I've read definitions that differ from each other only by the words marked by and having.

E.g. 'Marked by a calm demeanor' and 'having a calm demeanor'. I see this often enough that I suspect lexicographers distinguish between the two phrases.

For dictionary definitions, how do the denotations of marked by and having differ from each other?

  • This question should be asked in Writer's forum. – Blessed Geek May 18 '14 at 21:53

The difference lies in the essence of the definition. When defining a word using 'marked by', it means that the word describes some quality with a certain special characteristic, whereas using 'having' implies that the word principally describes such a special characteristic.

Thus in your example of 'a calm demeanor', the word whose definition contains 'marked by' could refer to a certain state of being with the hallmark of, that is, marked by a calm demeanor, whereas the word with 'having' in its definition would refer more specifically to the state principally characterized by having a calm demeanor.

  • You seem to have got carried away by the ideas -- the answer is as confusing as the OP's predicament. – Kris May 18 '14 at 14:38
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    @Kris it makes sense to me. – Hal May 18 '14 at 15:11
  • Yes, I think @Samuel's answer is essentially that is marked by can mean is distinguished by. That is, the quality is sufficient to distinguish it, rather than being just one of possibly several qualities that the object has. This can be relaxed somewhat as well: a square stem is a marker for, or distinguishes, plants of the mint family, even though not all mints have a square stem and not all square stems are from mints. – Drew May 19 '14 at 1:09

'Marked by' is not the only possibility in addition to 'having'.

There are countless ways of introducing personal characteristics - displaying, blessed with, hindered by, benefiting from, suffering from, born with, dignified with, weighed-down with, elevated by, etc.

Each one has its uses, and selection depends on what sort of personality you are attempting to portray.

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