The meaning of word, concept and term in interrelated to each other. It is not possible to explain one without the help of other. So the meaning of word, concept and term is as follows:
A word consists of a letter or combination of letters conveying determinate meaning. A word may consist of only one letter or it may consist of more than one letter.
There are three kinds of words: Categorematic, syncategorematic and acategorematic.
- Categorematic: A categoremtic word is one which can by itself be used as a term without the help of other words, e.g. pencil, clever, man, etc. In other words when a word is used independently either as a subject or a predicate in a statement it is called as categorematic word.
- Syncategorematic: A syncategorematic word is one which cannot be used independently as term, but which can only be used along with other words e.g., of, with, and, the, etc. It is a word that is used as part of a subject or a predicate, or a word that joins the subject and the predicate.
- Acategorematic: Acategorematic words merely express some exclamatory feelings or emotions. Examples: Ouch! Aha! Hurrah! Hymn! Alas! Oh! and similar such exclamations. The word acategorematic may be jaw- breaking, but the words in this classification are pretty easy to identify. It cannot become a term either singly or even when conjoined with other words such as interjection.
Concept means a general idea. There is difference between the two ideas represented by the terms ‘student’ and ‘a student’. The term‘ a student’ refers to a particular student in an indefinite manner and it is essentially singular in usage. The term ‘student’ is applied in general to all those who undertake studies. The common and essential attributes which are found in every particular individual of the class are thought of separately, and thus we get a concept. In brief, the concept stands for general ideas.
The formation of concepts involves the following processes.
- Comparison: Different entities are compared with one another so that the attributes they share in common and those on which they differ can be specified. This process enables the agent to find essential attributes of the concept and distinguish them from what are merely accidental.
- Abstraction: The next step is to abstract the essential characteristics. This is purely an intellectual exercise.
- Generalization: The third step is to generalize the result of abstraction because obviously not all objects belonging to any given class are observed.
- Naming: The final step is to give a name to the generalized group of common attributes, so that it becomes easy to retain the idea of the concept in our mind.
A term is a word, or a combination of words, which by itself is capable of being used as subject or predicate of a proposition. A proposition is a declarative statement which is either true or false but not both. A term is so called because it occurs at the boundaries of a proposition. In the proposition ‘Gandhiji is the father of the nation’, ‘Gandhiji, and ‘father of the nation’ are terms because they occur at the boundaries of the proposition.
Traditional logic speaks of two kinds of words, viz., subject and predicate. In the example quoted above ‘Gandhiji’ is the subject because the proposition says something about ‘Gandhiji’ and ‘father of the nation’ is the predicate because it says something about subject, i. e., ‘Gandhiji’. It means that subject term is that about which something is said and the predicate term is what is said about subject term.