Intangible – What does it mean, intangible assets, what is tangible

We explain what is intangible, the difference between tangible and intangible assets and examples of intangible assets.

Humanity is characterized by its ability to conceive the intangible.

What is the intangible?

The intangible it is that which is impossible to touch, for one reason or another. The word comes from the Latin verb tangere, translatable as “touch” and the prefixin-”Of a negative type, and it is very common in many contexts of life.

To cite an example, it is possible to refer to the “tangible reality” of things, that is, to what exists in a physical and concrete way, as well as to the “intangible reality”, which is the opposite, that is, abstract, imaginary things.

Very often the tangible and the intangible are differentiated in specialized ways, since both are part of our lives, the touchable and the imaginary. In fact, one of the main criteria for distinguishing humanity from its animal relatives is the ability to conceive and value the intangible, that is, the imaginary.

When culture is studied, for example, the two types of elements or practices that compose it are recognized: tangible, physical cultural assets, such as important architectural works, or statues and historical objects that rest in museums ; and on the other hand intangible cultural assets, such as religion and its prayers, popular songs transmitted from generation to generation, or even the language itself.

Tangible assets and intangible assets

Similarly, in the business and accounting world, a distinction is made between tangible assets or assets that belong to a company or an individual, and intangible assets or assets, according to the same criteria: the former are those that can be touched, or they have a physical presentation. Intangible assets are those that do not exist physically.

It should be clarified that they are called “assets” when they are part of someone’s assets (the company or the individual), and at the same time represent a benefit, or at least the possibility of receiving one. This is an important trait to distinguish assets from liabilities or debts.

Financially speaking, intangible assets can be, essentially, of two different types:

  • Incorporated goods that imply a privilege or a right, and that when exercised they can have consequences in the production or in the economic exercise, lowering costs, improving the product, etc. For example: a state tender that allows access to raw material at a better cost.
  • Elements that represent the use of a service or the consumption of a good, and that in the long run will bring some benefit, although they may represent a deferred expense immediately. For example: the constant supply of electrical energy, with which we can power the company’s machines.

Examples of intangible assets

Here are some examples of intangible assets:

  • Patents, trademarks or permits granted.
  • Copyright and intellectual property on a work.
  • Franchises of a brand.
  • Formulas secrets to make a product.
  • The knowledge technological.