What is the meaning of meaning?

what is the meaning of meaning

So, you want to know what is the meaning of meaning! Well, that is a great question. A lot of scholarly discussion continues on the subject. Let me get you a reference.

I see this topic as quite an opportunity for philosophical discourse, but I will try to keep it to a minimum. In the comments below, if you want to get philosophical, I would certainly welcome that conversation.


What is the meaning of meaning? – That top portion of Google page one that gives definitions to words when you look them up says this, “what is meant by a word, text, concept, or action.”

So, they used the word to define the word.


When I was in elementary school, the teacher told us to not use a word to define itself. And here we have the top dog barking out – what is meant – to define meaning.

I guess it works, but if I had to answer the question, I would probably say this:

Meaning is consideration we assign to describe aspects of any entity in order to comprehend that entity individually for personal enrichment and collaboratively for collective communication of ideas and significance.

That’s a whole lot of nonsense!

Yeah, it may be nonsense, but it was fun to write. And it’s how I would answer the question. I know it’s a strange question to ask that you probably don’t think about very much if ever, but what does meaning really mean? What is the meaning of meaning?

Let’s look at the history, I guess.

Before that, here’s a quote:

“To live is to suffer. To survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Let me ask a question, “Does this mean that we all just suffer until we can’t go anymore?” Do we say, “We survived as long as we could make it?”

But suffering does fill life. I can honestly say that my greatest times of growth have not happened when things were easy.

Meaning doesn’t concern us in easy times. We don’t say, “What does this mean? Why am I having such a great time?”

When life makes you sit up and take notice because it just sucks, you have to adjust your sails and find a breeze. You also have to realize that the difficult times have a great capacity to catapult your understanding of meaning.


Yeah, I’m not so sure I care about this. I guess it’s important on some level that the word “meaning” originated from Old English that came from a mixture of Germanic and Latin influences from some strange words we could only guess how to pronounce.
The fact that a time existed when the word “meaning” didn’t exist is quite interesting. Those may have been the days of true survival before Nietzsche sat around with all his buddies and contemplated deep stuff.

What is the meaning of meaning today? That should be the question I guess. If there are any linguistic scholars in the audience, please feel free to enlighten.

Here’s an interesting idea

Don Miguel Ruiz said, “Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.

The real you also has learned how to manipulate adults to get what you want and doesn’t mind having dirty drawers.

Stop rambling and get to the point!

Okay, I will. I made this graphic below for this project and for the front page. I really believe that “meaning” can set us free from ignorance.

meaning frees us from ignorance

What I couldn’t include in this graphic because it just didn’t fit from a design standpoint was the word “Understanding.” Understanding meaning actually frees us from ignorance. Meaning by itself does nothing.

But in order to understand anything, you have to apply yourself. Learning takes effort. It doesn’t make sense, but sometimes people just assume they know something without actually finding out the truth.

Maybe you have been there. A friend says some statistic, and you think they are right. But it eats at you until you do a little research and find out that your friend is clueless.

Then I’m sure you have experienced it yourself or with someone else. Sometimes we just don’t get it. People communicate ideas differently, and sometimes their style of communication leaves us feeling less than adequate. But we can see it for what it is and ask for clarification. Over time, the one who confuses you may see his or her portion of the problem and make attempts to fix it.

Meaning in language

What is the meaning of meaning in language?

I’m not a linguist, but I know from studying Hebrew and Greek from biblical sources like Strong’s Concordance that words can mean so many different things. In our everyday conversations even, the word “love,” for instance, can be taken so many different ways. And that’s only one word.

If words can take on so many meanings, when it comes to understanding what is the meaning of meaning, we really should look at the most important aspects of living as well.

Relating to others

If you truly want to benefit from understanding meaning, you have to put things into everyday context. You can ask these questions:

  • What is the meaning of meaning as a Father?
  • Or, what is the meaning of meaning as a Mother?
  • Maybe, what is the meaning of meaning as a friend?
  • Brother?
  • Sister?
  • Uncle?
  • Aunt?
  • Grandfather?
  • Grandmother?

And so on…

For whatever reason, we find ourselves around the people we know. We don’t choose our relatives. We don’t even really choose our friends because we only come into contact with a very small fraction of the people on earth (or in space for that matter). So, we are born where we are born and we make the best of it. But if we want to be wise, we should seek to know what it means to be a father, a mother, and every other.

At the end of the day, I think we find out that we make our own meanings for just about everything. And then we get around people, if we are fortunate enough, who have assigned similar meanings to meaning. And then, if we are truly fortunate, we get around people who have assigned different meanings to meaning than ours and we are still able to communicate without anger, hatred or violence.

So, I finish this post with a question for deliberation and discovery:

Are you tolerant of what is the meaning of meaning to other people. In other words, are you able to communicate even when your definition of life is not what you have in common?

I know I said I was done, but that’s not really what I meant. (LOL)

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