notion

[ noh-shuhn ]
/ ˈnoʊ ʃən /

noun

a general understanding; vague or imperfect conception or idea of something: a notion of how something should be done.
an opinion, view, or belief: That's his notion, not mine.
conception or idea: his notion of democracy.
a fanciful or foolish idea; whim: She had a notion to swim in the winter.
an ingenious article, device, or contrivance; knickknack.
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

1560–70; < Latin nōtiōn- (stem of nōtiō) examination, idea, equivalent to nōt(us) past participle of nōscere (see notify) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsno·tion·less, adjective

Synonym study

1, 3. See idea.

Word story

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for notions

British Dictionary definitions for notions (1 of 2)

notions

/ (ˈnəʊʃənz) /

pl n

mainly US and Canadian pins, cotton, ribbon, and similar wares used for sewing; haberdashery

British Dictionary definitions for notions (2 of 2)

notion

/ (ˈnəʊʃən) /

noun

a vague idea; impression
an idea, concept, or opinion
an inclination or whim
See also notions

Word Origin for 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