Concept

Genus–differentia definition

Résumé
A genus–differentia definition is a type of intensional definition, and it is composed of two parts:

a genus (or family): An existing definition that serves as a portion of the new definition; all definitions with the same genus are considered members of that genus.

the differentia: The portion of the definition that is not provided by the genus.

For example, consider these two definitions:
  • a triangle: A plane figure that has 3 straight bounding sides.
  • a quadrilateral: A plane figure that has 4 straight bounding sides. Those definitions can be expressed as one genus and two differentiae:

one genus:

#* the genus for both a triangle and a quadrilateral: "A plane figure"

two differentiae:

#* the differentia for a triangle: "that has 3 straight bounding sides." #* the differentia for a quadrilateral: "that has 4 straight bounding sides." The use of a genus (Greek: genos) and a differentia (Greek: diaphora) in constructing a definition goes back at least as far as Aristotle
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