In Saussurean linguistics, words do not mean or “refer” to things themselves. Ferdinand de Saussure's theory of the linguistic sign triggers interested in duality and preconceived knowledge, He believed a "a linguistic unit to be a ‘double entity.'" ergo made up of two elements. Studies into the Linguistic Unit – Sign, Signified and Signifier, a further understanding of semiotics begins. Semiotics is the "the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation." Language is a "structured system of signs" combined meaning and "sound-image." Images are Mental Impressions. Perception how we view language - or see words.
The word is the sign.
The sound image is the signifier.
The social definition is the signifies.
Refer to Magritte: This Is Not A Pipe.