Definition: State

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English stat (as a noun); adopted c. 1200 from both Old French estat and Latin status (“manner of standing, attitude, position, carriage, manner, dress, apparel; and other senses”), from stare (“to stand”). Doublet of estate and status.


state (plural states)

  1. A condition; a set of circumstances applying at any given time.
    a state of being
    a state of emergency
    1. (physics) A complete description of a system, consisting of parameters that determine all properties of the system.
    2. (colloquial, in the singular) A mess; disorder; a bad condition or set of circumstances.
      absolute state
      in bit of a state
    3. (computing) The stable condition of a processor during a particular clock cycle.
      In the fetch state, the address of the next instruction is placed on the address bus.
    4. (computing) The values of all parameters at some point in a computation.
      A debugger can show the state of a program at any breakpoint.
    5. (sciences) The physical property of matter as solid, liquid, gas, or plasma.
  2. High social standing or circumstance.
    1. Pomp, ceremony, or dignity.
      The President's body will lie in state at the Capitol.
    2. Rank; condition; quality.
    3. Condition of prosperity or grandeur; wealthy or prosperous circumstances; social importance.
  3. A polity.
    1. Any sovereign polity; a national or city-state government.
    2. A political division of a federation retaining a notable degree of autonomy, as in the United States, Mexico, Nigeria, or India.
  4. (mathematics) An element of the range of the random variables that define a random process.
  5. (grammar, semantics) The lexical aspect of verbs or predicates that do not change over time.

Derived terms

  • buffer state
  • change of state
  • deep state
  • head of state
  • nation-state
  • secretary of state
  • state capital
  • state of affairs
  • state of being
  • state of emergency
  • state of mind
  • state of the art
  • state park
  • state school
  • statehood


state (third-person singular simple present states, present participle stating, simple past and past participle stated)

  1. (transitive) To declare to be a fact.
    He stated that he was willing to help.
  2. (transitive) To make known.
    State your intentions.

Usage notes

State is stronger or more definitive than say. It is used to communicate an absence of reasonable doubt and to emphasize the factual or truthful nature of the communication.


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