Difference Between
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Definition vs. Meaning: Know the Difference

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By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 13, 2024
Definition is a precise statement explaining what a word or concept means, while Meaning is the significance or interpretation of a word, phrase, or concept.
Definition vs. Meaning

Key Differences

Definition refers to the formal statement of the exact meaning of a word, often found in dictionaries. It is structured, specific, and leaves little room for ambiguity. Conversely, Meaning encompasses the broader understanding, implications, or interpretations that a word or concept can convey, extending beyond just the dictionary definition to include context, emotions, and cultural perspectives.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 13, 2024
When considering Definition, it's about providing a clear, concise description or explanation of a term. For instance, a dictionary might offer a strict definition of words like "democracy" or "freedom." On the other hand, the Meaning of these words can vary greatly depending on historical, cultural, and individual contexts, showing that meaning is often subjective and fluid.
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In the realm of language, Definition serves as the foundational basis for understanding the literal aspect of words and phrases. It’s the starting point for linguistic comprehension. In contrast, Meaning delves into the interpretative aspect, often shaped by personal experiences, cultural backgrounds, and the particular context in which a word is used.
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Jan 13, 2024
Definition can be seen as the skeleton of linguistic comprehension, providing the basic structure and boundaries. Meaning, however, is akin to the flesh and blood, bringing color, depth, and variation to the understanding of language. It’s where personal and cultural nuances play a significant role.
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Jan 13, 2024
Lastly, while a Definition is often universal and agreed upon, Meaning can be diverse and subjective. The definition of a word like "love" is straightforward in a dictionary, but its meaning can vary dramatically from person to person and culture to culture, influenced by individual experiences and societal norms.
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Comparison Chart

Nature

Precise, structured explanation of a term
Broader, subjective interpretation or significance
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Source

Usually found in dictionaries
Derived from context, culture, experiences
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Scope

Literal, exact description
Includes emotional, cultural, and personal nuances
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Flexibility

Generally fixed and universal
Fluid, varies with context and perspective
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Role in Communication

Provides basic understanding of terms
Adds depth, emotion, and personal connection
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Definition and Meaning Definitions

Definition

The precise explanation of the nature of a term.
The definition of 'photosynthesis' is the process by which green plants use sunlight to synthesize foods.
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Meaning

The emotional or philosophical content conveyed by a word or sentence.
The meaning of 'home' goes beyond just a physical building; it's about comfort and belonging.
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Definition

A statement that explains the meaning of a word or phrase.
The definition of 'ephemeral' is something that lasts for a very short time.
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Meaning

The personal or cultural interpretation of a word or concept.
For many, the meaning of 'success' is deeply personal and varies greatly.
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Definition

A description of the meaning of something.
The legal definition of 'theft' involves the act of taking someone's property without permission.
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Meaning

What is intended to be conveyed or referred to by a word, text, or concept.
The meaning of his speech about freedom was inspirational.
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Definition

A clear statement of what a word or concept means.
The definition of 'democracy' includes the concept of rule by the majority.
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Meaning

The significance or interpretation of something.
The meaning of her smile was clear: she was happy.
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Definition

The exact meaning of a word, especially as given in a dictionary.
The definition of 'ambiguity' clearly states it means uncertainty or inexactness.
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Meaning

The underlying or implicit significance of a word or phrase.
The meaning of the phrase 'break a leg' is actually a way of wishing good luck.
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Definition

A statement of the meaning of a word, phrase, or term, as in a dictionary entry.
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Meaning

The denotation, referent, or idea associated with a word or phrase
How many meanings does the word "dog" have?.
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Definition

A statement or description of the fundamental character or scope of something
"[The panel] calls for a clearer definition of the status of people captured in American military operations" (Economist).
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Meaning

Something that is conveyed or intended, especially by language; sense or significance
The writer's meaning was obscured by convoluted prose.
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Definition

The act or process of stating a precise meaning or significance; formulation of a meaning
The definition of terms is essential to any successful scholarly study.
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Meaning

An interpreted goal, intent, or end
"The central meaning of his pontificate is to restore papal authority" (Conor Cruise O'Brien).
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Definition

The state of being clearly outlined
"With the drizzle, the trees in the little clearing had lost definition" (Anthony Hyde).
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Meaning

A sense of importance or purpose
When he became a teacher, he felt that his life had meaning.
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Definition

The level of detail in a recording, production, or digital encoding of an image or sound.
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Meaning

Disposed or intended in a specified manner. Often used in combination
A well-meaning fellow.
Ill-meaning intentions.
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Definition

A statement of the meaning of a word or word group or a sign or symbol (dictionary definitions).
Your definition of "elephant" needs to be more precise than "a big animal with large ears".
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Meaning

Full of meaning; expressive
Gave me a meaning look.
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Definition

A clear instance conforming to the dictionary or textbook definition.
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Meaning

(of words, expressions or symbols)
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Definition

A statement expressing the essential nature of something; formulation
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Meaning

The denotation, referent, or idea connected with a word, expression, or symbol.
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Definition

The action or process of defining.
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Meaning

The connotation associated with a word, expression, or symbol.
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Definition

The act of defining; determination of the limits.
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Meaning

The purpose, value, or significance (of something) beyond the fact of that thing's existence.
The meaning of life
The number of persons attending the vigil had a lot of meaning to the families.
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Definition

A product of defining.
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Meaning

(of a person's actions) Intention.
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Definition

The action or power of describing, explaining, or making definite and clear.
Her comic genius is beyond definition.
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Meaning

Present participle of mean
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Definition

Clarity of visual presentation, distinctness of outline or detail.
The definition of a telescope.
Improve the definition of an image.
High-defintion videos
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Meaning

Having a (specified) intention.
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Definition

Clarity, especially of musical sound in reproduction.
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Meaning

Expressing some intention or significance; meaningful.
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Definition

Sharp demarcation of outlines or limits.
A jacket with distinct waist definition.
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Meaning

That which is meant or intended; intent; purpose; aim; object; as, a mischievous meaning was apparent.
If there be any good meaning towards you.
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Definition

(bodybuilding) The degree to which individual muscles are distinct on the body.
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Meaning

That which is signified, whether by act lanquage; signification; sense; import; as, the meaning of a hint.
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Definition

(programming) A statement which provides a previous declaration with a value or body of a subroutine (in the case of function).
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Meaning

Sense; power of thinking.
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Definition

(mathematics) A statement that establishes the referent of a term or notation.
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Meaning

The message that is intended or expressed or signified;
What is the meaning of this sentence
The significance of a red traffic light
The signification of Chinese characters
The import of his announcement was ambigtuous
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Definition

The act of defining; determination of the limits; as, a telescope accurate in definition.
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Meaning

The idea that is intended;
What is the meaning of this proverb?
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Definition

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.
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Meaning

Rich in significance or implication;
A meaning look
Pregnant with meaning
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Definition

Description; sort.
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Definition

An exact enunciation of the constituents which make up the logical essence.
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Definition

Distinctness or clearness, as of an image formed by an optical instrument; precision in detail.
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Definition

A concise explanation of the meaning of a word or phrase or symbol
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Definition

Clarity of outline;
Exercise had give his muscles superior definition
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

How does Definition differ from Meaning?

Definition is the specific explanation of a term, while meaning includes broader interpretations and implications.
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Can Meaning vary while Definition remains constant?

Yes, meanings can vary based on context, while definitions are generally stable.
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Why is Definition important in language?

It provides a clear and agreed-upon understanding of terms.
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How does culture influence Meaning?

Cultural backgrounds can shape the interpretation and significance of words.
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Can the Meaning of a word change over time?

Absolutely, meanings evolve with changes in culture and usage.
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How do you find the Definition of a word?

By consulting dictionaries or other authoritative linguistic sources.
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Can a word have multiple Meanings?

Yes, many words carry several different interpretations.
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What is a Definition?

A precise explanation of the meaning of a word or term.
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Are Definitions the same in all languages?

Not always, as translations and cultural nuances can alter definitions.
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Are Definitions subjective?

Definitions aim to be objective, but some words may have varying explanations.
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How does personal experience influence Meaning?

Individual experiences can shape one's interpretation and emotional connection to words.
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Is Definition always found in dictionaries?

Typically, yes, as dictionaries aim to provide standardized definitions.
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Is it possible for a word to lose its original Meaning?

Yes, through processes like semantic drift, meanings can change over time.
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How do you determine the Meaning of a new word?

By considering its use in context and related cultural or linguistic cues.
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Is the Meaning of a symbol or gesture also subject to change?

Yes, like words, their interpretations can evolve with cultural shifts.
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Does context affect Meaning?

Yes, context can greatly influence the interpretation of a word.
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Is the Definition of a technical term important?

Yes, especially for clarity and precision in that field.
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Can a phrase have a different Meaning for different people?

Certainly, as interpretations are influenced by personal and cultural factors.
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Can the same word have different Definitions in different fields?

Yes, technical jargon often gives specific meanings in different disciplines.
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Why is understanding Meaning important in communication?

It ensures that the intended message is conveyed and understood correctly.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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