I'm looking for a word that is pretty much opposite to 'verbatim', but not 'paraphrased.' A word that means capturing the idea of something but not the exact phrasing.

I'm typing notes from an event I attended, and I want to differentiate between exact (or near-exact quotations,) and notes I'm making right now based on my memory - e.g. my current impression of what was said originally. So I'm not exactly paraphrasing in that I'm not rewording a specific quote. I've a section of my notes dedicated to verbatim quotes, and a section dedicated to [missing word].

I guess I could go with 'Impressions' or something but it's also not quite right.

  • Perhaps précis? Nov 29, 2016 at 0:47
  • Still sounds like paraphrasing, to me. How do you distinguish what you are trying to describe from paraphrasing? Paraphrasing is saying the same thing, or similar, but not in the same words.
    – Drew
    Nov 29, 2016 at 2:46
  • @Drew: The OP appears to believe that "paraphrasing" implies that you have the exact quotation, but are intentionally rewording it.
    – ruakh
    Nov 29, 2016 at 2:55
  • 1
    @ruakh: Then the OP should look up paraphrase in a dictionary.
    – Drew
    Nov 29, 2016 at 2:57
  • @Drew Thanks, I looked up the meaning in the dictionary. I know what it means, but it didn't feel right to me. These are notes on, not of an event. They are my current thoughts, not the original source's thoughts. Perhaps it’s a bit nuanced, but ‘paraphrase’ still feels too specific and less abstract than what I’m actually doing.
    – Athos
    Nov 29, 2016 at 22:42

4 Answers 4


There are several words (check synonyms of summary) but perhaps abstract satisfies your requirements best.


abstract NOUN

1 A summary of the contents of a book, article, or speech:

‘an abstract of her speech’


summary, synopsis, precis, résumé, outline, recapitulation, abridgement, condensation, digest, summation

  • You might want to consider adding the definition of abstract as a transitive verb meaning "to make a summary or abstract of" (M-W). Just a thought. Nice to see you approaching 10k. Nov 29, 2016 at 1:36
  • @1006a synopsis was my first thought but thought abstract is somehow better. It's strange how we move away from first thoughts sometimes. Nov 29, 2016 at 1:36
  • @RichardKayser Thanks. I know you are not far behind (should we call you Richard Express?). I stuck to the noun form because it goes with "impressions" suggested by the OP. Nov 29, 2016 at 1:40
  • I get it. The question just made me think verbs: quote verbatim, paraphrase, abstract, ... It's all good. Nov 29, 2016 at 1:42
  • I actually meant summary; you were editing as I was commenting. The OP's example sentence seems to me to call for a mass noun, which would make summary fit a bit better, though any of your suggestions could work. ("I've a section of my notes dedicated to verbatim quotes, and a section dedicated to summary.")
    – 1006a
    Nov 29, 2016 at 1:54

I think the correct word actually is paraphrasing. You seem to feel that "paraphrasing" necessarily implies that you have the exact quote available to you, but are intentionally choosing to use different words; but that's not in fact the case. Quoting from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paraphrase:

We paraphrase all the time. When you tell a friend what someone else has said, you're almost always paraphrasing, since you're not repeating the exact words. If you go to hear a talk, you might paraphrase the speaker's main points afterward for your friends.


I might call the rest of your notes the gist of what was said.

gist - The substance or general meaning of a speech or text

Paraphrase seems to imply rewording or improvement rather than simple distillation of the original. Given the amount of sarcastic, pillorying paraphrasing done these days, I'm also leery of using that term.


Paraphrasing is a good one, but it didn't quite fit what I was looking for. This is the [paraphrased] sentence I ended up going with:

I then called John, who said words to the effect of, “if you have to cancel your appointment, you will be charged £50", implying that there was no recourse for any reason. I later found this out to be false.

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