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This is a linguistic term I came across recently, but I can't quite remember it - and searching for it is downright impossible!

The word implies that context is not required for a particular word.

"He" or "said" or "the" mean nothing by themselves but "Denied" written on an application doesn't need any further grammatical context. Similarly if you say you passed an exam, and someone replies "ecstatic!" there is no ambiguity; no requirement for the person to say "I am ecstatic" - its meaning stands alone.

Anybody familiar with this term?

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We take these terms to be self-evident...? – Dan Bron Mar 19 at 18:56
Are you looking for a linguistic term or a grammatical one? – Jed Schaaf Mar 19 at 22:04
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Other answers seem to have overlooked the fact that you are requesting a term from linguistics. I don't think axiomatic is what you're after.

I believe the term you are looking for is categorematic.

Categorematic words are "words that designate self-sufficient entities (i.e. nouns or adjectives)" (here) or words "that are capable of being employed alone as a term" (here).

Merriam-Webster defines categorematic as "capable of standing alone as the subject or predicate of a logical proposition : expressing a complete substantive meaning" (here).

Syncategorematic words are words "that do not stand by themselves... (i.e. prepositions, logical connectives, etc.)" (here).

That fact that these definitions explicitly mention "standing by themselves", "standing alone", and "being employed alone" suggests that they fit what you're looking for.

"Denied" and "ecstatic" are categorematic, while "he" and "the" are syncategorematic.

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Hey! This is a really cool term. Never encountered it before. Thanks! You didn't get the OP's tickmark, so here's one from me: ✓(given because categorematic satisfies a quibble I had with axiomatic, as that has to be qualified to be applied to terms). – Dan Bron Mar 19 at 20:21

Possibly free-standing:

free-standing adj. (a) standing alone; not attached or connected to another structure; not supported by a structural framework; (b) fig. independent or autonomous; not belonging to a larger entity.


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Consider, axiomatic

: taken for granted : self-evident an axiomatic truth


The term "ecstatic" is axiomatic

Google; Berkeley Law Scholarship Repository

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Propositions can be axiomatic, but I don't think the concept is applicable to words. Take OP's examples: "Denied is axiomatic"? "Ecstatic is axiomatic*"? – Dan Bron Mar 19 at 19:04
@DanBron "The term 'ecstatic' is axiomatic" google.fr/… – Elian Mar 19 at 19:33
What I quibbled with is only saying "axiomatic" can refer to terms; if you explicitly label the term and then modify it with axiomatic, I think that works. So you'd have to include the cond\struction "the term X is...", or something like it (similar to my comment under the OP). I recommend you integrate that phrasing into your question (and maybe include your google.fr link as further evidence). PS: I am not the downvoter. – Dan Bron Mar 19 at 19:37
I believe this to be slightly superior to free-standing. I may be wrong, but I think that "free-standing" would imply that such terms must appear in isolation (or that it would at least be preferable). Axiomatic implies that further information is superfluous, I think. As it's also the term that I had lost and wanted to find... – Stumbler Mar 19 at 20:06
I don't think axiomatic is quite what the OP is after, although they did vote this as an answer. I think the word he/she is looking for is categorematic. See my answer. – Silenus Mar 19 at 20:16

An interjection is a word that can stand on its own, without further grammatical context. Usually it is used as an exclamation of surprise or a response to a question, but it can also be used as a statement or command.

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To be fancy and to use latin terms, use res ipsa loquitur.

This phrase means "the things speak for themselves", which is a pretty good fit for what I think you're getting at.

(Source: my latin education)

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Obviousness since 'obvious' means : 1. Easily perceived or understood; apparent. See Synonyms at apparent. 2. Easily seen through because of a lack of subtlety; transparent: an obvious political ploy that fooled no one.

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