Last modified on 14 July 2009, at 20:05

Naming/How to name a concept

When one is discussing a concept, having a label to use to refer to it facilitates discourse, and identifies it as a specific idea, making the concept more mnemonic and usable, via chunking. See especially use of the term "thought experiment" on the value of naming a concept.

Naming concepts is useful both for technical jargon (within a specific work or field), or in common speech.

Successful examplesEdit

Examples of names for concepts that have caught on:

These were both central ideas of a book.

More recent:

These latter were the titles of books that focused on the concepts.

These are all two-word noun phrases; in some cases they use a more or less unusual word ("conspicuous", and "paradigm"), in other cases common words.

In all cases, there is a clear idea underlying them: the issue is simply to label it in a memorable and evocative way.

Unsuccessful examplesEdit

The "world of ideas & information" is a commonly understood concept that does not have a commonly accepted term, despite the above efforts. "Noosphere" is rather alien-sounding, while "infosphere" is too casual-sounding.

High jargon fieldsEdit

Technical fields tend to be higher in jargon, as one uses existing concepts to build higher concepts, hence one needs a way to refer concisely to these concepts.

  • Legal jargon
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy

General principlesEdit

Avoid generic termsEdit

For instance, in mathematics, "normal" means a bewildering array of distinct concepts.

Foreign termsEdit

Loaned foreign terms can be memorable for their very foreignness: in physics, Gedankenexperiment is frequently used for thought experiment. One can also calque a phrase (translate it word-for-word).