Well 'opposite' may not be the right word to describe it but here is the question.

Polysemy is the capacity for a symbol to have multiple meanings. On the other hand, a meaning can be described by multiple symbols (George W. Bush, President Bush, etc). Is there a term to describe the second situation?



I've looked for possible meanings and stumbled upon "multinymy" and its synonym "polynymy" in "Standardizing and Harmonizing Terminology: Theory and Practice" by Sue Ellen Wright and Richard A Strehlow, editors.

It's not a common term, and I've not encountered it before, yet it might help.

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  • Thanks. I am thinking, well not entirely correct, but 'synonymy'? – zig Oct 29 '15 at 17:01
  • No, synonymy is similarity in meaning of different symbols, not the same meaning described by multiple symbols. Between synonyms there is always some, even if minute, difference. – Victor Bazarov Oct 29 '15 at 17:04

In almost any credible context where the two concepts might be juxtaposed, it would seem to make sense to use words that are structurally "opposite". From dictionary.reference.com...

monosemy -the fact of having only a single meaning; absence of ambiguity in a word.

Both those terms are from the perspective of a single word/symbol. If an encoding system contains multiple (monosemic or polysemic) symbols with the same meaning, that's [semantic] redundancy.

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