Cross-Domain Descriptions: The Sensory and the Psychological

Michelle Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cross-domain descriptions are descriptions of features pertaining to one domain in terms of vocabulary primarily associated with another domain. Notably, we routinely describe psychological features in terms of the sensory domain and vice versa. Sorrow is said to be ‘bitter’ and fear ‘cold’. Music can be described as ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘mournful’, and so on. Such descriptions are rife in both everyday discourse and literary writings. What is it about psychological features that invites descriptions in sensory terms and what is it about the sensory that invites descriptions in terms of the psychological? Drawing on the literature on polysemy, this paper sheds light on cross-domain descriptions pertaining to the sensory
and the psychological domains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)950-964
Number of pages15
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number4
Early online date14 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • cross-domain descriptions
  • emotion descriptions of music
  • metaphor
  • metonymy
  • polysemy
  • sensory descriptions of psychological features


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