For eg:

If you marry a wrong girl, you are finished.


My work is finished.

So, I just wanted to know if the word "finished" here got any name like "multiple usage of an English word"?

Is there a specific name for this kind of words in English ?


  • 2
    Polysemy: - the capacity for a sign (such as a word, phrase, or symbol) to have multiple meanings (that is, multiple semes or sememes and thus multiple senses), usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field. It is thus usually regarded as distinct from homonymy, in which the multiple meanings of a word may be unconnected or unrelated. – FumbleFingers Feb 18 '16 at 12:55
  • @FumbleFingers Thanks, this was the word I was looking for:) – jitendrapurohit Feb 18 '16 at 13:02

Polysemy: the existence of several meanings in a single word.

Word Origin: from New Latin polysēmia, from Greek polusēmos having many meanings, from poly- + sēma a sign.


Not to be confused with homonymy. From Quora:

There's a good deal of overlap in meaning, but the key difference is that a polysemous word is one word with different meanings, while homonymous words are different words that share a shape (usually both spelling and pronunciation). For example, most people would consider the noun tire (the things on your car) and the verb tire (what happens when you exercise) to be completely different words, even though they look and sound the same. They're homonyms. On the other hand, most people agree that there is only one word offense, but that it has various meanings which are all related: the attacking team, a criminal act, a feeling of being insulted, etc. So offense is polysemous.


This is called a homonym, or a multiple meaning word.

homonym - each of two or more words having the same spelling but different meanings and origins

A restrictive definition of this includes only words that are homographs AND homophones.

homograph - each of two or more words spelled the same but not necessarily pronounced the same and having different meanings and origins.

homophone - each of two words that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, and may differ in spelling

This covers words that are spelled and pronounced the same, but have different meanings.

  • seems informative, but why the downvote ? – jitendrapurohit Feb 18 '16 at 13:00

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