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A content ( English content is) something that either in a fillable container is or by a form enclosed or contained in it.


The term encompasses both physical content (e.g. the wine in a wine bottle ), measurable properties (e.g. the cubature of a building ) and non-physical (abstract) content (e.g. the content of a book , a document or a data storage medium ). Physical contents are material goods that are in a container , for example for storage or transport . Non-physical content is usually data , information or knowledge , experience and opinions . For example, they can be contained in a file , message or image , or they can be conveyed through literature or a work of art .

Media content , especially the new media to capture the information content for which also the anglicized " Content " ( English for "content, content" ) is used.

Word origin

The word content did not yet exist in Middle High German , but can only be proven in the 14th century , when it appeared on January 30, 1393 "after inhaldung diesz brieffes". Then it appeared as “pause” in a sales deed from Riedesel Bellersheim from 1440. In a deed from 1448 by Elector Friedrich II. “Inhaldung” is mentioned. In the East Frisian document book of 1492 it is mentioned as document content (“des in orkonde… synt hyrup gemaket 2 nottulen gelicks inneholdes”). The "content" of a contract first appeared in 1499 in the documents on the history of the Swabian Federation . At first, the term with its various word forms inhalt, inhald, innehaldt, innehold, inholde seemed to specialize in legal language for the content of a letter or a document , whereby these word forms indicate a common root with the expression "pause".

Friedrich Esaias Pufendorf mentioned the "inhold" in 1770 in connection with the renovation of religion through the Reformation. It is evident that the lexicographer Johann Christoph Adelung first mentioned the different meanings in 1775.

Description of terms

In science , technology , economy , administration and in everyday life , terms facilitate understanding. For the description of terms, the term content and scope are of fundamental importance. According to DIN 2342 (2011-08) in terminology, the term content ( intention ) describes the entirety of the characteristics of a term. For example, the conceptual content of the parallelogram consists of the features “ square ” and “ parallel , opposite sides”. At a given point in time, the number of concept features cannot be changed without also changing the concept at the same time. As a result, the totality of the features also enables a term to be delimited from other terms with larger, smaller or different conceptual content. The larger the term content, the more precisely it is specified and the smaller its scope and vice versa. According to DIN 2342, the scope of the term (extension) is the entirety of the sub-terms of a term on the same hierarchy level.

A conceptual content is “insufficient” if it contains fewer, and “excessive” if it contains more features than belong to its adequate definition . Since every term is clearly defined by its content, no term can have more than a single definition. Ideologically polysemous terms in the political vocabulary of the GDR and FRG showed that the semantic difference can extend to the content of the term ( denotation ) or the evaluation of the presentation of the subject ( connotation ) or both:

  • Different content of terms with different evaluations at the same time: as in dictatorship or partisanship ,
  • different conceptual content with the same evaluation: as in freedom or democracy ,
  • same or approximately the same conceptual content with different evaluation: as in communism or revolution .

These terms had different denotations and / or connotations in both German economic systems.

Today's meaning and usage of terms

The content is an abstract , polysemous term with various ambiguous meanings. In addition to its physical, measurable or non-physical variants, the qualitative and quantitative aspect can also play a role. In the qualitative aspect, the question of the essential purpose-specific content must be answered ( ranking ), in the quantitative aspect the question of the amount of content is in the foreground. Content is insufficient for interested parties if the quality and / or quantity does not meet the requirements , and superfluous if it exceeds the requirements accordingly.

The content is often used to mean the meaning in contrast to the external form . This ideal type of content may also be referred to as a statement , subject or topic . The reduction of the content to its essential core leads to the Aristotelian concept of essence and in particular the quintessence ("core statement"). The question of what the essential content is depends heavily on the context , especially the interest and prior knowledge of the questioner. The question of the actual content in the general case is, among other things, the subject of philosophy . The answer is closely related to the question of the meaning and evaluation of the content. In aesthetics , for example, the question of the relationship between content and form arises:

"In the case of the value of a work of art as such, something essentially depends on the quality of the content it represents, the value of the idea that is expressed in it, not rather everything depends on the form in which the content is presented"

- Gustav Theodor Fechner : Preschool of Aesthetics. Breitkopf & Härtel Verlag, 1876, Chapter XXI.

Occasionally, the content also means a capacity (such as the electrical capacity ), a size ( scope ) or a proportion. These contents can be precisely defined, the corresponding branch in mathematics is the measurement theory . In geometry , content is often short for the area (the area) of a flat figure or the volume (the volume ) of a body. In mathematical terminology, a distinction is made in this connection between the Jordanian content (see also Riemann integral ) and the more generally applicable Lebesgue integral .

Content in law

The norm-logical school of jurisprudence understands “legal content ” to be ontic - causal being in contrast to the axiological ought , which relates to being. However, this terminology is not entirely accurate; for ontic-causal being is never identical with the content of law; it can at best correspond to it.

In jurisprudence, form and legal content are essential criteria for legal effectiveness . Legal science deals with the interpretation of the content of legal norms , contracts and declarations of intent when their meaning is not clear. The legal entities and the legislature are therefore obliged to formulate content ( legal clauses ) in such a way that they clearly and comprehensively reflect the will for third parties . Legal content proves to be incomplete if there are loopholes in the law or in the contract . The content error describes a lack of will in which the person making the declaration has a subjectively incorrect idea of ​​the objective (possibly to be determined by interpretation) content or the scope of the declaration of intent he has made. According to § § 307 to § 309 BGB, general terms and conditions are subject to a content control by the courts, which examine the clauses of these contractual conditions in the event of a dispute.

The content of the package inserts , instructions for use , indications of contents or tables of contents is of particular importance for consumers .

Control of content

Particularly in the case of substances that can be harmful to health or the environment , it must be ensured that the content does not escape in an uncontrolled manner. When transporting dangerous goods , special precautions must be taken. For example, if the packaging is damaged by a hole or is permeable so that the contents can escape, larger systems are also referred to as a leak . However, the release of ingredients can also be done intentionally, for example in the case of drugs .

In the case of information , too , control of the content can be wanted ( censorship , data protection ) or not wanted ( freedom of information , obligation to provide information ). Especially in non-physical content, the question can ask whether ownership in the form of intangible monopoly rights ( intellectual property ) can be claimed by them or not. Wherever content in a general form can be part of case law , laws must clearly regulate what is to be understood as content and what is not. In the Federal German law on the use of teleservices (TDG), content is understood to mean, for example, all data that is received by the user of a teleservice , with the exception of those that are related to the transmission process itself.

Content analysis

Content analyzes are a scientific research method and help to evaluate more or less complex issues . It is an empirical method for the systematic, intersubjectively comprehensible description of content and formal characteristics of information. Content analysis is used in particular in communication and media studies , but it is also used in psychology (evaluation of test protocols ), psychiatry (analysis of patient interviews ) or social psychology ( readability ).

Metadata , i.e. information about the content, is used to identify content. Examples of this are package inserts and tables of contents that list the individual components of a substance. In some cases, conclusions can already be drawn from the external shape of a container (e.g. packaging ) or from a description of the actual contents. However, this can also lead to false conclusions. For example, sham packs are intended to fool a different content.


This type of content analysis only concerns non-physical (abstract) content, while food chemistry deals with the material content analysis of ingredients. Ingredients and active ingredients are substances that have a specific effect on an organism . The manufacturer's obligation to provide information for food results from the EU Food Information Regulation ( list of ingredients ). The international nomenclature for cosmetic ingredients regulates the correct declaration of ingredients in cosmetics .


The adjectival use in terms of content aims to differentiate it from the external form (formal or external) . Something insignificant without any essential message is described as meaningless or empty of content , whereas texts with (too) much content are heavy in content .

See also


  • Daniel Alder et al. a. (Ed.): Content. Perspectives of a categoria non grata in philological discourse. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-8260-5656-7 .

Web links

Wikiquote: Content  - Quotes
Wiktionary: content  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Prussian archive administration: publications from the Prussian state archives. Volume 69, 1965, p. 562.
  2. Contents. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 10 : H, I, J - (IV, 2nd division). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1877, Sp. 2118-2119 ( ).
  3. ^ Eduard Fidicin: Berlin documents from 1261 to 1550. 1837, p. 202.
  4. East Frisian document book. Volume II, 1492, p. 373.
  5. Karl Klüpfel (Ed.): Documents on the history of the Swabian Federation. Volume 1, 1846, p. 394.
  6. ^ Friedrich Esaias Pufendorf: Observationes Jvris Vniversi: quibus praecipue res iudicatae summi tribunalis regii et electoralis continentur. 1770, p. 114.
  7. Johann Christoph Adelung: Attempt of a complete grammatical-critical dictionary of the High German dialect. Volume 2, 1775, Col. 1379 f.
  8. a b Reiner Arntz, Heribert Picht, Klaus-Dirk Schmitz: Introduction to terminology work , 2014, p. 52 ( ).
  9. Jakob Goldschmied: Handbook of Unconditional Fundamental Science. 1915, p. 64.
  10. Walther Dieckmann: Language in Politics. 1974, p. 213.
  11. ^ Norm logic are the logical connections between legal propositions .
  12. Reinhold Horneffer: The emergence of the state: a state-theoretical investigation , 1933. P. 45.
  13. ^ Alpmann Brockhaus: Fachlexikon Recht , 2005, p. 723.
  14. Werner Früh: Content analysis: theory and practice. 2015, p. 29 ( ).
  15. Werner Früh: Content analysis: theory and practice. 2015, p. 14.