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[def-uh-nish-uh n] /ˌdɛf əˈnɪʃ ən/
the act of defining, or of making something definite, distinct, or clear:
We need a better definition of her responsibilities.
the formal statement of the meaning or significance of a word, phrase, idiom, etc., as found in dictionaries. An online dictionary resource, such as, can give users direct, immediate access to the definitions of a term, allowing them to compare definitions from various dictionaries and stay up to date with an ever-expanding vocabulary.
the condition of being definite, distinct, or clearly outlined:
His biceps have great muscle definition.
Optics. sharpness of the image formed by an optical system.
Radio and Television. the accuracy of sound or picture reproduction.
Origin of definition
1350-1400; Middle English diffinicioun < Old French diffinition < Latin dēfīnītiōn- (stem of dēfīnītiō), equivalent to dēfīnīt(us) (see definite) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
definitional, adjective
definitionally, adverb
predefinition, noun
redefinition, noun
self-definition, noun
subdefinition, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for definitions
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It is also a defect that the definitions do not directly give quantitative characteristics of the spectra.

    Lectures on Stellar Statistics Carl Vilhelm Ludvig Charlier
  • Let us avoid for the moment the treacherous territory of definitions.

    The American Mind Bliss Perry
  • In the dictionary I have looked up the definitions of junket.

  • Here is a choice of three definitions, but not one of them is by itself satisfying.

    Storyology Benjamin Taylor
  • Since the content does not give us the differentiation we desire, we will abandon the definitions of psychology by content.

    The Mind and the Brain Alfred Binet
British Dictionary definitions for definitions


a formal and concise statement of the meaning of a word, phrase, etc
the act of defining a word, phrase, etc
specification of the essential properties of something, or of the criteria which uniquely identify it
the act of making clear or definite
the state or condition of being clearly defined or definite
a measure of the clarity of an optical, photographic, or television image as characterized by its sharpness and contrast
Derived Forms
definitional, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for definitions



late 14c., "decision, setting of boundaries," from Old French definicion, from Latin definitionem (nominative definitio), noun of action from past participle stem of definire (see define).

In logic, meaning "act of stating what something means" is from 1640s; meaning "a statement of the essential nature of something" is from late 14c.; the special focus on words developed after c.1550. Meaning "degree of distinctness of the details in a picture" is from 1889.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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