AskDefine | Define communication

Dictionary Definition



1 the activity of communicating; the activity of conveying information; "they could not act without official communication from Moscow" [syn: communicating]
2 something that is communicated by or to or between people or groups
3 a connection allowing access between persons or places; "how many lines of communication can there be among four people?"; "a secret passageway provided communication between the two rooms"

User Contributed Dictionary



communicacion, communicationem, communicatio, verb communicare


  • /kʌˌmjunɪˈkeɪʃən/
  • /kV%mjunI"keIS@n/
    Rhymes: -eɪʃǝn


  1. The concept or state of exchanging information between entities.
    Some say that communication is a necessary prerequisite for sentience; others say that it is a result thereof.
  2. The potential for information exchange.
    The node had established communication with the network, but had as yet sent no data.
  3. A message; the essential data transferred in an act of communication.
    Surveillance was accomplished by means of intercepting the spies' communications.
  4. The body of all data transferred to one or both parties during an act of communication.
    The subpoena required that the company document their communication with the plaintiff.
  5. An instance of information transfer; a conversation or discourse.
    The professors' communications consisted of lively discussions via email.
  6. A passageway or opening between two locations.
    A round archway at the far end of the hallway provided communication to the main chamber.
  7. A connection between two tissues, organs, or cavities.
    • 1855, William Stokes, The Diseases of the Heart and the Aorta Page 617
      ...and here a free communication had been established between the aorta and the vena cava.


concept of information exchange
  • Chinese:
    Mandarin: (tōngxìn)
  • Czech: dorozumívání
  • German: Kommunikation
  • Greek: επικοινωνία (epikoinonía)
  • Hebrew: תקשורת
  • Japanese: (, tsūshin), (komyunikēshon)
  • Portuguese: comunicação (1)
  • Russian: (kommunikátsija) , общение
potential for information exchange
a message
body of data exchange
instance of data transfer
passageway or opening
anatomical connection



communication (plural: communications)

Extensive Definition

Communication is the process of transferring information from a sender to a receiver with the use of a medium in which the communicated information is understood by both sender and receiver. It is a process that allows organisms to exchange information by several methods. Communication requires that all parties understand a common language that is exchanged. There are auditory means, such as speaking, singing and sometimes tone of voice, and nonverbal, physical means, such as body language, sign language, paralanguage, touch, eye contact, or the use of writing. Communication is defined as a process by which we assign and convey meaning in an attempt to create shared understanding. This process requires a vast repertoire of skills in intrapersonal and interpersonal processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing, and evaluating. Use of these processes is developmental and transfers to all areas of life: home, school, community, work, and beyond. It is through communication that collaboration and cooperation occur. Communication is the articulation of sending a message, through different media whether it be verbal or nonverbal, so long as a being transmits a thought provoking idea, gesture, action, etc.
Communication happens at many levels (even for one single action), in many different ways, and for most beings, as well as certain machines. Several, if not all, fields of study dedicate a portion of attention to communication, so when speaking about communication it is very important to be sure about what aspects of communication one is speaking about. Definitions of communication range widely, some recognizing that animals can communicate with each other as well as human beings, and some are more narrow, only including human beings within the parameters of human symbolic interaction.
Nonetheless, communication is usually described along a few major dimensions: Content (what type of things are communicated), source, emisor, sender or encoder (by whom), form (in which form), channel (through which medium), destination, receiver, target or decoder (to whom), and the purpose or pragmatic aspect. Between parties, communication includes acts that confer knowledge and experiences, give advice and commands, and ask questions. These acts may take many forms, in one of the various manners of communication. The form depends on the abilities of the group communicating. Together, communication content and form make messages that are sent towards a destination. The target can be oneself, another person or being, another entity (such as a corporation or group of beings).
Communication can be seen as processes of information transmission governed by three levels of semiotic rules:
  1. Syntactic (formal properties of signs and symbols),
  2. pragmatic (concerned with the relations between signs/expressions and their users) and
  3. semantic (study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent).
Therefore, communication is social interaction where at least two interacting agents share a common set of signs and a common set of semiotic rules. This commonly held rule in some sense ignores autocommunication, including intrapersonal communication via diaries or self-talk.
In a simple model, information or content (e.g. a message in natural language) is sent in some form (as spoken language) from an emisor/ sender/ encoder to a destination/ receiver/ decoder. In a slightly more complex form a sender and a receiver are linked reciprocally. A particular instance of communication is called a speech act. In the presence of "communication noise" on the transmission channel (air, in this case), reception and decoding of content may be faulty, and thus the speech act may not achieve the desired effect.
Theories of coregulation describe communication as a creative and dynamic continuous process, rather than a discrete exchange of information.

Types of communication


A language is a syntactically organized system of signals, such as voice sounds, intonations or pitch, gestures or written symbols which communicate thoughts or feelings. If a language is about communicating with signals, voice, sounds, gestures, or written symbols, can animal communications be considered as a language? Animals do not have a written form of a language, but use a language to communicate with each another. In that sense, an animal communication can be considered as a separated language.
Human spoken and written languages can be described as a system of symbols (sometimes known as lexemes) and the grammars (rules) by which the symbols are manipulated. The word "language" is also used to refer to common properties of languages. Language learning is normal in human childhood. Most human languages use patterns of sound or gesture for symbols which enable communication with others around them. There are thousands of human languages, and these seem to share certain properties, even though many shared properties have exceptions.
There is no defined line between a language and a dialect, but the linguist Max Weinreich is credited as saying that "a language is a dialect with an army and a navy". Constructed languages such as Esperanto, programming languages, and various mathematical formalisms are not necessarily restricted to the properties shared by human languages.


A dialogue is a reciprocal conversation between two or more entities. The etymological origins of the word (in Greek διά(diá,through) + λόγος(logos,word,speech) concepts like flowing-through meaning) do not necessarily convey the way in which people have come to use the word, with some confusion between the prefix διά-(diá-,through) and the prefix δι-(di-, two) leading to the assumption that a dialogue is necessarily between only two parties.

Nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication is the process of communicating through sending and receiving wordless messages. Such messages can be communicated through gesture, body language or posture; facial expression and eye contact, object communication such as clothing, hairstyles or even architecture, or symbols and infographics. Speech may also contain nonverbal elements known as paralanguage, including voice quality, emotion and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation and stress. Likewise, written texts have nonverbal elements such as handwriting style, spatial arrangement of words, or the use of emoticons.A portmanteau of the English words emotion (or emote) and icon, an emoticon is a symbol or combination of symbols used to convey emotional content in written or message form

Non-human living organisms

Communication in many of its facets is not limited to humans, or even to primates. Every information exchange between living organisms — i.e. transmission of signals involving a living sender and receiver — can be considered a form of communication. Thus, there is the broad field of animal communication, which encompasses most of the issues in ethology. On a more basic level, there is cell signaling, Cellular communication (biology)|cellular communication, and chemical communication between primitive organisms like bacteria, and within the plant and fungal kingdoms. All of these communication processes are sign-mediated interactions with a great variety of distinct coordinations.


Animal communication is any behaviour on the part of one animal that has an effect on the current or future behavior of another animal. Of course, human communication can be subsumed as a highly developed form of animal communication. The study of animal communication, called zoosemiotics (distinguishable from anthroposemiotics, the study of human communication) has played an important part in the development of ethology, sociobiology, and the study of animal cognition. This is quite evident as humans are able to communicate with animals especially dolphins and other animals used in circuses however these animals have to learn a special means of communication. Animal communication, and indeed the understanding of the animal world in general, is a rapidly growing field, and even in the 21st century so far, many prior understandings related to diverse fields such as personal symbolic name use, animal emotions, animal culture and learning, and even sexual conduct, long thought to be well understood, have been revolutionized.

Plants and Fungi

Among plants, communication is observed within the plant organism, i.e. within plant cells and between plant cells, between plants of the same or related species, and between plants and non-plant organisms, especially in the rootzone. Plant roots communicate in parallel with rhizobia bacteria, with fungi and with insects in the soil. This parallel sign-mediated interactions which are governed by syntactic, pragmatic and semantic rules are possible because of the decentralized "nervous system" of plants. As recent research shows 99% of intraorganismic plant communication processes are neuronal-like. Plants also communicate via volatiles in the case of herbivory attack behavior to warn neighboring plants. In parallel they produce other volatiles which attract parasites which attack these herbivores. In stress situations plants can overwrite the genetic code they inherited from their parents and revert to that of their grand- or great-grandparents.
Fungi communicate to coordinate and organize their own growth and development such as the formation of mycelia and fruiting bodies. Additionally fungi communicate with same and related species as well as with nonfungal organisms in a great variety of symbiotic interactions, especially with bacteria, unicellular eukaryotes, plants and insects. The used semiochemicals are of biotic origin and they trigger the fungal organism to react in a specific manner, in difference while to even the same chemical molecules are not being a part of biotic messages doesn’t trigger to react the fungal organism. It means, fungal organisms are competent to identify the difference of the same molecules being part of biotic messages or lack of these features. So far five different primary signalling molecules are known that serve to coordinate very different behavioral patterns such as filamentation, mating, growth, pathogenicity. Behavioral coordination and the production of such substances can only be achieved through interpretation processes: self or non-self, abiotic indicator, biotic message from similar, related, or non-related species, or even “noise”, i.e., similar molecules without biotic content


There are communication processes between different species of bacteria and between bacteria and non bacterial life such as eukaryotic hosts. Beneath the semiochemicals necessary for developmental processes of bacterial communities such as division, sporulation, and synthesis of secondary metabolites there are physical contact-mediated behavioral patterns being important in biofilm organisation. There are three classes of signalling molecules for different purposes, i.e. signalling within the organism to coordinate gene expressions to generate adequate response behavior, signalling between same or related and different species. The most popular communicative behavior is „quorum sensing“. Quorum sensing is the term for description of sign-mediated interactions in which chemical molecules are produced and secreted by bacteria. They are recognized of the bacterial community dependent on a critical concentration and in a special ratio to the population density. These molecules trigger the expression of a great variety of gene transcriptions.
The semiochemicals used by bacteria are of great variety, especially because some signalling molecules are multiple re-usable components. Today three kinds of communicative goals are distinguished: (A) reciprocal communication, active sign-mediated interactions which is beneficial for both interacting parts; (B) messages which are produced as response on a triggering event which may be an indicator for a receiver which was not specially targeted by the producer. A coincidental event which is neutral – except of the energy costs of production – to the producer but beneficial for the receiver; (C) signalling to manipulate the receiver, i.e. to cause a response behavior which is onesided beneficial to the producer and harms the receivers often in that they behave against their normal goals. The three classes of bacteria communication enable bacteria to generate and coordinate different behavioral patterns: self and non-self identification, i.e. identification of other colonies and measurement of their size, pheromone based courtship for mating, alteration of colony structure in formatting of fruiting bodies, initiation of developmental and growth processes e.g. sporulation.


  • Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin 117, 497-529.
  • Severin, Werner J., Tankard, James W., Jr., (1979). Communication Theories: Origins, Methods, Uses. New York: Hastings House, ISBN 0801317037

See also

communication in Arabic: اتصال
communication in Aragonese: Comunicazions
communication in Breton: Kemennadur
communication in Bulgarian: Комуникации
communication in Catalan: Comunicació
communication in Czech: Dorozumívání
communication in Danish: Kommunikation
communication in German: Kommunikation
communication in Estonian: Kommunikatsioon
communication in Modern Greek (1453-): Επικοινωνία
communication in Spanish: Comunicación
communication in Esperanto: Komunikado
communication in Basque: Komunikazio
communication in Persian: ارتباطات
communication in French: Communication
communication in Friulian: Comunicazions
communication in Manx: Çhaghteraght
communication in Galician: Comunicación, función da linguaxe
communication in Korean: 통신
communication in Croatian: Komunikacije
communication in Indonesian: Komunikasi
communication in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Communication
communication in Icelandic: Samskipti
communication in Italian: Comunicazione
communication in Hebrew: תקשורת
communication in Javanese: Komunikasi
communication in Latvian: Saskarsme
communication in Luxembourgish: Kommunikatioun
communication in Lithuanian: Bendravimas
communication in Limburgan: Kommunikasie
communication in Hungarian: Kommunikáció
communication in Macedonian: Комуникација
communication in Malay (macrolanguage): Komunikasi
communication in Dutch: Communicatie
communication in Japanese: 通信
communication in Norwegian: Kommunikasjon
communication in Norwegian Nynorsk: Kommunikasjon
communication in Occitan (post 1500): Comunicacion
communication in Polish: Komunikacja interpersonalna
communication in Portuguese: Comunicação
communication in Romanian: Comunicaţii
communication in Romansh: Communicaziun
communication in Russian: Общение
communication in Albanian: Komunikimi
communication in Sicilian: Cumunicazzioni
communication in Simple English: Communication
communication in Slovenian: Komuniciranje
communication in Serbian: Комуникација
communication in Sundanese: Komunikasi
communication in Finnish: Viestintä
communication in Swedish: Kommunikation
communication in Tagalog: Komunikasyon
communication in Tamil: தொடர்பாடல்
communication in Thai: การสื่อสาร
communication in Turkish: İletişim
communication in Ukrainian: Комунікація
communication in Venetian: Comunicazsioni
communication in Yiddish: קאמוניקאציע
communication in Samogitian: Kuomonėkacėjės
communication in Chinese: 溝通

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

access, accommodation, accordance, account, acknowledgment, acquaintance, advice, agglomeration, agglutination, aggregation, aisle, alley, ambulatory, announcement, answer, aperture, arcade, artery, articulation, avenue, award, awarding, bestowal, bestowment, billet, blue book, bond, bracketing, briefing, bulletin, business letter, channel, chit, cloister, clustering, collegiality, colloquial discourse, colloquy, colonnade, combination, commerce, communion, communique, community, concatenation, concession, concourse, concurrence, conduction, conduit, conferment, conferral, confluence, congeries, conglomeration, congress, conjugation, conjunction, connection, contagion, contribution, convection, convergence, conversation, converse, conversing, copulation, corridor, coupling, covered way, data, datum, defile, deliverance, delivery, deportation, diapedesis, diffusion, directory, discourse, dispatch, dissemination, donation, embassy, endowment, enlightenment, epistle, evidence, exchange, exit, export, exportation, express, expulsion, extradition, facts, factual information, familiarization, favor, fellowship, ferry, ford, furnishment, gallery, gathering, gen, general information, gifting, give-and-take, giving, grant, granting, guidebook, handout, hard information, hookup, impartation, impartment, import, importation, incidental information, info, information, inlet, instruction, intelligence, interchange, intercommunication, intercommunion, intercourse, interlinking, interlocution, intersection, investiture, joinder, joining, jointure, junction, knotting, knowledge, lane, letter, liaison, liberality, light, line, linkage, linking, marriage, meeting, mention, merger, merging, message, metastasis, metathesis, metempsychosis, migration, missive, mutual transfer, note, notice, notification, offer, opening, osmosis, outlet, overpass, pairing, pass, passage, passageway, passing over, perfusion, pneumatogram, portico, presentation, presentment, promotional material, proof, provision, publication, publicity, railroad tunnel, rapping, release, reply, report, rescript, sidelight, social activity, social intercourse, social relations, splice, spread, spreading, statement, subscription, supplying, surrender, symbiosis, telegram, the dope, the goods, the know, the scoop, tie, tie-in, tie-up, traject, trajet, transduction, transfer, transfer of property, transference, transfusion, transit, transition, translation, translocation, transmigration, transmigration of souls, transmission, transmittal, transmittance, transplacement, transplantation, transposal, transposition, travel, tunnel, underpass, unification, union, verbal intercourse, vouchsafement, white book, white paper, word, yoking
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