What is circularity in semantics?

Circularity in semantics is an issue that occurs when trying to define a word. In order to understand a definition of a word or term, you must understand all of the words in the definition and you must understand all of the words in their definitions.

This continues forever.

Let’s look at an example of circularity by looking at the definition for the word “dog.” We’ll just take the first definition we find for simplicity sake.

dog: a domesticated carnivorous mammal that typically has a long snout, an acute sense of smell, non-retractable claws, and a barking, howling, or whining voice.

In order to understand this definition, we need to look at each word’s definition. We can start with the word “a:”

a: used when referring to someone or something for the first time in a text or conversation.

Next we would have to look up the word for “used” and so on.

 

What to sound more like a native English speaker?

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