According to Webster 1913, exist is a synonym of be. Actually, there is a subtle difference between existence and being in the use of the language. I am not sure I can explain it clearly, nor am I sure that I understand the concept well. But let me cite an example: "The centaur is a mythical being; it does not exist."

In this sentence, the verb to be (is) is used to refer to the centaur. Yet, clearly, the sentence wishes to affirm the non-existence of the creature. Is this a quirk of the language, or is there a real difference in the concepts of being and existence? (30 pts, 2 pages double-spaced)

Ex*ist" (?), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Existed; p. pr. & vb. n. Existing.] [L. existere, exsistere, to step out or forth, emerge, appear, exist; ex out + sistere to cause to stand, to set, put, place, stand still, fr. stare to stand: cf. F. exister. See Stand.]


To be as a fact and not as a mode; to have an actual or real being, whether material or spiritual.

Who now, alas! no more is missed Than if he never did exist. Swift.

To conceive the world . . . to have existed from eternity. South.


To be manifest in any manner; to continue to be; as, great evils existed in his reign.


To live; to have life or the functions of vitality; as, men can not exist in water, nor fishes on land.

Syn. -- See Be.


© Webster 1913.

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