from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of, containing, or being a notion; mental or imaginary.
  • adjective Speculative or theoretical.
  • adjective Linguistics Understood in terms of semantic content rather than grammatical structure. The word did is notional in We did the work and relational in We did not agree.
  • adjective Economics Of or relating to the underlying asset or principal of a financial derivative such as a swap contract.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Pertaining to or expressing a notion or general conception; formed by abstraction and generalization; also, produced by metaphysical or logical reflection.
  • Imaginary; ideal; existing in idea only; visionary; fantastical.
  • Dealing in imaginary things; whimsical; fanciful: as, a notional man.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Consisting of, or conveying, notions or ideas; expressing abstract conceptions.
  • adjective Existing in idea only; visionary; whimsical.
  • adjective Given to foolish or visionary expectations; whimsical; fanciful.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Of, containing, or being a notion; mental or imaginary.
  • adjective Speculative, theoretical, not the result of research.
  • adjective linguistics Having descriptive value as opposed to a syntactic category.
  • adjective finance Used to indicate an estimate or a reference amount

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective indulging in or influenced by fancy
  • adjective being of the nature of a notion or concept
  • adjective not based on fact; unreal
  • adjective not based on fact or investigation


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

notion +‎ -al


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  • Alongside the regular steps to the building's 59th Street entrance, Mr. Abadan has created what he calls "notional" steps, too far apart to be comfortably ascended, but well-suited for seating.

    Transforming a City Campus Dana Rubinstein 2011

  • Problems with "notional" - becomes difficult to extract wisdom - we want a "Gross Domestic Product" - unable to be defended - pseudo-scientific - lots of belief statements from Mark Curphey's SecurityBullshit

    Recently Uploaded Slideshows BSides 2010

  • But, I thought you couldn’t call it ‘receivership’ either, because those all trillions and trillions of imaginary dollars in notional value Credit Default Swaps have to pay out for banks that go into ‘recievership’ and to have those unexploded CDS liabilities go from imaginary to real would be the world financial system equivalent of Global Thermonuclear War.

    Matthew Yglesias » Eisinger and Salmon on Bank Nationalization 2009

  • The IRS in its ruling gave an example of a swap deal: A foreign company enters into a swap -- also known as a notional principal contract -- with a U.S. company as counterparty, based on an index published by X.

    Foreigners Investing in U.S. 2008

  • It was the realisation of much which I have affirmed all my life, and steadfastly believed as well, but only with what might be called a notional assent, as the blind man might believe that light is sweet, or one who had never experienced pain might believe it was something from which the senses shrink.

    Cecilia de Noël Lanoe Falconer

  • The second kind of light may be called a notional scripture light; that is, a bare knowledge of or assent to scripture truths.

    Sermons Preached Upon Several Occasions. Vol. VII. 1634-1716 1823

  • Even Alan Greenspan concedes that that market - worth $55 trillion in what is called notional value

    Griffin And Hoxie Mega Feed 2010

  • Even Alan Greenspan concedes that that market - worth $55 trillion in what is called notional value - is imploding in significant part because it was not regulated.

    Dialogic 2009

  • John McHale argued for the idea of notional defined contribution pensions and provided a thought-provoking discussion of the nature of the Irish pension system and the challenges facing it.

    Irish Blogs 2009

  • That good-looking guy Warren Buffett in 2002 after buying General [inaudible] announced that these derivatives are the weapons of mass destruction and why he said that is because he found he couldn't find a true bid for his derivative book and it was based on what's called notional value.

    unknown title 2008


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  • Harrumph.

    August 7, 2009

  • If you feel that way ...

    August 7, 2009

  • This is a word I've been encountering recently -- it feels academically faddish -- in the sense of "ideological" or perhaps simply "purported": In an article in the New York Times Book Review on the (obviously) important role of the Bible in Western literature, the author, referring to Faulkner and Dostoevsky, writes: "The failure of the notionally Christian worlds of Russia and Mississippi to be in any way sufficient to the occasion of Christ among them would be a true report always and everywhere." (Marilynne Robinson, "The Book of Books: What Literature Owes the Bible," NYT Sunday Book Review, 22 Dec. 2011)

    December 25, 2011