In a diagram, I added small visual elements to identify specific objects. Should I call these things (visual) marks or (visual) markers? What is the difference? Is there a better term?

According to dictionary.com a mark is a a visible impression or trace on something and a marker is something used as a mark or indication. However, this does not answer my question because the definition of marker is somehow self-referencing: is something used as a mark a mark or a marker?

  • Have you looked in a dictionary? Nov 28, 2012 at 8:26
  • According to dictionary.com a "mark" is a "a visible impression or trace on something" and "marker" is "something used as a mark or indication". That doesn't help either.
    – fbeck
    Nov 28, 2012 at 8:33
  • 1
    Please add the definitions to your question and link to their source. Then, clarify why neither of them is suitable. Nov 28, 2012 at 8:37
  • 1
    I just edited the question as proposed.
    – fbeck
    Nov 28, 2012 at 8:48

1 Answer 1


A mark is a visible impression or trace on something (as you found).

A marker is a mark with a specific meaning. For example, it can apply to a blob of paint indicating a part has been inspected: the blob is a mark, but its specific meaning turns it into a marker.

Your marks have a specific purpose to identify the various objects. Thus they are markers.

  • Yes, in the biomed world, markers are signs of a particular kind of cancer, cancer in general, or some other chronic or acute-but-transient disease.
    – user21497
    Nov 28, 2012 at 9:50
  • And in gambling circles - or at least in Damon Runyon's stories set in these circles - a marker is a promise to pay a gambling loss, or the collateral for the debt. Nov 28, 2012 at 22:10

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.