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4. Take care that the definition be neither too extensive nor too narrow.
If anyone should define a horse as a swift-running quadruped,' this definition would be too extensive; as there are many other swift-running quadrupeds, and we might thus confound a horse with a zebra, hare, or fox. Again, if we define a fish as an animal that has an air-bladder,' this would be too narrow a definition, since many
fish are without one. 5. Do not confound an opinion with a definition.
Many learners fall into this error; they forget that the purpose in defining is to explain the nature of the subject; and instead of so doing, they make some assertion, or express an opinion, about it. Thus, it is wrong to suppose that “history is a useful study,' or patience is a desirable virtue,' &c., is a definition.
Lastly, it must be remembered that the terms of the definition must be plainer than the subject defined, or else they will not, in general, explain it. Hence, the more common the subject, the more difficult is it to define, because the more difficult to find terms simpler than the subject itself. Hence, also, it may be observed, that it is useless and unnecessary to define very common words; as an attempt to do so only confuses or obscures our ideas of their meaning.
Let the learner point out the parts of the following definitions :
1. Flattery is false praise.
3. Generosity an act of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.
4. Perseverance- -a continued determination to overcome difficulties.
5. Procrastination - the habit of delaying our duties.
6. Biography—an account of the lives of celebrated people.
7. Philosophy — an inquiry into the nature and properties of things.
8. Education—the process of training all the mental and bodily powers.
9. A garden-a space enclosed, for the cultivation of fruit, flowers, &c.
10. A day--the space of twenty-four hours.
12. A soldier one who fights on land for the defence of his country.
REMARKS ON DEFINITIONS.
When, in contemplating a number of subjects, we find them to agree in some one quality, the term that expresses that quality is called a generic term ; i.e. it represents a whole genus, or class of beings or things. Thus:
a man, a horse, a dog, a fox, and many others, agree in the quality of possessing life. The word that expresses this quality is 'animal,' and the terms, man, horse, dog, &c., are all included in this genus. Again, under the generic term tree, may be ranged, oak, elm, pine, beech, &c. So, the genus
, vice will comprise avarice, gambling, drunkenness, and
To the following forms add the species, to make up the definition :
Complete the definition, as in Lesson II., by the addition of the species :Art.
Science, Music is the art
Geography is the science Painting is the art
Geology is the science Poetry is the art
Grammar is the science Sculpture
Add the species, as before :
Virtue. Procrastination is the habit . .. | Justice is the virtue. Curiosity is the habit of . Temperance is the virtue Idleness is the habit of . Fortitude is the virtue Punctuality
Let the learner supply the genus in each of the following propositions :
Society is the ... of a number of rational beings. An insurrection is the .... against civil authority. Language is the .... of ideas by significant sounds.
Sobriety is the .... of being habitually temperate in the use of spirituous liquors.
Madness is .... of disordered reason or intellect.
A politician is .... versed in the science of government.
Gunpowder is a .... of saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal.
A market is a .... where provisions or cattle are exposed for sale.
Grammar is the .... of speaking and writing a language correctly.
A meadow is .... appropriated to the production of hay:
A month is the ... of four weeks.
.. by which a ship is steered.
An orphan is .... who is deprived of his parents.
A plough is . . . . used for turning up and breaking the earth.
used for writing.
Ink is a ....
Let the learner substitute the subjects for the following definitions, and introduce them into sentences of his own composition :
1. A representation of natural objects by means of colour, &c.
2. A periodical record of passing events.
3. One who conducts the private correspondence of another.
4. An account of the lives of eminent characters. 5. The power of giving utterance to thought. 6. The sign of an idea. 7. The
power of keeping our desires within bounds. 8. The abode of the just in a future life. 9. A man of enormous bulk and stature. 10. A body of troops commanded by a colonel.
11. A machine used for communicating intelligence from a distance by signals.
12. The supreme council of the English nation.
The learner is to define the words in the following list, and to add to the definition an opinion concerning the subject, and a reason for that opinion; as in this example :