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Title: Referent  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Meaning (philosophy of language), Relative pronoun, Eduniversal, Frege–Church ontology, Equivocation
Collection: Reference, Semantics
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


In semantics, a referent is a person or thing to which a linguistic expression refers,[1] a discursive entity, the subject of speech.[2]


  • Potential ambiguity 1
  • In semantics 2
  • In computing 3
  • References 4

Potential ambiguity

The term referent may sometimes be ambiguous in that it can mean the thing that refers, or the thing which is referred to. In most fields, however, it usually has the second meaning – the thing to which another thing refers.


In semantics

Semantics distinguishes a referent and a reference.[4][5][6][7][8][9] A 'reference' and a 'referent' are parts of a sign or symbol arrangement where the 'reference' is 'psychological'.[10] There may be a causal connection between a reference and a referent.[11] Usage of the terms 'referent' and 'reference' may vary in usage.[12][13]

In computing

In computing the distinction of correspondence between a referent and a reference can be expressed by using descriptions.[14][15]


  1. ^ Dave McComb Semantics in business systems: the savvy manager's guide 2004 Page 30 - Semantic Referent - A referent is a person or thing to which a linguistic expression refers. An extensional referent is one where the exact physical instance is referred to directly.
  2. ^ Ignacio Corona, Beth Ellen Jörgensen The contemporary Mexican chronicle Page 77 - 2002 "In the simplest terms, a referent is a discursive entity, that of which we speak . The object of history is the referent of the proper name, or the trace of the real."
  3. ^ "Referent - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  4. ^ Hildegard E. Peplau -Interpersonal Relations in Nursing: A Conceptual Frame of ... - Page 289 2004 "Each concept or word has hoth a referent and a reference." The word is the symbol; the reference is its meaning held in the mind of its user; and the referent is the actions or ob}ect the symbol signified."
  5. ^ Albert Upton - 1973 Design for Thinking: A First Book in Semantics - Page 97 "... is the difference between a referent and a reference in the following two statements? (a) "In complex symbols containing a high proportion of subjective referents, communication is a matter of chance unless the communicants are ..." ( c) In view of your answer to ( b) , why must your matrix "always come to a stop short of the actual reference of the utterer"? 1 6. What is the difference between a referent and a reference in the following two statements?
  6. ^ Carl Rhodes - 2001 Writing organization: (re)presentation and control in narratives ... - Page 45 "The video is then both a referent and a reference point for the different (re) presentations and a literary device for constructing unity across the different ways that the quality story at World Services is told."
  7. ^ Larissa Hjorth - 2008 Mobile media in the Asia Pacific: gender and the art of being mobile - Page 190 "Reconnections: locating the practice of South as both a referent and a reference , 'going south' functions as a geographical distinction (that differentiates the Asian diaspora in Australia from Asian diasporas elsewhere) as well as a ...
  8. ^ David M. Miller - 1971 The net of Hephaestus: A study of modern criticism "... then, the general quality of 'dogness' suggested by the recurrence of similar sense perceptions is abstracted and stored in the memory. We now have a Referent and a Reference. Next, a symbol is constructed: visual and linguistic."
  9. ^ Dena Goodman - 1989 Criticism in action: Enlightenment experiments in political writing "Fidelity, more than just a moral term or virtue, is a relational term that can describe a relationship between human beings or between a referent and a reference. So much is apparent after a reading of letter vm."
  10. ^ C. K. Ogden and Linguistics: Volume 2 - Page xxiii Charles Kay Ogden, Ivor Armstrong Richards, W. Terrence Gordon - 1994 "A 'reference' and a 'referent' are parts of a sign or symbol situation - which you seem to have overlooked. 'Visualizing', as such, is not relevant. References are always 'psychological' in a sign or symbol situation; referents may be ..."
  11. ^ The Journal of philosophy: Volume 21 JSTOR (Organization) - 1924 In what sense do we have causal connection here between a reference and a referent? This situation they handle by assuming that true and false beliefs belong to the same kind of psychological context ; they differ only with respect to ...
  12. ^ Erbe und Auftrag: Benediktinische Monatsschrift: Volume 78 Benediktinerkloster Beuron - 2001 "What are usually referred to as referring terms, but which perhaps ought better be called terms used in referring, may be taken as having a sense, a reference and a referent. Thus the phrase "this desk," when I use it in referring to my ..."
  13. ^ New dimensions of peacekeeping - Page 1 Daniel Warner, Graduate Institute of International Studies (Geneva, Switzerland), Kokusai Kōryū Kikin - 1995 - UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING OLD AND NEW: AN OVERVIEW OF THE ISSUES by Georges Abi-Saab The title of this colloquium involves a reference and a referent. "New" dimensions can only be identified by reference to the "old" or "original" ...
  14. ^ Ėduard Viktorovich Popov Talking with computers in natural language - 1986 - 305 pages - The problem of correspondence between a referent and a reference can also be expressed using descriptions. This can be done as follows: When entities are encountered in a text, an understanding system (either human being or computer) ...
  15. ^ Perl programming for biologists - Page 130 D. Curtis Jamison - 2003 - 191 pages - Preview Anonymous references to hashes can be created using the curly braces { } instead of parentheses. Exercises 1. Why are anonymous referents important? 2. Explain the relationship between a reference and a referent. 3.
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