Nouns and verbs: A comparison of definitional style

Sally A. Marinellie, Cynthia Johnson Parsons

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The present investigation is a study of the definitional style of nouns and verbs in typically developing school-age children. A total of 30 children in upper-elementary grades provided verbal definitions for 10 common high-frequency nouns (e.g., apple, boat, baby) and 10 common high-frequency verbs (e.g., climb, sing, throw). All definitions were coded and scored for semantic content (meaning) and grammatical form (syntax). Results revealed no significant difference between noun and verb definitions for content scores. For form, however, noun definition scores were significantly higher than verb definition scores. A supplementary analysis was conducted to explore development of noun and verb definitions in upper-elementary grades. Input factors, word frequency, as well as theory of the organization of the mental lexicon are discussed in relation to definitional skill.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-235
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Definition
  • Mental lexicon
  • School-age language
  • Verbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Psychology(all)


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