A polysemous word is one with multiple meanings. This article will explain how Membean teaches these words. 

Our Approach to Polysemy

For polysemous words, Membean teaches the meaning--and in some cases meanings--that are most commonly used in publications and literature, or the definitions that are most likely to be used on standardized tests. For a more in-depth look at a polysemous word, our Word Constellation memlet illustrates the many different meanings of a word.

We don't ask questions about definitions other than the definition we have determined to be the most useful for students. There are good reasons for that:

  1. It allows the student to focus on the most common and most widely used definition of a given word so that when it's encountered in reading, they will have the best chance of knowing what that word means.
  2. Many words display polysemy. The word "cultivate," for instance, has seven meanings in the Merriam Webster online dictionary! It would be quite time consuming to learn all the definitions for every word. Instead, our editors pick out the one, most important definition to know so that you can focus on learning that most frequently used definition and carry on with learning even more words.

Fun Fact: the words run and set have the most definitions in the English language! Run has 645 definitions and set has 430.