For example, the set for the question "did you go to the store?" would be {'yes','no'} but not include '7', and for "how old are you?" would be the set of positive integers but not include 'by car', and for "how did you get here" would include 'by car' but not 'Jupiter' , and so on.

An indirect answer might challenge the question. For example, the direct answers to "have you stopped beating your wife?" would be 'yes' or 'no', but hopefully neither is correct, so you would challenge the question by saying "I never beat my wife". Hopefully this is the correct answer, but you have to go meta to give it.

Also, are there other, correct terms for what I called "direct" and "indirect" answers?


  • It's a good question. I'd point out that 'acceptable' answers for 'how old are you' would include the set of positive integers, along with 'almost seven' etc, but that's probably nit-picking. It's important to realise that 'answers' come in many different shades, from '3.14159' to 'Mind your own business'. Apr 14, 2017 at 22:34

2 Answers 2


Look at the definition of semiotic schema described in this book.

The schema includes a description of possibilities, it describes the actual sign tokens by describing which other sign types could have been produced instead.

It's pretty abstract and convoluted, but it seems to be on track with what you're looking for.

In computer networking, the term could be called a response schema.

In mathematics, it would be called the codomain.


All, of course, are technical terms that are field-specific, but depending on what you want to this term for, you may be able to appropriate the terms for your use.


Such a "direct" response which is restricted to a set of (predetermined) answers (like yes/no) is called categorical.




Unambiguously explicit and direct.

‘The answer is a categorical no, except in crofting areas, where a few crofters may be a little better off.’

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