AskDefine | Define communicate

Dictionary Definition



1 transmit information ; "Please communicate this message to all employees" [syn: pass on, pass, put across]
2 transmit thoughts or feelings; "He communicated his anxieties to the psychiatrist" [syn: intercommunicate]
3 transfer to another; "communicate a disease" [syn: convey, transmit]
4 join or connect; "The rooms communicated"
5 be in verbal contact; interchange information or ideas; "He and his sons haven't communicated for years"; "Do you communicate well with your advisor?"
6 administer communion; in church [ant: excommunicate]
7 receive Communion, in the Catholic church [syn: commune]

User Contributed Dictionary



From the participle stem of etyl la communicare, from communis.


  • a UK /kəˈmjuːnɪkeɪt/
  • a US /kəˈmjunəkeɪt/
  • /k@"mjun@keIt/


  1. To impart or transmit (to another); to give a share of.
    The disease was mainly communicated via rats and other vermin.
    The strong scent of onions was communicated to his fingers.
  2. To impart information or knowledge of; to make known, to tell.
    It is vital that I communicate this information to you.
  3. transitive archaic To share (in); to have in common, to partake of.
    We shall now consider those functions of intelligence which man communicates with the higher beasts.
  4. To receive or take part in Holy Communion.
    She attended church, but did not communicate at mass.
  5. To express or convey ideas, either through verbal or nonverbal means; to have intercourse, to exchange information.
    Many deaf people communicate with sign language.
    I feel I hardly know him; I just wish he'd communicate with me a little more.


Extensive Definition

Communication is the process of transferring information from a sender to a receiver with the use of a medium in which the communicated information is understood by both sender and receiver. It is a process that allows organisms to exchange information by several methods. Communication requires that all parties understand a common language that is exchanged. There are auditory means, such as speaking, singing and sometimes tone of voice, and nonverbal, physical means, such as body language, sign language, paralanguage, touch, eye contact, or the use of writing. Communication is defined as a process by which we assign and convey meaning in an attempt to create shared understanding. This process requires a vast repertoire of skills in intrapersonal and interpersonal processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing, and evaluating. Use of these processes is developmental and transfers to all areas of life: home, school, community, work, and beyond. It is through communication that collaboration and cooperation occur. Communication is the articulation of sending a message, through different media whether it be verbal or nonverbal, so long as a being transmits a thought provoking idea, gesture, action, etc.
Communication happens at many levels (even for one single action), in many different ways, and for most beings, as well as certain machines. Several, if not all, fields of study dedicate a portion of attention to communication, so when speaking about communication it is very important to be sure about what aspects of communication one is speaking about. Definitions of communication range widely, some recognizing that animals can communicate with each other as well as human beings, and some are more narrow, only including human beings within the parameters of human symbolic interaction.
Nonetheless, communication is usually described along a few major dimensions: Content (what type of things are communicated), source, emisor, sender or encoder (by whom), form (in which form), channel (through which medium), destination, receiver, target or decoder (to whom), and the purpose or pragmatic aspect. Between parties, communication includes acts that confer knowledge and experiences, give advice and commands, and ask questions. These acts may take many forms, in one of the various manners of communication. The form depends on the abilities of the group communicating. Together, communication content and form make messages that are sent towards a destination. The target can be oneself, another person or being, another entity (such as a corporation or group of beings).
Communication can be seen as processes of information transmission governed by three levels of semiotic rules:
  1. Syntactic (formal properties of signs and symbols),
  2. pragmatic (concerned with the relations between signs/expressions and their users) and
  3. semantic (study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent).
Therefore, communication is social interaction where at least two interacting agents share a common set of signs and a common set of semiotic rules. This commonly held rule in some sense ignores autocommunication, including intrapersonal communication via diaries or self-talk.
In a simple model, information or content (e.g. a message in natural language) is sent in some form (as spoken language) from an emisor/ sender/ encoder to a destination/ receiver/ decoder. In a slightly more complex form a sender and a receiver are linked reciprocally. A particular instance of communication is called a speech act. In the presence of "communication noise" on the transmission channel (air, in this case), reception and decoding of content may be faulty, and thus the speech act may not achieve the desired effect.
Theories of coregulation describe communication as a creative and dynamic continuous process, rather than a discrete exchange of information.

Types of communication


A language is a syntactically organized system of signals, such as voice sounds, intonations or pitch, gestures or written symbols which communicate thoughts or feelings. If a language is about communicating with signals, voice, sounds, gestures, or written symbols, can animal communications be considered as a language? Animals do not have a written form of a language, but use a language to communicate with each another. In that sense, an animal communication can be considered as a separated language.
Human spoken and written languages can be described as a system of symbols (sometimes known as lexemes) and the grammars (rules) by which the symbols are manipulated. The word "language" is also used to refer to common properties of languages. Language learning is normal in human childhood. Most human languages use patterns of sound or gesture for symbols which enable communication with others around them. There are thousands of human languages, and these seem to share certain properties, even though many shared properties have exceptions.
There is no defined line between a language and a dialect, but the linguist Max Weinreich is credited as saying that "a language is a dialect with an army and a navy". Constructed languages such as Esperanto, programming languages, and various mathematical formalisms are not necessarily restricted to the properties shared by human languages.


A dialogue is a reciprocal conversation between two or more entities. The etymological origins of the word (in Greek διά(diá,through) + λόγος(logos,word,speech) concepts like flowing-through meaning) do not necessarily convey the way in which people have come to use the word, with some confusion between the prefix διά-(diá-,through) and the prefix δι-(di-, two) leading to the assumption that a dialogue is necessarily between only two parties.

Nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication is the process of communicating through sending and receiving wordless messages. Such messages can be communicated through gesture, body language or posture; facial expression and eye contact, object communication such as clothing, hairstyles or even architecture, or symbols and infographics. Speech may also contain nonverbal elements known as paralanguage, including voice quality, emotion and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation and stress. Likewise, written texts have nonverbal elements such as handwriting style, spatial arrangement of words, or the use of emoticons.A portmanteau of the English words emotion (or emote) and icon, an emoticon is a symbol or combination of symbols used to convey emotional content in written or message form

Non-human living organisms

Communication in many of its facets is not limited to humans, or even to primates. Every information exchange between living organisms — i.e. transmission of signals involving a living sender and receiver — can be considered a form of communication. Thus, there is the broad field of animal communication, which encompasses most of the issues in ethology. On a more basic level, there is cell signaling, Cellular communication (biology)|cellular communication, and chemical communication between primitive organisms like bacteria, and within the plant and fungal kingdoms. All of these communication processes are sign-mediated interactions with a great variety of distinct coordinations.


Animal communication is any behaviour on the part of one animal that has an effect on the current or future behavior of another animal. Of course, human communication can be subsumed as a highly developed form of animal communication. The study of animal communication, called zoosemiotics (distinguishable from anthroposemiotics, the study of human communication) has played an important part in the development of ethology, sociobiology, and the study of animal cognition. This is quite evident as humans are able to communicate with animals especially dolphins and other animals used in circuses however these animals have to learn a special means of communication. Animal communication, and indeed the understanding of the animal world in general, is a rapidly growing field, and even in the 21st century so far, many prior understandings related to diverse fields such as personal symbolic name use, animal emotions, animal culture and learning, and even sexual conduct, long thought to be well understood, have been revolutionized.

Plants and Fungi

Among plants, communication is observed within the plant organism, i.e. within plant cells and between plant cells, between plants of the same or related species, and between plants and non-plant organisms, especially in the rootzone. Plant roots communicate in parallel with rhizobia bacteria, with fungi and with insects in the soil. This parallel sign-mediated interactions which are governed by syntactic, pragmatic and semantic rules are possible because of the decentralized "nervous system" of plants. As recent research shows 99% of intraorganismic plant communication processes are neuronal-like. Plants also communicate via volatiles in the case of herbivory attack behavior to warn neighboring plants. In parallel they produce other volatiles which attract parasites which attack these herbivores. In stress situations plants can overwrite the genetic code they inherited from their parents and revert to that of their grand- or great-grandparents.
Fungi communicate to coordinate and organize their own growth and development such as the formation of mycelia and fruiting bodies. Additionally fungi communicate with same and related species as well as with nonfungal organisms in a great variety of symbiotic interactions, especially with bacteria, unicellular eukaryotes, plants and insects. The used semiochemicals are of biotic origin and they trigger the fungal organism to react in a specific manner, in difference while to even the same chemical molecules are not being a part of biotic messages doesn’t trigger to react the fungal organism. It means, fungal organisms are competent to identify the difference of the same molecules being part of biotic messages or lack of these features. So far five different primary signalling molecules are known that serve to coordinate very different behavioral patterns such as filamentation, mating, growth, pathogenicity. Behavioral coordination and the production of such substances can only be achieved through interpretation processes: self or non-self, abiotic indicator, biotic message from similar, related, or non-related species, or even “noise”, i.e., similar molecules without biotic content


There are communication processes between different species of bacteria and between bacteria and non bacterial life such as eukaryotic hosts. Beneath the semiochemicals necessary for developmental processes of bacterial communities such as division, sporulation, and synthesis of secondary metabolites there are physical contact-mediated behavioral patterns being important in biofilm organisation. There are three classes of signalling molecules for different purposes, i.e. signalling within the organism to coordinate gene expressions to generate adequate response behavior, signalling between same or related and different species. The most popular communicative behavior is „quorum sensing“. Quorum sensing is the term for description of sign-mediated interactions in which chemical molecules are produced and secreted by bacteria. They are recognized of the bacterial community dependent on a critical concentration and in a special ratio to the population density. These molecules trigger the expression of a great variety of gene transcriptions.
The semiochemicals used by bacteria are of great variety, especially because some signalling molecules are multiple re-usable components. Today three kinds of communicative goals are distinguished: (A) reciprocal communication, active sign-mediated interactions which is beneficial for both interacting parts; (B) messages which are produced as response on a triggering event which may be an indicator for a receiver which was not specially targeted by the producer. A coincidental event which is neutral – except of the energy costs of production – to the producer but beneficial for the receiver; (C) signalling to manipulate the receiver, i.e. to cause a response behavior which is onesided beneficial to the producer and harms the receivers often in that they behave against their normal goals. The three classes of bacteria communication enable bacteria to generate and coordinate different behavioral patterns: self and non-self identification, i.e. identification of other colonies and measurement of their size, pheromone based courtship for mating, alteration of colony structure in formatting of fruiting bodies, initiation of developmental and growth processes e.g. sporulation.


  • Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin 117, 497-529.
  • Severin, Werner J., Tankard, James W., Jr., (1979). Communication Theories: Origins, Methods, Uses. New York: Hastings House, ISBN 0801317037

See also

communicate in Arabic: اتصال
communicate in Aragonese: Comunicazions
communicate in Breton: Kemennadur
communicate in Bulgarian: Комуникации
communicate in Catalan: Comunicació
communicate in Czech: Dorozumívání
communicate in Danish: Kommunikation
communicate in German: Kommunikation
communicate in Estonian: Kommunikatsioon
communicate in Modern Greek (1453-): Επικοινωνία
communicate in Spanish: Comunicación
communicate in Esperanto: Komunikado
communicate in Basque: Komunikazio
communicate in Persian: ارتباطات
communicate in French: Communication
communicate in Friulian: Comunicazions
communicate in Manx: Çhaghteraght
communicate in Galician: Comunicación, función da linguaxe
communicate in Korean: 통신
communicate in Croatian: Komunikacije
communicate in Indonesian: Komunikasi
communicate in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Communication
communicate in Icelandic: Samskipti
communicate in Italian: Comunicazione
communicate in Hebrew: תקשורת
communicate in Javanese: Komunikasi
communicate in Latvian: Saskarsme
communicate in Luxembourgish: Kommunikatioun
communicate in Lithuanian: Bendravimas
communicate in Limburgan: Kommunikasie
communicate in Hungarian: Kommunikáció
communicate in Macedonian: Комуникација
communicate in Malay (macrolanguage): Komunikasi
communicate in Dutch: Communicatie
communicate in Japanese: 通信
communicate in Norwegian: Kommunikasjon
communicate in Norwegian Nynorsk: Kommunikasjon
communicate in Occitan (post 1500): Comunicacion
communicate in Polish: Komunikacja interpersonalna
communicate in Portuguese: Comunicação
communicate in Romanian: Comunicaţii
communicate in Romansh: Communicaziun
communicate in Russian: Общение
communicate in Albanian: Komunikimi
communicate in Sicilian: Cumunicazzioni
communicate in Simple English: Communication
communicate in Slovenian: Komuniciranje
communicate in Serbian: Комуникација
communicate in Sundanese: Komunikasi
communicate in Finnish: Viestintä
communicate in Swedish: Kommunikation
communicate in Tagalog: Komunikasyon
communicate in Tamil: தொடர்பாடல்
communicate in Thai: การสื่อสาร
communicate in Turkish: İletişim
communicate in Ukrainian: Комунікація
communicate in Venetian: Comunicazsioni
communicate in Yiddish: קאמוניקאציע
communicate in Samogitian: Kuomonėkacėjės
communicate in Chinese: 溝通

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abut, accord, acquaint, adhere, administer, administer Communion, advertise, advertise of, advice, advise, afford, allot, allow, announce, apprise, articulate, assign, associate with, attend Communion, attend Mass, award, bandy words, be in connection, be in contact, be in tune, bestow, bestow on, betray, border, break, breathe, brief, bring word, broadcast, butt, carry over, celebrate, celebrate Mass, chew the fat, chew the rag, chime, chin, chorus, clinch, cohere, colloque, colloquize, come out with, come together, commerce, commerce with, commune with, communicate with, communication, communion, confab, confabulate, confer, connect, consign, converge, conversation, converse, converse with, conversing, convey, correspond with, deal, deal out, deal with, deliver, deport, diffuse, directive, disclose, discourse with, discover, discussion, dish out, dispense, disseminate, divulge, dole, dole out, donate, embrace, emit, enlighten, enunciate, exchange, expel, export, express, extend, extradite, familiarize, fling off, fork out, formulate, get across, get over, get through to, gift, gift with, give, give expression, give freely, give notice, give out, give out with, give the facts, give tongue, give utterance, give voice, give word, grant, grow together, hand down, hand forward, hand on, hand out, hand over, hang together, have dealings with, have intercourse, have truck with, heap, help to, hint, hold communication, hold together, impart, imply, import, inform, instruct, intelligence, interchange, intercommunicate, intercommunication, intercourse, issue, join, keep, knit, lavish, leave word, let have, let know, let on, let out, line, lip, make known, make over, march, meet, mention to, merge, metastasize, metathesize, mete, mete out, news, notify, observe, offer, out with, pass, pass along, pass on, pass over, pass the buck, perfuse, phonate, phrase, pour, pour forth, present, proffer, promulgate, pronounce, publicize, put across, put forth, put in words, rain, raise, reach, receive the Sacrament, relate, relay, render, report, reveal, say, send, send word, serve, serve notice, set forth, share, share with, shell out, shoot the breeze, shower, signal, slip, snow, solemnize, sound, speak, speak with, spread, suggest, supply, switch, take counsel with, talk, talk together, talking, tell, tender, throw off, tidings, traffic with, transfer, transfer property, transfuse, translate, translocate, transmit, transplace, transplant, transpose, turn over, unite, utter, verbalize, verge, verse, visit with, vocalize, voice, vouchsafe, wavelength, whisper, word, yield
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