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A referent is a thing that is in a reference relation with (being denoted by) a referencer.



  1. Dave McComb Semantics in business systems: the savvy manager's guide 2004 Page 30 - Semantic Referent - A referent is a person or thing to which a linguistic expression refers. An extensional referent is one where the exact physical instance is referred to directly.
  2. Ignacio Corona, Beth Ellen Jörgensen The contemporary Mexican chronicle Page 77 - 2002 "In the simplest terms, a referent is a discursive entity, that of which we speak . The object of history is the referent of the proper name, or the trace of the real."

  • (Wikipedia, 2013) ⇒ Retrieved:2013-12-15.
    • Reference is a relation between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object. The first object in this relation is said to refer to the second object. The second object – the one to which the first object refers – is called the referent of the first object.

      The term reference is used in many spheres of human knowledge, adopting shades of meaning particular to the contexts in which it is used.

      References can take on many forms, including: a thought, a sensory perception that is audible (onomatopoeia), visual (text), olfactory, or tactile, emotional state, relationship with other, [1] spacetime coordinate, symbolic or alpha-numeric, a physical object or an energy projection; but, other concrete and abstract contexts exist as methods of defining references within the scope of the various fields that require an origin, point of departure, or an original form. This includes methods that intentionally hide the reference from some observers, as in cryptography.

      The following sections give specific usages of reference in different subjects.

  1. Treanor, Brian, Aspects of alterity: Levinas, Marcel, and the contemporary debate, Fordham University Press, 2006, p.41


  • WordNet
    • referent - something referred to; the object of a reference
    • referent - the first term in a proposition; the term to which other terms relate
    • referent - something that refers; a term that refers to another term


  • (Corbett, 2008) ⇒ Dan R. Corbett. (2008). “Graph-based Representation and Reasoning for Ontologies.” In: Studies in Computational Intelligence, Springer. [ 10.1007/978-3-540-78293-3 doi:[ 10.1007/978-3-540-78293-3)
    • QUOTE: A canonical graph is a conceptual graph which is in the closure of the conceptual graphs in its canonical basis under the following operations, called the canonical formation rules.
      • 1. External join. Given two CGs G=(C,R, type, referent, arg1, ..., argm) and G'=(C',R', type', referent', arg'1, ..., arg'm) ...
      • 2. Internal join. Given a CG G=(C,R, type, referent, arg1, ..., argm) ...
      • 3. Restrict type. Given a CG G=(C,R, type, referent, arg1, ..., argm) ...
      • 4. Restrict referent. Given a CG G=(C,R, type, referent, arg1, ..., argm) ...
    • G=(C,R, type, referent, arg1, ..., argm) is said to have a projection into G'=(C',R', type', referent', arg'1, ..., arg'm). “GG, if and only if there is a pair of functions hC : C → C' and hR : R → R', called morphisms, such that:
      • c[math]C[/math] and ∀cC, hC(c) = c only if type(c) ≥ type'(c), and referent(c) = ∗ or referent(c) = referent(c)
      • r[math]R[/math] and ∀r ∈ R, hR(r) = r only if type(r) ≥ type'(r)
      • r[math]R[/math], arg'i (hR(r)) = hC(argi(r))
    • ...
      • Given two concept types, s and t, s is said to have a projection into t if and only if there is a morphism hC : C → C, such that: ∀c ∈ s and ∀c ∈ t, hC(c) = c only if type(c) ≥ type (c ), and referent(c) = ∗ or referent(c) = referent(c ) C is the set of concepts, type : C → T indicates the type of a concept, and referent : C → I indicates the referent marker of a concept.