meaning


meaning
meaningly, adv.meaningness, n.
/mee"ning/, n.
1. what is intended to be, or actually is, expressed or indicated; signification; import: the three meanings of a word.
2. the end, purpose, or significance of something: What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of this intrusion?
3. Ling.
a. the nonlinguistic cultural correlate, reference, or denotation of a linguistic form; expression.
b. linguistic content (opposed to expression).
adj.
4. intentioned (usually used in combination): She's a well-meaning person.
5. full of significance; expressive: a meaning look.
[1250-1300; ME (n.); see MEAN1, -ING1, -ING2]
Syn. 1. tenor, gist, drift, trend. MEANING, PURPORT, SENSE, SIGNIFICANCE denote that which is expressed or indicated by something. MEANING is the general word denoting that which is intended to be or actually is expressed or indicated: the meaning of a word or glance. SENSE may be used to denote a particular meaning (among others) of a word or phrase: The word is frequently used in this sense. SENSE may also be used loosely to refer to intelligible meaning: There's no sense in what he says.
SIGNIFICANCE refers particularly to a meaning that is implied rather than expressed: the significance of her glance; or to a meaning the importance of which may not be easy to perceive immediately: The real significance of his words was not grasped at the time. PURPORT is mainly limited to the meaning of a formal document, speech, important conversation, etc., and refers to the gist of something fairly complicated: the purport of your letter to the editor.

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In philosophy and linguistics, the sense of a linguistic expression, sometimes understood in contrast to its referent.

For example, the expressions "the morning star" and "the evening star" have different meanings, though their referent (Venus) is the same. Some expressions have meanings but no referents ("the present king of France") or referents but no meanings ("that"). The literal or conventional meaning of an expression may differ from what a speaker of that expression means by uttering it on a particular occasion; this is the case with similes, statements uttered ironically, and statements that convey various "conversational implicatures," as in the following examples: "She entered the house and shot him" implicates that she shot him in the house after she entered it, though this is not part of the sentence's literal meaning; "John has three sons" implicates that John has no more than three sons, though again the sentence does not literally say this. Other non-literal aspects of meaning include the potential for carrying out various "speech acts" (see speech act theory); e.g., uttered in the appropriate circumstances, the sentence "I christen thee the Joseph Stalin," constitutes the act of naming a ship, and the sentence "I am cold" constitutes a request to close the window. See also pragmatics; semantics.

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Universalium. 2010.

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