AskDefine | Define entity

Dictionary Definition

entity n : that which is perceived or known or inferred to have its own distinct existence (living or nonliving)

User Contributed Dictionary



From Medieval Latin entitas < Latin, present participle of esse, "to be".


  • /ˈen.tɪ.ti/, /"EntI.tI/


  1. That which has a distinct existence as an individual unit. Often used for organisations which have no physical form.
  2. An existent something that has the properties of being real, and having a real existence.
  3. An organized array or set of individual elements or parts.
  4. The state or quality of being or existence.
    The group successfully maintains its tribal entity.
    • Quotation: The policy of the government of the United States is to seek . . . to preserve Chinese territorial and administrative entity -- G.F.Kennan

Derived terms


Something or somebody that exists as an individual unit
Something having a real existence
organized array or set of individual elements or parts
Being; existence

Extensive Definition

An entity is something that has a distinct, separate existence, though it need not be a material existence. In particular, abstractions and legal fictions are usually regarded as entities. In general, there is also no presumption that an entity is animate. Entities are used in system developmental models that display communications and internal processing of, say, documents compared to order processing.
An entity could be viewed as a set containing subsets. In philosophy, such sets are said to be abstract objects.
Sometimes, the word entity is used in a general sense of a being, whether or not the referent has material existence; e.g., is often referred to as an entity with no corporeal form, such as a language. It is also often used to refer to ghosts and other spirits. Taken further, entity sometimes refers to existence or being itself. For example, the former U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan once said that "the policy of the government of the United States is to seek . . . to preserve Chinese territorial and administrative entity."
The word entitative is the adjective form of the noun entity. Something that is entitative is "considered as pure entity; abstracted from all circumstances", that is, regarded as entity alone, apart from attendant circumstances.
In law, an entity is something capable of bearing legal rights and obligations. It generally means "legal entity" (such as a business entity or a corporate entity) or "artificial person" but also includes "natural person".

Specialized uses

  • A DBMS entity is either a thing in the modelled world or a drawing element in an ERD.
  • A SUMO, Entity is the root node and stands for the universal class of individuals.
  • In VHDL, entity is the keyword for defining a new object.
  • An SGML entity is an abbreviation for some expanded piece of SGML text.
  • An open systems architecture entity is an active routine within a layer.
  • Zionist entity is a pejorative term for Israel
  • In computer games and game engines, entity is a dynamic object such as a non-player character or item.
  • In HTML, entity is a code snipet (ie: "®" for "Registered Trademark") which is interpreted by web browsers to display an ASCII character.

See also

entity in Bosnian: Entitet (višeznačni čvor)
entity in Czech: Entita
entity in Danish: Entitet
entity in German: Entität (Philosophie)
entity in Spanish: Entidad
entity in Esperanto: Ento
entity in French: Entité
entity in Indonesian: Entitas
entity in Ido: Ento
entity in Macedonian: ентитет
entity in Malagasy: Entity
entity in Dutch: Entiteit
entity in Japanese: 物
entity in Norwegian: Entitet
entity in Slovenian: Entiteta
entity in Finnish: Entiteetti
entity in Swedish: Entitet
entity in Chinese: 實體

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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