Definition of deictic in US English:



  • Relating to or denoting a word or expression whose meaning is dependent on the context in which it is used, e.g., here, you, me, that one there, or next Tuesday.

    Also called indexical
    • ‘In acts of deictic reference, speakers integrate schematic with local knowledge.’
    • ‘The third-person examples are much improved if the pronouns are clearly deictic rather than anaphoric; the first-person examples are already deictic, of course.’
    • ‘The algorithm accounts for deictic as well as anaphoric referential identifications.’
    • ‘Action signs, like vocal signs also take part in deictic (space/time) reference, indexicality and performativity.’
    • ‘In these ‘referential’ uses, it is replaceable by the deictic pronouns this and that (This is red, That is possible).’


  • A deictic word or expression.

    • ‘They center in the words ‘tangent’, ‘quiet’, ‘evidence’, the notable enjambment at the end of the line group, and the deictics ‘Here’ and ‘there’.’
    • ‘To understand a deictic is therefore not to ‘interpret’ it but simply to grasp by observation what it singles out in the physical situation of utterance.’
    • ‘The deictics in are introduced by ‘here’ or ‘there’ and serve to direct the hearer's attention to an entity currently in the speaker's perceptual field.’
    • ‘Particular attention is given to the minute performance of pronouns and deictics such as ‘this’ and ‘that’ which mark the boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them'’.’
    • ‘Not surprisingly, there's a predominant use of deictics throughout the text, ‘now’ ‘here’ ‘I’, a device used here to confirm, the congruence of the writer with the time and place of writing.’


Early 19th century: from Greek deiktikos, deiktos ‘capable of proof’, from deiknunai ‘to show’.