Many phraseological units are polysemantic. Their polysemantic structure develops mostly due to further metaphoric transference of their meaning.

Like words phraseological units can be related as synonyms,e.g. to back the wrong horse to hunt the wrong hare to get the boot on the wrong foot; before the ink is dry in a twinkle of an eye - before one can say Jack Robinson; like a shot - in half a trice,etc. Phraseological synonyms often belong to different stylistic layers (Sec Part 6).

Phraseological synonyms should not be mixed up with variantsof a phraseological unit, e.g. to add fuel to the fire to add fuel to fire to add oil to fire to add fuel to the flame, etc.; God knows goodness knows Heaven knows the Lord knows, etc.; not worth a bean not worth a brass farthing not worth a button not worth a pin not worth a rap not worth a straw, etc.

Occasional phraseological variants may be formed due to authors actualizing the potential (literary) meanings of their components, (C.f. A skeleton in the family cupboard :: We were peeping into the family cupboard and having a look at the good old skeleton (P. G. Wodehouse).

Phraseological antonyms are of two main types: they may either differ in single component (to do one's best - to do one's worst; up to date - out of date; to look black - to look bright, etc.) or have different sets of components (to draw the first breath - to breathe one's last; to take a circuit - to make a bee-line; talk nineteen to the dozen - to keep mum, etc.).

Such phraseological units as to hang by one's eyebrows", ", " " and to hang by one's eyebrowsII" , ; " can be regarded as phraseological homonyms.Phraseological homonyms are very rare and should not be confused with numerous homophrases, i.e. phrases identical in form but differing in meaning that belong to different classes (free word-groups, phrasal terms and phraseological units including phraseological professionalisms), e.g.: to ring a bell" " (free word-group):: to ring a bellII"", " y; (phraseological unit); peeping Tom" " (phraseological unit) :: peepingTom II) " ", b) " ) "" (phraseological professionalisms); blue bottle1" " (free word-group) :: blue bottle II1) . " "; 2) . " "; 3) . "" (biological terms) :: blue bottleIII" (phraseological unit).


  1. Compare the meanings of the given words. Define what semantic features are shared by all the members of the group and what semantic properties distinguish them from each other.
  2. Divergences in the semantic structure of words
  3. Phraseology
  4. Semantic trends in grammar.
  5. The classification of phraseological units based on the semantic principle.
  6. The logical classification of semantic change
  7. The logical classification of semantic change.
  8. The psychological classification of semantic change
  9. The relationship between the lexical meaning and the notion.
  10. The socio-linguistic classification of semantic change
  11. Translation of monosemantic words

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