The journalist and literary critic Philip Howard wrote in 1978 that ‘ongoing situations and meaningful dialogues are two popular pieces of jargon…at present’, and they still are. Meaningful is essentially the opposite of meaningless, i.e. ‘having meaning’, as in a meaningful utterance. But meaning has other meanings, which are reflected in other uses of meaningful, especially ‘important, significant, noteworthy’, so that things such as discussions, tests, results, work, and even relationships can be called meaningful. There is some justification for using the word when the notion of something having meaning is present:

• Chris and Jayne turned to each other with raised eyebrows and meaningful looks —P. Hennessy, 1983.

But alternatives such as important, significant, and effective should be considered when it is importance rather than meaning that is the issue:

• It will take time for these changes in strategy to have a meaningful influence on financial performance —Birmingham Post, 2007.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • meaningful — adj. Having a meaning or purpose; having significance; as, a meaningful explanation; a meaningful discussion; a meaningful pause; to live a meaningful life. Opposite of {meaningless}. [Narrower terms: {comprehensible, understandable}; {indicative …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • meaningful — index cognizable, coherent (clear), eloquent, pithy, sententious, suggestive (evocative) Bu …   Law dictionary

  • meaningful — 1827, from MEANING (Cf. meaning) + FUL (Cf. ful). Related: Meaningfully …   Etymology dictionary

  • meaningful — significant, pregnant, sententious, *expressive, eloquent Analogous words: important, consequential, momentous, weighty (see corresponding nouns at IMPORTANCE) Antonyms: meaningless …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • meaningful — [adj] significant allusive, big, clear, concise, consequential, considerable, deep, eloquent, essential, exact, explicit, expressive, heavy, important, indicative, intelligible, material, momentous, pointed, pregnant, purposeful, relevant,… …   New thesaurus

  • meaningful — ► ADJECTIVE 1) having meaning. 2) worthwhile. 3) expressive. DERIVATIVES meaningfully adverb meaningfulness noun …   English terms dictionary

  • meaningful — [mēn′iŋfəl] adj. full of meaning; having significance or purpose meaningfully adv. meaningfulness n …   English World dictionary

  • meaningful — mean|ing|ful [ˈmi:nıŋfəl] adj 1.) having a meaning that is easy to understand and makes sense ▪ Without more data we cannot make a meaningful comparison of the two systems. ▪ Teaching history to five year olds in a meaningful way can be very… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • meaningful — [[t]mi͟ːnɪŋfʊl[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED If you describe something as meaningful, you mean that it is serious, important, or useful in some way. She believes these talks will be the start of a constructive and meaningful dialogue... He asked people to… …   English dictionary

  • meaningful — adjective 1 having a meaning that is easy to understand and makes sense: The statistics are not very meaningful when taken out of context | Standards must be specified in meaningful terms. 2 a meaningful look/glance/smile etc a look that clearly… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”