Defining Our Terms: Are We Talking About the Same Thing?

Having read a couple of different discussions lately (here and here), I’ve had to wonder if we end up talking about the same thing. It seems like so much of the discussion would go more smoothly if we would first define our terms. Most words in the English language carry the same general meanings for everybody, but those same words can often be nuanced slightly differently for different people, depending on personal experiences. So,if a particular word is key to a discussion, it would make sense to clearly spell out how that word is defined initially before proceeding to make a point using that word. Otherwise, you end up running the risk of talking about two (or more) different things until someone finally figures it out and attempts to bring everyone to the same playing field.

Some words that have cropped up in recent discussions that seem to carry slightly different meanings for different people:

  • Certainty
  • Confidence
  • Faith
  • Trust
  • Belief
  • Reason

How I define such words may not be the way you define them, even though both our personal definitions are probably very similar. So, it may be advantageous to mutually define certain words (if possible) before proceeding with the dialogue.

3 thoughts on “Defining Our Terms: Are We Talking About the Same Thing?”

  1. Definitely. I just find it interesting that people (myself included) just take it for granted that everyone is talking about the same thing and neglect to make sure the definitions are clear.

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