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In a diagram, I added small visual elements to identify specific objects. Should I call these things (visual) marks or (visual) markers? What is the difference? Is there a better term?

According to dictionary.com a mark is a a visible impression or trace on something and a marker is something used as a mark or indication. However, this does not answer my question because the definition of marker is somehow self-referencing: is something used as a mark a mark or a marker?

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Have you looked in a dictionary? –  coleopterist Nov 28 '12 at 8:26
    
According to dictionary.com a "mark" is a "a visible impression or trace on something" and "marker" is "something used as a mark or indication". That doesn't help either. –  fbeck Nov 28 '12 at 8:33
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Please add the definitions to your question and link to their source. Then, clarify why neither of them is suitable. –  coleopterist Nov 28 '12 at 8:37
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I just edited the question as proposed. –  fbeck Nov 28 '12 at 8:48

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

A mark is a visible impression or trace on something (as you found).

A marker is a mark with a specific meaning. For example, it can apply to a blob of paint indicating a part has been inspected: the blob is a mark, but its specific meaning turns it into a marker.

Your marks have a specific purpose to identify the various objects. Thus they are markers.

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Yes, in the biomed world, markers are signs of a particular kind of cancer, cancer in general, or some other chronic or acute-but-transient disease. –  user21497 Nov 28 '12 at 9:50
    
And in gambling circles - or at least in Damon Runyon's stories set in these circles - a marker is a promise to pay a gambling loss, or the collateral for the debt. –  StoneyB Nov 28 '12 at 22:10

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