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See also: dêixis



From Ancient Greek δεῖξις (deîxis, pointing, indicating, reference), from δείκνυμι (deíknumi, I show).


  • IPA(key): /ˈdaɪksɪs/, /ˈdeɪksɪs/


  • I am talking to you. (person deixis)
  • That was then, this is now. (temporal deixis)
  • Bring it from here to there. (locative deixis)

deixis (countable and uncountable, plural deixes)

  1. (linguistics) The use of a word, such as a pronoun, to refer to something that must be identified from the wider context; a word used in such a way.
    Deixis allows for economy of speech but introduces ambiguity when that speech is recorded.
    Synonym: indexicality
    Antonym: homophora
    Hypernym: exophora
    • 1996, George Yule, Pragmatics, Oxford University Press (→ISBN), page 9
      Deixis is a technical term (from Greek) for one of the most basic things we do with utterances. It means 'pointing' via language. Any linguistic form used to accomplish this 'pointing' is called a deictic expression. When you notice a strange object and ask, 'What's that?', you are using a deictic expression ('that') to indicate something in the immediate context. Deictic expressions are also sometimes called indexicals. They are among the first forms to be spoken by very young children and []
    • 2006, Stephen C. Levinson, "Dexis", chapter 5 of The Handbook of Pragmatics, Laurence R. Horn and Gregory Ward (eds.), Wiley-Blackwell (→ISBN), page 97:
      For those who treat language as a generative system for objectively describing the world, deixis is a big black fly in the ointment. Deixis introduces subjective, attentional, intentional and, of course, context-dependent properties into natural languages.

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  1. second-person singular present subjunctive form of deixar