Semantics is the linguistic and philosophical study of meaning, in language, programming languages, formal logics, and semiotics. It is concerned with the relationship between signifiers´like words, phrases, signs, and symbols´and what they stand for, their denotation.
In international scientific vocabulary semantics is also called semasiology. The word semantics was first used by Michel Breal, a French philologist. It denotes a range of ideas´from the popular to the highly technical. It is often used in ordinary language for denoting a problem of understanding that comes down to word selection or connotation. This problem of understanding has been the subject of many formal enquiries, over a long period of time, especially in the field of formal semantics. In linguistics, it is the study of the interpretation of signs or symbols used in agents or communities within particular circumstances and contexts. Within this view, sounds, facial expressions, body language, and proxemics have semantic (meaningful) content, and each comprises several branches of study. In written language, things like paragraph structure and punctuation bear semantic content; other forms of language bear other semantic content.
In the late 1960s, Richard Montague proposed a system for defining semantic entries in the lexicon in terms of the lambda calculus. In these terms, the syntactic parse of the sentence John ate every bagel would consist of a subject (John) and a predicate (ate every bagel); Montague demonstrated that the meaning of the sentence altogether could be decomposed into the meanings of its parts and in relatively few rules of combination. The logical predicate thus obtained would be elaborated further, e.g. using truth theory models, which ultimately relate meanings to a set of Tarskian universals, which may lie outside the logic. The notion of such meaning atoms or primitives is basic to the language of thought hypothesis from the 1970s.