noun [Lat., = name], in English, part of speech of vast semantic range. It can be used to name a person, place, thing, idea, or time. It generally functions as subject, object, or indirect object of the verb in the sentence, and may be distinguished by a number of formal criteria. A noun may be recognized by inflection (e.g., -' s and - s ) or by derivation (e.g., - ness, - ity, and - tion ). Most languages have a major form class composed of words referring to persons, animals, and objects; but the Latin type of noun declension, with its case system, is unusual outside a few families of languages.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.