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  1. the main body of matter in a manuscript, book, newspaper, etc., as distinguished from notes, appendixes, headings, illustrations, etc.
  2. the original words of an author or speaker, as opposed to a translation, paraphrase, commentary, or the like: The newspaper published the whole text of the speech.
  3. the actual wording of anything written or printed: You have not kept to the text of my remarks.
  4. any of the various forms in which a writing exists: The text is a medieval transcription.
  5. the wording adopted by an editor as representing the original words of an author: the authoritative text of Catullus.
  6. any theme or topic; subject.
  7. the words of a song or the like.
  8. a textbook.
  9. a short passage of Scripture, especially one chosen in proof of a doctrine or as the subject of a sermon: The text he chose was the Sermon on the Mount.
  10. the letter of the Holy Scripture, or the Scriptures themselves.
  11. Printing.
    1. black letter.
    2. type, as distinguished from illustrations, margins, etc.
  12. Linguistics. a unit of connected speech or writing, especially composed of more than one sentence, that forms a cohesive whole.
  13. anything considered to be a subject for analysis by or as if by methods of literary criticism.
  14. Digital Technology. a text message.
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verb (used without object) Digital Technology.
  1. to send a text message: Texting while driving is an accident asking to happen.
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verb (used with object) Digital Technology.
  1. to send a text message about or containing: He texted a long wish list to his parents two days before his eighteenth birthday.Compare instant message(def 2).
  2. to send a text message to: The only way I can ever reach her is to text her.
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Origin of text

1300–50; Middle English < Medieval Latin textus text, terms, Latin: text, structure, orig., pattern of weaving, texture (of cloth), equivalent to tex(ere) to weave + -tus suffix of v. action
Related formstext·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for text


  1. the main body of a printed or written work as distinct from commentary, notes, illustrations, etc
  2. the words of something printed or written
  3. (often plural) a book prescribed as part of a course of study
  4. computing the words printed, written, or displayed on a visual display unit
  5. the original exact wording of a work, esp the Bible, as distinct from a revision or translation
  6. a short passage of the Bible used as a starting point for a sermon or adduced as proof of a doctrine
  7. the topic or subject of a discussion or work
  8. printing any one of several styles of letters or types
  9. short for textbook
  10. short for text message
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  1. to send a text message from a mobile phone
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Derived Formstextless, adjective

Word Origin

C14: from Medieval Latin textus version, from Latin textus texture, from texere to compose
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

Word Origin and History for text


late 14c., "wording of anything written," from Old French texte, Old North French tixte (12c.), from Medieval Latin textus "the Scriptures, text, treatise," in Late Latin "written account, content, characters used in a document," from Latin textus "style or texture of a work," literally "thing woven," from past participle stem of texere "to weave," from PIE root *tek- "to weave, to fabricate, to make; make wicker or wattle framework" (see texture).

An ancient metaphor: thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns -- but the true storyteller, the poet, is a weaver. The scribes made this old and audible abstraction into a new and visible fact. After long practice, their work took on such an even, flexible texture that they called the written page a textus, which means cloth. [Robert Bringhurst, "The Elements of Typographic Style"]
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"to send a text message by mobile system," 2005; see text (n.). Related: Texted; texting. It formerly was a verb meaning "to write in text letters" (1590s).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper