Can anyone please help me explaining the weight of the word claim in general purpose sentences?

For example, if I say

I will claim the amount.

Does it mean it is my right to get the amount, or it means that I may get the amount or may not?

3 Answers 3


There is no "general context" meaning of the word; the word "claim" can have one of many meanings depending on its context. As for your example:

I will claim the amount.

The word "amount" suggests to me that money is involved, and therefore I can assume that the meaning is this one (as per dictionary.com):

to demand by or as by virtue of a right; demand as a right or as due: to claim an estate by inheritance.

Thus, if you claim an amount, you declare that you have a right to that amount.


thefreedictionary.com: claim, definition 1: "To demand, ask for, or take as one's own or one's due"

To claim something does not mean that you will get it or even that you are likely to get it, just that you are asserting that it is rightfully yours. Whether you actually get it depends on whether others agree that your claim is valid, or you have the power to take it by force, etc.

I am reminded of an argument I saw on a web forum once. At one point one of them claimed that the other's latest argument was flawed and then said, "I declare myself the winner of the debate." The other replied, "Okay. I declare myself emperor of the world and order your immediate execution." Neither got what he wanted by simply claiming it.

  • I think that you are confusing a couple of different definitions of "claim." The dictionary definition that you chose from thefreedictionary seems to be the right one to me, but I think that your example confuses it with definition 3: "To state to be true especially when open to question." I agree that to claim something does not necessarily mean that you received the thing that you claimed; however, absent further context, there is a strong implication that you did receive it.
    – Daniel
    Jun 25, 2013 at 13:37
  • @jay - it was helpful you got an upvote:-) thnx for help
    – dev2d
    Jun 25, 2013 at 18:39
  • @Daniel Hmm, "I claim the prize" I think pretty clearly fits definition 1. "I claim victory" sounds more like 1 than 3 to me, and that's what I was thinking of in context. Often definitions of words from a dictionary have overlapping meanings. Whatever. Not the main point here.
    – Jay
    Jun 26, 2013 at 16:49
  • @Daniel I don't agree that claiming something "strongly implies" that you received it. It depends very much on context. If someone declares, "I claim this land", will he get it or not? If he's accompanied by a powerful army, maybe so. If you walked onto my front yard and made that statement, I think I'd just ignore you. Even, "I claim that slice of pizza" at a party: You may get it, but you may not.
    – Jay
    Jun 26, 2013 at 16:53
  • @Jay But saying "I claim..." is different from the general concept of claiming something. I think that when we write that a person claimed something, we almost always mean that he received it. For example, if I heard the sentence "Albert claimed the land for himself," I would assume that Albert now lives on that land, barring some additional information.
    – Daniel
    Jun 26, 2013 at 17:10

The general meaning of claim is to state something to be true.

The claim that men are smarter than women is ridiculous.

This can be expanded, figuratively and implicitly to be stating that you have ownership of something.

I have claim [of ownership] on this land!

And by further extension, it can refer to the act of physically demonstrating said claim, as in your example:

He claimed his winnings.

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