Tuesday, December 23, 2008


The term, from the Latin terminus would literally mean the last element into which a proposition may be resolved, namely, the spoken, or the written word.


Term is a sensible conventional sign expressive of a concept.

Sensible: the spoken or written words are sensible, that is, they are perceivable through the senses.

Conventional: this is said by distinction from natural signs. A natural sign is one whose connection with the object it manifest is given by nature: e.g. smoke is a natural sign of fire; heavy dark clouds, of rain. A conventional sign is one whose connection with the thing it manifest is provided by common understanding or agreement, which is usually tacit; e.g. the flag of a nation.

Sign: This is something that manifests another object, aside from itself. If it manifests only itself, it is not a sign.

Expressive of a concept: the term expresses immediately the concept. However, since the concept is essentially expressive of the object, its sign, which is the term, is also expressive of the object.


a. Formal sign – one that manifest an object from its likeness or resemblance to it: e.g., a photograph is a formal sign of the physical appearance of a person, or a thing, from the resemblance it bears to the physical appearance of the latter.

b. Instrumental sign – one which manifests an object from any other connection it bears to the latter, aside from resemblance: e.g., footprints, flag, and insignia.


Terms are instrumental signs whereas Concepts are formal signs. The following are some of the classifications of terms.

According To Meaning
a. Univocal or homologous: term bearing the same meaning as applied to several individuals. E.g. man, cat, scientist, student, etc. Pedro is man. Juan is man. Man is taken as a univocal/homologous term.
b. Analogous: term expressing kindred meanings. The Greek word analogy means associated meaning. It may be analogous:
i. BY PROPORTION or by the association of the objects to which the term is applied. It is also known as logical analogy. e.g., the term HEALTHY is analogous by proportion, when applied to a man as subject of health, to climate as factor and to color as sign of health.

ii. BY PROPORTIONALITY, or by virtue of the kindred similarity of the conceptual and formal reasons denoted. It is also known as metaphysical analogy. e.g., between the goodness of a mother and the goodness of a pair of shoes, between the 1/3 of 27 and the 1/3 of 9. Lungs are man and gills are to fish.

The formal reasons of things are intrinsic to them, the said similarity of proportionality is to said to be intrinsic, by distinction from the external or physical similarity of things.

c. Equivocal: term outwardly or apparently the same, but expressing different meanings. The Latin original equivocal denotes sameness as to term only. The term may be equivocal:
i. In pronunciation only. E.g., sweet and suite; week and weak; sun and son; hens and hence; key and quay.
ii. In writing only. E.g., bow [bou] means inclination of head, with or without bending the body and bow [bō] which means weapon shooting arrow; dingy (rowboat or dirty).
iii. In both pronunciation and writing. E.g., ball (spheroid or dance); bat (animal, or club); club (weapon, group, or building); ring (circular device or sound).

d. Metaphorical: term transferred from its proper meaning or object and applied to something lese, on account of the latter’s resemblance to the former and to denote such resemblance. E.g., the king of animals; henpecked husband; tomboy; hand of hand; school head.

According To Extension

a. Common: Term which may be applied indiscriminately to many persons, or objects. E.g., man, house, teacher.
b. Singular or Individual: term which can be applied only to one subject, or to one object. It may be:
i. The proper name: Joseph M. Bello; TTMIST; Senate of the Philippines.
ii. A common term restricted by a particular circumstance of place, time, incident, or object. E.g., the Dean of CMIT; the author of Fundamental logic; the present Pope.
iii. A common term restricted by a demonstrative pronoun. E.g., this computer, that girl.

According To Comprehension

Terms may be concrete, or abstract. Aside from this, term may also be:
a. Generic: when it expresses the common constituent or the common essential feature of the object. E.g., a hammer is TOOL; a man is an ANIMAL.
b. Specific: when it expresses the distinctive constituent or the distinctive essential feature of the object. E.g., man is RATIONAL animal.