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15 Examples of Meaning

Meaning is knowledge that is comprehended or comprehensible such that a person can understand it. This is the basis of thought and communication. The following are illustrative examples of meaning.


Language is a system for representing meaning with words. This is a basis for human thought and communication. The human talent for language is a fundamental advantage over other species whereby we can capture and share knowledge.


Language includes abstractions known as concepts that have no physical manifestation. This allows us to think in advanced ways that differ from direct physical reality. For example, concepts such as freedom or chaos or mathematics.


Communication is the process of sharing meaning. For example, a teacher who explains a concept.

Visual Information

Beyond language, humans can understand the meaning of visuals such as a graph.


Symbolism is when simple information such as a color has a relatively complex meaning such as mapping to an concept. For example, a color that is associated with a nation, ideology or emotion.


Empiricism is the belief that valid meaning comes from observation. For example, determining that bananas are food by observing animals eating them. This limits meaning to the physical world.


Rationalism is the believe that valid meaning can come from thinking. For example, determining that people value freedom by logically deducing this from their apparent emotions. This allows meaning to extend to practical realities and advanced theories that aren't currently physically measurable.

Shared Meaning

Shared meaning is meaning that is comprehended by multiple people as a result of shared language, communication or experience. For example, a holiday that is celebrated much the same way by millions of people.


Culture is the shared meaning that emerges with the experience of groups. For example, the culture of bowling that emerges with the shared experience of competitive bowling.


Meaning that has low certainty or precision such that it is fuzzy. Handling ambiguity is an advanced human capability that machines find difficult. For example, handling the inexactness of language such as the multiple meanings of words.

Grey Areas

A grey area is meaning that is probabilistic or ambiguous. Humans can handle this with concepts. For example, a roommate who is "kinda grumpy" such that it's not completely true that they are grumpy but also not false. Disregard of grey areas is a common source of bias or fallacy. For example, a false dichotomy whereby a situation is presented as having only two options when many options exist.


Intuition is meaning that originates with processes not understood by the thinker. In Plato's theory of forms this involves a connection to a universal source of truth. Modern science views this as a unconscious thought process that is not yet fully understood.


Opinion is original meaning that you have composed. For example, a carpenter who gives your their professional opinion about a particular type of flooring.


Creativity is the ability to develop new meaning that is valuable and nonobvious. For example, the ability to paint something that captures the imagination of others.


Biases are repeated patterns of thinking that produce invalid meaning. For example, invalid assumptions that cause you to repeatedly misjudge situations.
Overview: Meaning
Knowledge that is comprehended or comprehensible such that a person can understand it.
Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about cognition.
Decision Making
Grey Area
Problem Solving
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