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The paper discusses the main issues of terminological semantics from a general lexicological point of view. It will be argued that words are not fuzzy, as generally assumed, but clearcut
– in the sense that there must be cognitive effort to perceive word meanings and the objects referred to as clearly different from other words and objects. We assume that the basic principles of this idealistic concept of meaning also hold for terminology. Therefore it has important consequences for terminological efforts like naming, taxonomy and classification, as well as for methodological reflections about how to approach them. The argumentation will be supported by the analysis of the French socioeconomic words and terms employé and cadre which are used in both common speech and terminology. A tridimensional model of meaning is suggested in order to give account of lexical characteristics, context relevance and translation. In this perspective, the concept of core meaning turns out to be a rather complex phenomenon.