no·​tion ˈnō-shən How to pronounce notion (audio)
: an individual's conception or impression of something known, experienced, or imagined
They had different notions of right and wrong.
: an inclusive general concept
arriving at the notion of lawIrving Babbitt
: a theory or belief held by a person or group
the notion of original sin
: a personal inclination : whim
He had a notion to try skydiving.
obsolete : mind, intellect
notions plural : small useful items : sundries
found the thread she wanted among the shop's notions
Choose the Right Synonym for notion

idea, concept, conception, thought, notion, impression mean what exists in the mind as a representation (as of something comprehended) or as a formulation (as of a plan).

idea may apply to a mental image or formulation of something seen or known or imagined, to a pure abstraction, or to something assumed or vaguely sensed.

innovative ideas
my idea of paradise

concept may apply to the idea formed by consideration of instances of a species or genus or, more broadly, to any idea of what a thing ought to be.

a society with no concept of private property

conception is often interchangeable with concept; it may stress the process of imagining or formulating rather than the result.

our changing conception of what constitutes art

thought is likely to suggest the result of reflecting, reasoning, or meditating rather than of imagining.

commit your thoughts to paper

notion suggests an idea not much resolved by analysis or reflection and may suggest the capricious or accidental.

you have the oddest notions

impression applies to an idea or notion resulting immediately from some stimulation of the senses.

the first impression is of soaring height

Example Sentences

He has some pretty strange notions. She had a vague notion about what happened. The study disproves any notion that dolphins are not intelligent. She had a notion to try skydiving. a sewing shop that sells fabrics, books, tools, and notions
Recent Examples on the Web But Måneskin’s songs are so plainly recycled, so brazenly mediocre, that the notion of the group igniting some culture war between rock and pop—and with it, stereotypes about realness and phoniness, passion and product—seems tragic at best. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 18 Jan. 2023 The notion of the world crumbling around her even manifests itself literally, as Mary witnesses the chalk cliffs of Dover collapsing into the sea and the ceiling at Geneviève’s home starting to crack. Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, 18 Jan. 2023 But for others in Parq, the notion of identity — once blurred in two countries with similar customs, cuisines and languages — has been sharpened by the war. Sui-lee Wee Nyimas Laula, New York Times, 15 Jan. 2023 Also the notion that the special counsel might want to interview or question the president himself. ABC News, 15 Jan. 2023 Why the quaint, Victorian notion that those Senate hopefuls should be neither seen nor heard in deference to Feinstein and her plans? Los Angeles Times, 10 Jan. 2023 The notion that this is the final fling before the repentance begins. Time, 30 Dec. 2022 And the idea that got perhaps the strongest hold on him was not Dan cosmology, but the notion (which also appealed to Matisse and Picasso) that simplicity could be more truthful, more authentic, than technical sophistication. Washington Post, 21 Dec. 2022 The notion that the dream—the utter fantasy—of a singular biracial duchess revolutionizing and modernizing the monarchy had failed spectacularly. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, 15 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'notion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin notion-, notio, from noscere

First Known Use

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(2)

Time Traveler
The first known use of notion was in 1531

Dictionary Entries Near notion

Cite this Entry

“Notion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


no·​tion ˈnō-shən How to pronounce notion (audio)
: idea sense 2, conception
have a notion of a poem's meaning
: a belief held : opinion
: a sudden wish or desire : whim
just had a notion to go home
plural : small useful articles (as pins, needles, or thread)

More from Merriam-Webster on notion

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