syn·​cat·​e·​gor·​e·​mat·​ic ˌsin-ˌka-tə-ˌgȯr-ə-ˈma-tik How to pronounce syncategorematic (audio)
: forming a meaningful expression only in conjunction with a denotative expression (such as a content word)
logical operators and function words are syncategorematic
syncategorematically adverb

Did you know?

In ancient Greek logic, katēgorēma referred to something that was affirmed or denied about the subject in a proposition. For instance, in "the paper is white," "whiteness" would be the katēgorēma. Seventeenth-century logicians extended this concept, which they called "categorem," to cover the subject of the proposition as well. So, in the proposition "All men are mortal," mortality is a categorem and so is man. But what about all? Words like all that signify quantity (as well as words that function as adverbs, prepositions, or conjunctions) are syncategoremata - that is, they are words that have meaning in propositions only when used in conjunction "with" other words. (Syn- means "with.")

Word History


Late Latin syncategoremat-, syncategorema syncategorematic term, from Greek synkatēgorēma, from synkatēgorein to predicate jointly, from syn- + katēgorein to predicate — more at category

First Known Use

1827, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of syncategorematic was in 1827


Dictionary Entries Near syncategorematic

Cite this Entry

“Syncategorematic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!