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Univoke[1] or monoseme[2] Expressions are univocal linguistic expressions that are used with the same sense of meaning.

For example, “… is a piece of furniture” is said of chairs and tables in exactly the same sense, while “… is a bank” is said of financial institutions and seating in quite a different sense. The latter is a so-called equivocal expression. A special case is when, for example, “… is healthy” is said of a person or of a foodstuff. Such a way of speaking is often called analogous.

At least since Aristotle it has been discussed whether different categories and in particular “being” are univocal, equivocal or analogous to different types of objects. Many philosophers and theologians found it necessary to explain how the talk of limited objects relates to the talk of a first cause or the divine. While many theorists of the 12th and 13th centuries argued for analogy, it seemed to, among others. Duns Scotus, among others, that in a fundamental sense “being” had to be analyzed as univocal in order to preserve a unity of ontology and epistemology respectively. (Cf. on these debates in more detail the account in Analogy (Philosophy) as well as the literature cited there)

See also

  • The one
Wiktionary: unambiguous– Meaning explanations, word origin, synonyms, translations

Web links

  • Eckhart Triebel: Explanation using the Brockhaus Encyclopedia 1966 on “univok”


  1. … foreign word, more precisely loanword from Latin, to which the (likewise borrowed) root words (or parts of words) “uni-” and “Vox“; actually “univok“, i.e. (uninflected) written in lower case, as is usual for adjectives (in German); and here capitalized only at the beginning of the sentence (also inflected or inflected); associated (related) nouns “Univocation” and “Univocity“ …
  2. … the synonymous proper word for the so-called monosemy (borrowed from ancient Greek) Monosemy