English Vocabulary

I haven't the faintest notion of ...

In my vocabulary revision part the term of "notion" was translated with "idea".
To my mind it involves "term" and "concept".
What do you think about that matter?


  • I think you confound the English expression of notion with the French word "la notion", which is often used in philosophy, e.g. "la notion a priori".
    So you might be right presuming that this word involves the meaning of term, perception or concept.
    What do our French native speakers think about that.
    Unfortunately I don't know the Latin meaning or the etymology of notion. Who knows?
  • etymology of notion
    Latin Noscere, to know. Notus in pp. of noscere. Latin notio came from notus.
    As you hint it, Gwendo, notion has different possible meanings, the first one being "an inclusive general concept".
    Looking forward to read more about it.
  • It seems that words experience or endure a shift of meaning during their evolution in time through the centuries and their geographical spread over the regions.
  • St. Johann thought that NOTION was referring to TERM and CONCEPT. I agree as far as concept is at stake, because concept comes from Lat. concipere (to conceive), whereas TERM refers to the expression of the notion, the way a name is applied to the concept.
    IDEA comes from Greek eidos (visible form) and is close to notion. In philosophy the idea is a transcendent entity hiding behind its representations (the terms). But as Gwendo pointed it out, the idea term meaning has changed a lot over time and space - much more than this one of the term notion. In our everyday way of speaking the term idea fits every occasion.

    Besides, if the GG translated notion by idea in the expression headlining this thread, that's because both fit. It's idiomatic to say "I haven't the faintest idea about it" or "I haven't the faintest notion of it."
    The idiom is also saying: I haven't the foggiest idea/notion. However, as IDEA is a more general term, I wonder whether it isn't much more common to hear "I haven't the faintest idea" than "I haven't the foggiest notion of it".

    That you fall for it or not, I haven't the faintest idea.

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