I want to say a sentence like: "The notion of physical phases is a concept everyone knows but many may not be aware of the terminology "phase". Phase just means solid, liquid or gas."

Is there a word that captures the meaning of the italics?

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    The word you're looking for aside, the sentence in your question is ungrammatical. One way of fixing it is to add many after but. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Dec 15 '18 at 6:04
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    Not an issue with English but a minor point of science: phase also includes plasma (e.g. the Sun, lightning) and other more unusual states such as Bose-Einstein condensate - see states of matter. – Chappo Says SE Dudded Monica Dec 15 '18 at 6:16
  • Something like intuitively understands or has an intuitive grasp of gets you most of the way there but: 1. They're phrases, not single words and this is a single-word-request. 2. The idea of not knowing the terminology isn't where the emphasis is and to what extent it is there it is only by implication. – tmgr Dec 15 '18 at 9:07
  • How can there be a single word for such a long phrase? What’s wrong with the sentence as it is? Are you actually looking for a more elegant rewording? E.g, It is common knowledge that matter can occur in different states, solid, liquid or gaseous. But many people are not aware of the technical term for this concept: phases. What exactly is it you want? – Richard Z Dec 15 '18 at 11:41
  • @Chappo just to clarify that I do know this but I used this simplification for the question so it's more straightforward. – dcw Dec 15 '18 at 18:11

I'd say in layman's terms or "superficially"

  • "The notion of physical phases is a concept everyone knows "in layman's terms/superficially."

layman's terms - simple language that anyone can understand.

superficial - superficial implies a concern only with surface aspects or obvious features: a superficial analysis of the problem.

Examples from the web:

"... problems labeled either in layman's terms (such as stomach upset and sore throat) or in medical terms (such as gastroenteritis and tonsillitis)"

"This fourth edition explains more fully the principles of coaching in layman's terms and illustrates them with simple analogies"

"Can the concept of time travel be explained in layman's terms?"

""We always say, very superficially, “That's your ego,” but we have no idea what the ego really is.""

"There are many conditions that may superficially mimic autism but may have a completely different set of etiologies."

  • I just used your wording in a paper submission, thanks! – dcw Dec 15 '18 at 18:10
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    @Daochen Why not mark it as the solution? – A Lambent Eye Dec 15 '18 at 22:21

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