citing a dictionary definition

Deseret13

Senior Member
Slovenian
If you want to say, for example, that the word "aspect" means "the positioning of a building or other structure in a particular direction", what other verbs can you use in place of "mean".

Can you say:
The word "aspect" signifies "the positioning of a building or other structure in a particular direction".
The word "aspect" denotes "the positioning of a building or other structure in a particular direction".
The word "aspect" designates "the positioning of a building or other structure in a particular direction".
The word "aspect" indicates "the positioning of a building or other structure in a particular direction".
The word "aspect" betokens "the positioning of a building or other structure in a particular direction".

A side question: Can you use the above cited words when you are definig a verb (instead of noun). For example: The word "to speak" signifies/denotes/designates/indicates/betokens "to produce words by means of sounds".
 
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    All of the other words except "betokens," which I doubt anyone has said since about 1750, could be used - but there is no reason to. It is almost always better style in today's English prose to use a short, simple, strong word when it has the meaning you want than to find a longer one. That is not true of all languages - in some languages, the ability to use long words is desirable - but we are not discussing other languages.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Can you use the above cited words when you are definig a verb
    You are talking about "defining". What does "define" mean? It means "tell us what the word means". All the others may be correct sentences. But are they really about "defining"?

    Words are not their 3-word dictionary definitions. Words have a history. Is this thing a "chair" or is it a "stool, seat, bench, sofa, throne, recliner"? To a language-learner, it may be unclear. Not to me. As a native speaker I see "chair" and thousands of past references come to mind. For "bench" or "stool" I recall a different set of objects.

    Back to the topic: the history and common usage of "means" and "designates" are very different. To a native speaker they are not interchangeable.
     

    Deseret13

    Senior Member
    Slovenian
    @Egmont
    Sometimes you want to avoid constant repetition, say, when you keep asking native speakers what something means. :)

    @dojibear
    I was just interested in learning what some alternatives to the trite phrases like "what does that mean?" or "whether this means that?" are.

    Thanks everyone!
     
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