Is there an encompassing word to describe non-physical systems or entities? Things like data, processes, religion, rules, laws, etc?

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    Hello Richard. If you are learning English and trying to find a word, it is a good idea to start with a word with a related meaning in you native language and use a dictionary (or google) to translate it into English. Have you already done this? Tell us what you found out. Another good idea is to give an example sentence of how you really want to use this word in a sentence (use your real example, don't make something up for the question)
    – James K
    Feb 7, 2021 at 11:14

1 Answer 1


Yes, there is: a noun.

Examples of nouns:

an abstraction            >  parallelism (n.)
a construction            >  feathered hope  (noun clause)
person                    >  Jacob Rees-Mogg
place                     >  Amsterdam
thing                     >  mustard
activity                  >  swimming
concept                   >  irony

"Noun" encompasses physical and non-physical things.

Your best answer might be this: non-physical things, which is the phrase you used in your question. "Non-physical entity" might sound nice, but it does not embrace concepts and processes. "Immaterial thing" is pretty good.

I do not think that there is an answer to your question. Such a word does not exist in English, as far as I am aware.

  • I'm not sure what the answer is here. "Abstractions"? I'm sure "paralleisms, constructions, feathered hopes" are not answers to this question.
    – James K
    Feb 7, 2021 at 11:15
  • The magic word, the answer to the question is "noun"-- an abstraction and a construction are two kinds of nouns, just like person, place, thing, concept, etc. I admit that my presentation was not clear.
    – Patriot
    Feb 7, 2021 at 11:20
  • A noun is a type of word. Religion isn't a noun, "religion" is a noun. This is the use/mention distinction. Sorry but I don't think this is a correct answer.
    – James K
    Feb 7, 2021 at 13:00
  • @JamesK I do not understand what you said. Religion isn't a noun, but "religion" is a noun. Would you mind to clarify that for me? I am curious.
    – Patriot
    Feb 7, 2021 at 13:21
  • Certainly. The word "cat" is a word, it is a noun and it has three letters. On the other hand, a cat isn't a word. A cat is an animal, it doesn't have letters, it has legs, fur, teeth etc. A cat isn't a noun, it is a mammal. Similarly "religion" is a noun, it is an English word with 8 letters. But religion is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power (according to lexico). Religion isn't a noun, it can't be a noun because it isn't a word, it is a type of belief.
    – James K
    Feb 7, 2021 at 14:39

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