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What is a circular definition?



A circular definition is a description of the meaning of a lexeme that is constructed using one or more synonymous lexemes that are all defined in terms of each other.

Example (lexemes)
  • fast—adj. 'swift; quick; speedy'
  • swift—adj. 'rapid; fast'

Here is how the circularity can be resolved by the addition of an analytic definition and supplemental information:

  • fast—adj. 'rapid in movement or action, often referring to the person or thing that moves; swift; quick; speedy'
  • swift—adj. 'moving or capable of moving with great speed, often in a smooth and easy manner; rapid; fast'

Neufeldt 1991 493, 1353

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Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

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