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1.clarity of outline"exercise had given his muscles superior definition"
2.a concise explanation of the meaning of a word or phrase or symbol
DefinitionDef`i*ni"tion (?), n. [L. definitio: cf. F. définition.]
1. The act of defining; determination of the limits; as, a telescope accurate in definition.
2. Act of ascertaining and explaining the signification; a description of a thing by its properties; an explanation of the meaning of a word or term; as, the definition of “circle;” the definition of “wit;” an exact definition; a loose definition.
Definition being nothing but making another understand by words what the term defined stands for. Locke.
3. Description; sort. [R.] “A new creature of another definition.” Jer. Taylor.
4. (Logic) An exact enunciation of the constituents which make up the logical essence.
5. (Opt.) Distinctness or clearness, as of an image formed by an optical instrument; precision in detail.
Syn. -- Definition, Explanation, Description. A definition is designed to settle a thing in its compass and extent; an explanation is intended to remove some obscurity or misunderstanding, and is therefore more extended and minute; a description enters into striking particulars with a view to interest or impress by graphic effect. It is not therefore true, though often said, that description is only an extended definition. “Logicians distinguish definitions into essential and accidental. An essential definition states what are regarded as the constituent parts of the essence of that which is to be defined; and an accidental definition lays down what are regarded as circumstances belonging to it, viz., properties or accidents, such as causes, effects, etc.” Whately.
circular definition • contextual definition • definition by context • definition of context • dictionary definition • explicit definition • high-definition television • ostensive definition • recursive definition • stipulative definition
1985 World Health Organization AIDS surveillance case definition • 1994 expanded World Health Organization AIDS case definition • Abstract-Type and Scheme-Definition Language • Adventure Definition Language • Agent Open Service Interface Definition • Algebraic definition • Analog high-definition television system • Anno Domini High Definition • Another System Definition Facility • Assertion definition language • Assessment Open Service Interface Definition • Authentication Open Service Interface Definition • Authorization Open Service Interface Definition • Brawling (legal definition) • Business Process Definition Metamodel • Case definition • Channel Definition Format • China Blue High-definition Disc • Circular definition • Classical definition of effeminacy • Classical definition of probability • Comparison of high definition optical disc formats • Comparison of high-definition optical disc formats • Conceptual definition • Coordinative definition • CourseManagement Open Service Interface Definition • Data Definition Language • Data element definition • Definition (Jersey album) • Definition (TV series) • Definition (album) • Definition (disambiguation) • Definition (song) • Definition of Macedonia • Definition of Palestine • Definition of Palestinian • Definition of Real • Definition of Sound • Definition of life • Definition of man • Definition of music • Definition of planet • Definition of terrorism • Definition of the situation • Description Definition Language • Destruction By Definition • Dictionary Open Service Interface Definition • Digital eXtreme Definition • Document Definition Markup Language • Document Schema Definition Languages • Document Type Definition • Dogmatic definition • Dungeon Definition Language • Dynamical system (definition) • Element Definition Document • Elementary definition • Enhanced definition • Enhanced definition television • Enhanced-definition television • Enumerative definition • Extended-definition television • Extensional definition • Extreme High Definition • Fallacies of definition • Field of definition • Filing Open Service Interface Definition • Generic Interface Definition • Genus-differentia definition • Genus–differentia definition • Grading Open Service Interface Definition • Guidelines for the Definition of Managed Objects • Half-Life High Definition Pack • Hierarchy Open Service Interface Definition • High Definition (album) • High Definition (radio program) • High Definition Compatible Digital • High definition optical disc format war • High definition sound effect • High definition thermal imaging • High definition video • High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance • High-Definition Coding • High-Definition Versatile Disc • High-Resolution High-Definition • High-definition • High-definition (disambiguation) • High-definition digital TV • High-definition metrology • High-definition pre-recorded media and compression • High-definition radio • High-definition television • High-definition television in Singapore • High-definition television in the United Kingdom • High-definition television in the United States • High-definition video • Higher Definition • IAU definition of planet • Ill definition • Ill-definition • Improved-definition television • In High Definition • Intel High Definition Audio • Intensional definition • Java Interface Definition Language • Job Definition Format • K2 High Definition • Kabbalistic definition of God • Legal definition of motorcycle • Lexical definition • Logging Open Service Interface Definition • Low-definition television • Lower Definition • Messaging Open Service Interface Definition • Microsoft Interface Definition Language • Mobile High-definition Link • Model based definition • Object Definition Language • One Definition Rule • Ontology Definition MetaModel • Open Source Definition • Operational definition • Ostensive definition • Persuasive definition • Phenomenological definition of God • Pi (definition) • Planning Domain Definition Language • Precising definition • Reaching definition • Recursive definition • Report Definition Language • Repository Open Service Interface Definition • Scheduling Open Service Interface Definition • Set-theoretic definition of natural numbers • Standard Definition Television • Standard-definition • Standard-definition television • Stipulative definition • Succession Planning definition • Syntax Definition Formalism • System V Interface Definition • Technical definition • Tensor (intrinsic definition) • The DEFinition • The Free Software Definition • Theological definition (Catholicism) • Theoretical definition • View Definition Language • Welfare definition of economics • Well definition • Well-definition • Workflow Open Service Interface Definition • XML Process Definition Language • Ε-δ definition
action de (ou fait d'être) (fr)[Classe...]
border, bound, define, delimit, demarcate, outline[Nominalisation]
lexical unit; word; term[ClasseHyper.]
clear-cut, distinct, trenchant - decided, distinct - distinct - crisp, sharp - delineation, depiction, portrayal - delineation, depiction, limning, line drawing - definition - defining, shaping - delineative, depictive[Dérivé]
lexical unit; word; term[ClasseHyper.]
A definition (≝) is a passage that explains the meaning of a term (a word, phrase or other set of symbols), or a type of thing. The term to be defined is the definiendum. A term may have many different senses or meanings. For each such specific sense, a definiens is a cluster of words that defines that term.
A chief difficulty in managing definition is the need to use other terms that are already understood or whose definitions are easily obtainable. The use of the term in a simple example may suffice. By contrast, a dictionary definition has additional details, typically including an etymology showing snapshots of the earlier meanings and the parent language.
Like other words, the term definition has subtly different meanings in different contexts. A definition may be descriptive of the general use meaning, or stipulative of the speaker's immediate intentional meaning. For example, in formal languages like mathematics, a 'stipulative' definition guides a specific discussion. A descriptive definition can be shown to be "right" or "wrong" by comparison to general usage, but a stipulative definition can only be disproved by showing a logical contradiction.
A precising definition extends the descriptive dictionary definition (lexical definition) of a term for a specific purpose by including additional criteria that narrow down the set of things meeting the definition.
C.L. Stevenson has identified persuasive definition as a form of stipulative definition which purports to describe the "true" or "commonly accepted" meaning of a term, while in reality stipulating an altered use, perhaps as an argument for some specific view.
Stevenson has also noted that some definitions are "legal" or "coercive", whose object is to create or alter rights, duties or crimes.
An intensional definition, also called a coactive definition, specifies the necessary and sufficient conditions for a thing being a member of a specific set. Any definition that attempts to set out the essence of something, such as that by genus and differentia, is an intensional definition.
So, for example, an intensional definition of 'Prime Minister' might be the most senior minister of a cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. An extensional definition would be a list of all past, present and future prime ministers.
One important form of the extensional definition is ostensive definition. This gives the meaning of a term by pointing, in the case of an individual, to the thing itself, or in the case of a class, to examples of the right kind. So you can explain who Alice (an individual) is by pointing her out to me; or what a rabbit (a class) is by pointing at several and expecting me to 'catch on'. The process of ostensive definition itself was critically appraised by Ludwig Wittgenstein.
An enumerative definition of a concept or term is an extensional definition that gives an explicit and exhaustive listing of all the objects that fall under the concept or term in question. Enumerative definitions are only possible for finite sets and only practical for relatively small sets.
Divisio and partitio are classical terms for definitions. A partitio is simply an intensional definition. A divisio is not an extensional definition. Divisio is an exhaustive list of subsets of a set, in the sense that every member of the "divided" set is a member of one of the subsets. An extreme form of divisio lists all sets whose only member is a member of the "divided" set. The difference between this and an extensional definition is that extensional definitions list members, and not sets.
A genus–differentia definition is a type of intensional definition, and it is composed by two parts:
For example, consider these two definitions:
Those definitions can be expressed as a genus and 2 differentiae:
When multiple definitions could serve equally well, then all such definitions apply simultaneously. For instance, given the following:
both of these definitions of 'square' are equally acceptable:
Thus, a 'square' is a member of both the genus 'rectangle' and the genus 'rhombus'. In such a case, it is notationally convenient to consolidate the definitions into one definition that is expressed with multiple genera (and possibly no differentia, as in the following):
or completely equivalently:
In classical thought, a definition was taken to be a statement of the essence of a thing. Aristotle had it that an object's essential attributes form its "essential nature", and that a definition of the object must include these essential attributes.
The idea that a definition should state the essence of a thing led to the distinction between nominal and real essence, originating with Aristotle. In a passage from the Posterior Analytics, he says that we can know the meaning of a made-up name (he gives the example 'goat stag'), without knowing what he calls the 'essential nature' of the thing that the name would denote, if there were such a thing. This led medieval logicians to distinguish between what they called the quid nominis or 'whatness of the name', and the underlying nature common to all the things it names, which they called the quid rei or 'whatness of the thing'. (Early modern philosophers like Locke used the corresponding English terms 'nominal essence' and 'real essence'). The name 'hobbit', for example, is perfectly meaningful. It has a quid nominis. But we could not know the real nature of hobbits, even if there were such things, and so we cannot know the real nature or quid rei of hobbits. By contrast, the name 'man' denotes real things (men) that have a certain quid rei. The meaning of a name is distinct from the nature that thing must have in order that the name apply to it.
This leads to a corresponding distinction between nominal and real definition. A nominal definition is the definition explaining what a word means, i.e. which says what the 'nominal essence' is, and is definition in the classical sense as given above. A real definition, by contrast, is one expressing the real nature or quid rei of the thing.
This preoccupation with essence dissipated in much of modern philosophy. Analytic philosophy in particular is critical of attempts to elucidate the essence of a thing. Russell described it as "a hopelessly muddle-headed notion".
More recently Kripke's formalisation of possible world semantics in modal logic led to a new approach to essentialism. Insofar as the essential properties of a thing are necessary to it, they are those things it possesses in all possible worlds. Kripke refers to names used in this way as rigid designators.
A recursive definition, sometimes also called an inductive definition, is one that defines a word in terms of itself, so to speak, albeit in a useful way. Normally this consists of three steps:
So "0" will have exactly one successor, which for convenience we can call "1". In turn, "1" will have exactly one successor, which we would call "2", and so on. Notice that the second condition in the definition itself refers to natural numbers, and hence involves self-reference. Although this sort of definition involves a form of circularity, it is not vicious, and the definition has been quite successful.
A working definition is either chosen for an occasion and may not fully conform with established or authoritative definitions. Not knowing of established definitions would be grounds for selecting or devising a working definition. Or it refers to a definition being developed; a tentative definition that can be tailored to create an authoritative definition.
Given that a natural language such as English contains, at any given time, a finite number of words, any comprehensive list of definitions must either be circular or rely upon primitive notions. If every term of every definiens must itself be defined, "where at last should we stop?" A dictionary, for instance, insofar as it is a comprehensive list of lexical definitions, must resort to circularity.
Many philosophers have chosen instead to leave some terms undefined. The scholastic philosophers claimed that the highest genera (the so-called ten generalissima) cannot be defined, since we cannot assign any higher genus under which they may fall. Thus we cannot define being, unity and similar concepts. Locke supposes in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding that the names of simple concepts do not admit of any definition. More recently Bertrand Russell sought to develop a formal language based on logical atoms. Other philosophers, notably Wittgenstein, rejected the need for any undefined simples. Wittgenstein pointed out in his Philosophical Investigations that what counts as a "simple" in one circumstance might not do so in another. He rejected the very idea that every explanation of the meaning of a term needed itself to be explained: "As though an explanation hung in the air unless supported by another one", claiming instead that explanation of a term is only needed when we need to avoid misunderstanding.
Locke and Mill also argued that we cannot define individuals. We learn names by connecting an idea with a sound, so that speaker and hearer have the same idea when the same word is used. This is not possible when no one else is acquainted with the particular thing that has "fallen under our notice". Russell offered his theory of descriptions in part as a way of defining a proper name, the definition being given by a definite description that "picks out" exactly one individual. Saul Kripke pointed to difficulties with this approach, especially in relation to modality, in his book Naming and Necessity.
There is a presumption in the classic example of a definition that the definiens can be stated. Wittgenstein argued that for some terms this is not the case. The examples he used include game, number and family. In such cases, he argued, there is no fixed boundary that can be used to provide a definition. Rather, the items are grouped together because of a family resemblance. For terms such as these it is not possible and indeed not necessary to state a definition; rather, one simply comes to understand the use of the term.
In medical dictionaries, definitions should to the greatest extent possible be:
|Look up definition in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|