Author Topic: Definition of choice  (Read 5112 times)


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Definition of choice
« on: October 27, 2010, 07:25:43 AM »
What is choice? Specifically what is the definition of the word choice without using choose in the definition? Could this be a subject-verb type problem? I do not find the extant definitions of the word "choice" to be adequate. You can't say that choice is the act of choosing, could you? Maybe it could be some sort of special transitive verb. I don't know but something doesn't feel right about it being a noun. Why is the word "love" a noun but the word "hate" transitive? I'm not following the logic here and I need someone, anyone, to explain why this is? Help!

Joe Carillo

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Re: Definition of choice
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2010, 11:20:39 AM »
Your observation about the typical dictionary definition of the word “choice” is correct: it does use the verb “choose” to explain what the noun means, which, of course, looks very much like a dog or a cat chasing after its own tail. This, however, is the usual way that dictionaries structure their definitions of words; they expect users of the dictionary to first seek out and know the definition of the counterpart verb of the noun.

In the case of the noun “choice,” we need to first find the verb “choose” in the dictionary. My digital Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary, in particular, defines the transitive verb “choose” as “select freely and after consideration,” as in “choose a career,” or “to have a preference for,” as in “choose one car over another.” It then defines the intransitive verb “choose” as “to make a selection,” as in “finding it hard to choose,” or “to take an alternative,” as in “when earth is so kind, men cannot choose but be happy.” We will notice that dictionaries make an effort not to use the noun equivalent of the verb in such primary definitions; indeed, in the case of “choose,” they use the close synonyms “select” and “prefer” to establish the denotation and sense of that verb.

The dictionaries actually expect that once we’ve gone over the definition of the verb “choose,” we will then move over to the definition of its noun counterpart “choice.” Here, we will find that the dictionaries freely use our previous understanding of the denotations and sense of the verb “choose” to define its counterpart noun. This is the well-established methodology and logic of most—if not all—of the leading English-language dictionaries in defining words, and once we understand this, we wouldn’t find it not feeling right ever again that a verb often becomes its counterpart noun.

Try out this definition-search process for “love” and “hate” in your dictionary. You’ll discover that the dictionaries work like clockwork when defining words—they routinely define nouns on the basis of the foundation definitions of their counterpart verbs.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2010, 05:01:49 PM by Joe Carillo »