Share this entry

definition Line breaks: def¦in|ition
Pronunciation: /dɛfɪˈnɪʃ(ə)n/

Definition of definition in English:


1A statement of the exact meaning of a word, especially in a dictionary: a dictionary definition of the verb
More example sentences
  • The Judge said she had, in the absence of any statutory definition, consulted several dictionaries for a definition of the word record.
  • No, it's not exactly the dictionary definition of the word.
  • The dictionary definition of the word is to ride on or along a wave on a board.
1.1An exact statement or description of the nature, scope, or meaning of something: our definition of what constitutes poetry
More example sentences
  • One widely accepted definition describes poverty as ‘an enforced lack of socially perceived necessities’.
  • Most definitions of the scheme describe it as operating alongside criminal action.
  • I'm struck how in the introductory sections, Publius returns again and again to a definition of ‘human nature.’
1.2 [mass noun] The action or process of defining something: a question of definition issues of methodology and definition
More example sentences
  • In all these examples we can see that whether a particular act is judged to be a crime or to be deviant is not explained by any quality of the act itself but by other considerations that enter into the process of labelling or definition.
  • It is equally important that our community have safe space in which to engage in that process of definition.
  • In the introduction, Lauret confronts the thorny questions of definition and categorization.
2 [mass noun] The degree of distinctness in outline of an object, image, or sound: the clarity and definition of pictures can be aided by using computer graphics
More example sentences
  • They have great resolution and incredible colour definition.
  • The anamorphic widescreen transfer is decent enough, with reasonable clarity and picture definition, though graininess can a problem now and again.
  • By looking at the graph and seeing the colors and shapes, these students were able to listen again and hear the shape of the sounds with more definition.
resolution, focus, contrast
2.1The capacity of a device to make images distinct in outline: we’ve been pleased with the definition of this TV
More example sentences
  • You and your family will be blown away at the definition of this television.
  • The screen has excellent definition and best of all the unit is less than 9mm thick.
  • This television has excellent definition which makes the image jump right at you.


Late Middle English: from Latin definitio(n-), from the verb definire 'set bounds to' (see define).


by definition

By its very nature; intrinsically: the assumption is that travel will, by definition, lead to creative insight
More example sentences
  • And lest we forget, Saints, by definition, have the means to perform miracles in times of need.
  • A fully biological account of the human has to be deterministic, by definition.
  • Violence, by definition, signals the loss, lapse and negation of a spiritual way of being.



Example sentences
  • Rates of self-harm and attempted suicide are difficult to compare internationally because of the definitional and reporting problems outlined in the earlier section on this topic.
  • If one accepts this definitional framework, then the moral equivalency argument sounds plausible.
  • However, it serves to indicate the nature of the definitional problem.


Example sentences
  • On any objective view, ‘crime’ has to be seen as a non-natural category of behaviour, crucially definitionally dependent on the censuring processes of a given society.
  • For example, area would definitionally be related to length and width.
  • Economies of scale or scope are expressed, definitionally, in the context of changes in total cost.

Definition of definition in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day confidant
Pronunciation: ˈkänfəˌdant
a person with whom one shares a secret...