cited at the site (and in the book) Common Errors in English Usage. see http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html Eggcorns are also a perennial topic at the ADS-L (listserv of the American Dialect Society). You could join it; but you can search their archives, without joining, here: https://www.google.com/cse/publicurl?cx=015166654881017481565:tinnmx85pdy

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