Difference between Concept and Definition (comparison chart)

We explain what the differences are between concept and definition, the relationship between the two and to which area each belongs.

Difference between concept and definition
The concept refers to thought and definition to language.

What is the difference between concept and definition?

The difference that exists between a concept and a definition can be difficult to understand initially, since they are very similar ideas, also fundamental when it comes to explaining what the other things and ideas that we refer to on a daily basis are. However, this difference is easy to understand if we start from the fact that it is basically two different sides of the same coin: thought and language.

The word concept comes from Latin conceptus, derived from the verb concipere (“Conceive” or “contain”, as mothers contain and conceive their children in their womb). It designates the ideas that we form mentally about things, that is, the mental representations that we make of the reality that surrounds us and from which we can not only think about it, question it, understand it, but also imagine our own ideas and relationships.

Therefore, every concept is an abstraction of the mind, a thought, at the same time the result of their ability to perceive the environment but also to produce their own ideas and notions.

The word definition, similarly, was born in the Latin verb I will define, which translates as “setting limits” (that is, putting an end, saying where something ends to separate it from something else). By it we understand today a proposition (or set of them), through which we clearly and accurately expose the proper, generic or differential features of some referent or idea.

That is to say, a definition is the explanation in words of what a certain referent consists of, as we can find them in the dictionary.

Seen in this way, the difference between one thing and another has to do, first of all, with the field to which they belong: that of thoughts and that of language. However, the limits between one and the other are not always obvious and evident, since language and thought are, as we have said, essentially two sides of the same coin.

A) Yes, concepts are basic units of thought, which normally correspond to a noun; When we say “child”, we know what this concept refers to, and we can therefore express it in a definition. The latter, however, depends largely on how we want to express it and from what point of view. For this reason, there are formal and informal, general and technical, descriptive and prescriptive definitions, etc.

In summary, we can distinguish concept and definition as follows:

These are basic mental units that correspond to the concrete or mental referents of the universe.These are expressions of language that attempt to delimit a specific concept through its essential features.
It belongs to the realm of thought, although it corresponds to a noun.It belongs to the realm of language, although its starting point is always a specific concept.
You tend to generalize and build categories of things.It tends to specific details and to delimit a specific reference.
It is abstract and essential.It is practical (applied) and has several types.