Definition of notional in US English:



  • 1Existing only in theory or as a suggestion or idea.

    ‘notional budgets for hospital and community health services’
    • ‘Now, the security for all of these notional values on financial derivatives, is not based on real assets.’
    • ‘While there are notional tonnage limits on some Irish roads, they are scarcely policed at all: there is nothing like the French scheme of things, where a vehicle may be confiscated if used in restricted tonnage areas.’
    • ‘Again the general public or pension funds footed the bill for this notional loss of income without any proper explanation.’
    • ‘Where an investor purchases Spanish property, for example, and does not generate rental income from it, the tax authorities will deem the investor to have received a taxable notional rent.’
    • ‘In other words, it's a notional drop in a figure as yet untested by elections.’
    • ‘Excluding this now notional interest charge, the total loss for the year was £1.75 million, the equivalent of £35,000 per week.’
    • ‘By the end of 1942 Ninth and Tenth Armies on which this deception was based were almost wholly notional - their real strength hardly amounted to a single fighting division - but they impressed the enemy high command as real.’
    • ‘In all other instances, the notional pay used in calculating the employee's PAYE and PRSI liability must be the best estimate that can reasonably be made by the employer at the time the benefit is provided.’
    • ‘That $10 is the notional earnings base because that is the only ordinary time earnings on my learned friend's argument that is included in the notional earnings base.’
    • ‘Each report that the cost of construction was set to rise has been denied, only for officials to later sheepishly admit that the building was indeed running over budget and beyond the notional deadline for completion.’
    • ‘Although he dismissed the suggestion that she had a notional earning capacity he put her annual budget, excluding periodical payments for the children, at £65,000 per annum.’
    • ‘‘Ten’, the commentators explain, is a notional figure connoting many.’
    • ‘‘Rates are a fixed charge, incurred annually, that are based on notional property values and bear no relationship to the size or scale of the business or its ability to pay,’ said Mr Bourke.’
    • ‘The total notional amount of positions held by the commercial banks increased $1.7 trillion to $39.3 trillion.’
    • ‘Hence, one creates these surchargeable contributions, which are a notional figure, based on what it would have been.’
    • ‘In a formal sense, of course, the theory refers to some notional riskless rate.’
    • ‘KAC cannot claim both damages for loss of income from its aircraft and damages based on a notional leasing out of its spares.’
    • ‘The public sector Scottish valuation board placed a rateable value of £10,800 on the entire property - the notional sum it estimates as a property's open market value.’
    • ‘All Italian property owners are liable to pay income tax based on the notional letting value of the property.’
    • ‘Multiplying income by a notional 300% more than explained this organisation's good health.’
    not practical, conceptual, abstract, pure
    hypothetical, theoretical, speculative, conjectural, suppositional, putative, conceptual, abstract
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Existing only in the imagination.
      ‘Lizzie seemed to vanish into thin air, as if her presence were merely notional’
  • 2Linguistics
    Denoting or relating to an approach to grammar that is dependent on the definition of terminology (e.g., “a verb is an action word”) as opposed to identification of structures and processes.

    • ‘The notional definition of a noun does not cover such words as action, existence, happiness, temperature that belong to the noun form class on formal criteria.’
  • 3(in language teaching) denoting or relating to a syllabus that aims to develop communicative competence.


Late Middle English (in the Latin sense): from obsolete French, or from medieval Latin notionalis ‘relating to an idea’, from notio(n-) ‘idea’ (see notion).