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[rep-ri-zent] /ˌrɛp rɪˈzɛnt/
verb (used with object)
to serve to express, designate, stand for, or denote, as a word, symbol, or the like does; symbolize:
In this painting the cat represents evil and the bird, good.
to express or designate by some term, character, symbol, or the like:
to represent musical sounds by notes.
to stand or act in the place of, as a substitute, proxy, or agent does:
He represents the company in Boston.
to speak and act for by delegated authority:
to represent one's government in a foreign country.
to act for or in behalf of (a constituency, state, etc.) by deputed right in exercising a voice in legislation or government:
He represents Chicago's third Congressional district.
to portray or depict; present the likeness of, as a picture does:
The painting represents him as a man 22 years old.
to present or picture to the mind.
to present in words; set forth; describe; state.
to set forth or describe as having a particular character (usually followed by as, to be, etc.):
The article represented the dictator as a benevolent despot.
to set forth clearly or earnestly with a view to influencing opinion or action or making protest.
to present, produce, or perform, as on a stage.
to impersonate, as in acting.
to serve as an example or specimen of; exemplify:
a genus represented by two species.
to be the equivalent of; correspond to:
The llama of the New World represents the camel of the Old World.
verb (used without object)
to protest; make representations against.
Slang. to use or display a secret handshake, sign, gesture, etc., for purposes of identification:
The gang members always represent when they see one another.
Origin of represent
1325-75; Middle English representen < Middle French representer < Latin repraesentāre to bring about immediately, make present, equivalent to re- re- + praesentāre to present2
Related forms
representable, adjective
representability, noun
nonrepresentable, adjective
prerepresent, verb (used with object)
unrepresentable, adjective
Can be confused
re-present, represent.
1. exemplify. 6. delineate. 12. portray. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for representable
Historical Examples
  • It is represented, or at least representable, before its realization.

    Creative Evolution Henri Bergson
  • It is represented or at least representable, before its realization.

    Bergson and His Philosophy J. Alexander Gunn
  • What is not determinable is not representable: of "becoming in general" I have only a verbal knowledge.

    Creative Evolution Henri Bergson
British Dictionary definitions for representable


verb (transitive)
to stand as an equivalent of; correspond to: our tent represents home to us when we go camping
to act as a substitute or proxy (for)
to act as or be the authorized delegate or agent for (a person, country, etc): an MP represents his constituency
to serve or use as a means of expressing: letters represent the sounds of speech
to exhibit the characteristics of; exemplify; typify: romanticism in music is represented by Beethoven
to present an image of through the medium of a picture or sculpture; portray
to bring clearly before the mind
to set forth in words; state or explain
to describe as having a specified character or quality; make out to be: he represented her as a saint
to act out the part of on stage; portray
to perform or produce (a play); stage
Derived Forms
representable, adjective
representability, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin repraesentāre to exhibit, from re- + praesentāre to present²
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 representable



late 14c., "to bring to mind by description," also "to symbolize, serve as a sign or symbol of; serve as the type or embodiment of;" from Old French representer "present, show, portray" (12c.), from Latin repraesentare "make present, set in view, show, exhibit, display," from re-, intensive prefix (see re-), + praesentare "to present," literally "to place before" (see present (v.)). Legislative sense is attested from 1650s. Related: Represented; representing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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