is the study of signs
or sign systems. This is applied to any kind of signs, not just words as in semantics
The term was first coined in 1690 by John Locke
in An essay concerning human understanding
Charles Sanders Peirce ((1839 - 1914), founder of the philosophical school of pragmatism, invented semiotics as a discipline. Spelled it semeiotic."
Ferdinand de Saussure (1857 - 1913), the "father" of modern linguistics. Invented, at about the same time as Peirce, a subject he called "semiology."
Charles W. Morris (1901-1979) is known for his Foundations of the Theory of Signs.
Umberto Eco made a wider audience aware of semiotics by various publications, most notably A Theory of Semiotics. Explicitly acknowledges Peirce's importance.
All Wikipedia text
is available under the
terms of the GNU Free Documentation License