In linguistics, a hyponym is a word or phrase whose semantic field is included within that of another word, its hypernym (sometimes spelled hyperonym outside of the natural language processing community). In simpler terms, a hyponym shares a type-of relationship with its hypernym. For example, pigeon, crow, eagle and seagull are all hyponyms of bird (their hypernym); which, in turn, is a hyponym of animal.
Hypernymy is the semantic relation in which one word is the hypernym of another. Hypernymy—the relation in which words stand when their extensions stand in the relation of class to subclass—should not be confused with holonymy, which is the relation in which words stand when the things that they denote stand in the relation of whole to part. A similar warning applies to hyponymy and meronymy.
The notion of hyponymy is particularly relevant to language translation, as hyponyms are very common across languages. For example, in Japanese the word for older brother is Ani (兄), and the word for younger brother is Otōto (弟). An English-to-Japanese translator presented with a phrase containing the English word brother would have to choose which Japanese word equivalent to use. This would be difficult, because abstract information (such as the speakers' relative ages) is often not available during machine translation.
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