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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Meta- (from Greek: μετά = "after", "beyond", "with", "adjacent", "self"), is a prefix used in English (and other Greek-owing languages) to indicate a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter.

In epistemology, the prefix meta is used to mean about (its own category). For example, metadata are data about data (who has produced them, when, what format the data are in and so on). Similarly, metamemory in psychology means an individual's knowledge about whether or not they would remember something if they concentrated on recalling it. Furthermore, metaemotion in psychology means an individual's emotion about his/her own basic emotion, "or somebody else's basic emotion[citation needed]."

Another, slightly different interpretation of this term is "about" but not "on" (exactly its own category). For example, in linguistics a grammar is considered as being expressed in a metalanguage, or a sort of language for describing another language (and not itself). A meta-answer is not a real answer but a reply, such as: "this is not a good question", "I suggest you ask your professor"[citation needed]. Here, we have such concepts as meta-reasoning and meta-knowledge.

Any subject can be said to have a meta-theory which is the theoretical consideration of its meta-properties, such as its foundations, methods, form and utility.

In Greek, the prefix meta- is generally less esoteric than in English; Greek meta- is equivalent to the Latin words post- or ad-. The use of the prefix in this sense occurs occasionally in scientific English terms derived from Greek. For example: the term Metatheria (the name for the clade of marsupial mammals) uses the prefix meta- merely in the sense that the Metatheria occur on the tree of life adjacent to the Theria (the placental mammals).

"Meta" is also gaining currency as an adjective, as well as a prefix, as in the work of Douglas Hofstadter (see below).



The prefix comes from the Greek preposition and prefix meta- (μετά) which meant "after", "beside", "among", "with" (with respect to the preposition, some of these meanings were distinguished by case marking). Meta- (along with Meso-, also borrowed as a prefix into English: e.g. "Mesoamerica") is cognate with English "mid-". Its use in English is the result of back-formation from the word "metaphysics". In origin Metaphysics was just the title of one of the principal works of Aristotle; it was so named (by Andronicus of Rhodes) simply because in the customary ordering of the works of Aristotle it was the book following Physics; it thus meant nothing more than "[the book that comes] after [the book entitled] Physics". However, even Latin writers misinterpreted this as entailing that metaphysics constituted "the science of what is beyond the physical".[1] Nonetheless, Aristotle's Metaphysics enunciates those considerations of natures above physical realities which can be known through this particular part of philosophy, e.g., the existence of God. The fact that his Metaphysics follows after his Physics indicates that it is a continuation and building upon what he already said concerning the physical world just as his Politics follows his Ethics and is a continuation of what he lays down in the Ethics into a greater domain, namely from the individual to the polis. The use of the prefix was later extended to other contexts based on the understanding of metaphysics to mean "the science of what is beyond the physical".

Quine and Hofstadter

The OED cites uses of the meta- prefix as "beyond, about" (such as meta-economics and meta-philosophy) going back to 1917. However, these formations are directly parallel to the original "metaphysics" and "metaphysical", that is, as a prefix to general nouns (fields of study) or adjectives. Going by the OED citations, it began to be used with specific nouns in connection with mathematical logic sometime before 1929. (In 1920 David Hilbert proposed a research project in what was called "metamathematics.")

A notable early citation is Quine's 1937 use of the word "metatheorem", where meta- clearly has the modern meaning of "an X about X". (Note that earlier uses of "meta-economics" and even "metaphysics" do not have this doubled conceptual structure, they are about or beyond X but they do not themselves constitute an X). Note also that this modern meaning allows for self-reference, since if something is about the category to which it belongs, it can be about itself; it is therefore no coincidence that we find Quine, a mathematician interested in self-reference, using it.

Douglas Hofstadter, in his 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach (and in the sequel, Metamagical Themas), popularized this meaning of the term. This book, which deals extensively with self-reference and touches on Quine and his work, was influential in many computer-related subcultures, and is probably largely responsible for the popularity of the prefix, for its use as a solo term, and for the many recent coinages which use it. Hofstadter uses the meta as a stand-alone word, both as an adjective and as a directional preposition ("going meta", a term he coins for the old rhetorical trick of taking a debate or analysis to another level of abstraction, as in "This debate isn't going anywhere."). This book is also probably responsible for the direct association of "meta" with self-reference, as opposed to just abstraction. The sentence "This sentence contains thirty-six letters," and the sentence it is embedded in, are examples of sentences that reference themselves in this way.

Words using the term 'meta' or 'meta-'

Common uses of the English prefix include:

Other uses more closely follow the Greek meaning. For example:


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Meta is a department of the Orinoquía region of Colombia.

This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

Wikimedia Community Logo.svg Wikipedia-logo.svg Wiktionary-logo-en.svg Wikibooks-logo.svg Wikiquote-logo.svg Wikisource-logo.svg Wikinews-logo.svg Wikiversity-logo-Snorky.svg Wikispecies-logo.svg Commons-logo.svg

What is Meta?

Meta, or Wikimedia's Meta-wiki, at, is a wiki-based web site that is auxiliary to all the Wikimedia Foundation projects. This includes wikipedia, wikiversity, wikibooks, wiktionary, and wikiquote.

First created as Meta-Wikipedia in November 2001, it now serves several distinct roles:

  1. Discussion and formulation of the Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia, and in particular policy discussion.
  2. A forum for personal essays relating to a wikimedia project that are not necessarily NPOV.
  3. A place to organise and prepare content, to discuss interlanguage co-ordination issues.
  4. A place to coordinate the development process.
  5. A help guide to using the MediaWiki software.

Meta currently serves as one of the major avenues of discussion for Wikimedians including Wikipedians, the others being the mailing lists, the IRC channels, and the talk pages of individual articles and users. Meta is an independent and autonomous project from the English language Wikipedia and thus has its own policies and customs, which often differ from those here. Also until the arrival of single login, you will need to create another account at Meta.

Originally focused on the English language version of Wikipedia, Meta has, since its upgrade to Wikipedia's custom MediaWiki software, become a multilingual discussion forum used by all Wikimedia language communities.

Projects for collaboration between Wikiversity and Meta-Wiki

  • Help with User survey - help needed with creating software for this research project

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

META, the Latin word for the goal which formed the turningpoint for the chariot_ races in the Roman circus. The metae consisted of three conical pillars resting on a single podium. None have been preserved, but they are shown on coins, gems and terra-cotta bas-reliefs.

<< Gustave Emil Eugene Mesureur

Metabolic Diseases >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also meta, meta-, and metà



Proper noun




  1. (Wiktionary and WMF jargon) The Wikimedia Meta-Wiki, a cross-project collaboration wiki of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Alternative forms

  • Wikimedia Meta-Wiki
  • Meta-Wiki



Proper noun


  1. A female given name, a 19th century variant of Mette (=Margaret).


Proper noun


  1. A female given name, a variant of Margarete ( =Margaret) popular in Germany around 1900.


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Classis: Arachnida
Ordo: Araneae
Subordo: Opisthothelae
Infraordo: Araneomorphae
Taxon: Neocribellatae
Series: Entelegynae
Superfamilia: Araneoidea
Familia: Tetragnathidae
Subfamilia: Metainae
Genus: Meta
Species: M. abdomenalis - M. barreti - M. baywanga - M. birmanica - M. bourneti - M. dolloff - M. gertschi - M. japonica - M. longipalpis - M. maculata - M. manchurica - M. menardi - M. merianopsis - M. meruensis - M. milleri - M. minima - M. mixta - M. monogrammata - M. montana - M. nebulosa - M. nigra - M. nigridorsalis - M. obscura - M. ovalis - M. qianshanensis - M. reticuloides - M. rufolineata - M. serrana - M. shenae - M. simlaensis - M. stridulans - M. tiniktirika - M. trivittata - M. turbatrix - M. vacillans - M. villiersi


Meta C. L. Koch, 1836

Type species: Epeira fusca Walckenaer, 1805 [=M. menardi (Latreille, 1804)]



  • Koch, C. L. 1836. Arachniden. In Herrich-Schäffer, G. A. W., Deutschlands Insekten. Heft 134-141. [134]
  • Marusik, Y. M. & S. Koponen. 1992. A review of Meta (Araneae, Tetragnathidae), with description of two new species. Journal of Arachnology 20(2): 137-143. PDF
  • Platnick, N. I. 2009. The World Spider Catalog, version 9.5. American Museum of Natural History. [1]

Vernacular names

한국어: 시내거미속
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Meta on Wikimedia Commons.

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