I'm trying to think of a word that means something along these lines:

An open statement. Not a number. Not something absolute. Not something calculable. A free statement. A literary premise.

E.g. "cheese may be good for you" as opposed to "17.6"


The word needs to represent a collection of non-mathematical, non-technical sources. E.g. "non-mathematical" or "literary" (except those don't cut it.)

Used in a sentence: I calculated agreement between _ sources.

  • I'm not really sure what you mean by an "open statement." You say it's "a literary premise"; does that mean a premise for a work of fiction or something like that? "Cheese may be good for you" doesn't sound as if it would carry a literary work far. – user32047 Jun 2 '13 at 10:40
  • I'm using the word 'literary' here to mean any written work, fiction or non-fiction (as opposed to a mathematical formula). – Alasdair Jun 2 '13 at 10:46
  • The only word I can think of offhand is "theoretical." Closely related, perhaps, is the term "propositional." – rhetorician Jun 2 '13 at 12:15
  • Fun question. I think that the term you want exists. I recall reading about a fitting term in an Intro to Stats class. Could you provide some more acceptable examples? They might jog my memory. – Hal Jun 2 '13 at 12:34
  • @gmcgath: doesn't sound as if it would carry a literary work far.? Speak for yourself! I can't wait to read the next sentence in that cheese-based potboiler! – FumbleFingers Jun 2 '13 at 14:32

I believe 'subjective' would work well.

From Wikipedia:

"Subjectivity [refers to] a subject's personal perspective, feelings, beliefs, desires or discovery, as opposed to those made from an independent, objective, point of view"

I think that it nicely fits into your example sentence. "I calculated agreement between subjective sources"


You said that the term you will use must represent a collection of 'non-mathematical' sources.

The word needs to represent a collection of non-mathematical

In my view, 'calculated' is not well suited to describe work with 'non-mathematical' things.

I calculated agreement between _ sources

May I suggest that you consider using a verb such as 'evaluated' instead of 'calculated'. In my opinion, 'compare' might be the most effective verb: Compare represents an evaluation of the similarities among the objects of comparison. It could replace both 'calculated' and 'agreement' - I compared subjective sources.

Merriam-Webster's first definition for 'compare': to represent as similar

American Heritage's first definition for 'compare': To consider or describe as similar, equal, or analogous; liken

I hope that this was helpful. Good luck

  • Subjective does fit the best so far. Thanks! Regarding "calculated", that was only an example sentence but also I do actually calculate. The title of the paper is now: Determining statistical significance of agreement between multiple subjective sources – Alasdair Jun 2 '13 at 13:06
  • Ah, I understand. Good luck! – Hal Jun 2 '13 at 13:15
  • @Alasdair I came across 'intersubjectivity', that might be better. Wikipedia: "First, in its weakest sense intersubjectivity refers to agreement. There is intersubjectivity between people if they agree on a given set of meanings or a definition of the situation. For example, Thomas Scheff defines intersubjectivity as "the sharing of subjective states by two or more individuals." – Hal Jun 3 '13 at 3:00

Proposition, proposal, supposition, assumption, suggestion, assertion.

  • Thanks, but I'm looking for something that sums up a collection of sources in the manner I described. E.g. non-mathematical or literary (except those don't cut it.) – Alasdair Jun 2 '13 at 10:49
  • Well, I answered before you added your edit clarification. – John M. Landsberg Jun 3 '13 at 6:15

The word you are looking for is qualitative (as opposed to quantitative). It relates to measuring the quality of something (e.g. the "goodness" of cheese for you) in a non-numeric way.

For example, in psychology, there is qualitative analysis of statements people make.

  • Hi Matt. Unfortunately I don't think I can use "qualitative" because the study is of the quantity of these statements, and so it would be extremely confusing in that context to refer to them as qualitative statements. – Alasdair Jun 2 '13 at 12:15
  • @Alasdair: It sounds as though you will be engaged in quantitative analysis of qualitative sources. – user11752 Jun 2 '13 at 12:50
  • Hi Mark, you may be right, but I would prefer to avoid using that terminology because I foresee it causing confusion. – Alasdair Jun 2 '13 at 13:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.