Definition of definition in US English:



  • 1A statement of the exact meaning of a word, especially in a dictionary.

    • ‘No, it's not exactly the dictionary definition of the word.’
    • ‘I try to limit pop-culture references and colloquial clues to a handful within each puzzle and in general each clue is some form of a dictionary definition.’
    • ‘The Judge said she had, in the absence of any statutory definition, consulted several dictionaries for a definition of the word record.’
    • ‘Her dictionary brain would hunt for a definition of the word and she'd say ‘Of course.’’
    • ‘Why am I starting a news program with a dictionary definition?’
    • ‘Another symptom of the problem I'm trying to describe is that the current Webster's II New College Dictionary lacks even a definition of the term!’
    • ‘However, for the record, let us look at the dictionary definition of the word ‘marriage’.’
    • ‘Your browser loads a page from an online dictionary with the definition of the word.’
    • ‘I looked the word magazine up in the dictionary and the definition is a holder in or on a gun for cartridges to be fed into the gun chamber automatically.’
    • ‘His face was a smooth tan color, and he was definitely the dictionary definition of ‘tall, dark, and handsome’.’
    • ‘Mrs. Murray made him write down the definition for all the words in the dictionary that began with the letters Y and X and than put each word in a sentence correctly.’
    • ‘The dictionary definition of the word is to ride on or along a wave on a board.’
    • ‘Someone might learn half a dozen and practice them, and use them for comic purposes with their friends, but really you can't learn a word by reading about it and its definition in a dictionary.’
    sense, explanation, denotation, connotation, interpretation, elucidation, explication
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    1. 1.1 An exact statement or description of the nature, scope, or meaning of something.
      ‘our definition of what constitutes poetry’
      • ‘One important aspect of the definition of women's nature emphasized women's inability to do intellectual work or science of any kind.’
      • ‘I'm struck how in the introductory sections, Publius returns again and again to a definition of ‘human nature.’’
      • ‘Most definitions of the scheme describe it as operating alongside criminal action.’
      • ‘For example, subtle forms of discrimination might not be susceptible to legal challenge but fall within the scope of our definition.’
      • ‘A recent study by Roosa et al. illustrates the difference the definition of child sexual abuse can make to reported rates of abuse.’
      • ‘Our original paper described the definition of the cohorts.’
      • ‘The scope of the definition of spyware is so broad that it leaves malware open as a service mark for Internet Explorer and other Microsoft products.’
      • ‘Toland spoke with John West, associate director of the CSC, who clearly described the real definition of intelligent design.’
      • ‘If the right for these laws to be recognised under section 118 of the Constitution is denied, then what is the point of having the scope written into the definition of guardian?’
      • ‘In producing advice on dyslexia, for example, the council initially defined the problem through a descriptive definition of dyslexia.’
      • ‘Every definition of terrorism describes it in some form as involving ‘the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence’.’
      • ‘One widely accepted definition describes poverty as ‘an enforced lack of socially perceived necessities’.’
      • ‘A service definition includes an abstract description of the operations and messages that are supported, and their bindings to a concrete protocol.’
      • ‘As a result it proceeded to finalise the definition of the scope of this category without any input from this important practitioners' group.’
      • ‘In West Germany the trade unions generally accepted the definition of national interest propounded by the government and industrialists, because they benefited from it.’
      • ‘But due to its decentralised nature, the definition of prime investment is more difficult to gauge.’
      • ‘The Chairman noted that there was a general consensus that the Board should not change the scope of the definition to encompass the mushroom sector.’
      • ‘Post a definition of racism and describe how the offender's behavior fits it.’
      • ‘The study of additional cases and longer follow-ups will be necessary for a better definition of the nature of the disease.’
      • ‘It is part of the definition of the scope of cover in this particular contract of insurance.’
      meaning, denotation, sense
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    2. 1.2 The action or process of defining something.
      • ‘In all these examples we can see that whether a particular act is judged to be a crime or to be deviant is not explained by any quality of the act itself but by other considerations that enter into the process of labelling or definition.’
      • ‘But the generality of being is not that of a genus; therefore the question of definition, in this sense, simply does not arise.’
      • ‘Order maintenance is clearly a political enterprise, raising questions of definition, equity and accountability.’
      • ‘It is equally important that our community have safe space in which to engage in that process of definition.’
      • ‘In the introduction, Lauret confronts the thorny questions of definition and categorization.’
      • ‘This, however, raises immediate difficulties, for the agreement made bristles with practical questions of definition.’
      • ‘Martin Cloonan's introductory essay asks us to consider seriously the question of definition.’
      classification, classing, labelling, specification, defining, earmarking, stipulation, particularization, pinpointing
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  • 2The degree of distinctness in outline of an object, image, or sound, especially of an image in a photograph or on a screen.

    • ‘By looking at the graph and seeing the colors and shapes, these students were able to listen again and hear the shape of the sounds with more definition.’
    • ‘The sound lacks the definition and clarity of a modern digital mix, but is more than adequate for this movie.’
    • ‘This gives objects and colors a clarity and definition that aids in visibility.’
    • ‘They have great resolution and incredible colour definition.’
    • ‘What you see may or may not be high definition or even good quality.’
    • ‘With Music Carter continues his ‘post-rock’ sound, though adding much more depth, texture, and definition to his sound.’
    • ‘The color palette of the source print consists mainly of browns and grays, which lack definition and clarity.’
    • ‘Linn are specialists in producing top quality audio and those listening to this hybrid CD will find a level of definition and clarity close to that of expensive vinyl.’
    • ‘The anamorphic widescreen transfer is decent enough, with reasonable clarity and picture definition, though graininess can a problem now and again.’
    • ‘There is a lot of blooming and shimmering of the whites in the picture, and definition and grayscale are lost in the darker scenes.’
    • ‘The sound has very good definition and separation, especially during the rainstorm and cityscape sequences.’
    • ‘The sound has more definition and is not as cloudy as the previous incarnation.’
    • ‘Over the Wall, from Heaven Up Here, is a tour de force of crispness and stereo definition, while the fabled murkiness that used to envelop Porcupine has been blown away in a shimmer of sonic brilliance.’
    clarity, clearness, visibility, precision, sharpness, crispness, acuteness, distinctness
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    1. 2.1 The capacity of an instrument or device for making images distinct in outline.
      ‘we've been pleased with the definition of this TV’
      • ‘I own a 60" DLP, and the TV's definition is great.’
      • ‘The TV's definition is great, you just have to be 20+ feet away from it, because it has the same number of pixels in it as a 1080p 46".’
      • ‘You and your family will be blown away at the definition of this television.’
      • ‘This television has excellent definition which makes the image jump right at you.’
      • ‘The screen has excellent definition and best of all the unit is less than 9mm thick.’


  • by definition

    • By its very nature; intrinsically.

      ‘underachievement, by definition, is not due to lack of talent’
      • ‘Violence, by definition, signals the loss, lapse and negation of a spiritual way of being.’
      • ‘A man capable of these things seems, by definition, capable of anything.’
      • ‘A fully biological account of the human has to be deterministic, by definition.’
      • ‘Anyone who has antibodies from exposure at the epidemic's height is by definition over 80 years old.’
      • ‘And lest we forget, Saints, by definition, have the means to perform miracles in times of need.’
      • ‘The term itself indicates the strategy: civil society is by definition not the state.’
      • ‘Of course, newspapers have to cover the news and, by definition, this is not always pleasant.’
      • ‘Risks by definition cannot be precisely measured in advance, but they can be better measured than they have been so far.’
      • ‘The former is sensible, and the latter very foolish, for heroes being human, by definition, have clay feet.’
      • ‘Of course, elite sport, and the funding of elite sport, is by definition focused on talented individuals.’
      necessarily, inevitably, unavoidably, by force of circumstance, inescapably, ineluctably
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Late Middle English: from Latin definitio(n-), from the verb definire ‘set bounds to’ (see define).