[ noh-shuhn ]
See synonyms for: notionnotions on

  1. a general understanding; vague or imperfect conception or idea of something: a notion of how something should be done.

  2. an opinion, view, or belief: That's his notion, not mine.

  1. conception or idea: his notion of democracy.

  2. a fanciful or foolish idea; whim: She had a notion to swim in the winter.

  3. an ingenious article, device, or contrivance; knickknack.

  4. notions, small articles, as buttons, thread, ribbon, and other personal items, especially such items displayed together for sale, as in a department store.

Origin of notion

First recorded in 1560–70; from Latin nōtiōn- (stem of nōtiō ) “examination, idea,” equivalent to (g)nōt(us), past participle of (g)nōscere “to come to know” + -iōn- suffix forming nouns; see notify, -ion

word story For notion

The English noun notion “general understanding, opinion” comes from Latin nōtiō (stem nōtiōn- ), a derivative of the verb nōscere “to know” and -tiō, an abstract noun suffix here denoting a state (rather than an action).
In the comedies of Plautus, nōtiō meant “acquaintance (with a person).” In legal and juridical language, nōtiō meant “examination, inquiry (by a magistrate).” The usual meaning of notion we owe to Cicero, the Roman orator, statesman, and man of letters, who created a technical philosophical vocabulary for Latin almost single-handedly in order to translate concepts in Greek philosophy. In his Topica (31), Cicero explains his usage of nōtiō : “I mean by notion what the Greeks call énnoia [‘thinking, reflection, notion, concept’] or prólēpsis [‘preconception, mental picture’].”
The plural notions “small articles, such as buttons, thread, ribbon, etc., displayed together for sale” was an Americanism that first appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper in 1796.

Other words from notion

  • no·tion·less, adjective

Words Nearby notion Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use notion in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for notion


/ (ˈnəʊʃən) /

  1. a vague idea; impression

  2. an idea, concept, or opinion

  1. an inclination or whim

Origin of notion

C16: from Latin nōtiō a becoming acquainted (with), examination (of), from noscere to know

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012