Definition

A definition is a statement that explains the meaning of a term (a word, phrase, or other set of symbols). 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 with reference to the speaker's immediate intended meaning.

For example, in formal languages like mathematics, a "stipulative" definition guides a specific discussion. A stipulative definition can only be disproved by showing a logical contradiction. But a "descriptive" definition can be shown to be "right" or "wrong" with reference to general usage.

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. The use of the term in a simple example may suffice. A dictionary definition typically contains additional details, such an etymology, obsolete meanings, and the language or languages of its origin.

A precising definition extends the descriptive dictionary definition (lexical definition) of a term for a specific purpose by including additional criteria, which narrow the set of things that meet the definition.

C.L. Stevenson has identified persuasive definition as a form of stipulative definition which purports to state the "true" or "commonly accepted" meaning of a term, while in reality stipulating an altered use (perhaps as an argument for some specific belief). Stevenson has also noted that some definitions are "legal" or "coercive" — their object is to create or alter rights, duties, or crimes.

Read more about Definition:  Intension and Extension, Definition By Genus and Differentia, Recursive Definitions, Working Definitions, Limitations of Definition, In Medicine

Famous quotes containing the word definition:

    ... we all know the wag’s definition of a philanthropist: a man whose charity increases directly as the square of the distance.
    George Eliot [Mary Ann (or Marian)

    Scientific method is the way to truth, but it affords, even in
    principle, no unique definition of truth. Any so-called pragmatic
    definition of truth is doomed to failure equally.
    Willard Van Orman Quine (b. 1908)

    According to our social pyramid, all men who feel displaced racially, culturally, and/or because of economic hardships will turn on those whom they feel they can order and humiliate, usually women, children, and animals—just as they have been ordered and humiliated by those privileged few who are in power. However, this definition does not explain why there are privileged men who behave this way toward women.
    Ana Castillo (b. 1953)