Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Referent

Definition: 

A referent is the concrete object or concept that is designated by a word or expression. A referent is an object, action, state, relationship, or attribute in the referential realm.

Introduction: 

Words are used to represent things and experiences in the real or imagined world. Different words can be used to describe the same thing or experience.

Examples: 

Historically, there was only one person called George Washington, the first president of the United States. He can be referred to in a text in many ways, such as

  • the president
  • Mr. Washington
  • he, or even
  • my friend.

Even though there are many ways to talk about him, there is only one referent in the referential realm.

Glossary Hierarchy