9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[noh-shuh-nl] /ˈnoʊ ʃə nl/
pertaining to or expressing a notion or idea.
of the nature of a notion or idea:
a notional response to the question.
abstract, theoretical, or speculative, as reflective thought.
not real or actual; ideal or imaginary:
to create a notional world for oneself.
given to or full of foolish or fanciful ideas or moods.
  1. relating to the meaning expressed by a linguistic form.
  2. having full lexical meaning, in contrast to relational.
Semantics. belonging to a class of words that express clear concepts rather than relations between concepts; presentive.
Compare relational (def 3), symbolic (def 4).
Origin of notional
1590-1600; notion + -al1
Related forms
notionality, noun
notionally, adverb
nonnotional, adjective
unnotional, adjective
unnotionally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for notional
  • Theoretical lobby with putative elevator leads to five notional floor-thru lofts.
  • In this notional construct, war became not destructive, but constructive.
  • Temperance was always a more notional than an actual virtue round here.
  • The government charges departments a notional amount each year to cover the increase in future liabilities.
  • The flaws in measuring risk, and the emphasis on net rather than notional exposures, are also known hazards.
  • The last elected seat went to an independent, giving the centre-left a notional majority of one.
  • Employers make contributions, too, but these are notional since the taxpayer picks up the bill for them.
  • notional amounts are often not a good measure of the credit risk that is actually transferred in a particular transaction.
British Dictionary definitions for notional


relating to, expressing, or consisting of notions or ideas
not evident in reality; hypothetical or imaginary: a notional tax credit
characteristic of a notion or concept, esp in being speculative or imaginary; abstract
  1. (of a word) having lexical meaning
  2. another word for semantic
Derived Forms
notionally, adverb
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 notional

"pertaining to notions," 1590s, from notion + -al (earlier nocional, late 14c., from Medieval Latin notionalis). Meaning "full of whims" is from 1791. Grammatical sense is from 1928 (Jespersen); economics use is from 1958.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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