Depending on the defi nition one adopts, semiotics is either a broad discipline with an ancient pedigree, or a highly discrete fi eld that has developed only within the last few decades. Defi ned broadly as a ‘science of signs’, semiotics refers to a range of methodologies developed to theorize and systematize our intuitive understandings of communication, signifi cation, meaning and interpretation. The study of signs has an ancient pedigree. No comprehensive philosophy or systematic technique of rhetoric can afford to be without a theory of the sign. Contemporary semiotics has antecedents in classical rhetoric and philosophy, which were centrally concerned with persuasion and demonstration; and in the study of tropes, metaphors and poetry more generally.