Both terms, concept and prototype occur in semantic texts roughly in the sense a mental object denoted by a word. There should be some difference in definition between the two. Could anyone tell?

I read the following in an elementary text in semantics:

The concepts that we use as word-senses are defined in terms of clear, typical, central, cases (called prototypes), but their boundaries are left unclear.

Yet the relation between the two terminologies concept and prototype still appears very unclear to me.

p.s. My question is about technical sense, precisely in the sense of semantics, not that in everyday language.

  • Have you looked up these words in a dictionary? Tell us what you've found out and what exactly confuses you.
    – user3395
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 23:45
  • 2
    In general usage, the two words have different meanings as a visit to a dictionary will show. However, specialized fields frequently define words in ways that differ from general usage. An example is "ring" in abstract algebra. Sometimes there are dictionaries for these specialized meanings, e.g. Black's Law Dictionary. In most cases, you must learn these specialized meanings from those who work in the field. I doubt anyone could ever learn the exact meaning intended in texts on economics by "elasticity" except from a specialized dictionary or someone knowledgeable in economics. Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 23:49

1 Answer 1


In general, a


is an idea which you can not put your hands on, whereas a


is something you can touch.

A "concept car" is actually a "prototype" model, or a "proof of concept" implementation.

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