Textual Definition

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A textual definition is a definitional statement that is a declarative linguistic item.



  • (Wikipedia, 2013) ⇒ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definition Retrieved:2013-12-9.
    • A definition is a statement that explains the meaning of a term (a word, phrase, or other set of symbols). [1] The term to be defined is the definiendum. The term may have many different senses and multiple meanings. For each meaning, a definiens is a cluster of words that defines that term (and clarifies the speaker's intention). As an example: To successfully define the word "Vegan", the definiendum (the word "Vegan" itself) must be given a definiens (actually vegan has at least two definiens: One is "someone who avoids using animal products", and another definiens is "someone from a place called Vega, Norway").

      A definition will vary in aspects like precision or popularity (e.g. globally, the word “Vegan” rarely refers to the definiens "someone from Vega, Norway"). There are also different types of definitions with different purposes and focuses (e.g. intensional, extensional, descriptive, stipulative, and so on).

      A chief difficulty in the management of definitions is the necessity of using other terms that are already understood or whose definitions are easily obtainable or demonstrable (e.g. a need, sometimes, for ostensive definitions).

      A dictionary definition typically contains additional details about a word, such as an etymology and the language or languages of its origin, or obsolete meanings.

  1. Depending on the domain of discourse, for example in a translation or a review, a definition serves to set the scene. In mathematics, a definition serves to sharpen, clarify, or point out the objects of discourse.


  • (Masse et al., 2008) ⇒ Blondin Masse, A, G. Chicoisne, Y. Gargouri, Stevan Harnad, O. Picard, and O. Marcotte. (2008). “How Is Meaning Grounded in Dictionary Definitions?.” In: TextGraphs-3 Workshop, 22nd International Conference on Computational Linguistics (Coling 2008).
    • QUOTE: At its most basic level, a dictionary is a set of associated pairs: a word and its definition, along with some disambiguating parameters. The word to be defined, [math]\displaystyle{ w }[/math], is called the definiendum (plural: definienda) while the finite nonempty set of words that defines w, d_w, is called the set of definientes of [math]\displaystyle{ w }[/math] (singular: definiens). [In the context of this mathematical analysis, we will use “word” to mean a finite string of uninterrupted letters having some associated meaning.]

      Each dictionary entry accordingly consists of a definiendum [math]\displaystyle{ w }[/math] followed by its set of definientes d_w. A dictionary D then consists of a finite set of pairs (w, d_w) where [math]\displaystyle{ w }[/math] is a word and d_w = (w_1, w_2,..., w_n), where [math]\displaystyle{ n }[/math] >= 1, is its definition, satisfying the property that for all (w', d_w') in D and for all d in d_w, there exists (w'; d_w') in D such that d = w. A pair (w, d_w) is called an entry of D. In other words, a dictionary is a finite set of words, each of which is defined, and each of its defining words is likewise defined somewhere in the dictionary.



  • Lawler JM. 1973. Studies in English generics . University of Michigan Papers in Linguistics.