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An entity is something that has a distinct, separate existence, though it need not be a material existence. In particular, abstractions and legal fictions are usually regarded as entities. In general, there is also no presumption that an entity is animate.

An entity could be viewed as a set containing subsets. This set itself is among other sets. In philosophy, these sets are said to be abstract objects as they do not refer to anything animate. The distinctive propriety of an entity rationaly yields the existence of the relativily distinct entities.

The word 'entity' is often useful when one wants to refer to something that could be a human being, a non-human animal, a non-thinking life-form such as a plant or fungus, or a lifeless object; for instance, one could say that any entity that enters a black hole would be transported, in many pieces, to another dimension.

Sometimes, the word 'entity' is used in a general sense of a being, whether or not the referent has material existence; e.g. God is often referred to as an 'Entity' with no corporeal form.

In law, an entity is something capable of bearing legal rights and obligations. It generally means "legal entity" or "artificial person" but also includes "natural person".

Related concepts

Specialized uses

  • Entity is the root node of the SUMO ontology, and stands for the universal class of individuals.
  • In VHDL, entity is the keyword for defining a new [[Object|]].
  • An SGML entity is an abbreviation for some expanded piece of SGML text.
  • In relational databases, an entity can refer to a table.
  • In the context of the open systems architecture, an entity is an active routine within a layer.

See also

Last updated: 02-08-2005 07:28:49
Last updated: 02-25-2005 00:55:03