Definition of expression in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪkˈsprɛʃ(ə)n/
Pronunciation: /ɛkˈsprɛʃ(ə)n/


[mass noun]
1The action of making known one’s thoughts or feelings: the prisoners developed a dialect as an everyday means of expression [count noun]: she accepted his expressions of sympathy
More example sentences
  • It found expression in ruthless exclusivism and hegemony.
  • It's as if everything inside me has found expression all at once.
  • The bipartisan contempt for the needs of the working class also found expression in the reaction to the mayor's latest housing proposals.
utterance, uttering, voicing, pronouncement, declaration, articulation, verbalization, statement, proclamation, assertion, announcement, setting forth, venting, mouthing;
dissemination, broadcast, circulation, communication, spreading, promulgation, publicizing, publication
rare asseveration
indication, intimation, demonstration, show, exhibition, manifestation, token;
conveyance, communication, illustration, revelation, disclosure, embodiment
1.1The conveying of feeling in a work of art or in the performance of a piece of music: the testimony of musicians who worked with him proves that his overwhelming concern was with expression
More example sentences
  • For anyone who cares about music or artistic expression these presentations are riveting.
  • Similar to the way that dance relies to a great extent on music for rhythm and expression, dance in this piece wouldn't work without the set.
  • Ask any musician and they will tell you that music is about expression and conveying emotion.
diction, style, choice of words, turn of phrase, wording, phrasing, phraseology, language;
delivery, execution;
speech, intonation
emotion, feeling, passion, intensity, poignancy;
style, intonation, tone, nuance;
artistry, depth, spirit, imagination;
vividness, ardour, power, force
2 [count noun] A look on someone’s face that conveys a particular emotion: a sad expression
More example sentences
  • Walter sat and watched Richard's pensive face as he read, which eventually led to an expression of horror and fury.
  • Jade nodded with a contemplative expression and led him down to the lower floors.
  • Miguel saw her happy facial expression falter and knew something was up.
look, appearance, air, manner, bearing, countenance, guise, cast, aspect, impression
formal mien
3 [count noun] A word or phrase, especially an idiomatic one, used to convey an idea: we have an expression, ‘You don’t get owt for nowt.’
More example sentences
  • The first two are internal, one with simple word stems and the other with complex or idiomatic expressions.
  • The emphasis is on learning simple words and expressions while building vocabulary rather than grammar.
  • We all start out using the simplest expressions and watch our phrases become increasingly more precise.
idiom, phrase, idiomatic expression, set phrase;
proverb, saying, adage, maxim, axiom, aphorism, saw, motto, platitude, cliché, quotation, quote, formula;
term, word
informal old chestnut
formal locution
3.1 Mathematics A collection of symbols that jointly express a quantity: the expression for the circumference of a circle is 2πr
More example sentences
  • The first book studies generating functions and also approximations to various expressions occurring in probability theory.
  • Napier also found exponential expressions for trigonometric functions, and introduced the decimal notation for fractions.
  • The function is also most often described using a formula, in the form of an algebraic expression.
4The production of something by pressing it out: essential oils obtained by distillation or expression
squeezing, pressing, wringing, forcing out, extraction, extracting
5 Genetics The appearance in a phenotype of a characteristic or effect attributed to a particular gene: expression of the TAT gene is restricted to the parenchymal cells
More example sentences
  • These two genes are both thought to be very important in the expression of the malignant phenotype.
  • All six genes putatively involved in biosynthetic processes have detectable expression.
  • As gene frequencies change, natural selection acts on the outcome, the expression of those genes.



Example sentences
  • His procedure was most carefully calculated in every respect to attain the maximum expressional power possible.
  • This narrative style is maintained throughout, with the expressional sophistication laid over the voices by often colourful orchestral means.
  • Throughout the book, she demonstrates the usefulness of drawing as an expressional tool for patients who are unable or unwilling to express themselves through the conventional use of language.


Late Middle English: from Latin expressio(n-), from exprimere 'press out, express'. Compare with express1.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ex|pres¦sion

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