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I am writing some technical docs. There is a technical term that has no official definition, as there is no definition for that term in any formal specs. However, there is a widely-accepted definition for that term in the tech community. In this case, can I refer to that definition as "an idiomatic definition", as in

There is no official definition for what X is, as you cannot find it in the spec. However, there is an idiomatic definition that the community has been using over the years

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  • Using "X" makes this question harder to understand Why are you hiding this word?
    – James K
    Jan 26, 2021 at 7:44
  • ok sure. Actually "X" is "deep cloning", does it make the question easier to understand for you?
    – Joji
    Jan 26, 2021 at 16:57
  • Yes, thanks....
    – James K
    Jan 26, 2021 at 17:32
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    I think "widely accepted" or "commonly accepted" fits the bill just fine. "idiomatic" would rather go with "use", "expression", "phrase" etc.
    – fev
    Jan 26, 2021 at 17:42

2 Answers 2

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I wouldn't say "idiomatic definition". I've not heard "idiomatic" used like this. It means "consisting of language that is natural to a native speaker" so literally, it means that the definition is written in idiomatic language.

If you don't want "unofficial definition" you could rephrase in terms of "understanding".

There is no official definition for what deep cloning is, as you cannot find it in the spec. However, the term is generally understood in the community.

There is no official definition of "Deep cloning", as you cannot find it in the specification, but it is generally understood to mean a fully independent copy of an object, duplicating all references within the object.

Or if there is a precisely phrased definition, just not in the spec, then cite that

There is no official definition of "Deep cloning", as you cannot find it in the specification, but Chris Chu defines it as "a copy of all elements of the original object" so that "changes made to the original object will not be reflected in the copy".

Finally, if you are describing something everyone knows and so you can't find a particular source you can say

There is no official definition of "Deep cloning", as you cannot find it in the specification. Here I use the term to mean...

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The opposite of "official" is "unofficial". "Informal" or "casual" can also be used.

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  • thanks but you didn't answer my question tho. that is does "an idiomatic definition" sound natural or not. Also in my particular context "casual" is really not the right word. There is nothing casual about the definition. The community by large has thought through the definition and it has went through multiple iterations.
    – Joji
    Jan 26, 2021 at 2:19

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