Glossary of Linguistic Terms



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.


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.


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